Unlike Germany, Italy was in turmoil for much of its postwar period. In 1946 a plebiscite showed 54 percent of the voters in favor of a republic, which was therefore established. Some monarchists and fascists remained, but neither group influenced parliamentary politics to any great extent.
The earliest account of Jesus (by Mark) comes from about A.D. 70, and the account by John is from the end of the same century. These accounts are Gospels, that is, statements about the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, written so that those teachings would not be lost. They indicate that Jesus was born in Palestine sometime between the years we now call 8 and 4 B.C. and was crucified probably in A.D. 29 or 30 in the reign of Tiberius.
Meanwhile, the Italians struck in Ethiopia, where an independent state had precariously maintained itself largely because its imperial neighbors—Britain, France, and Italy—would neither agree to divide it nor let any one of the three swallow it whole.
Perhaps the great scientific event of the twentieth century was the revolution in physics symbolized for the public by Albert Einstein (1879-1955). This revolution centered on radical revisions made in the Newtonian world-machine, the mechanistic model of the universe that had been accepted for more than two centuries.
The thriving maritime trade changed public taste, as it brought a variety of new produce into the British and Continental markets. Dramatic examples are the rise of the coffeehouse and the drinking of tea at home.
The Franks engaged in no long migrations, expanding gradually west and south from their territory along the lower Rhine until eventually they were to create an empire that would include most of western Europe except for the Iberian peninsula and the British isles. Clovis (r. 481-511), a descendant of the house of Merevig or Merovech (called Merovingian), was the primary founder of Frankish power. Moving into Gaul, he successively defeated the last Roman governor (486), the Alamanni (496), and the Visigoths of Aquitaine (507).
Many of the disorders that characterized Russian history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries began in the long reign of Ivan IV, the Terrible. Pathologically unbalanced, Ivan succeeded to the throne as a small child. In 1547 he threw off the tutelage of the nobles, and embarked upon a period of sound government and institutional reform.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was the first major Italian writer to embody some of the qualities that were to characterize Renaissance literature. Much of Dante’s writing and outlook bore the stamp of the Middle Ages, and the grand theme of the Divine Comedy was medieval, the chivalric concept of disembodied love inspiring his devotion to Beatrice, whom he seldom saw.
It was under Cyrus (r.c. 559-530), who attacked the Medes and took their capital (Ecbatana, south of the Caspian Sea), that the Persians began a meteoric rise toward universal rule. Uniting his territory with that of the Medes and initially bypassing Babylon, Cyrus moved westward into Anatolia, absorbed the Lydian kingdom of the rich king Croesus, and conquered the Greek cities of Ionia along the Aegean coast. Next he moved east all the way to the borders of India, annexing as he went.
There are many arguments as to why civilization had to wait so long before scientific knowledge was given a systematic application. Whatever the answers, a tendency to see science as being in opposition to religion was developing. Perhaps the answer lay, in part, in the attitudes of the Roman ruling groups.