BackgroundItaly had, in the early Middle Ages, been intermittently part of the Roman state, but was permanently re-absorbed in 1104 with the defeat of the Papal Kingdom. The northern cities, which were already semi-independent from both the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire, were allowed to continue evolving separately to form a buffer against the north, but the southern peninsula was re-organised into the Exarchate of Italy, the same status it had once held long before.
For a long time the people of Italy were content under Roman rule, readily converting to Islam and adopting many aspects of Greek culture. However, by the late 16th century they had become disillusioned by the marginalization of Italy and by the long years of war during the middle of the century, and agitators in many cities began to call for independence. When in 1599 one such agitator was publicly executed for treason in the main square of Naples, the unrest rapidly swelled into open revolt, and then a series of full-scale wars which dragged in much of the rest of the Mediterranean region.
The warsInitially Romania was successful in containing the revolt. However, supplies of weapons and money from Aquitaine encouraged the cities to rise up once more, and when Aquitaine itself, along with several of the northern cities, entered the war the Romans found themselves hard pressed to keep control of the countryside.
However, they managed to stand their ground for another fifteen years, despite having to divert forces to deal with simultaneous uprisings in Bulgaria, Hungary and Syria. But in 1617 the other major Roman territory in the west, the Exarchate of Africa, also revolted and joined the conflict on the side of the Italians. Having always taken the loyalty of the Africans for granted, the Romans were unprepared for this sudden turn of events and had no choice but to retreat step by step. By 1625 they had been driven out of Italy altogether, save for the single city of Brindisi.
The fighting continued for a few more years at sea, but Romania was unable to regain any ground. In 1632 therefore it finally agreed to peace, recognising the independence of Italy and Africa in return for substantial reparations.
Although the intention for many was for Italy to form a single united state, many local rulers found this was not in their interests. Since there was no longer a single central government (the last exarch having been killed in battle some years before), the final treaty recognised that it was to be formed of many independent kingdoms, duchies and republics, which would not come together as one again until the Italian Revolution of the 18th century.
Africa, however, managed to stay unified and is still so to this day. Since it was the exarchial government which revolted, rather than a popular movement, the last exarch and his descendents have continued to rule as Kings of Africa.