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Italy was intact for nearly 1500 years. It was under the influence of the Romans and Etruscans starting around 1000 B.C. Roman Empire 1000BC up to 500AD.

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Italy was intact for nearly 1500 years. It was under the influence of the Romans and Etruscans starting around 1000 B.C.

Roman Empire 1000BC up to 500AD


In 476 A.D. a german tribe led by Odoacer invaded Italy and deposed the Roman emperor Romulus Augustus. Italy begins a long period as a divided country governed by foreign rulers.


The German Ostrogoths

Justinian, the Byzantine emperor

There is the invasion of the German Ostrogoths. Then Justinian, the Byzantine emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, kicks out the Germans.


They in turn were invaded by the German Lombard’s. Thru all the turmoil the popes had a continuous sphere of influence around Rome. They successfully opposed the Lombard’s from taking Rome for around 200 years.


Pope Leo III


Pepin the Short

The popes finally drove the Lombard’s out with the help of two Frankish kings, Pepin the Short and Charlemagne. The Frankish Empire contained present day France and Germany.

Charlemagne was crowned emperor of what is known as the Holy Roman Empire in 800 A.D. by Pope Leo III.


Maps of Italian Unification 1858-1870

The popes established their own political role in the central part of the peninsula called the Papal States


Charlemagne’s son Louis I took over after his death.

Louis I divided the empire among his four sons who fought constantly against each other for more territory.

Emperor Louis I The Pious (778-840)Holy Roman Emperor (814-840)


Otto the Great

Battles for control of Italy continued until Otto the Great came to the aid of the Pope.

He was king of Germany at that time and was married to the widow of an Italian king.

The Pope had appealed to Otto for help during an uprising in Rome.

He obliged, crossed the Alps and put down the uprising.

For his help, the Pope crowned Otto Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 962 A.D.

The empire stretched from northern Italy thru the Kingdom of Germany to the Kingdom of Denmark.


In 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte’s French army started driving out the Austrians. He drove out the Hapsburg one by one and set up Italian republics. He set himself up as emperor in 1804.

But this didn't last long, the combined forces of Austria, Britain, Prussia and Russia defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.

Together these countries formed the Congress of Vienna.


Maps of Italian Unification 1858-1870

They in turn split up Italy, returning the land, in most cases, to its former rulers.

In the northwest, the Royal House of Savoy was given Piedmont and Sardinia, called the Kingdom of Sardinia. (1)

Naples and Sicily were placed under the French Bourbons. (8) The kingdom of the two Sicilies.

The Papal States were returned to the Pope. (7)

Parma, Modena and Tuscany were re-established with the Austrian dukes. (4) (5) (6)


By the 1820’s, a secret organization of lawyers, professors, liberal noblemen and middle class intellectuals was formed. They called the organization the “Carbonari” (Coal Burners).

Slide 5

Giuseppe Mazzini was one of the leaders who made many unsuccessful revolts against the local Austrian rulers. He was exiled for 18 years for his part in the revolts.

How ever this didn’t stop him. While in exile, he organized “La Giovine Italia” (Young Italy). The organization was dedicated for Italian unity.

Mazzini was dedicated to unifying Italy as a republic. He believed this could be accomplished through a popular uprising.

Giuseppe Mazzini



Garibaldi met Mazzini in 1833 and became one of his followers.

In 1834 he participated with Mazzini in the failed insurrection of Austrian held Piedmont (Sardinia).

Garibaldi fled to Brazil when he was sentenced to death for his participation in the insurrection.

He won fame fighting for the Brazilian state of Rio Grande Do Sul.

Fighting with the Brazilian rebels offered him the opportunity to learn about guerilla warfare.

This came in handy when he invaded Sicily.

Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1807-1882


Maps 1858-1870

In 1848 revolutions broke out in Austria, France, many German cities and every major Italian city.

The King of Sardinia and the King of Naples granted a constitution to their people. (1)

Garibaldi and the citizens of Milan (Lombardy) drove the Austrian army out. (2)

A republic was established in Tuscany. (6)

Venice declared itself a republic. (3)

But the new governments were too divided and inexperienced to hold on against Austria.

Austria put down the new governments in 1849.


The Kingdom of Sardinia was defeated. (1)

King Albert gave up his throne in favor of his son Victor Emmanuel II.

Sardinia kept its constitution and tri-colored flag, a symbol of Italian patriotism.

Austria now had control of Italy by the end of 1849.

Garibaldi, who had command of the defense of Rome, was defeated by the French troops coming to the aid of the Pope.

Victor Emmanuel II


It got to the point where many Italians realized they had to expel the Austrians if they were ever going to get real reform.

Most Italians made national unity under the King of Sardinia their goal.

This was at odds with Mazzini who wanted a republic.

Count Camillo di Cavour, the Prime Minister of Sardinia, arranged a secret defense agreement with Napoleon III of France. Slide 8

Austria feared its hold on Italy was weakening and declared war on Sardinia in 1859.

The French, because of the defense agreement, came to Sardinia’s aid. Garibaldi, who was back in Italy again, also helped in pushing the Austrians eastward almost to Venice. France was given Savoy and Nice for there help

Count Camillo Benso di Cavour 1810-1861