Italy, up until the Italian unification in 1861, was a conglomeration of city-states, republics, and other independent entities. The following is a list of the various Italian states during that period. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the arrival of the Middle Ages (in particular from the 11th century), the Italian Peninsula was divided into numerous states. Many of these states consolidated into major political units that balanced the power on the Italian Peninsula: the Papal States, the Venetian Republic, the Republic of Florence, the Duchy of Milan, the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily. Unlike all the other Italian states, the republics of Venice and Genoa, thanks to their maritime powers, went beyond territorial conquests within the Italian Peninsula, conquering various regions across the Mediterranean and Black Seas.[1][2]

Archaic Italy

Ethnolinguistic map of Italy in the Iron Age, before the Roman expansion and conquest of Italy

Classical Italy

Roman Empire under Caesar Augustus

Early Middle Ages

High Middle Ages

Political map of Italy in the year 1000
Political map of Southern Italy in the year 1112

States in Central and Northern Italy

States in Southern Italy

States of the Holy Roman Empire

Sardinian Judicates

Late Middle Ages

Italy in 1454, right after the Peace of Lodi.
The Italian Peninsula in 1499.

Major states

Minor states

After the Italian Wars

Map of Italy in 1559 after the Treaties of Cateau-Cambrésis. Possessions and Viceroyalties of the Spanish Habsburgs in yellow. Imperial fiefs in Italy of the Austrian Habsburgs in red borders.

The Peace of Cateau Cambrésis ended the Italian Wars in 1559. The kingdoms of Sicily, Sardinia, Naples (inclusive of the State of Presidi) and the Duchy of Milan were left under the control of Spanish Habsburgs. France was in control of several fortresses and in particular of the Marquisate of Saluzzo. All the other Italian states remained independent, with the most powerful being the Venetian Republic, the Medici's Duchy of Tuscany, the Savoyard state, the Republic of Genoa, and the Papal States. The Gonzaga in Mantua, the Este in Modena and Ferrara and the Farnese in Parma and Piacenza continued to be important dynasties. Parts of the north of Italy remained a part of the Holy Roman Empire.[4][5][6]

Major states

Minor states

After the Wars of Succession of the 18th century

Political map of Italy in the year 1789

Following the European wars of succession of the 18th century and the extinction of the House of Medici, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was ruled by the Habsburg-Lorraine. Some minor states in Central and Northern Italy, such as Parma and Mantua, passed to the Austrian monarchy. Southern Italy passed to a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon, known as House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. While other states such as Genoa, Savoy, Modena and Lucca remained with their governments unchanged. Many Italian ruling dynasty became extinct in the 18th century, including the Medici, the House of Farnese, the House of Gonzaga, the House of Este and the Cybo.

Major states

Minor states

Their populations and other vital statistics stood as follows in the late 18th century:[7]

Total: 18.3 million

During Napoleonic times (1792–1815)

Political map of Italy in the year 1810

Sister republics of Revolutionary France

In personal union with France

Client states of the First French Empire

Other states

From the Restoration to the Unification

Political map of Italy in the year 1843

Following the defeat of Napoleon's France, the Congress of Vienna (1815) was convened to redraw the European continent. In Italy, the Congress restored the pre-Napoleonic patchwork of independent governments, either directly ruled or strongly influenced by the prevailing European powers, particularly Austria. The Congress also determined the end of two millenary republics: Genoa was annexed by the then Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia, and Venice was incorporated with Milan into a new kingdom of the Austrian Empire.

At the time, the struggle for Italian unification was perceived to be waged primarily against the Habsburgs, since they directly controlled the predominantly Italian-speaking northeastern part of present-day Italy and were the most powerful force against the Italian unification. The Austrian Empire vigorously repressed nationalist sentiment growing in its domains on the Italian Peninsula, as well as in the other parts of Habsburg domains.


Kingdom of Italy in 1870, showing the Papal States, before the Capture of Rome
Kingdom of Italy in 1871

Italian Partisan Republics

The Italian Partisan Republics were the provisional state entities liberated by Italian partisans from the rule and occupation of Nazi Germany and the Italian Social Republic in 1944 during the Second World War. They were universally short-lived, with most of them being reconquered by the Wehrmacht within weeks of their formal establishments and re-incorporated into the Italian Social Republic.

See also


  1. ^ "End of Europe's Middle Ages - Italy's City-States". Retrieved 2021-09-10.
  2. ^ Bragadin, Marc'Antonio (2010). Storia delle repubbliche marinare (in Italian). Odoya. ISBN 978-8862880824.
  3. ^ Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator, Variae, Lib. II., XLI. Luduin regi Francorum Theodericus rex.
  4. ^ Burman, Edward (1989). Italian Dynasties: Great Families of Italy from the Renaissance to the Present Day. Equation; First Edition. ISBN 1853360058.
  5. ^ Christine Shaw, Michael Mallett. The Italian Wars 1494-1559: War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe. Routledge.
  6. ^ "Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis | European history". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  7. ^ Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor, Vol. 3. Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonne comte de Las Cases. 1816.