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|History of Italy|
Italy, up until the Italian unification in 1861, was a conglomeration of city-states, republics, and other independent entities. The following is a list of the various Italian states during that period.
Under the terms of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559, at the end of the Italian Wars, only the Papacy and Venice remained fully independent. Sardinia, Sicily, Naples (inclusive of the State of Presidi) were under direct control of the Spanish Habsburgs. France ended its claims in Tuscany, Piedmont and Genoa, confirmed as Imperial fiefs in Italy of the Austrian Habsburgs ruled by local families. Milan was an Imperial fief held by Spain. Therefore, the House of Habsburg became the main foreign force in the Italian peninsula.
Following the European wars of succession of the XVIII century, several states in central-north Italy were ruled by the Habsburg-Lorraine from Austria. Southern Italy passed to a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons.
Following the defeat of Napoleon's France, the Congress of Vienna (1815) was convened to redraw the European continent. In Italy, the Congress restored the pre-Napoleonic patchwork of independent governments, either directly ruled or strongly influenced by the prevailing European powers, particularly Austria. The Congress also determined the end of two millenary republics: Genoa was annexed by the then Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia, and Venice was incorporated with Milan into a new kingdom of the Austrian Empire.
At the time, the struggle for Italian unification was perceived to be waged primarily against the Habsburgs, since they directly controlled the predominantly Italian-speaking northeastern part of present-day Italy and were the most powerful force against the Italian unification. The Austrian Empire vigorously repressed nationalist sentiment growing on the Italian peninsula, as well as in the other parts of Habsburg domains.