Today in World History: September 19th

The Italian Army, created after unification of the peninsula was near completion, laid siege to the city of Rome on this day in 1870. The Papal States, at the time a small nation consisting of Rome and the surrounding area, had already lost nearly all of its political influence, relegated to status as a small city state, almost non-existent in European politics. It did, however, serve as an obstacle in the newly formed Italy’s path to unification, as Rome was the traditional capital of the peninsula, having been the center of the Roman Empire, and later the seat of the Pope during the Church’s most influential centuries. Many of the Italian populace sought to see the Papal States united with the Italian kingdom, and only the Popes’ influence on the empires of France and Austria prevented the Italian people from conquering the nation. Eventually, Italy launched an invasion, during which they retook the ancient capital, entering Rome on September 20, 1870. This marked the beginning of the Italian occupation of the Vatican, as relations between the two countries were abysmal, leading to the Popes’ seclusion within the Vatican for more than fifty years, lasting until 1929, when the two countries signed an agreement granting independence to Vatican City, the walled city-state within Rome.


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