Ancient tribes and Samnite Wars
Temple of Hera, Paestum
, built 550 BC
The original inhabitants of Campania were three defined groups of the Ancient peoples of Italy, who all spoke the Oscan language, which is part of the Italic family; their names were the Osci, the Aurunci and the Ausones. During the 8th century BC, people from Euboea in Greece, known as Cumaeans, began to establish colonies in the area roughly around the modern day province of Naples. Another Oscan tribe, the Samnites, moved down from central Italy into Campania. Since the Samnites were more warlike than the Campanians, they easily took over the cities of Capua and Cumae, in an area which was one of the most prosperous and fertile in the Italian Peninsula at the time. During the 340s BC, the Samnites were engaged in a war with the Roman Republic in a dispute known as the Samnite Wars, with the Romans securing rich pastures of northern Campania during the First Samnite War.
The major remaining independent Greek settlement was Neapolis, and when the town was eventually captured by the Samnites, the Neapolitans were left with no other option than to call on the Romans, with whom they established an alliance, setting off the Second Samnite War. The Roman consul Quintus Publilius Filo recaptured Neapolis by 326 BC and allowed it to remain a Greek city with some autonomy as a civitas foederata while strongly aligned with Rome. The Second Samnite War ended with the Romans controlling southern Campania and additional regions further to the south.
Campania was a full-fledged part of the Roman Republic by the end of the 4th century BC, valued for its pastures and rich countryside. Its Greek language and customs made it a centre of Hellenistic civilization, creating the first traces of Greco-Roman culture. During the Pyrrhic War the battle took place in Campania at Maleventum in which the Romans, led by consul Curius Dentatus, were victorious. They renamed the city Beneventum (modern day Benevento), which grew in stature until it was second only to Capua in southern Italy. During the Second Punic War in 216 BC, Capua, in a bid for equality with Rome, allied with Carthage. The rebellious Capuans were isolated from the rest of Campania, which remained allies of Rome. Naples resisted Hannibal due to the imposing walls. Capua was eventually starved into submission in the Roman retaking of 211 BC, and the Romans were victorious.
The rest of Campania, with the exception of Naples, adopted the Latin language as official and was Romanised. As part of the Roman Empire, Campania, with Latium, formed the most important region of the Augustan divisions of Italia; Campania was one of the main areas for granary. In ancient times Misenum (modern 'Miseno'), at the extreme northern end of the bay of Naples, was the largest base of the Roman navy, since its port (Portus Julius) was the base of the Classis Misenensis, the most important Roman fleet. It was first established as a naval base in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa, the right-hand man of the emperor Augustus.Roman Emperors chose Campania as a holiday destination, among them Claudius and Tiberius, the latter of whom is infamously linked to the island of Capri. It was also during this period that Christianity came to Campania. Two of the apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, are said to have preached in the city of Naples, and there were also several martyrs during this time. Unfortunately, the period of relative calm was violently interrupted by the epic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 which buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. With the Decline of the Roman Empire, its last emperor, Romulus Augustus, was put in a manor house prison near Castel dell'Ovo, Naples, in 476, ushering in the beginning of the Middle Ages and a period of uncertainty in regard to the future of the area.
Feudalism in the Middle Ages
The area had many duchies and principalities during the Middle Ages, in the hands of the Byzantine Empire and the Lombards. Under the Normans, the smaller independent states were brought together as part of the Kingdom of Sicily, before the mainland broke away to form the Kingdom of Naples. It was during this period that elements of Spanish, French and Aragonese culture were introduced to Campania.
Norman to Angevin
After a period as a Norman kingdom, the Kingdom of Sicily passed to the Hohenstaufens, who were a powerful Germanic royal house of Swabian origins. The University of Naples Federico II was founded by Frederick II in the city, the oldest state university in the world, making Naples the intellectual centre of the kingdom. Conflict between the Hohenstaufen house and the Papacy, led in 1266 to Pope Innocent IV crowning Angevin Dynasty duke Charles I as the 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, the main church of the city.
In 1281, with the advent of 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 championed Renaissance artists of the time, such as Boccaccio, Petrarch and Giotto. Alfonso I conquered Naples after his victory against the last Angevin king, René, and Naples was unified for a brief period with Sicily again.
Aragonese to Bourbon
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 came under direct rule from France at the time of Louis XII, as Neapolitan king Frederick was taken as a prisoner to France; this lasted four years. Spain won Naples at the Battle of Garigliano and, as a result, Naples then became part of the Spanish Empire throughout the entire Habsburg Spain period. The Spanish sent viceroys to Naples to directly deal with local issues: the most important of which 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 became Europe's second largest city after Paris. During the Baroque era it was 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 Masaniello saw the creation of a brief independent Neapolitan Republic, though this lasted only a few months before Spanish rule was regained. 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, with viceroys. However, the War of the Polish Succession saw the Spanish regain Sicily and Naples as part of a personal union, which in the Treaty of Vienna were recognised as independent under a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons in 1738 under Charles VII.
During the time of Ferdinand IV, the French Revolution made its way to Naples: Horatio 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 pious and Royalist, favouring the Bourbons; in the mêlée that followed, they fought the Neapolitan pro-Republican aristocracy, causing 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 under Fabrizio Ruffo was raised; they had great success and the French surrendered the Neapolitan castles and were allowed to sail back to Toulon.
Ferdinand IV was restored as king; however, after only seven years Napoleon conquered the kingdom and instated Bonapartist kings including his brother Joseph Bonaparte. With the help of the Austrian Empire and allies, the Bonapartists were defeated in the Neapolitan War and Bourbon Ferdinand IV once again regained the throne and the kingdom. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 saw the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily combined to form the Two Sicilies, with Naples as the capital city. Naples became the first city on the Italian peninsula to have a railway in 1839, there were many factories throughout the kingdom making it a highly important trade centre.
World War II, "Salerno Capital"
In September 1943, Salerno was the scene of the Operation Avalanche and suffered a great deal of damage. From February 12 to July 17, 1944, it hosted the Government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio. In those months Salerno was the temporary "Capital of the Kingdom of Italy", and the King Victor Emmanuel III lived in a mansion in its outskirts. Salerno received the first "Tricolore" in an official ceremony on 7 January 2012 from the premier Mario Monti, to celebrate the glorious story of Italy and its old capitals.