Kingdom of Italy (Holy Roman Empire)

Kingdom of Italy
Regnum Italiae (in Latin)
Regno d'Italia (in Italian)
Kingdom of Holy Roman Empire
855–1801
Kingdom of Italy 1000.svg
The Kingdom of Italy within the Holy Roman Empire and within Europe in the early 11th century.
Capital
Government
 • TypeNon-sovereign elective monarchy
King 
• 962–973
Otto I (first)
• 1519–1556
Charles V (last; de jure)1
• 1792–1801
Francis II (last; de facto)
Arch-Chancellor2 
• 962–965
Bruno of Lotharingia (first)
• 1784–1801
Maximilian Francis of Austria (last)
Historical eraMiddle Ages/Early modern period
• Otto I descent in Italy
951
25 December 961 855
1075–1122
1158
1216–1392[1]
1494–1559
1792
9 February 1801
• Re-birth of the Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic)
1805
Political subdivisionsApprox. 15 vassal entities
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Middle Francia
Italian Republic (Napoleonic)
Kingdom of Etruria
Today part of Italy
  1. Charles V was the last emperor to be crowned king of Italy, or to use the title.[2] However, the successive emperor continued to claim the crown of Italy until 1801.
  2. The archbishop of Cologne was the Arch-Chancellor of Italy, one of the highest dignitaries of the empire.
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The Kingdom of Italy (Latin: Regnum Italiae or Regnum Italicum, Italian: Regno d'Italia, German: Königreich Italien), also commonly Imperial Italy (German: Reichsitalien) or Kingdom of Lombardy, was one of the constituent kingdoms of the Holy Roman Empire, along with the kingdoms of Germany, Bohemia, and Burgundy. It comprised northern and central Italy, but excluded the Republic of Venice and the Papal States. Its original capital was Pavia until the 11th century.

In 773, Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, crossed the Alps to invade the Kingdom of the Lombards, which encompassed all of Italy except the Duchy of Rome and some Byzantine possessions in the south. In June 774, the kingdom collapsed and the Franks became masters of northern Italy. The southern areas remained under Lombard control as the Duchy of Benevento is changed into the rather independent Principality of Benevento. Charlemagne adopted the title "King of the Lombards" and in 800 was crowned "Emperor of the Romans" in Rome. Members of the Carolingian dynasty continued to rule Italy until the deposition of Charles the Fat in 887, after which they once briefly regained the throne in 894–896. Until 961, the rule of Italy was continually contested by several aristocratic families from both within and outside the kingdom.

In 961, King Otto I of Germany, already married to Adelaide, widow of a previous king of Italy, invaded the kingdom and had himself crowned in Pavia on 25 December. He continued on to Rome, where he had himself crowned emperor on 7 February 962. The union of the crowns of Italy and Germany with that of the so-called "Empire of the Romans" proved stable. Burgundy was added to this union in 1032, and by the twelfth century the term "Holy Roman Empire" had come into use to describe it. From 961 on, the Emperor of the Romans was usually also King of Italy and Germany, although emperors sometimes appointed their heirs to rule in Italy and occasionally the Italian bishops and noblemen elected a king of their own in opposition to that of Germany. The absenteeism of the Italian monarch led to the rapid disappearance of a central government in the High Middle Ages, but the idea that Italy was a kingdom within the Empire remained and emperors frequently sought to impose their will on the evolving Italian city-states. The resulting wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines, the anti-imperialist and imperialist factions, respectively, were characteristic of Italian politics in the 12th–14th centuries. The Lombard League was the most famous example of this situation; though not a declared separatist movement, it openly challenged the emperor's claim to power.

The century between the Humiliation of Canossa (1077) and the Treaty of Venice of 1177 resulted in the formation of city states independent of the Germanic Emperor. A series of wars in Lombardy from 1423 to 1454 reduced the number of competing states in Italy. The next forty years were relatively peaceful in Italy, but in 1494 the peninsula was invaded by France.

After the Imperial Reform of 1495–1512, the Italian kingdom corresponded to the unencircled territories south of the Alps. Juridically the emperor maintained an interest in them as nominal king and overlord, but the "government" of the kingdom consisted of little more than the plenipotentiaries the emperor appointed to represent him and those governors he appointed to rule his own Italian states.

The Habsburg rule in several parts of Italy continued in various forms but came to an end with the campaigns of the French Revolutionaries in 1792–1797, when a series of sister republics were set up with local support by Napoleon and then united into the Italian Republic under his Presidency. In 1805 the Republic became a new Kingdom of Italy, in personal union with France.

Lombard kingdom

After the Battle of Taginae, in which the Ostrogoth king Totila was killed, the Byzantine general Narses captured Rome and besieged Cumae. Teia, the new Ostrogothic king, gathered the remnants of the Ostrogothic army and marched to relieve the siege, but in October 552 Narses ambushed him at Mons Lactarius (modern Monti Lattari) in Campania, near Mount Vesuvius and Nuceria Alfaterna. The battle lasted two days and Teia was killed in the fighting. Ostrogothic power in Italy was eliminated, but according to Roman historian Procopius of Caesarea, Narses allowed the Ostrogothic population and their Rugian allies to live peacefully in Italy under Roman sovereignty.[3] The absence of any real authority in Italy immediately after the battle led to an invasion by the Franks and Alemanni, but they too were defeated in the battle of the Volturnus and the peninsula was, for a short time, reintegrated into the empire.

The Kings of the Lombards (Latin: reges Langobardorum, singular rex Langobardorum) ruled that Germanic people from their invasion of Italy in 567–68 until the Lombardic identity became lost in the ninth and tenth centuries. After 568, the Lombard kings sometimes styled themselves Kings of Italy (Latin: rex totius Italiæ). Upon the Lombard defeat at the 774 Siege of Pavia, the kingdom came under the Frankish domination of Charlemagne. The Iron Crown of Lombardy (Corona Ferrea) was used for the coronation of the Lombard kings, and the kings of Italy thereafter, for centuries.

The primary sources for the Lombard kings before the Frankish conquest are the anonymous 7th-century Origo Gentis Langobardorum and the 8th-century Historia Langobardorum of Paul the Deacon. The earliest kings (the pre-Lethings) listed in the Origo are almost certainly legendary. They purportedly reigned during the Migration Period; the first ruler attested independently of Lombard tradition is Tato.

The actual control of the sovereigns of both the major areas that constitute the kingdom – Langobardia Major in the centre-north (in turn divided into a western, or Neustria, and one eastern, or Austria and Tuskia) and Langobardia Minor in the centre-south, was not constant during the two centuries of life of the kingdom. An initial phase of strong autonomy of the many constituent duchies developed over time with growing regal authority, even if the dukes' desires for autonomy were never fully achieved.

The Lombard kingdom proved to be more stable than its Ostrogothic predecessor, but in 774, on the pretext of defending the Papacy, it was conquered by the Franks under Charlemagne. They kept the Italo-Lombard realm separate from their own, but the kingdom shared in all the partitions, divisions, civil wars, and succession crises of the Carolingian Empire of which it became a part until, by the end of the ninth century, the Italian kingdom was an independent, but highly decentralised, state.