History of Campania (Vacations in Campania)
Vacations in Campania, beautiful landThe region (Campania) was a cultural centre and an important trade centre with the East.
The first recorded peoples to have lived in the region of Campania were the Aurunci and the Opici. The importance of Ancient Greece to the area is well documented, and still clearly visible today; the first established Greek colony was founded at Cuma, north of the site of present day Naples, in the 8th century BC.
The remarkable Etruscans ruled the area in the 6th century BC, and they in turn fell to the Sannites until, in the 4th century BC, the area was annexed by the Holy Roman Empire. This was a fairly stable period, abruptly ended by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, totally destroying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The fall of the Roman Empire saw the are fought over by the Goths and the Byzantines during the 5th and 6th centuries, with it eventually becoming part of the Lombard duchy of Benevento, excepting Amalfi and Naples, both of which were established as independent republics. The Normans (under Robert Guiscard and his antecedents) conquered and re-unified Campania during the 11th and 12th centuries, seizing southern Italy from the Byzantines. In 1139 Roger II, Guiscard's nephew, was invested by Pope Innocent II with the Kingdom of Sicily, including the Norman conquests of southern Italy, of which Campania was one.
Charles I (Charles of Anjou) lost Sicily in 1282, but he retained the mainland territories - these came to be known as the Kingdom of Naples, and roughly covered a region comprising modern day Campania, Abruzzo, Molise, Basilicata, Puglia and Calabria, with Naples as the capital. The two kingdoms were later reunited (1442) by Alfonso V of Aragon who styled himself the 'King of two Sicilies'. Under his successors the two kingdoms were once again separated, but the title was subsequently revived during the Spanish domination (1504–1713) of both kingdoms.
It was the Treaty of Blois that ceded Naples and Sicily to Spain; there began two centuries that saw southern Italy become one of the poorest, most backward and exploited areas in all Europe. There was crippling taxation, agriculture was rendered extremely difficult by the land-grabbing and quarrelling of both Italian and Spanish nobility as well as the church, widespread disease and famine were prevalent, and revolt was quickly quashed. Next came the turn of Austria, occupying the area in 1707; next, during the War of Polish Succession, Don Carlos of Bourbon (later becoming Charles III of Spain) reconquered the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. The Treaty of Vienna in 1738 formalised this conquest, and the two kingdoms again became became subservient to the Spanish crown, ruled by a cadet branch of the Spanish line of Bourbon.
Ferdinand IV of Naples (Ferdinand III of Sicily) officially merged the two kingdoms in 1816 and titled himself 'Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies'. A popular uprising in 1820 forced Ferdinand to concede a constitution, but Austrian intervention in 1821, post the Congress of Laibach, saw his absolute power restored. Sicily and Naples were to fall to the forces of Garibaldi in 1860, and, in 1861, Gaeta, the 'Two Sicilies' became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a great deal of migration from Campania, particularly to America, and nowadays the region still has a problem with over-population. Tourism is of paramount importance, and the coastal strip has been a 'holiday' destination all through history; there is industry centred around the bay of Naples, and the northern and southern coastal plains have been noted for agricultural excellence for centuries.