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The states of Italia are all technically subject to the Holy Roman Empire. However, only Milan has an electoral vote and in practice, the Italian seats at the Imperial diet are rarely completely filled (though they are very vocal when they feel aggrieved). The Venetian Republic has always rejected Imperial authority in its lands and is discussed elsewhere.
The medieval period was an extremely violent as the various states struggled for dominance over the peninsula, often in flagrant disregard for Imperial peace treaties. This was compounded by the neighbouring powers' long conflict for control of Naples, such as the Aragonese Conquest of Naples for instance, and was helped by the prevalence of army companies such as the Manx Company which allowed the states to field armies much larger than they would have been able to support naturally. This process was only halted in 1613 after the Peace of Lodi which brought most of the previously warring states into a defensive alliance, primarily aimed at finally putting a stop to Aragon's eastward expansion and allowed them to campaign effectively on the Catholic side during during the Fifty Years War.
Most states use the Milanese Florin (MFL), though all sovereign states are allowed to mint their own designs.
All of the states speak a version of Italian, though the dialects vary. At the extreme end, the grades of difference between Milanese and Neapolitan mean they are not completely mutually intelligible.
The Grand Duchy of Milan, Milan, has long been the premier power of Italia, not only for its trade driven wealth but also its proximity to the rest of the Empire. It is also the largest Italian nation by population. The Visconti family bought the Dukedom from the Luxembourg Emperor Wenceslaus in 1395 after he abandoned his own plans to recreate a 'Kingdom of Lombardy', but often found itself torn apart as various Visconti nobles and their descendants sought to impose their rule on the duchy. Apart from the civil wars it had soon descended into bitter wars with Tuscany, Venice and the Swiss Confederation over its territory. Much of the Mantuan Wars, and those for the future of Naples, were fought on Milanese land. These 15th century wars between a revolving cast of Aragon, Luxembourg, Austria, Venice and most of the Italian states left the Dukes precariously holding on to power, now in control of Mantua, but also heavily in debt to German bankers.
This indebtedness and perceived weakness allowed Geneva and the Swiss Confederation to annex various territories during the late 16th and early 17th century. Protestantism also gained a foothold but was ruthlessly purged even though it was not the greatest ally of the Papacy during this period. However, it was a firm Catholic power during the Fifty Years War and would regain most of its prior losses at the final treaty.
Complacency dogged the duchy during the 18th century and it was caught unawares by the rapidly widening Iberian Revolution. After heavy defeat at the hands of del Olmo the Duchy was abolished and its lands incorporated into the Savonese Republic in 1828. The Dukes in exile in Austria closely planned the efforts to retake Italia and Milan would hold the peace negotiations to settle the war in 1835. The region was reverted to the rule of the Dukes though many have said the potential the country has been squandered with continual unrest and reactionary politics.
Ruled by the Grimaldi family off-and-on since 1217, the Principality of Monaco became a fully independent territory after they purchased the fortress and its dependent towns of Roquebrune and Menton from Aragon in 1419. After Aragon fully withdrew from the region it was encouraged to join the Holy Roman Empire by its northern neighbour, Arles, lest its previous rulers, Genoa, ever felt like retaking the tiny territory. Monaco was raised to a Principality in the midst of the Fifty Years War after Augustine II's inspired defense of Regensberg against Kalmar troops in 1639.
In 1932 Prince Joseph caused a scandal by marrying the 18 year old Svealandic theatre actress Ingrid Bergman. However, given Monaco's already risqué reputation as a meeting ground of Europe's wealthy, and as a gambling resort, it only added to the glamorous and care-free attitude of the tiny nation.
The Republic of Genoa, Genoa, is a republic situated along the Ligurian coast of Italia. Its wealth and power was built during the early medieval period on the back of a huge trading network. It has long been a staunch ally of Byzantium greatly assisting it in preventing the Caliphate from building a coherent fleet in the Mediterranean.
Genoa also governs the island of Corsica which it captured during the Manutan Wars to which it gives considerable autonomy.
Doges are elected for two year terms during which they act as Head of State and as Head of Government. However they enjoyed far less freedom of movement than their equivalents in Venice. Therefore the Dogate Palace in Genoa is much less ostentatious and since 1800 the office has attracted pure politicians rather than the dynastic families coveting the office for their own ends as had long been the case. Since 1913 they have been elected by the people of the entire republic rather than just the Genoese city council.
An ancient Etruscan city, Parma was long a subject of Milan but became the focal point of the long Italian Wars as Milan, the Empire and the Papacy all fought for control. During the 1520s alone it was occupied by Aragon, the Papacy, Milan, Arles, mutinous troops from the Icelandic Company and lastly the Papacy once more.
The Duchy would receive its independence under the corrupt and nepotistic Farnese popes. Despite their slightly less than legitimate claims to the region, the ducal family brought great stability and splendour to the small city.
Parma resisted inclusion into the revolutionary Savonese Republic longer than most of its neighbours and del Olmo had to keep a large military presence there at the expense of other campaigns. After his retreat from the region Parma was swiftly returned to the rule of the Farnese family and then they pledged the duchy's troops to the other pre-revolutionary regimes struggling to regain their authority.
The Duchy of Modena, Modena, developed around the city of the same name in the 14th century. Occasionally ruled in union with Ferrara it tended to side with the Imperial side in most Papal disputes, a stance which kept it in near-constant conflict with its neighbours.
The conflicts left the dukes poor and in 1534 when Aragon offered to advance a considerable loan it was readily accepted. Of course the dukes could not afford the repayments and this this left the duchy further in debt and occupied by Aragonese forces, further inflicting war and misery on the populace. The Aragonese would eventually be thrown out in 1572 during the War of Neapolitan Succession by the French. France would largely take Aragon's place and ties were strengthened through marriages. The duchy played a relatively minor role in the Fifty Years War.
Like its neighbours Modena was conquered and absorbed into the Savonese Republic during the and many in the duchy took great delight in finally throwing off 'foreign' dominance. Some of the fiercest fighting in the republic's liberation occurred in the duchy.
Modern Modena is famous for its university, regularly judged one of the best in the world and is centre for light industry.
Previously a nominal republic and a great rival of Florence, the Principality of Lucca was often traded around between the ruling houses of Europe as a dispensable dowry. Handed its independence once more in 1638, Lucca's army and its considerable treasury was shattered by the invasion of Italia by del Olmo's armies during the Iberian Revolution. It was incorporated into the Savonese Republic.
After the war there was a severe backlash against republicanism, and in particular the perceived corruption of the old republic, which led to the promotion of the Montecatini family to elected Princes. Under their rule the government has, counter-intuitively, become much more democratic.
It enjoys one of the highest standards of living on the peninsula with a rich cultural tradition.
Grand Duchy of Tuscany
The Duchy of Ferrara, Ferrara, is small constitutional monarchy in Northern Italia straddling the mouth of the River Po. Once a part of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna it became independent after Emperor Otto I bequeathed it to his nephew Tedaldo. During the Investiture Crisis it was captured by Matilda, Countess of Tuscany in 1101, but her death in 1115 would allow local princes all across North Italia to take control.
Ferrara fell under the influence of the Aleardi family who (thanks to occasionally creative genealogies and not withstanding the Savonese occupation) rival the Danish Estrissons for longest reigning European dynasty. Often at war with their great rivals Venice the Aleardi turned Ferrara into a wealthy cultural centre and during the renaissance the city was stuffed with poets, artists and architects eager for the patronage of the dukes. Although often at odds with its Italian neighbours and a fully paid-up combatant during the Mantuan Wars the usual reluctance to allow Venice any ground would stop the other states from pressing it too hard and the dukes could mostly shrug off military defeat.
Much of its architectural heritage was damaged during the Hispanic Revolution and a great deal of its priceless art treasures were carted off to Madrid after del Olmo conquered the duchy and added it to the Savonese Republic. Although the majority were returned many pieces disappeared and are presumed destroyed.
The oldest continually independent state in Europe, the Republic of San Marino, has been in existence since the 5th Century AD although the founding of the original city by St. Marinus is traditionally dated to 301.
The relative unimportance and mountainous terrain of the territory kept it out of many of the peninsula's conflicts over the centuries. Surrounded by Papal territory for most of its history it is currently in heated debate over whether it should support, or even join, the mooted federation being suggested for the Roman territories.
If Italia has embraced the Auto-car wholeheartedly then the Sanmarinese are the most car-mad of the Italian states. The San Marino Trials are a yearly competition held in May on the twisting hilly streets of the state to find the most skilled European drivers, and also a chance to show off new designs and innovations.
The seat of Papacy, Rome was of course once the centre of a vast empire though barbarian invasions had diminished its glory somewhat since its classical heyday. Achieving its independence once more in the 8th century after careful handling of their 'barbarian' overlords to the north and largely took over the territory of the old Exarchate of Ravenna and as Italy's foremost authority once the Lombards had ejected the Byzantines from the peninsula.
The Papacy soon became a thorn in the side of the Holy Roman Emperors, repeatedly coming to blows over investiture rights and a great deal of the Empire's time and energy would be wasted on campaigns in Italy.
Though the Pope was nominally in control of the territory, in practice most of the Papal States were controlled by local lords. It would not be until the 1690s that the final independent lords were brought to heel.
In recent years the clamour for democratic rule rather than the dictatorial rule of the Cardinal Council has been overwhelming and since 1998 the council, alongside various regional bodies, have been working slowly towards a fully functioning democratic parliament. Whilst many of the papal elements of the old state have been slowly removed, including dropping the 'Papal States' as the territory's official name, many of the regions would like to go farther and govern themselves in a federal system like the Confederation of the Pyrenees. Rome's old rivals Tuscany and Naples have tended to be quite vocal in their support for the federalisation of Rome and regularly campaign at the Imperial Diet for the Emperor's intervention.
For many years Byzantium's only remaining Italian territory, Naples and the lower half of the Italian peninsula was conquered by Normans after defeating the Emirate of Sicily and clashing with the various duchies of the mainland. United, the two kingdoms would pass from the Normans to the Hohenstaufens and be briefly ruled from Arles before King Fredrick III split his lands between his three sons in 1263. The Naples-Sicily portion fell to Conrad and in turn by the ruthlessly ambitious Charles of Beziers who had married his daughter (and quite possibly forged his will). This brought him into conflict with Aragon (his nominal overlords in Beziers), Arles (which claimed the kingdom by right of inheritance) and Byzantium (whose new Bulgarian dynasty was deeply paranoid about any disturbances on its doorstep).
In turn, the Bezier rulers fell into dispute with Emperor Olaf over their activities in Hungary and Poland and his Pisan Popes invited Aragon to take the Bezier lands in Italy by any means necessary. They were pushed out of Sicily by 1381 while the city of Naples finally joined its Aragonese surroundings in 1422. Only a year later it was independent as inheritance disputes with Barcelona led James I to break away. The Kingdom of Naples would often find itself the centre of power play in the Mediterranean especially after the House of Barcelona-Naples ran out of heirs in the early 16th. Nominally defaulting to Aragon in reality a complex web of marriages and rash promises lit the spark to a succession crisis that would lead to a forty-year struggle fought between Hungary, Aragon, France, the Papacy and the Empire. This struggle in turn fueled the vicious Mantuan Wars that tore medieval Italy apart.
On the occasions it was left alone it spent most of its energies attempting to reclaim Sicily, a policy that only served to weaken Italy further and bankrupt it repeatedly. A major factor in Aragon's intervention in the Fifty Years War was its desire to take Naples while the Empire was busy elsewhere. After the Treaty of Copenhagen it recognised Imperial protection and officially joined the Empire.
During the Iberian Revolution it was targeted by Del Olmo as a legitimate extension of Hispania's historic realm but concerted effort from Byzantium and the Kalmar navy helped prevent both the fall of Naples on land and to keep Sicily Aragonese. After this point tensions between Aragon and Naples reduced and both renounced their claims to each others territory as part of the Treaty of Milan.
It is usually regarded as one of the least liberal states in the Holy Roman Empire and its latent economic potential is hampered by severe corruption.
It uses the Neapolitan Piastra (NPT).
Sardinia & Sicily
The islands of Sardinia and Sicily form self-governing counties of Aragon. Through them, Aragon has a voice in the Imperial Diet but usually restricts its interference to maritime issues.