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About Naples Geography Edit

Naples is a small Italian country located in South Italy and Sicily. It lies between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Campi Flegrei. The islands of Procida, Capri and Ischia can all be reached from Naples.

Early History of Naples Edit

Naples became an ally of the Roman Republic against Carthage. The strong walls of Naples held off Hannibal. During the Samnite Wars, the city, now a bustling centre of trade, was captured by the Samnites. However, the Romans soon took it from them and made Neapolis a Roman colony. Neapolis was greatly respected by the Romans as a place of Hellenistic culture. The people maintained their Greek language and customs, and  elegant villas, aqueducts, public baths, a theatre and the Temple of Dioscures were built. A number of Roman emperors, including Claudius and Tiberius, maintained villas in or near Naples. It was during this period that Christianity came to Naples, and the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul are said to have preached here. St. Januarius, who would become Naples' patron saint, was martyred here.

Mid History of Naples Edit

After a period as a Norman kingdom, the Kingdom of Sicily passed under the Hohenstaufens, the powerful Germanic royal house of Swabian origin. The University of Naples was founded by Frederick II in the city, making it the oldest state university in the world and Naples the intellectual centre of the kingdom. Conflict between the Hohenstaufen house and the Papacy led, in 1266, to Pope Innocent IV crowning the Angevin Duke Charles I as King. Charles officially moved the capital from Palermo to Naples where he resided at the Castel Nuovo. During this period much Gothic architecture sprang up around Naples, including the Naples Cathedral, which is the main church of the city.

In 1282, after the Sicilian Vespers, the kingdom split in half. The Angevin Kingdom of Naples included the southern part of the Italian peninsula, while the island of Sicily became the Aragonese Kingdom of Sicily. The wars continued until the peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, which saw Frederick III recognised as King of the Isle of Sicily, while Charles II was recognised as the King of Naples by Pope Boniface VIII. Despite the split, Naples grew in importance, attracting Pisan and Genoese merchants, Tuscan bankers, and with them some of the most renowned Renaissance scholars and artists of the time, including Boccaccio, Petrarch and Giotto. In the middle of the 14 C, the Hungarian Angevin King Louis the Great captured the city. Alfonso I conquered Naples after his victory against the last Angevin king, René, and Naples was unified with Sicily again for a brief period.

Late History of Naples Edit

Sicily and Naples were separated in 1458 but remained as dependencies of Aragon under Ferrante. The new dynasty enhanced Naples' commerce by establishing relations with the Iberian peninsula. Naples also became a centre of the Renaissance, with artists such as Laurana, da Messina, Sannazzaro and Poliziano arriving in the city. During 1501, Naples became under direct rule from France at the time of Louis XII, and the Neapolitan King Frederick was taken as a prisoner to France. This lasted only four years. Spain won Naples at the Battle of Garigliano and, as a result, Naples fell under the direct rule of the Spanish Empire throughout the entire Spanish Habsburg period. The Spanish sent viceroys to Naples to deal directly with local issues. The most important of these was Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, who was responsible for considerable social, economic and urban progress in the city. He also supported the Inquisition.

During this period, Naples was second only to Paris in size among European cities. It was a cultural powerhouse during the Baroque era as home to artists including Caravaggio, Rosa and Bernini, philosophers such as Telesio, Bruno, Campanella and Vico, and writers such as Battista Marino.

A revolution led by local fisherman, Tommaso Aniello, known as Masaniello, saw the creation of a brief independent Neapolitan Republic, though this lasted only a few months before Spanish rule was reinstated. In 1656, the plague killed about half of Naples' 300,000 inhabitants. Finally, by 1714, the Spanish ceased to rule Naples as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession. It was the Austrian Charles VI who ruled from Vienna, similarly through the medium of viceroys. However, the War of the Polish Succession saw the Spanish regain Sicily and Naples, which under the Treaty of Vienna, were recognised as independent in 1738 under a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons in the person of Charles VII.

During the time of Ferdinand IV, the French Revolution made itself felt in Naples. Nelson, an ally of the Bourbons, even arrived in the city in 1798 to warn against it. However, Ferdinand was forced to retreat and fled to Palermo, where he was protected by a British fleet. Naples' lower classes, the Lazzaroni, were strongly pious and Royalist, favouring the Bourbons. In the mêlée that followed, they fought the Neapolitan pro-Republican aristocracy, fermenting a civil war. The Republicans conquered Castel Sant'Elmo and proclaimed a Parthenopaean Republic, secured by the French Army. A counter-revolutionary religious army of Lazzaroni known as the Sanfedisti was raised and led by Fabrizio Ruffo. They had great success and the French surrendered the Neapolitan castles and were allowed to sail back to Toulon.