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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
a kingdom in Southern Europe, with an area of 112,852 square miles and a population in 1870 of 26,500,000 inhabitants. The name originally belonged to the southern point of the Apennine peninsula alone; at the time of Thucydides it embraced the whole southern coast from the river Laus, on the Tyrrhenian Sea, Metapontium to the Sicilian Straits; after the conquest of Tarentum by the Romans it was extended to all the country from the Sicilian Straits to the Arno or Rubicon; finally, at the time of Augustus, it came to be used of the whole of the peninsula. In a still wider sense it was, under Constantine, the name of one of the four chief divisions of the Roman Empire, being subdivided into three (according to others into four or two) dioceses — Illyria, Africa, and Italy Proper. But this wider significance died out with the dissolution of the Roman Empire, and the name has since been confined to the Apennine peninsula. It denoted a century, the people of which gradually coalesced into one nation, united by the sane language, literature, and habits, but which never, for any length of time, constituted one political commonwealth. Not until 1859 did the national aspirations for unity succeed in erecting by far the larger portion of the peninsula into the kingdom of Italy; in 1866 Venetia was added, and in 1870 the incorporation of Rome completed the structure of national unity.
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