History of Naples

Brief history of Naples summarized

A brief and fleeting review of the history of Naples.

Ancient Naples

The city of Naples was founded by the ancient Greeks, who settled in southern Italy. Soon Naples became a very busy and important port. However, the Romans conquered Naples in 326 BC Under Roman rule, the port of Naples continued to prosper, and wealthy Romans built vacation villas on the nearby coast.

However, during a Roman civil war in 88-82 BC a man named Sulla and his forces occupied Naples and massacred many of its inhabitants. With the return of peace, Naples flourished again. In the 4th century the Roman Empire split in two.

Then, in the 5th century AD, the western half of the Roman Empire was invaded and it completely ended in 476 AD Italy was left in the hands of the Germanic peoples.

However, the eastern half of the Roman Empire survived. (We know it as the Byzantine Empire.) The Byzantines were determined to recapture southern Italy. In AD 536 they besieged and captured Naples. It then became a dukedom with a duke.

Gradually Byzantine rule weakened and in 645 a native Neapolitan named Basil became Duke of Naples. In the following centuries Naples prospered and trade with other places around the Mediterranean flourished.

Medieval and Renaissance Naples

However, the Normans had reached southern Italy. In 1139 the Normans conquered Naples and it became part of the kingdom of Sicily (which included southern Italy). Under the Normans, Naples took a backseat to Palermo, though it remained prosperous.

For a time Naples was ruled by the German Emperor. The University of Naples was founded in 1224. However, in 1265 Charles of Anjou conquered the city. Then in 1442 Alfonso of Aragon (in Spain) became Governor of Naples.

In the 16th century, Naples was part of the great Spanish empire. At first Naples was prosperous and grew rapidly. In 1600 Naples was the largest city in Europe with a population of around 300,000. However, in the 17th century the situation turned sour.

In the seventeenth century Naples suffered an economic depression. Discontent in Naples grew due to heavy taxes. Finally, in 1647, the city revolted. However, in 1648 the Spanish managed to restore order. Then, in 1656, Naples was devastated by the plague.

Then, in 1734, Sicily and southern Italy (including Naples) became an independent kingdom again. Once again, Naples flourished. However, in the 1790s, all of Europe, including Italy, was shaken by the events that followed the French Revolution. In 1799 the French army occupied Naples and created a republic.

Modern Naples

With Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, the old order returned to Naples and the rest of Italy. The kings of Naples imposed a repressive regime. In 1820 there was a revolution in Naples and constitutional government was introduced.

However, in 1821 the Austrian army entered Naples and restored the absolute power of the king. Another revolution took place in 1848, but it too failed and in 1849 he was able to restore power to it.

Then, in 1860, Italy was unified. The great soldier Garibaldi arrived in Naples on September 7, 1860, and people flocked to meet him. On October 21, 1860, the people of Naples voted overwhelmingly to join the newly united Italy.

However, Naples has lost much of its former importance. Naples also suffered greatly during World War II. Allied bombing caused great damage to the city. At the end of the 20th century, Naples suffered from a high level of unemployment. However, in the 90s the situation changed and Naples was regenerated.

Today Naples is a prosperous city. At present, the population of Naples is 960,000 inhabitants.

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