History of Trentino

History of Trentino

The "History of Trentino" begins in the mid-Stone Age the valleys of what is now Trentino were already inhabited by man, the main settlements being in the valley of the Adige River, thanks for its milder climate. Scholars have supposed the first settlers (probably hunters) came from the Padana Plain and the Venetian Prealps, after the first glaciers started to melt at the end of the Pleistocene glaciations.

Findings (in particular, sepultures) from the Mesolithic, have been discovered in several part of the province. These include the "comuni" of Zambana and Mezzocorona. A large area of a hunting-based settlement from the Neolithic has been found out near the lakes of Colbricòn, not far from the Passo Rolle.

Ancient history

Around 500 BCE, the Raetians appeared in the Trentine territory, coming from the Central and Eastern Alps area. They settled in several valleys and improved and introduced new activities along with the traditional hunting: agriculture (wine, vegetables, cereals), breeding (ovines, goats, bovines and horses). From the Roman Age, the entire territory of current Trentino-South Tyrol was known as Raetia.

This region was conquered by the Romans only in the 1st century BC. The definitive defeat of the Rhaetians, near Bolzano, occurred during the military campaigns in the Alps of Drusus and Tiberius (16-17 BC). Trento became a Roman "municipium" between in the 40s BC. During the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) the Trentino was integrated in the Imperial roadnet with the construction of the Via Claudia Augusta Padana (from Ostiglia to the Resia Pass) and the Via Augusta Altinate (from Treviso to Trento, passing through the Valsugana).

Middle Ages

During the Late Antiquity, in the 5th century AD, the Trentino was invaded several times, from North and East: first by the Ostrogoths, then by the Bavarians and Byzantines and finally by the Lombards. With the latter's domination an idea of territorial identity of the province began to shape ("Tridentinum territorium"). In the same century the region became largely Christianized. In 774 the Trentino was conquered by the Franks and became part of the Kingdom of Italy, a sometimes vague entity included in what was to become the Holy Roman Empire.

The first territorial unity of Trentino dates back to 1027, when emperor Conrad II officially gave the rule of the area to the Bishopric of Trent. This entity survived for some eight centuries and granted Trentino a certain autonomy, first from the Holy Roman Empire and then from the Austrian Empire.

Modern age

In the early 19th century the Trentine people participated actively to the resistance against the French invasion led by the Tyrolese Andreas Hofer. After the end of the Napoleonic era (1815), the Bishopric of Trent was dissolved and Trentino became part of the County of Tyrol, in which the majority of the population was German speaking. Though relatively well administered, and despite the presence of Trentine representants in the Diets of Innsbruck and Vienna, in the second half of the 19th century a movement (part of the general movement called Italian Irredentism) rose with aims to annex for the Kingdom of Italy: this, however, was largely put forward by intellectuals like Cesare Battisti and Fabio Filzi, and met little support by the predominantly rural population.

The Trentine territory was one of the main fronts of the conflict (1915-1918) between Italy and Austria-Hungary, and suffered heavy destruction. After the call to arms summoned by Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria on July 31, 1914, more than 60,000 Trentine fought for Austria, first against Russia and Serbia and, starting from 1915, also against Italians. More than 10,000 of them died, and many others were wounded or made prisoners. Further, hundreds of thousands of civilians were forced to abandon their native area when they were too near to the front lines. Many of them, captured by the Italian Army, were later transferred to Southern Italy as colonists.

With the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the Trentino was annexed to Italy, together with the new Province of Bolzano (South Tyrol), firstly as part of Venezia Tridentina. The centralization process brought on by the Fascists reduced the autonomy that cities like Trento or Rovereto had enjoyed under the precedent Liberal governments, while many of the smaller "comuni" were united, reducing their number from the 366 under the Habsburg to 127.

After World War II, the treaty signed by the Italian and Austrian Ministers of Foreign affairs, the Trentine Alcide De Gasperi and Karl Gruber, the autonomous Region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol was constituted (see Gruber-De Gasperi Agreement).

In the following decades the main party in Trentino was Christian Democracy, while autonomistic instances found their voice in the Partito Popolare Trentino Tirolese (Trentine-Tyrolese Popular Party). In 1957 strife between Trentino and the largely German-speaking South Tyrol led to the diffusion of the slogan "Los von Trient" ("Away from Trento"). In 1972, finally, the regional authorities was largely handed over to the two provinces.

In the 1960s and 1970s Trentino witnessed strong economic development, spurred mainly by the tourism sector and by the new autonomy. It is currently one of the richest and best developed Italian provinces.


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