Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview



Italian History

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Italy Today




Marco Polo


These are links to my pages on Italy's various historical eras.   


Italy in 1695.  The Map shows Italy's major roads and postal routes (the postal stages).



Italy in 1626.  





Click on the names below to read brief articles about these Italian Age of Reason and Enlightenment heroes, from the Columbia Encyclopedia.

Bernardino Telesio

Giordano Bruno

Tommaso Campanella

Marcello Malpighi



The U.S. based Marconi Society has an interesting website about Marconi and radio, and even about how the Titanic sinking fueled advances in wireless communications, in the hopes of avoiding another tragedy.  Click on Marconi's image above to visit their site.

The Age of Colonialism, Capitalism, Reason, and the Industrial Revolution


Because Italy was not united under one monarchy, Italy was not powerful enough to become a major colonial power like Holland, France, Britain, Spain or Portugal. 


Italy was in an economic decline during this era, the 1600s onward, and stuck in rural, feudal-style life.  Italy was divided under foreign rulers and the mainly uneducated populace was not allowed to exert any originality to change the order of things. 

Repressive means were used to quell new thought; philosophers were locked up and tortured. 


The capital needed to fund the economic and technological advances that were happening in the north, just did not exist in Italy.  This would remain the situation throughout this era, fueling emigration, rebellions, and repressions until Italian Unification in the 1870s.


Elsewhere in Europe, however, with the Church no longer dominating every aspect of life, secular governments sought new ways to manage their wealth, economic growth and fast-growing populations. 


The Age of Reason was born.  Man began to question belief, reality, dogma, and the legitimacy of the leaders themselves.  Superstition was anathema to the new thinkers who said that reason and fact should tell us what is right and wrong. 


This was the beginning of a scientific and social science revolution that changed the west forever, and itís repercussions lead to the Age of Enlightenment and modern secular society. 


Italy is rarely credited with much during this time, but the major thinkers of the day like Bacon and Descartes credited the Italian naturalistic philosophers such as Telesio, and Bruno and Campanella with starting them on their way.  In the 1500s, these men stressed the need to acquire knowledge through experience and experiment, ideas which were the basis of the Age of Reason and The Enlightenment. 


The Italian anatomist Malpighi worked in the late 1600s with the microscope studying the circulatory system in the body and bacteria, making great strides in the understanding of human physiology. 


The astronomer Galileo (b.1564-d.1642) used the telescope to help prove and popularize the Copernican theory of the Earth revolving around the sun.  He also experimented, which was already a new concept, with weights and gravity. 


And in the late 1800s, the physicist Marconi developed the radio helping to speed communication and to shrink the world.  But he had to go to his British motherís England to find the financing to develop his inventions leading to his eponymous company that is still in existence today. 


Sadly, the lack of capital kept many Italian inventors, in Italy and abroad, from developing their inventions.


But before philosophers began describing things, things were happening all on their own.  Changes were taking place in how goods were produced, packaged, brought to market and sold. 

  • Efficiency was driven by competition within and between countries. 

  • Factories began to replace piece-meal work in homes. 

  • Workers moved to be near factories, or factories were placed in the centers of towns. 

  • Markets and trade fairs grew as the most efficient ways of selling goods. 

  • New raw materials and novelty items arrived daily from colonies, stimulating new products and creating new markets overnight. 

Then when steam power was applied to production in the late 1700s, the resulting boom in productivity meant that England would dominate the world for a long time to come, chased after by France and Germany, and that the Industrial Revolution had begun.  But Italy was left out in the cold and remained a feudal, agrarian society during this time.


Next Section:  Italian Unification