Monday, November 7, 2016


Italy and Albania: a political and economic alliance, and the unification Italy-Albania in 1939

At the beginning of the twentieth century Albania existed as an agrarian society run by local chieftains, except for periodic short-lived central governments, until King Zogu, with the help of Yugoslavia, secured absolute power in December, 1924. With wide support from the people of Albania, Zogu was able to forge a strong economic alliance with Italy which strengthened the emerging centralized government and gave Albanians a sense of nationhood.

For fourteen years the "Italian-Albanian alliance" developed and functioned to the benefit of both countries, ending only with the Italian invasion of Albania in April, 1939. In that year the kingdom of Italy started to "assimilate" Albania: On April 12,1939 the Albanian parliament voted to depose Zog and unite the nation with Italy "in personal union" by offering the Albanian crown to Italy's King Victor Emmanuel III (who appointed Francesco Jacomoni di San Savino, a former ambassador to Albania, to represent him in Albania as "Lieutenant-General of the King" or Viceroy).

It was the first step toward the creation of a political italian entity similar to the one of the United Kingdom (where the king is the union-center between England, Scotland and Wales): Italian King Victor Emmanuel III was crowned "King of the Albanians" in addition to his title of Emperor of Ethiopia, which had been occupied three years before; and successively was considered the possibility to do the same with Montenegro in 1941 (but it was not done, because the 1943 Italian defeat in WW2 did not allowed a "united kingdom of Italy" with Italy, Albania and Montenegro united under the crown of Victor Emmanuel III)

However it is noteworthy to pinpoint that in the "Treaty of London" during World War I, the Triple Entente had promised Italy central and southern Albania as a possession as a reward for fighting alongside the Entente. In June 1917, after Italian soldiers seized control of substantial areas of Albania, Italy formally declared a protectorate over central and southern Albania; however this was overturned in September 1920 when Italy was pressured by US president Wilson to remove its army from Albania. Italy was enraged with the minimal gains that she received from peace negotiations, which she regarded as having violated the Treaty of London. Italian Fascists claimed in the 1920s that Albanians were ethnically linked to Italians through links with the prehistoric Italiotes, Illyrian and Roman populations, and that the major influence exerted by the Roman and Venetian empires over Albania justified Italy's right to possess it.

Italy and Albania in 1940 Europe

Establishment of the Italo-Albanian Alliance

King Zogu, the architect of the "Italian-Albanian alliance" in the 1920s, established a foreign policy that was an important element in his political program, as well as his economic program. In January, 1925, Zogu sent a letter to Mussolini pledging alliance and Mussolini responded immediately by expressing his recognition of the Republic of Albania and its Government. At the same time, Zogu’s administration was overwhelmed by different European companies offering to invest in all branches of the Albanian economy. These offers consisted of things such as the construction of railways, docks, mines and drainage schemes, as well as oil industry and banking development. Unfortunately, Albania, still without paper currency and using gold coins, was facing difficulties in building a modern money economy, and Zogu understood his country needed a national bank. The easiest way to achieve this was to establish an economic relationship with a strong country. Surrounded by pro-Italian cabinet members and convinced that Britain was standing behind Italy in order to offset the support France was giving to Yugoslavia, King Zogu openly announced his intentions to cooperate fully with Italy and turned his back on the Yugoslav government who had brought him to power.

Thus began a fourteen year period (1925-1939) of Italian companies pouring wealth and resources into Albania to reconstruct this poor agrarian country. In the spring of 1925 two important concessions were signed with Italy; the first was the right to found a national bank and the second was the approval of the establishment of an Italian company (SVEA), to develop the Albanian economy. The National Bank of Albania (Banca Nazionale D’Albania) was in truth an Italian bank operating under Italian law and its reserves were in Rome. This institution offered financial services to the young government that some other financial institutions did not; however, through the agreement, the Italians had the right to keep the majority of shares (51% against 49% to the Albanians). This made it possible for an unexpected development whereby the Italian banks secured the majority of title and deeds through fraud and corruption. When discovered, this caused a scandal and resulted in the resignation of the Albanian finance minister, who, it was revealed, had been awarded one million gold francs for committing this fraudulent activity on behalf of the Italian government. Unfortunately, it did not end there, the bank funds had been administered by the Società per lo Sviluppo Economico dell’Albania (SVEA), a development company to improve the Albanian economy, which was, in fact, a section of the Italian Finance Ministry. While the funds administered by this institution were indeed spent on infrastructure and public works, for example development of oil resources, it just so happened that the contracts would be awarded to those firms preferred by the Italian government. Undoubtedly, Albania would never have become developed economically without the presence of foreign aid and loans. Above all the Italians were better than the Yugoslavs in being the ambassadors of westernizing Albania. Interestingly, in December, 1924, when Zogu was first raised to power, he was but a Serbian puppet. However, by June, 1925, with the Italo-Albanian alliance, Albania had become an Italian province without a prefect. At every opportunity Zogu referred to Mussolini as a great leader and said that he was inspired by Mussolini from early on, though he seemed not to want to become dependent on a sole foreign partner and invited investment from other countries as well. However, the Italian government demanded that Albania recognize the declaration of Paris which established Albania as an Italian protectorate with Italy expected to provide both abundant money and arms.

The Pact of Tirana – 1926

The multidimensional relations between Italy and Albania reached yet a new level with the signing of the Tirana Pact on November 27, 1926, which brought 200,000 francs in aid that was followed quickly with other means of assistance. The treaty would last five years and included these two important points: Article 1: Italy and Albania will recognize that any disturbance threatening the political, legal and territorial status quo of Albania is contrary to their common political interests. Article 2: In order to safeguard the above mentioned interests the two countries will undertake to afford each other mutual support and cordial cooperation: they also will undertake not to make any political or military agreements with other powers prejudicial to the interests of either Italy or Albania. With the signing of this agreement Mussolini promised that he would make a gift to Ahmed Zogu of several million lire, and Italy would provide significant assistance to develop the Albanian military and economy. Zogu’s government now became dependent in every way on the Italian plans towards Albania. At the same time, it was a fruitful strategy to balance the strengths of the adversaries in the Balkan conflicts. However, with Albania so firmly planted on the side of Italy, Yugoslavia tried to assuage her feelings of insecurity by causing trouble at Albania’s northern borders for the next two years. In 1928, with the Yugoslav troops threatening at the northeastern border, Ahmed Zogu declared in front of the House of Commons his intentions to become the king of Albania. Italy immediately began to throw monetary support his way. To bolster the Albanian economy and transportation infrastructure, Italy signed another agreement with Albania in June 26, 1931. In it, Italy offered to subsidize the Albanian budget by extending a loan of one hundred million gold francs (L 6,600,000). These new measures were taken to make the Albanian economy more stable by balancing the country’s budget and facilitating public works. By this time, Italy had established a committee with four members which had a similar role to that of SVEA during the late 1920’s. This commission monitored the financial affairs of all ministries, and ironically, Italian members of the committee had a veto power on outlay in order to ensure that Italy had enough financial control to check corruption. However, this agreement did assure a positive relationship between the two countries for years to come. Through the years, Albania accepted a greater number of Italian advisers, some to exercise even more authority than before, and in the same vein, agreed to install a number of Italian technical experts, whose advise was not solely restricted to financial and economic matters; they also consulted on public works and oil concessions around the country. At every turn, the Italians continued to agree to extend their manpower contributions and financial assistance in all areas of Albanian economy. Italy’s generous support was so impressive that they even forgave a loan of 100 million gold francs, of which only 20 million had been paid back by the Albanian government, when this agreement was signed in June, 1931. Paradoxically, a new loan of nine million gold francs was made, plus another three million that Mussolini offered spontaneously in 1935. Furthermore, the Italian government granted another loan of about ten million gold francs which was for the development of agriculture, to be payable in five years; this loan had only a 1% interest, made possible by a guarantee from the Italian oil concession in Albania which was already reaping huge profits. Topping this, Italy granted another loan of three million gold francs, this time interest free, to be used for the establishment of the tobacco monopoly in the country; this amount had to be liquidated in a period of fifteen years with a minimum of 200,000 Lire paid each year. Lastly, Italy offered a loan of 40 million gold francs in annual installments of eight million gold francs, with the money to be spent on the construction of public works which would be monitored by the Italian specialists. Thus, with one loan after another, the Italians had their fingers fully into every segment of the Albanian economy.

A particularly important project to the Albanian economy was the construction and modernization of the port of Durres (the historically Italian "Durazzo") as a result of an agreement made in Rome between the two governments. The structure of the harbor and the infrastructure was improved considerably after the Italians took entire control of the construction of the main section of it. In addition, another agreement was signed in 1936 allowing Italy’s interference in, or regulation of, Albanian Finance, customs, revenues, exports and imports through this and other ports, which channeled even more profits back to Italy. One of the most lucrative industries in the country was oil: it was managed after WWI by British Petroleum until the Italians began to move into this sector in 1920.

Eventually, 300,000 Italian émigrés came to settle in Albania (including the temporary workers). Italian schools opened everywhere and the major cities of Albania were given Italian names. The outcome of the Italian interference was really a de facto colonization of Albania which had its positive impact in regards to development of the import/export trade in the interwar period. Mussolini once declared, “Italy’s policy in Albania is quite clear and absolutely straight forward. Its sole object is to preserve and to respect the independent status of this small country, which for centuries has lived in friendship with us” it would take another three years to reveal the true intentions of Italy towards Albania. Unfortunately, the small country of Albania could not have been stabilized and would have sunk into anarchy had Italy not stepped up to take the helm of this newly formed nation.

Italian contributions to every aspect of Albanian economy and culture completely transformed Albania in a matter of two decades. Thanks to the Italian assistance the total exports in 1938 amounted to 10.2 million gold francs and the principal items were crude oil, cheese, eggs and livestock. Imports exceeded 18.9 million gold francs, and consisted of textiles, cereals, petroleum, machinery and sugar. Finally, in 1938 the Italian government implemented a generous renegotiation of the SVEA debt of 28 million francs of penal interest were written off. Italians shared their experience and expertise to bring “western” values to Albanian society. Italy introduced its own education system in accordance with the ideas of Mussolini and how the youth should be educated. There was even a delegation sent in 1937 to advise King Zogu on organizing youth committees similar to the fascist groups in Italy. By the mid 1930’s, Albania’s bargaining position was nil and Italy had almost subsumed the Albanian economy and culture. Yet, Italy, under the glare of disapproving international eyes, was still threatened by the possibility of Yugoslav patronage.

Jacomoni (Albania Viceroy-"Luogotenente del Re Vittorio Emanuele III") talking -dressed in clear uniform- to Verlaci (Albania Prime Minister) in 1941 Radio Tirana offices inauguration

Italian strategic interests

Any contributions Italy makes to the Albanian economy are and have always been based on the interest in the geographic positions of the two countries. Indeed, from Italy’s heel to Albanian gulf of Vlora, it is only 50 miles. As far back as the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire, Italy had begun to pursue an aggressive role towards controlling Albania. At that time, the Albanian territory was a war-torn nation, incapable of defending herself and on the verge of being partitioned by neighboring countries. Besides Italy, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria all had self aggrandizing plans involving the Albanian Territory. It should be emphasized that Italy has always pursued a policy of colonization and annexation of the Albanian nation. So it seemed “business as usual” to step in and take a “fatherly” role in 1925. The desires of the principle Albanian elected officials, who wanted to rely on a foreign power from which they could take loans and bring the Albanian economy to its feet, matched perfectly with Il Duce’s plans. Since coming to power Mussolini had pursued a strategy based on invading weak countries and profiting from their resources. Albania was an especially prized plum. First, its strategic geographic position provided a perfect bridge to expand Italian Influence in the Balkan Peninsula. Secondly, The Italian Dictator wanted to control the Adriatic Completely and having Albania under his protectorate would give him the right to control the Straights of Otranto and thereby secure the entire eastern coast of Italy from imminent attack. Thirdly, control of these straights also afforded Italy control of the Yugoslav navy and international trade in and out of the Adriatic. When Italian troops invaded Greece on October 28th, 1940, it became abundantly clear that this strategy had worked. Fourthly, North Africa was on the top of the list after Albania to be controlled and without a full control of the western Balkans it would have made impossible to achieve this objectives in North Africa. At first, Mussolini was willing to collaborate, as he had done in the past, with the Yugoslav government and offered them a piece of the Albanian pie. Il Duce always had the idea of triumphant foreign policy that would challenge the world and he dropped negotiations with Yugoslavia. Italian Policy towards Albania was never based on altruistic principles. It was not really about making a contribution to the economy, but was rather more about securing the Italian interests across the Adriatic and waiting for the perfect moment to declare full authority over Albania and its neighbors. The Assistance Italy offered consisted of giving with one hand and taking double the amount with the other. The relations with the Italian government, as Zogu sorely discovered, were not at the level of genuine friendship. By 1939, the Italian ally was distrusted more than the enemy by him.

The Italian Invasion Begins (April 7th, 1939)

In a matter of months Mussolini would decide to invade Albania, resulting in a complete destruction of the entire infrastructure Italy had so carefully built. By the end of 1938, with the alliance between the two countries starting to crack and with a new government being elected in Yugoslavia, Mussolini was inspired to achieve, with considerably less effort, his intentions against Albania. For Mussolini, the Balkans, offered tremendous mineral wealth and strategic geographical position, but more importantly, he wanted to keep pace with his German buddy who had already annexed the Sudeten lands and Czechoslovakia. To justify the invasion, if only to themselves and Germany, Italy prepared a report analyzing the importance of the Albanian Territory, and plans for its reclamation. It would take less than a year for Albania to be completely overwhelmed and gutted by its former ally, Italy. Mussolini continued in his intentions to invade all of the countries bordering Albania, and never wanting to be considered a second string ally of the axis.

In Rome, indignation stemming from the jealousy of the German expansion in Europe preoccupied Mussolini who wanted to maintain an equal position in the “Pact of Steel.” The Italians continuously refused to revise their demands addressed to King Zogu and Zogu would not budge. Twice, King Zogu did not accept four requests made by the Italian foreign minister, Count Ciano. The first was the complete control of the infrastructure including ports, airfields and roads to be used in a situation when the Albanian sovereignty was in danger. Zogu insisted that such an extension of the Italo-Albanian alliance was not acceptable, and that Italian troops should enter the country only with the explicit request of the Albanians themselves. The second request was to have a secretary general in every ministry of the administration. Zogu wanted Italian staff members to be present only on an ad – hoc basis. The third was the request to give full civic and political rights to Italians in Albania. Zogu repeatedly opposed the idea of having foreign citizens to be part of the Albanian parliament, but he supported the idea of civil rights. The fourth and final request was to promote the Italian legation to an embassy, which was only a change in protocol. It should be pointed out that the King’s family was celebrating the birth of the prince named Leka, on April 5. Having to deal with these political difficulties at this time, Zogu felt betrayed and could not stop his tears of disappointment. Meanwhile, a large number of people surrounded the king’s palace and requested weapons to fight the Italians. Zogu sent a telegram to Mussolini requesting to reopen the negotiations and wanted his old friend, General Pariani to be sent to Albania to direct the negotiations. Instead, Mussolini retorted with a fierce message saying that Zogu should send a representative to meet with General Guzzoni at the shores of Durres (the site of the invasion). Realizing the irony of this offer, on the eve of April 7th, two hours before the invasion, the royal family, under Zogu’s supervision, left Albania and immigrated to Greece. This was severely difficult for the queen who had delivered Prince Leka only two days before.

On the same morning, Count Ciano directed a flight operation over Albania spreading leaflets calling upon the people to demonstrate friendship to the Italian forces. In the port of Durres the first invasion faced some resistance, but in the other ports the Italians disembarked quietly and without a problem. At two a clock the same day, King Zogu addressed the nation and called upon all the people to unite the fight for the freedom of their beloved nation. But no one organized this effort and there were only pockets of resistance here and there. For Italians, this was essential. The capture of Tirana, the capital, was of primary importance to Mussolini and he was continuously asking how long it would take to reach it. In the first stages of the invasion, confusion partially ruled the Italian forces. They had a lack of radio communication and the troops could not report their positions before advancing. Furthermore, the specialist units were not prepared for the tasks they undertook in the invaded territory, and there were motor-cyclists, truck drivers and even generals who could not do their jobs. Often the roads were blocked by broken vehicles and the generals threw up their hands. But still they bore on to overthrow the Albanians. When they finally arrived at the capital, the streets were surprisingly empty, with no resistors in sight. Indeed some Albanians were greeting the Italians when they entered Tirana.

Map of Italian Albania (blue line, that included most of "Chameria" still administered from Athens)

Italian colonists and assimilation

On 9 April 1939 Albanian King Zog fled to Greece and Albania ceased to exist as an independent country. The Balkan country became a component of the Italian Empire and was turned into an Italian protectorate, similar to the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, in that the land was an autonomous territory of Italy which was designed for eventual colonization and Italianization. The throne was claimed by King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, who was the official ruler of Albania until his abdication on 25 July 1943. The government was led by Italian governors and an Albanian civil government. From April 1939, Albanian foreign affairs, customs, as well as natural resources came under direct control of Italy. All petroleum resources in Albania went through AGIP, Italy's state petroleum company . The puppet Albanian Fascist Party became the ruling party of the country and the local Fascists, like prime minister Shefqet Verlaci, allowed Italian citizens to settle in Albania and to own land so that they could gradually transform it into Italian soil. Verlaci (who had distant Italian roots) approved the possible administrative union of Albania and Italy, because he wanted Italian support for the union of Kosovo with Chameria and other "Albanian irredentism" areas, creating a Greater Albania. Indeed, this unification was realized after the Axis defeat of Yugoslavia and Greece in spring 1941. Italian citizens began to settle in Albania as colonists and to own land so that they could gradually transform it into Italian soil. The Italian colonists and the Italian "assimilation" (done with irredentism ideals) were more or less welcomed in spring 1939, and were greeted by most Albanians when Albania was enlarged two years later. But in November 1941 they started to face contrary manifestations and the resistance of some Albanians, organized mainly by the Communist Party of Enver Hoxha.

The first Italians to colonise Albania were fishing families from Apulia, who moved to the island of Saseno (Sazan) opposite Valona in 1918. The island was officially part of Italy from the end of World War I to 1947. In 1926, the Italian government, in agreement with Albanian authorities, sent 300 Italian colonists to Kamez, near Tirana, to promote agricultural development. Most of the Italians were farmers from Arberesh communities in southern Italy. They were initially successful, and created the company "Ente industria agraria Albanese" with an agricultural school, but the regime of King Zog expelled them in 1931, fearing excessive Italian influence in Albanian society and politics. After the occupation of Albania in April 1939, Mussolini sent nearly 11,000 Italian colonists to Albania (and started to "create" Italian irredentism claims on Albania). Most of them were from the Veneto region and Sicily. They settled primarily in the areas of Durazzo, Valona, Scutari, Porto Palermo, Elbasani and Santi Quaranta. They were the first settlers of a huge group of Italians to be moved to Albania to create Mussolini's Greater Italia. In addition to these colonists, 22,000 Italian casual laborers went to Albania in April 1940 to construct roads, railways and infrastructure. Most of the 1939 colonists were men enrolled in the so-called Albanian Militia. This organization was an Albanian fascist paramilitary group, part of the Blackshirts. Later even Albanians were recruited in the group. It was headquartered in Tirana and consisted of four legions in Tirana, Korçë, Vlorë and Shkodër. The Albanian Militia was disbanded in 1943 following the fall of Italy in World War II. Following the Italian capitulation, numerous Italians (perhaps 20,000) remained in Albania. There were nearly 1,000 women among the Italian colonists and some of them remained in Albania after World War II, mainly through marriage with Albanians.

Upon the occupation of Albania and installation of a new government, the economies of Albania and Italy were connected through a customs union that resulted in the removal of most trade restrictions. Through a tariff union, the Italian tariff system was put in place in Albania. Due to the expected economic losses in Albania from the alteration in tariff policy, the Italian government provided Albania 15 million Albanian "leks" each year in compensation. Italian customs laws were to apply in Albania and only Italy alone could conclude treaties with third parties. Italian capital was allowed to dominate the Albanian economy. As a result, Italian companies were allowed to hold monopolies in the exploitation of Albanian natural resources. In 1943, the number of companies and industrial enterprises reached 430, from just 244 in 1938 and only 71 such in 1922. The degree of concentration of workers in industrial production in 1938 doubled compared with 1928 and increased further under Italian control in 1941.

Following the Italian capitulation, the occupation ceased but numerous Italians (perhaps 20,000) remained within the country. These were rounded up by the Germans and taken to Germany (many officers being shot) or else they evaded capture and adopted some disguise, for example, as agricultural laborers. A small number even joined Albanian partisan groups. Only a few collaborated with German authorities, because were fascists and adhered to the RSI of Mussolini in 1944.


There are several reasons why King Zogu was not willing to use force to confront the Italian troops. First, Zogu, did not have the support of the neighboring countries, Yugoslavia and Greece. Both of these countries did not want to supply armament to the Albanians, as they had been scared off by the Italian military capabilities. Secondly, the Yugoslav army declared that they would not enter the Albanian territory unless there was conflict in a Fifteen mile radius of the northeastern border. However, Yugoslavia was restrained from entering into Albanian territory by a previous agreement with Italy. Thirdly the Albanians showed little interest in fighting under the leadership of King Zogu. In fact, many Albanians spent their first week under Italian occupation debating whether Zogu was worth keeping as king. Zogu’s regime had failed to keep control of the local leaders because Italy had found a way to eliminate Zogu as a middleman and finance these “chieftains” directly. Whatever resistance there was to be, it would be waged by communist groups that fought tirelessly throughout the war. Mussolini was able to find a pretext in order to make his strategic invasion legitimate and as necessary as possible even from the Albanian point of view. The Italians pretended that in order to preserve peace in the Balkans it was important to overthrow the Zogu regime. It was interesting to see an Italian puppet become their number one enemy 14 years later. Zogu explained, “I knew what Italians were after and I prevented them from getting control of the country by peaceful means…international politics left us no other choice to come to an understating with Italy. But the megalomania of the fascist regime made us certain that one day we should have to fight to defend ourselves.” Interestingly, count Ciano and his clique never really had to depose Zogu as his Albanian support had already dried up. And as for “preserving peace in the Balkans,” the Italians had merely blown apart a very fragile time of Balkan quietude. As a French Journalist once said, “Pays Balkanique, Pays Vulcanique,” peace in the Balkans is like a “peaceful” volcano.

However the unification -even if nominal and done only with the king Victor Emmanuel III- was effective and accepted by the population of Italy and Albania without any real disagreement from the first day of the Italian military occupation of Albania in 1939 until September 1943. Some Albanians still remember those years as a period when they were part of western Europe and out of Balkan problems.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Roman sailors reached the northern region of "THULE", actually called "Iceland". This is what is increasingly believed in the last decades, after the discovery of some roman coins and other things related to the presence of Rome in this artic island-nation.

Roman Plinius wrote in the first century on his famous "Naturalis Historia" that: "The most remote of all Thule , in which, as we have previously stated , there is no night at the summer solstice, when the sun is passing through the sign of Cancer, while on the other hand at the winter solstice there is no day. Some writers are of opinion that this state of things lasts for six whole months together....At one day's sail from Thule is the frozen ocean, which by some is called the Cronian Sea." Of course these precise data confirm that the Romans had a good geographical knowledge of Thule/Iceland.

Indeed six Roman coins stamped with the portrait of Roman emperors have been found on Iceland and they are at the center of academic discussions about the Roman presence in this nation-island near Greenland and the North Pole.

The coins are four "Antoniniani" and two "Dupondii": we classify them as A,B,C,D and E,F in the above map

But how these roman coins arrived in that remote artic island? There are two possibilities:

*The first is that they were brought to Iceland in Roman times; the second that they were brought after the collapse of the Western Empire, either in the sixth or, say, the sixteenth century. A Roman visit to Iceland is not in itself impossible. The Romans recognized a land to the north of Britain called Thule and this might very possibly have been Iceland to judge by Ptolemy’s reference. But there are two big problems with the Roman explanation for these coins. (1) we are talking about multiple rather than single visits given the spread of the coins (or some mechanism by which coins from a single visit were spread around) and (2) why would Romans even take coins out of their pockets in Iceland given that there was no one to trade with? It might also be worth adding that Roman visits to ultima Thule may have been an imperative of the Roman policy of exploration and mapping in the north: but that regular trips to Iceland would have been made more difficult given that what is today Scotland, Orkney, Shetland and Faeroe were all, essentially, hostile territory.

*The second possibility is that someone else brought the coins to Iceland after the collapse of the Empire. Candidates have included the Vikings, the Irish monks who came to live hermit lives in Iceland and modern fakers like "mad coin-burying Halliday". Modern fakers may have been responsible for a couple of the coins, but the spread of five means either five different fakers or a very systematic single faker. Note too that one of the coins was found by a noted Icelandic archaeologist at a Viking site: Thor Magnusson. And, in fact, the best explanation is given by the Vikings because bronze Roman coins have been found in early medieval and Viking age Scandinavian sites, where they seem to have been recycled as currency.

Additionally, it is interesting to note is that the five coins cover a relatively short range: one that is as narrow as forty years at the end of the fourth century. Another interesting characteristic of these coins is that they are not found in the same place, but in different and distant sites of southern Iceland.

Locations and accounts of discovery of the Roman coins

Antoninianus "Aurelianus" similar to the Thule's (A)

David Heidarsson wrote that the farmstead of Bragavellir is located on the southeast coast of Iceland, the farmland running along the sea line in the bottom of the Hamarsfjörur fjord. Within this area two (the A and B) of the "Antoniniani" were discovered by the owner of the farmstead – the second discovery being made after a 28-year interval. The area is described in Eldjárn:

"The farm of Bragavellir lies near the sea at the bottom of the Hamarsfjörur fjord. Between the mountain Mimundarfjall and the hills of Bragavallahólar southeast of the farm is a small valley; The bottom of the valley is generally plain but lowers in the east – or northeast, where the river Selá runs under Bragavallahólar to the east. In the middle of the valley, which is called Djúpibotn, just south of the ascending mountain is a small mount overgrown with heather. On the north-eastern slope, however, all vegetation has been blown away by the wind, revealing the rocky surface, though some vegetation is slowly beginning to reappear. Around the beginning of the past century Jón Sigursson, farmer from Bragavellir, bagan to find ancient remains in this windblown area”.

The coin of Probus (C) was discovered in 1905 together with a glass bead, though it was not until 1932 that the finds were handed over to the National Museum in Reykjavik. Other archaeological remains were identified within the same area; in his letter to the director of the National Museum, Páll Jónsson, a keen amateur archaeologist from Djúpivogur, describes the traces of two houses located close to each other. He writes:

”You can see stones that seem to be laid out in rows, and even floor tiles, and the farmer has told me that pieces of charcoal has been found in the area, and between the rows of stones there was a very thin layer of black charcoal residue.”

Indeed in 1933 the coin of Aurelianus (A) was found within the same area and was sent to the National Museum along with various other finds, which had been collected over the years. Shortly afterwards the state antiquarian, Matthías Orarsson, arrived at Bragavellir to conduct an archaeological survey. Unfortunately the tough weather conditions had obliterated most traces that might have been left of the purported settlement, although Orarsson did identify the remains of a construction made from mountain rock stones. The recorded finds from Bragavellir mostly consist of small fragments of worked stone and iron objects, glass beads, and teeth from cattle. The material is of the traditional Iron Age type recorded within Viking age contexts in Scandinavia.

During the summer periods of the years 1963 to 1967, archaeological excavations were carried out on the land of the Hvítárholt farmstead. The site had yielded several Viking Age structures and artefacts. During the 1966 season, while excavating a house, the field supervisor, Thór Magnússon, discovered the second "Antoninianus" (B). The coin was located inside house no. VIII, which was one of the largest at the site and reckoned to be the second oldest. In his report, Magnússon stated that the coin was covered with verdigris, yet very well preserved, having suffered only minor corrosion.

The circumstances surrounding the discovery of the Diocletian "Antoninianus" (D) was done by Mr. Leonard Hawkes, a British college teacher and practiced geologist, who had travelled to Iceland in order to study the island’s topography and geology. Before his return to England, Hawkes handed over the coin to the National Museum in Reykjavik, where it is still kept and on display.

Allegedly, the first Dupondius (E), probably minted during the reign of Phillip the Arab, was found at the Skansinn renaissance fort in the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland. Claiming to have found the coin lodged between the building blocks, the discoverers handed the Dupontius over to the National Museum. This was in 1991, since then, however, only minuscule scholarly interest has been shown this Roman coin because of the great uncertainty regarding the time of deposition. It is impossible to assert both how and when the coin ended up within the wall construction, and for all we know it could be a hoax.

Likewise, the badly corroded Dupondius (F) can be a hoax. In 1993, excavation and remodelling of the Arnarhóll mount was being carried out in the centre of Reykjavík. The coin was discovered inside the remains of an 18th–19th century house, though in his report the field supervisor expresses certain doubts concerning the authenticity of the find, noting that it could have been planted while excavation was in progress.

Roman coins on Iceland: Theories and Discussion

The first scholar to study the coins, attempting to assess the origin of the coins, was Kristján Eldjárn, former state antiquarian and president of Iceland. In three articles written in the years 1948-51. Eldjárn introduced his ideas regarding the origin of the coins. He is convinced that the 3 coins found at the east coast of Iceland must have been transported to the country in the same purse. The coins were discovered within the area of Bragavellir, in a location containing several remains of Viking Age activities.

However, Eldjárn considers it highly unlikely that the coins should have been brought to Iceland from Scandinavia during the Viking Age. According to his comprehensive studies, the quantity of "Antoniniani" found within the Scandinavian countries is so scant that the probability of the coins being transported to Iceland with Norsemen is highly unlikely – if not unthinkable. Instead, he suggests that the coins must have travelled from Roman Britain onboard a boat driven off course by stormy weather. Eldjárn tells of Carausius’ rule over Britain and how this specific period was the golden age of Rome as the supreme naval power, particularly in the waters of the English Channel. In his book from 1956, Eldjárn reaches the same conclusion.

In the 1951 issue of "Antiquity" magazine an article by F.M. Heichelheim was published, supporting Eldjárn’s belief that the coins had arrived in Iceland during Roman times, around the year 300. However, Heichelheim did not support Eldjárn’s idea that these sailors were Roman soldiers. Instead, he was more convinced that the sailors had been Scandinavian or Saxon pirates, who had served in the Roman military in the Danube regions, or perhaps in the Orient. He argues that a large number of Germanic men were employed within the Roman army during the last years of the 3rd century, mostly serving within the Danube area.

Receiving payment in Roman coins for their services, any one of these Germanic men could have brought the Roman coinage on a journey to Iceland. He supports his theory that soldiers from Carausius' navy would most likely not been paid with coins minted in Rome or Asia Minor but with coins minted in Gaul or Britain. The theory is in many ways very good, and well supported. The main points that support the theory are the following: Firstly, general/emperor Carausius and his Romans were attacking Saxon pirates in the Channel. As many ships were sailing around Britain at the time there is is the possibility of one ship getting caught in a storm and by accident sailed towards the north.

Secondly, the ships of the Roman times were definitely able to withstand the sail over the Atlantic. The Roman merchant ships were in many ways not very different from schooners used in the late middle age that sailed over the Atlantic to the USA and back in the 16th and 17th century. Thirdly, the soldiers on Carausius’ ships were a part of the Roman  Navy and therefore got paid in Roman coins before the split from Rome.

Fourthly it is known from written sources that learned men of the time could well have known of the land in the north, called Thule.

However, there is some knowledge that does make the theory a bit less probable:

Firstly, the ships used in roman warfare were not made for sailing on open sea. They mostly relied on oars to maneuver the ships and only had a small sail to move the ship out of battle if to many oars were disabled. These ships kept close to the shore and storms would most likely not get these ships to stray of course like ships sailing on the open sea. Secondly, according to R. Reece it looks like Britain was isolated from the roman monetary supply in the 3rd century, because of military and political reasons. There are still some Denarii found in roman Britain in those decades, most likely because of payment to the military.

Thirdly, there are no known historical sources that tell of any ship sailing north of Iceland. Fourthly, there is the account of mr. Heichelheim about the origin of the coins where he states that these coins were a seldom sight in Britain at the time of Carausius.

Dr. R. Reece supports this theory by saying that still there are not many Roman coins found in Britain or NW Gaul from this time: those coins found are mostly Denarii, probably for paying the troops. Last but not least, prof. em. Hannested has expressed his serious doubts of the Romans psychological capability of venturing so far from known waters by saying: “the Romans were afraid of the deep artic ocean”. But Hannested seems to forget that Roman sailors reached India and even China and this fact undeniably proves that they were not afraid of ocean waters

After reviewing these facts it seems unlikely, according to David Heidarsson, that these coins came from a Roman ship from the years 287-296 AD as mr. Eldjárn suggests. But it is still a concrete possibility and can be studied and probably accepted as true, if further discoveries will happen in the future and confirm it.

My personal conclusions

Aureus "Carausius"
I sincerely don't believe that the Vikings brought some Roman coins to Iceland when they conquered and colonized it. They simply did not need any ancient coin in a so remote area of north Europe.

The Vikings from Norway were barbarians who rarely used those Roman coins (even in their country) and they did not need to hoard them in an island that was surviving mainly on primitive agriculture and fishing in those medioeval centuries.

They could only have found these very few coins and labeled as a special kind of strange "jewelry" from the ancient civilized world.

Indeed I personally think that there are two "real" possibilities about these roman coins:

* the first is that a roman ship was stranded in the waters north of Scotland (probably during Carausius times in the third century) and the sailors who owned the coins survived on Thule. After many years those coins were discovered by others, like Irish eremites or Viking settlers.

* the second is that Irish monks from the British isles in the sixth/seventh century brought to Iceland with themselves the coins, for possible use as exchange of food, dress, etc... And later the coins were discovered and perhaps used/hoarded by Viking raiders/settlers.

And finally, I want to remember a third possibility, that is indeed very improbable (but to be considered "a bit" feasible): Carausius not only was in charge of a powerful Roman fleet in the British isles, but later he did also some piracy in his fight for power. So, he could have created a "refuge" in Thule (like pirates did in remote islands of the Caribbean centuries later) for his safety from Rome, after he created his secessionist "Britannia empire" with his 'Carausian Revolt'. And in this pirate's refuge could have circulated some Roman coins........anyway, here we are totally in the world of possible explanations based on every kind of theories!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


There are some interesting researches about the Romans in Ceylon. One was done by Arianna Dimucci (Texas University) in 2015, who wrote even about the Roman presence in China.

She pinpointed that Pliny (c. 23-79 AD), in describing ancient Sri Lanka/Ceylon (or "Taprobanê" as the island was known to the Greeks and Romans) complained that despite its remoteness, the island was beset with vices:

"But not even Taprobane, though consigned by nature outside the world, lacks our vices: there too gold and silver have commercial value, marble is considered similar to tortoiseshell, and pearls and gems have high prestige. Their entire mass of luxury is greater than ours."

Located at the midpoint of major sea routes linking China and Southeast Asia with the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Sri Lanka served as an important “transit trading place” or linchpin between the East and West. Gems, pearls, muslins, ivory, and tortoise-shell, along with rice, ginger, honey, beryl, amethyst, gold, silver, and other metals – mentioned by Ptolemy (c. 90-168 AD) – constituted quite a few of the island’s luxury commodities that reached the Mediterranean.

The discovery of an ancient shipwreck (called "Godavaya shipwreck" and that has been excavated since 2012) off Sri Lanka’s southern coast and its cargo of iron ingots, demonstrated the existence of commerce between Ceylon and possibly the Roman Empire, and prompted a discussion of the region’s various exchange networks.

The Godavaya shipwreck, dated to between the second century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., merits attention for a number of reasons: 1) it is likely the oldest sunken cargo in the Indian Ocean, 2) it provides direct evidence for Indian Ocean trade and 3) it represents one of the most promising opportunities to study the iron trade in this region.

One of the best resources available to examine such a shipwreck is the well-known work, the "Periplus Maris Erythraei", a text thought to have been written by an un-named Romano-Greek merchant from Egypt between the first and third centuries C.E.

A Roman merchant ship for ocean trade
Less frequently considered Chinese texts like the "Hou Han-Shou", written between the second century B.C.E. and the second century C.E., and "The Sea Route from Guangzhou to Countries in the Indian Ocean", a late Tang Dynasty document written in the eighth century, which underscore the island’s connection to the East, are equally relevant to a discussion of regional commerce.

Additionally, we must pinpoint the recent discovery of Roman coins in southern Japan (Okinawa), that demonstrates the existence of commerce between Rome and the far east through India and Ceylon.


Evidence for Indian Ocean trade is well-represented in Greek and Roman literature especially in the above-mentioned text, the "Periplus Maris Erythraei", which is considered the “most detailed and comprehensive surviving account of Roman involvement in the Eastern commerce.”Written by an un-named, Romano-greek merchant between the first and third centuries C.E., the text was likely intended as a guide for other merchants and subsequently contains a considerable amount of first hand knowledge of the trade, including information on the routes and various ports in Arabia, Africa, and India. It contains distances between locations, principal anchorage points, and lists of merchandise, making it an invaluable resource for any ancient merchant determined to undertake a commercial expedition to the Indian Ocean.

Where ancient Sri Lanka is concerned, the Periplus is not well detailed. The author indicates in the text where the island was, i.e. beyond India, and calls it Palaisimundu or Taprobanê; he also writes that its northern parts were civilized and states that the island produced pearls, transparent gems, cotton garments, and tortoise shell. He additionally exaggerates the size of the island and writes that it projected west into the ocean, orienting it east-west as opposed to north-south. He is not the only ancient author to do so. Onesicritus of Astypalaea (c. 360-290 B.C.E.) a Greek commander in Alexander’s fleet whose writings were preserved by Strabo (c. 64/63 B.C.E.-24 C.E.) and by Pliny (c. 23-79 C.E.) commented on the island’s size and its distance from India.67 Strabo quoted Onesicritus as having written that Taprobanê was 5000 stadia in size and 20 days’ voyage from the mainland, though whether this journey was from the Indus delta or from the southern end of India is unclear. Pliny quoted Onesicritus as having written that Taprobanê was for a long time considered to be another world. A fragment from the Greek writer Megasthenes (c. 350-290 B.C.E.), preserved by Pliny, described Taprobanê as richer in gold and pearls than India. Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c. 275 194 B.C.E.), an Alexandrian scholar whose writings were also preserved by Strabo, wrote that Taprobanê was seven days’ journey south of India and measured, length-wise, about 8000 stadia in the direction of Ethiopia. Pliny credits Eratosthenes with different measurements: the island supposedly measured 7000 stadia in length and 5000 in breadth and had no cities but 700 villages. Again, the island was thought to run east-west towards Africa and its size was overestimated.

Hipparchus of Bithynia (c. 190-126 B.C.E.), whose writings were preserved in the work of the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela, commented that Taprobanê was either a very big island or the first part of another world. Strabo commented that Taprobanê, which he places in front of India, was no smaller than Britain. The size of both Britain and Taprobanê were exaggerated and both came to be thought of as possessing parallel characteristics. As the “ends of the known world” they provided symmetry, with the northern part of Britain turned eastward to hug the coast of the European mainland and the southern part of Taprobanê extended westwards towards the eastern shore of Africa. Strabo, placing Taprobanê in the real world, pinpoints the island opposite the ‘Cinnamon bearing Land,’ i.e. Somalia. Finally, Ptolemy (c. 90-168 C.E.), though similarly misinformed about Taprobanê’s size, was much more accurate concerning its shape and its north-south orientation.

According to Pliny, the Mediterranean world had known of the island’s existence since the time of Alexander the Great, but direct contact with the island did not begin until the reign of Claudius (41-54 C.E.). Young adds that there appears to have been limited or indirect contact between the Roman Empire and Sri Lanka, especially prior to the fourth century. Indeed, the Periplus implies that the strait between India and Sri Lanka was the furthest point normally reached by western vessels trading with India, due in part to the fact that Mediterranean vessels may have been too large to easily negotiate the shallow straits between India and Sri Lanka.

Such Greek and Roman sources reveal that Sri Lanka was known to the Mediterranean world, partly as a distant island south of India and partly as a far-away ‘other’ – a producer of exotic goods whose inhabitants lived long lives. What sources like the Periplus Maris Erythraei make clear is that voyages across the Indian Ocean were part of established trading routes that involved both Mediterranean and Indian craft, potentially even the vessel recently discovered off Sri Lanka’s southern coast, the Godavaya shipwreck.

Prosperous commercial activity along India’s western coastline between the first century B.C.E. and the second century C.E. is well-attested to by non-western sources particularly in Tamil poetry written in the centuries following the height of commerce between Rome and India. In the Tamil poem Maduraikanch, for example, written between the first and second centuries C.E.,

Large ships on which high flags on mast-tops wave Spread out their sails and cleave the rolling waves, Tossed by the winds of the great dark, treble sea On which rest clouds. They come to the sound of drums To the port, their trade successful, with the gold That much increases people’s wealth.

The Tamil poem Pattinapalai, written before the third century C.E., describes the port city of Kaveripattinam and the travel of goods between the port and the country’s hinterland:

So goods flow in from sea to land, And also flow from land to sea. Unmeasured are the abundant wares Here brought and piled.

Another poem denotes that merchants arrived at ‘flood time.’ Foreigners, or Yavanas, were primarily traders, but Tamil poetry also attests to their presence as craftsmen and bodyguards.86 Yavanas are mentioned drinking and wandering along the streets at night; all of which provide interesting evidence of their presence in the early centuries of the Christian era.


Before the arrival of the Romans, the Ptolemies of Egypt had begun to exploit trade with both India and Arabia through the construction of ports along the Red Sea coast. Although such trade was well established by the end of the Hellenistic period (323 B.C.E.-31 B.C.E), Strabo indicated that the volume of the commerce was nowhere near as large as it was after Rome’s annexation of Egypt (31/27 BC):

When Gallus was prefect of Egypt, having accompanied him and ascended to Syene and the borders of Ethiopia, we found that even 120 ships were sailing from Myos Hormos to India, but under the Ptolemaic kings only a very few dared to sail and to trade in Indian goods.

Sailing routes across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean have received a substantial amount of scholarly attention. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea indicates that such routes were dictated by the monsoons, with merchants utilizing the southwest monsoon winds for outbound voyages and the northeast monsoons for return voyages. During the summer months the monsoon winds blow violently from the southwest, suspending most sailing activity from May through September along the west coast of India and the south Arabian coast; the northeast monsoon dominates between November and April. Sailors making the journey to India left from Myos Hormos and Berenike in July sailing down the Red Sea to the Arabian port of Mouza or to the port of Okêlis before following the coast along the southern Arabian shore as far as Kanê. From there they either sailed to India’s northwest coast, to the ports of Barbarikon and Barygaza, or to the southern part of the Indian sub continent, and the ports of Muziris and Nelkynda

Long-distance trade with Arabia and India was greatly facilitated by the use of the monsoon winds, which enabled merchants trading with India to travel there directly rather than make a long and dangerous coastal voyage. Prior to this, few ships made the trip directly and cargoes were transshipped from Indian and Arab ships at one of the southern Arabian ports. The Periplus Maris Erythraei, for instance, mentions a time when there were no direct sailings from Egypt to India and all cargo was transshipped at Aden. After the discovery of the monsoon winds by Greek seamen, Mediterranean ships made the crossing directly. Vessels arrived in India in September or perhaps early October, depending on when they had initially departed. Ships left for the return voyage according to the Periplus, at the onset of the northeast monsoon in early November, though vessels could leave as late as December or January.

The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, however instrumental and crucial to the study of maritime trade in this region, is not the only textual source relevant to this discussion. Chinese sailing directions in the "Hou Han-Shou" (the Historical Book of the Han Dynasty), written between the second century B.C.E. and the second century C.E., clearly attest that the country Yibuchen lay south of India. A late Tang Dynasty document written in the eighth century, The Sea Route from Guangzhou to Countries in the Indian Ocean, is more helpful in that it describes a venture from Canton to a variety of places in the Indian Ocean, including Sri Lanka, providing approximate sailing times in ‘Li’ or days. These documents help clarify the extent of Sri Lanka’s maritime connections.

In India, the ports of Barbaricum (modern Karachi), Barygaza, Muziris, Korkai, Kaveripattinam and Arikamedu on the southern tip of India were the main centres of this trade with Rome.

Furthermore only two visits to Sri Lanka by Romans have been officially recorded: that of a freedman of Annius Plocamus in the first century A.D., which resulted in the sending of a delegation from Sri Lanka to Rome during the reign of the emperor Claudius (A.D. 41-54) (Pliny N.H. VI.23.84), and that of Sopatros, probably in the fifth century A.D. (Cosmas Indicopleustes, Christian Topography XI.17-19).

Indeed Pliny wrote that Annius Plocamus, a Roman who was related to the Emperor Claudius, sent one of his sailors to explore the seas east of Roman Egypt. The latter landed in Hipporos, a port on the southwestern coast of the island of Taprobane. He stayed there for six months, the time to learn the language and customs. He left towards Rome with four ambassadors of the island. There he said that "...the island had 500 cities. Palesimundium was the capital, a city of 200,000 inhabitants in the center of the south coast, bordered by the river of the same name, one of the two largest rivers of the island; the island was also home to Lake Mégysba, a large inland lake full of islands (home to pasture); a second great river, the Cybara, watered the North Island towards India. The island was 2000 stadia (~ 400 km) long, which corresponds to the dimensions of Ceylon. The island was rich with precious stones, marble, gold, silver, pearls ... The king was dressed like the Greeks, while his people dressed as Arabs...."

All this confirms the existence of huge trade between Rome and Taprobane since Augustus times.

Furthermore Chandra Tilake Edirisuriya wrote in detail that: "Pliny relates that in the time of Claudius Caesar (41-54 CE), a freedman of Annius Plocamus, while coasting off Arabia, was carried by the winds, and after drifting for 15 days, made land at the haven of Hippuros in Taprobane, where he went ashore and was hospitably entertained by the king at the capital Paleisimundus, for six months.The freedman then returned to Rome taking with him two "Sinhala ambassadors" led by one Rachias (ratiya or ratika; a district chieftain), who were sent by the Sinhala king to establish direct commercial contacts with the Roman emperor. An inscription of Annius Plocamus recently discovered in Egypt, is dated 5 July 6 CE, in the reign of Augustus and proves Pliny to have been wrong in ascribing the story he relates to the time of Claudius. Further evidence that the Roman emperor was actually Augustus is provided by the commentary to the Mahavansa which states that King Bhathikabhaya of Sri Lanka (22 BCE-7 CE), the contemporary of Augustus, sent ambassadors to "Romanukkharattha" (or the country of the Romans) and obtained coral, a well-known product of the Mediterranean, with which he had a net ornament made for the Ruvanveliseya at Anuradhapura. Pliny purports to describe Taprobane and its inhabitants according to the accounts given by the Sinhala ambassadors, but it is evident that much of what they are supposed to have said has been misunderstood. The Periplus asserts that the name Taprobane had been replaced by 'Paleisimundu'.Direct trading between the West and Sri Lanka began towards the end of the 1st century CE and developed rapidly thereafter. The far-famed but little-known island of Taprobane became a reality to Western merchants. Numerous first-hand accounts of the island and its people and products became available through mariners to Greek and Roman geographers, and this material formed the basis of the altogether exceptional description of the island computed by Ptolemy about the middle of the 2nd century CE. Ptolemy calls Sri Lanka 'the island of Taprobane which was formerly called Simondou and now Salike' and he adds that "the inhabitants are commonly called Salai." 'Salike' and 'Salai' are from Sinhala. Ptolemy fell into the same error as other geographers in exaggerating the size of Sri Lanka to 14 times its actual area, but gives its general shape and outline with greater accuracy than the Portuguese did in the 16th century. The wealth of information which he gives shows that by the 2nd century Western traders and mariners had acquired a remarkably good knowledge of the coastal and interior topography of Sri Lanka.The Axumites had begun to monopolize the Indian sea-borne trade, by the 4th century and the Romans used them as middle-men. Roman commerce with the East was revived by Emperor Constantine and in the year 362 CE an embassy from Serendivi or Sri Lanka was received by Emperor Julian. The Arabian form, Serendib, of the name of Sri Lanka, had already gained currency in the West. Sri Lanka had become the entrepot of sea trade between the Near East, India and the Far East, by the 6th century. Persian and Axumite ships from the West, Chinese and South-East Asian ships from the East and the shipping of India met in the harbours of Sri Lanka, principally Mahatittha, now Mannar, and exchanged their merchandize as well as purchased the products of Sri Lanka. Great wealth accrued to the Sinhala kings. The trade contacts with the Western world, thus inaugurated, continued during the subsequent centuries up to the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 CE, as indicated by the discovery of large hoards of Roman coins at various places in the island."

With the commerce came to Taprobane even a huge amount of Roman coins, that was used by the Roman merchants to pay for the local merchandise and that also was imitated by the Taprobane authorities, who created similar bronze coins

Bronze imitation of a Roman coin in Taprobane during the Antonine period

Roman coins and contemporary local imitations of Roman coins were in wide circulation in Ceylon/Taprobane for a period of at least four centuries, starting in the third century CE and until the seventh century (during byzantine times).

Taprobane was situated on the maritime trade routes between Rome and China and traded many commodities such as jewels, pearls, camphorwood, spices and ebony with the Romans over this long period. The Roman historian Pliny the Elder recorded that four ambassadors of Taprobane were sent to Rome during the reign of King Chandhrakuma Siva (44-52 AD) and it is probable that some trade commenced at that time.

Large hoards of copper or bronze Roman coins and contemporary Indo-roman imitations have been found at many places in Lanka with a large hoard being found in 1987 at Sigiriya. The coins are always very worn indicating a wide and constant circulation and the roman coins are usually third century and later in age. These hoards suggest that the roman and indo-roman coinage was probably used as small change long after the minting date of the coins themselves. Occasional gold trade coins from Rome are also found in Taprobane, like a Byzantine Roman solidus of Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine (610-641 AD).


Roman traders typically used coin to acquire such exotic eastern goods though gemstones, fabrics, corals, and mineral powders such as antimony, sulfide, and yellow orpiment were also traded. Large quantities of raw materials including glass, copper, tin, and lead were also in demand in Sri Lanka. Additionally, iron is mentioned in Pliny’s Natural History as well as in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea where ‘Indian iron and steel’ are specifically denoted.

The Periplus specifies that in Barbarikon, a port on India’s northwest coast, traders could purchase costus (used as a medicine), bdellium, lykion, nard (a medicinal unguent occasionally used in cooking), turquoise, lapis lazuli, silk, cloth, yarn, and indigo clothing. These items could be purchased by Western merchants or exchanged for printed fabric, multicolored textiles, peridot, coral, storax (a resin used in medicines), perfumes, frankincense, glassware, silverware, and wine. Roman money – written in the Periplus as δηνάριον (denarii) – could be exchanged in the port for local currency at a profit. Following India’s coastline south to Barygaza, a port and industrial center, the author of the Periplus indicates that there was a market for foreign wine, metals (including copper, tin, and lead), coral, peridot, cloth, storax, yellow sweet clover, raw glass, realgar, sulfide of antimony (used primarily for the eyes, both as a cure for sores and as a cosmetic applied to the lids and lashes), and gold and silver currency. Barygaza exported nard, costus, bdellium, ivory, onyx, agate, lykion, cloth, silk, yarn, long pepper, among other items brought from nearby ports. Further south, Muziris and Nelkynda were markets for peridot, multicolored textiles, sulfide of antimony, coral, raw glass, copper, tin, lead, wine, realgar, orpiment, grain, and a ‘great amount of money’.

Lionel Casson comments that ‘money,’ or Roman coinage, was emphasized in the Periplus in reference to these two ports to underscore the necessity of having silver and gold currency to purchase goods at Muziris and Nelkynda; elsewhere bartering seems just as prominent a strategy. Muziris and Nelkynda exported pepper, fine-quality pearls, ivory, Chinese silk, Gangetic nard, malabathron – a kind of cinnamon from trees in northeastern India – as well as a variety of transparent gems, diamonds, sapphires, and tortoise shell. While the author rarely comments on the volume of the trade with India, he does write at one point that the vessels departing Muziris and Nelkynda carry full loads due to the quantity of pepper and malabathron they pick up at these two ports. Pliny, whose figures owe more to Stoic moralizing on the cost of luxury than to imperial customs receipts, attests that 50 million "roman sestertii" per year were sent to India to pay for goods; elsewhere in his Natural History he claims that 100 million sestertii were spent yearly upon all the goods imported from India, China, and Arabia. Pliny also quotes prices of 4-15 denarii per pound for various types of pepper, 40-75 denarii per pound for nard leaves, and 300 denarii per pound for cinnamon.

Literary complaints about eastern luxuries and corrupt ‘luxurious’ living developed alongside a steady market for such eastern goods. Propertius (c. 45-15 BC) for instance, who condemns Indian gold, Red sea pearls, Tyrian purple, and Arabian cinnamon and criticizes imported beauty aids – perfume, make-up, jewelry, hair-dye, and diaphanous garments – draws on an established ‘anti cosmetic’ tradition in his poetry. Ovid (c. 43 BC-17 AD), similarly mentions silks, decorated cotton, pearls and various gemstones, as well as other decorative materials such as shells, tortoiseshell, coral and ivory, perfumes and unguents, and writes that a ‘middle way’ should be found between neglect and over-refinement. Culinary items, including pepper, cinnamon, and cassia, for example, are also mentioned. Such goods would have been coming to Rome from the Far East, from Arabia and India, at a time contemporaneous with the Godavaya shipwreck.

Gary Young, who has studied the various routes and communities involved in Roman commerce with the East, cautions against indiscriminately denoting such products as ‘luxury goods,’ or assigning the demand for such items wholly to a Roman taste for luxuria. While some goods were indeed luxury goods, many commodities had medicinal or religious applications. Frankincense and myrrh, for example, were predominantly items of religious significance, burned in honor of the gods at temples and at funerals for centuries. Literary evidence for the use of eastern trade goods in the manufacture of medicines includes Dioscorides’ (c. 40-90 AD) De Materia Medica, which dates from approximately 65 AD and is one of the most comprehensive ancient treatises concerning the medicinal uses of many eastern trade items. Eastern goods were especially prized for their perceived properties as antidotes, which made them useful for cleansing wounds, defeating infections, and as preventives against poisoning. In his writings, Theophrastus (c. 372-288 BC), for one, noted the power of pepper as an antidote.

Any discussion of Indian Ocean trade would be incomplete without the wealth of information that has been gained from archaeological excavation work; together with literary references such resources help contextualize the material carried onboard the Godavaya shipwreck. A commercial relationship between India and the western world is confirmed by abundant archaeological evidence, including excavation work carried out successively in 1945 by Mortimer Wheeler, in 1947-48 by Wheeler and J.M. Casal, and in 1989-1992 by Vimala Begley at the port of Arikamedu.

Arikamedu, one of the emporia of Roman trade on India’s Coromandel Coast, has come to be regarded as essential for the study of overseas commerce with the Mediterranean world during the so-called “Indo-Roman” trade period – a term that has prompted some controversy. Indisputable evidence for commerce with the Mediterranean exists in fragments of transport amphorae, cups and plates of terra sigillata, ceramic lamps and unguentaria, blue glazed faience and glass bowls found at the site. Two-thirds of the amphora fragments found at Arikamedu during the 1941-1950 excavations come from wine jars, suggesting that wine was a principal commodity sent to India from the Mediterranean. Many of the fragments originated in Roman Greece, from the island of Kos, though fragments of Knidian and Rhodian amphorae have been found as well. Fragments of Koan amphorae, originating in Campania, have led to the suggestion that wine from Greece was later supplanted at Arikamedu by an Italian production. In addition to wine jars, fragments of Spanish jars for garum sauce and olive oil have been found as well. Sherds of terra sigillata, a slipped Roman ware, found in the 1989-92 excavations at Arikamedu and dated to the first quarter of the first century C.E., are thought to represent personal possessions, novelty items, or gifts. While typically considered part of the assemblage indicating resident foreigners, a sherd found with “megalithic” writing has caused speculation that some terra sigillata pieces were sold, bartered, or gifted to the local population.

Pattanam, a site on India’s southwest coast recently identified as ancient Muziris, has also provided evidence for Indo-Roman trade; Mediterranean contact is represented by readily identifiable ceramic material, including a Dressel 2-4 amphora, as well as other finds of imported Roman amphorae and related fine wares. Such artifacts date from between the late first century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E. Remnants of Roman glass bowls, fragments of painted glass objects, and glass pendants discovered at the site are also suggestive of personal belongings rather than merchandise.

Evidence further supporting the supposition that Muziris may have had a Roman ‘merchant colony’ comes from the Tabula Peutingeriana, a medieval map depicting the Roman world as it was in the first century C.E. This map shows a building marked as "Templum Augusti" (Temple of Augustus) at Muziris. Young argues that such a structure would have been built only by subjects of the Roman Empire, likely ones who either lived in Muziris or who spent a significant portion of their time there. Young further argues that the presence of foreign merchants is supported by the Periplus, in a passage that mentions “enough grain for those concerned with shipping, because the merchants do not use it.” These merchants who do not use grain are thought to be Indians who would instead have eaten rice, whereas ‘those concerned with shipping,’ are thought to have been resident foreigners.

Roman Map showing "Templum Augusti" in Muziris, southern India. Taprobane can be seen at the bottom of this map, called "Tabula Peutingeriana"
Roman commodities also passed through Vasavasamudram, an ancient port north of Arikamedu, and Alagankulam, a port city south of Arikamedu. In northwest India, long-distance maritime connections during the last decades of the first century B.C.E. and the early years of the first century C.E. are supported by findings of Mediterranean amphora fragments found off Bet Dwarka Island. Nevasa, in western India and excavated between 1954 and 1956, and again between 1959 and 1961, offers additional evidence for commercial interaction between the Mediterranean and India. Fragments of Italian Dressel 2-4 amphorae – a distinctive ware used primarily to transport wine – dated to between 25 BC and 100 AD, and a sherd thought to belong to a late Rhodian amphora, constitute some of the best evidence the site has to offer for Mediterranean contact.

In Sri Lanka, at sites such as Anuradhapura, Tissamaharama – where Roman amphorae and Islamic glazed wares have been discovered – and Mantai, there is evidence supporting Sri Lanka’s involvement in early trade networks, primarily with India. Sri Lanka’s close relationship with its northern neighbor, India, is particularly important to understanding the region’s commercial networks. The Buddhist chronicles, the Dipavamsa and Mahavansa, written in the fourth and sixth centuries, attest to the arrival of Prince Vijaya and his Sinhalese followers from northern India in the sixth century BC. Archaeologically there is much evidence to tie the two countries together. Mantai, for example, situated at the northwest tip of Sri Lanka and occupied from the fifth century B.C.E. to the 11th century C.E., represents a major point of contact between South India and Sri Lanka with excavation work supporting extensive trade. Such contact is relevant to the proposed thesis work here as the glass found onboard the Godavaya shipwreck is thought to have originated in South India. In fact, many of the artifacts found onboard the Godavaya shipwreck – ceramics, stone querns, glass ingots, and iron ingots – suggest a close association with southern India.

Indo-Roman commerce is also well-represented at such sites as Berenike, on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, where fieldwork has shown that the port functioned “as a conduit for merchandise, people, and ideas passing between Egypt and the Mediterranean basin on the one hand and the Red Sea and Indian Ocean littorals on the other.” Textile finds at Berenike include pieces of a sail and rope fragments, which originated from India; such material supports ‘direct’ trade and may mean that vessels like the Godavaya ship or others like it could have sailed across the Indian Ocean to Africa or Egypt.

Archaeological finds at Arikamedu and other sites verify that imported western goods were brought to India’s eastern coast as well as to its more accessible western one. These commodities may not have been transported in Roman vessels, however. Casson argues that Indian vessels rather than Mediterranean ones handled India’s east coast trade, utilizing small craft, which hugged the coastline, to shuttle back and forth between the subcontinent’s east and west ports. Shipments of goods arriving from the Mediterranean were received once a year, in ports on India’s west coast, in September or early October. These goods were then forwarded, likely by Indian merchants, to India’s east coast ports. While taking part in the trade required a formidable amount of capital in the west, there were opportunities for small-scale operators on India’s east coast.

Participation in such commerce was hugely profitable to justify the risk and expense involved. The Muziris Papyrus, discovered in 1985, which constitutes part of an agreement drawn up in Muziris between a second century C.E. creditor and a merchant, underscores the enormity of the investment represented. The document concerns a shipment of goods, including nard, ivory, and textiles – items frequently found among India’s exports – and a calculation of their value. Originally thought to be the remains of a maritime loan, the document may instead represent a separate contract between the two parties concerning the security of the goods involved, drawn up once the commodities had arrived from India. Given the effort and time involved in shipping goods from India to Egypt in the second century C.E., it has been suggested that the papyrus represents a supplementary agreement meant to detail precisely the responsibilities of the borrower from the moment the shipment arrived safely at its Red Sea port. The papyrus additionally underscores the monetary investment involved in Mediterranean trade with India.


Evidence for Indian merchants trading in ‘western’ ports exists in the form of little-publicized epigraphical fragments from the Red Sea port of Quseir al Qadim (Myos Hormos). Graffiti inscriptions with Tamil names in Tamil-Brahmi script as well as an ostracon with a Prakrit inscription recording the goods or personal possessions of individuals traveling or residing in Egypt indicate the presence of Tamil speakers on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. These have been dated to the second or third century C.E. Such documents, though fragmentary, help corroborate and personalize the corpus of Greco-Roman sources concerning the flourishing trade between India and the Roman Empire. Non Roman pottery sherds found at Khor Rori in Oman and at Berenike in Roman Egypt may also be indicative of active participation by Indian or other easterners in the Mediterranean; such evidence contests arguments against the direct participation of South Indian merchants in overseas commerce.

Some ancient merchants may have traveled as far as China in search of profitable commerce. Given that the voyage to India was relatively commonplace in the first century C.E., it seems more than plausible that a few sailed further east.

This is supported by chinese court recods that detail visit by Roman traders to Southeast Asia and China. The most famous of these accounts is found in the Hou Han-Shou, or Annals of the Later Han Dynasty, a far eastern source compiled in the fifth century C.E. by Fan Yeh of the Sung Dynasty (420-477 C.E.). These annals, which cover the period between 23 C.E. and 220 C.E., record that in 166 C.E. an embassy from king An-tun from Ta-chʻin (alternately Ta-ts’in) arrived from Annam (Vietnam) and sent gifts of ivory, rhinoceros horn, and tortoiseshell to the Han court. Ta-chʻin, or Ta-ts’in, has been identified by Friedrich Hirth as the Chinese name for the Roman East and An-tun as the Chinese rendering of Antonius. Ferguson additionally comments that the term Ta-ts’in was generally applied to mean those from the Mediterranean and underscores this as applicable to the Seleucid kingdom, to Nabataean traders, to the Egyptian empire of Alexandria, and to Rome and its domain.

T-chuan, i.e. “traditions regarding Western Countries,” part of the Hou Han-Shou, contains a description of the westernmost countries described in Chinese literature prior to the Ming dynasty. Mentions of storax, glass, and precious stone architectural ornaments, foreign ambassadors, and dangerous road conditions with tigers and lions causing travelers to resort to caravans, suggested to Hirth that Ta-ts’in was not Rome itself, but one of its eastern provinces. Hirth further presumed from such records that goods went by Chinese junks from Annam to Taprobanê, or the coast of Malabar, whence they were shipped to the Red Sea. This account may provide evidence of Roman merchant activity in the area of Southeast Asia, and such activity is additionally attested in later Chinese records. The Liang shu, which chronicles some of the events of the period following the collapse of the Han Dynasty in 220 C.E., records that in 226 C.E. Chi’in Lun, a merchant from Ta-chʻin, arrived in Chiao-chih (the Han province of northern Vietnam) and was sent on to the court of the Wu Emperor at Nanjing. Although the work’s compilation in the later seventh century C.E. renders its accuracy about events some 400 years earlier somewhat questionable, it is still worth mentioning here. These same annals indicate that merchants from Ta chʻin were active in parts of Cambodia and Vietnam. Discoveries of Roman gold medallions at the trading port of Oc-eo, near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, give greater credibility to Chinese and Roman sources that speak of Roman trading activity in Southeast Asia, especially in the second century C.E. Recent finds of Mediterranean artifacts in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia further support contact between these areas and the western world. Young writes that in the Antonine period and later, some Roman traders may have begun to journey further than India and Sri Lanka and launched trading activity in the region of Indo-China and perhaps as far as China, although such contacts were “presumably rare.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


One of the best books about the minorities in northern Italy borders was written during World War First by professor Martinelli. It was published in 1919 by the "American Geographical Society of New York". Here it is the section related to northern Italy, with detailed maps, as in "THE GEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW Vol. VII March, 1919 No. 3":


THE REGIONS OF MIXED POPULATIONS IN NORTHERN ITALY (By OLINTO MARINELLI Professor of Geography, Royal Institute of Higher Studies, Florence): Medieval Colonization of the Alps and the Present Ethnography of Northern Italy


It is strange that the Po Valley should be linguistically so uniform, in view of the repeated barbarian invasions to which it has been subjected. From its western extremity at the base of the Alps in Piedmont to its easternmost limit, where it joins the slopes of the Carso near Monfalcone, it is inhabited by a population which, except for slight anthropological differences and dialectal variations, shows how the language and civili zation of Rome unified races of divers origins. After the Gallo-Italian dialects, such as those of Piedmont, Lombardy, and Emilia, come those of Venetia and Friuli; yet they are all dialects of Italian and are dominated by Italian as a language of culture. The only traces remaining of medieval foreign occupation are to be found in the place names; and even these are scattered and insignificant, with the exception of a well-localized group of Slavic names in the plain of Friuli west of Udine. Except for this latter region, which furnished the highroad for the foreign invasions, the great Po Valley, even in the centuries of Italy's greatest depopulation, possessed enough civilized inhabitants to assimilate the people who came from outside, often in great masses but always without sufficient support from new arrivals. The valley might be held for centuries by foreign peoples, but they were always sure to be more or less rapidly fused with the native population.


Very different, however, were the vicissitudes of the Alpine district which flanks the Po Valley. Here natural conditions prevent a dense popu- lation and an uninterrupted settlement. The thickly populated districts are confined to the valley bottoms and to the slopes with favorable exposure. The Alpine peoples, of whatever origin, may have been able partly to escape from Celtic influence but not from that of Rome. In antiquity they, like the peoples of the plain, were almost completely Latinized. There is evidence of this in the series of Alpine dialects which with slight inter- ruption extends from the Grisons to Friuli — dialects differing among them- selves but regarded by linguistic experts as constituting a single group called ^^Ladin." Some of these peoples call themselves ^^Ladins," while others call themselves ^^Romansh"; both terms are reminiscent of the civilization of Rome and at the same time are living indications of its con- fines. Today, however, these confines are no longer what they once were. The place names show that the Ladin territory included a great part of eastern Switzerland and of the Tyrol, Vorarlberg, a great part of Bavaria, Salzburg, the Pustertal, and other territory which is now German. It used to include also the Julian Alps, now in great part Slav. It appears certain that the population of the Alps, already sparse in ancient times, became still more sparse during the early Middle Ages, whereas the Germanic and Slavic peoples experienced that great increase which was the indirect cause of the violent migrations toward the Medi- terranean countries and of those slower and more continuous movements of expansion by which their present distribution in Europe is chiefly explained.


Almost all the great barbarian invasions were directed at the regions of Italy which were richest in treasures accumulated through the ages. The Alps could only prove a temporary resting place for peoples who were seeking passage by the easiest and most accessible routes. So these inva- sions had no direct influence upon the ethnography of the Alpine territory but only an indirect influence due to the havoc they wrought along their path. Of far greater importance were the varied colonizing movements which took place in the wake of the great barbarian invasions for centuries. This colonization was accomplished by groups that were numerically small but were often renewed during the long periods of time involved; they found the conditions favorable for a secure settlement in the midst of the sparse Alpine population. These movements lasted until the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and in some cases even longer. They were often favored by feudal lords who desired to populate abandoned territories and who were unscrupulous about the people among whom they recruited colonists.


It is well known that in the Middle Ages the Alps were less a country of feudal castles than of hospices and convents. Even before any concep- tion of nationality was developed, the abbots and bishops, were the natural upholders of the Koman element, while the dukes, counts, and marquises — almost all of German origin — were certain to favor the German element. Nevertheless, in many of the ecclesiastical estates German colonization pro- ceeded without hindrance and in some cases with encouragement. This is explained in part by the fact that the Italian element had no settlers to furnish, and in part by the fact that the Germans alone possessed the knowledge of some special craft, such as that of mining. At the eastern end of the Alps the Franks granted lands in the plain of the Tagliamento to the Slavs, while later the Patriarchs of Aquileia admitted to their territory groups of German settlers. All this shows that we are dealing here with phenomena explained by geographic, economic, and social factors which were more weighty than the desires of the governors. In several particulars the German colonization of the Alps differed from that of the Slavs, among others in the greater role played by agriculture and various arts and trades as compared with stock-raising, and because in general it was later and continued longer ; there were, too, some territories in which the Germans came and settled in Slav colonies.


The movement of the Slavs toward the west began at the end of the sixth century and was arrested by the Bavarians in the Pustertal and by the Lombards in Friuli. But these combats were probably against the first bands of robbers, behind which came the peaceful stream of colonists, not numerous, but sufficient to populate completely Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and parts of Friuli and Istria. The Italian element with which they came into contact in the latter regions showed a remarkable power to assimilate the Slavs. But only in a few cases could it offer an effective resistance. A considerable resistance was offered, however, by the German element, especially in Carinthia. In the eighth century the German colonists had begun to establish themselves in force among the Slavs, who were evidently much scattered, so that Carinthia and northern Styria were already in the twelfth century largely populated by Germans or Germanized Slavs, as were also later central Styria and the greater part of the basin of Klagen- furt. This diffusion of the Germans over territory once Romanized and later become Slav took place on the southern side of the Alpine watershed only in a few cases, as in the upper valley of the Fella (at the source of this river and at Pontafel) and in the basin of the Isonzo, where, however, the little colony of Deutschrut, imported by the Patriarchs of Aquileia in the fourteenth century, has now become Slovene.


There have been many cases on the other hand in which German coloni- zation passed beyond the Alpine watershed, pouring directly into Italian territory. The most notable is certainly that of the upper Adige region; but from the Monte Rosa massif to the Carnic Alps there is a whole series of German peninsulas and islands in Italian territory. On the other hand, around the upper Rhine and the upper Inn (Engadine) the Ladin element is still found on the northern slope of the Alps. Thus, when the line of the Alpine watershed is considered in relation to the limit between the German and Italian peoples, it is easy to see that a coincidence is quite exceptional. It is evident also that the medieval colonization of the Ger- mans followed sometimes the highroads from the trans-Alpine countries into Italy and sometimes secondary paths and difficult passes; wherefore it is not always easy to see a close relationship between the topography of the Alps and its ethnographic conditions.


1)Location between Political Boundary of Italy and Alpine Watershed

We must now examine separately each of the territories with a mixed population. They are almost all outside of the political state of Italy, the greater part of them lying between the boundaries of the kingdom and the Alpine watershed. Since this watershed is conventionally regarded as the natural boundary of Italy, these territories are generally considered as outskirts of Italy under foreign rule. To some of them Italian geographers have given special names which differ from their official or political names and sometimes even from their traditional names. **Venezia Giulia" (Julian Venetia) , for example, has been used by Italians for some decades to designate the region which the Austrian government calls the Klisten- land, together with parts of Carinthia, Carniola, and Croatia. The southern part of the Tyrol south of the watershed, on the other hand, is called the ^^Trentino'' (i. e. the Trent district), a comparatively old name, and the northern part ^'Alto Adige'' (i. e. the basin of the Adige above Salorno), a name only recently used, at least in its present acceptation. The terms *^ Italian Switzerland ' ' or ''Swiss Lombardy" and the name ''Nizzardo'' (i. e. the district about Nice) have no need of special explana- tion. Almost none of the regions here mentioned has any geographic unity, since their extent is dependent on the often irrational position of the political boundary of Italy in relation to its so-called natural boundary. Most of these districts result from an aggregate of diversified territories or parts of territories which often have had no common history and have now no administrative unity.

2)Extension of Trans-Alpine States to Italian Territory Facilitated BY Ease of Crossing Alpine Watershed and Carso

Almost all are territories conquered at the expense of Italy, when for centuries it was divided and weak. These conquests usually find their geographical reason in the interest which the Alpine or partially Alpine states had in securing for themselves the possession of the roads which led down into the Po Valley by occupying the passes and southern Alpine valleys. The states in the Po Valley — strong because they were rich in population and civilization^ — were the states which, although usually at war among themselves, saved Italy from total subjection to the foreigner and later rendered possible its unity. The extension of the trans- Alpine states to Italian territory was facilitated by the fact that the Alps are not every- where a difficult obstacle and that their divide is not everywhere clearly defined. The line is most undecided at the eastern extremity of the Alpine chain, in the Carso, where most of the watercourses flow partly under- ground and where none of the various relief features have a decided character. The Carso, indeed, presented serious difficulties to railroad con- struction, though not requiring long tunnels, but it always offered easy access to the old forms of transportation and to great masses of migratory peoples. The population which established itself in the Carso did not feel that isolating influence exercised in the Alps by the high mountain barriers separating one valley from another. Moreover, even in the more rugged parts of the Carso the anthropogeographieal conditions in some respects approach the conditions in the plains, while in other respects they are distinctive. It is precisely in the region of the Carso that the occupation of Italian territory by foreign peoples has reached its widest extension. Here, in Julian Venetia, we find the greatest aggregation of diversified territories and the greatest ethnic complications.


Julian Venetia in General

Julian Venetia includes, besides a part of Carniola and a smaller part of Croatia, the upper Fella valley, the Gorizia district (i. e. the County of Gorizia and Gradisca), Trieste, Istria, and Fiume. The upper Fella valley was never under the rule of an Italian state ; the County of Gorizia, after the extinction of its ruling house, which was feudally dependent first on the Patriarchs of Aquileia and then on Venice, passed in 1500 by inherit- ance to the House of Austria and has belonged to it ever since; inland Istria, for similar reasons, had previously undergone the same fate, while the seacoast belonged to the Republic of Venice until the Treaty of Campoformio (1797) ; Trieste in 1382 placed itself beneath the protection of the Dukes of Austria in order to have their support against Venice; Fiume in 1483 through inheritance came under the same dominion, but in 1778 was handed over to the Hungarian Crown. Julian Venetia includes Alpine territory (the Julian Alps), foothills (Julian Pre- Alps), plateaus (the high Carso) and high plains, and a piece also of real plain (eastern Friuli). It cannot be considered in its entirety, but only in the separate parts into which it is traditionally divided.

Italian Character of Istria

Istria is the most notable part of Julian Venetia. Administratively it includes the islands of the Quarnero (Veglia, Cherso, and Lussin) and excludes Trieste and Fiume. The islands of the Quarnero can be considered as belonging physically to the archipelago of Dalmatia, while Istria finds its physical unity mainly in its peninsular character. Istria resembles a typically Italian region both in its physical features and in the human occupation of its soil, especially its arboxiculture. An even stronger impression of being in Italy is made upon the visitor by its cities, both by their monuments and the general appearance of their buildings. Art and culture are everywhere entirely Italian.

Ethnic History

However, the ethnographic conditions of Istria are complicated. In few regions could there be found a more mixed population. The whole peninsula was Eomanized in antiquity, with the result that there became established, in the north, upon a Carnic foundation, a Ladin dialect, which has only recently disappeared, and, in the south, upon an lUyrian founda- tion, a Venetian dialect, the Istrian of today. In the seventh century there arrived from the north the Slovenes and, a little later, from the east, the Croats. They were chiefly shepherds and only later became tillers of the soil. The Italian population of the cities, located mainly on the coast, maintained itself almost everywhere and in a great part of the region was strengthened by the rule and civilizing influence of Venice. But for various economic and social reasons Istria, in the fourteenth and following centuries, underwent a depopulation. To repair this the Eepublic of Venice favored colonization by outside peoples, principally from Dalmatia and Albania. The ethnography of Istria is, in large measure, the product of this immigration, which took place in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seven- teenth centuries, and which was directed both toward the inland districts and to those parts of the seacoast remaining unpopulated. The last of these colonies (1657) is that of Peroi, near Pola, settled by people from the Bocche di Cattaro region and by Montenegrins, who still preserve their Greco-Oriental religion. This colonization, which continued more than two centuries, strengthened the Slav element in the interior and introduced it in the Italian cities of the west coast. It also brought Kumanians, the greater part of whom, however, are now Slavicized, their original language being preserved by only a few hundred people in two small districts in Croatian territory. The Slavicized Kumanians are the so-called Cicci (Chichis), who inhabit the most mountainous part of Istria, the Fucki, and perhaps some other stray element, which, in the past, fused with the Italian. It is worthy of remark, however, not only that many of the Slavs of Istria use Italian as their language of culture and commerce, but also that some hybrid dialects have been formed, as is the case with the so-called Schiavetto.

Present Ethnic Conditions

The last century brought, on the one hand, the strengthening of the Italian element in the coast cities, thanks to the assimilation of the unedu- cated Slavs and to the immigration of laborers from Friuli, and, on the other, the extension and consolidation of the Slavic element in the country and in the interior. The latter phenomenon may be due to the greater fecundity of the Slavs, their absorption of the Eumanian elements, or their increased spirit of nationality, as a result of which some bilingual popu- lations which in the past considered themselves as Italians today regard themselves as Croats. Later, in the interior of the peninsula, which did not belong to Venice, there was added the German element, which during the feudal period had difficulty in securing a foothold. In very recent times it has become somewhat numerous in a few seaside and winter resorts such as Brioni and Abbazia and at Pola. From being a small town, which a century ago numbered less than 1,000 inhabitants, Pola has become the largest city of Istria, with 60,000 inhabitants, since its transformation into the chief naval port of Austria-Hungary. The other coast cities of Istria had little modern industrial and commercial development. This enabled them to preserve their Italian character intact, in their architecture and their language as well as in all the manifestations of family, civil, and artistic life. It is difficult to determine with certainty the distribution of the popu- lation of Istria according to language, even within its administrative limits (4,956 sq. km.). This is due to the difficulty of classifying ifiixed or bilingual peoples and to the frequent unreliability of the statistics collected in a region occupied by hostile nationalities. In the census of 1910 the Italians numbered 147,388, the Serbo-Croats 167,966, the Slovenes 55,407, the Germans 13,279, the Rumanians 883. But these figures include only Austrian subjects; thus the 147,388 Italians rise to 153,415 if we add the 6,027 citizens of the kingdom of Italy who inhabit Istria. On the other hand, the number of Germans would be reduced to less than a third if we excluded the garrison of Pola. These figures show, in any case, that in Istria no nationality predominates in a marked degree. It is, however, to be noticed, that in agriculture and economic activity the Italians have an importance out of all proportion to their numbers, so much so that a great many of the Slavs speak Italian.


As Economic Outlets of a Large Hinterland

Trieste and Fiume do not form a part of Istria either geographically or politically. Trieste has administrative autonomy in Austria and Fiume in Hungary. The small territory included in these divisions^ — 95 square kilo- meters for Trieste and 21 square kilometers for Fiume — is in contrast with the size of their present economic hinterland, but it finds an explanation in the conditions of the past, which have their basis in the geographical position of the two cities. Trieste is not at the mouth of a valley, while Fiume is at the mouth of a valley of rather limited length and has behind it the Carso, which is here more impassable than at Trieste. The two cities were for centuries Adriatic ports, much like those of Istria in importance and presenting similar conditions of development. These two cities, as long as they mainly lived from the sea and in the days of small industries, sailing ships, and the old methods of land transportation, developed their economic activity within very narrow lines, which often did not pass beyond the bounds of their own hydrographic basin. So they had a limited importance. Nevertheless their Italianism, although scarcely felt in a nationalistic sense, was in no danger of extinction, because life on the shores of the Adriatic, which is so completely an Italian sea, could not but be strengthened by it. But in modern times these two ports became the outlets of large territories in the interior of Europe, extending far beyond the Danube. The two cities grew rapidly through the influx of inhabitants from near at hand, prevailingly Slavs, and from the more remote regions, Germans in the case of Trieste, and Hungarians of Fiume. To the natural development of this phenomenon we must add in the last decades the policy of the governments of Austria and Hungary, which was directed not only to developing these outlet ports but also to rendering less dangerous the singular state of affairs involved in the fact that the chief port of a state in which the German element dominates is in reality Italian and accessible only across more than a hundred kilometers of Slovene terri- tory and that the chief port of the other state, in which the Magyar element is supreme, is also Italian and accessible only across two hundred kilo- meters of exclusively Croatian territory. This policy has contributed to diminishing, though in slight measure, the relative numerical importance of the Italian element in the two cities ; but it greatly helped to give these Italians a strong sense of their nationality and to make Trieste the chief center of ''irredentism'' — ^that is, of the movement for the political reunion of the "unredeemed'' districts with the Italian fatherland.

Size of the Population According to Nationalities

Only in the eighteenth century, and especially in the second half of it, did Trieste surpass in population the other cities of Istria — Fiume only in the nineteenth; but, except during the last twenty years, the growth of the two cities, despite the great prevailing influx of Slavs, was always less than the power of assimilation of the more intelligent native element. For instance, the 120,000 Italians in Trieste according to the census of 1910 doubtless cannot be regarded as descendants of the few thousand who lived there in the first half of the eighteenth century (3,865 in 1735). A large percentage of the population of Trieste, as is shown by the family names, is of Slav or German origin; another large number is due to the not inconsiderable immigration from Friuli or Venice. This influx, like that of the Slovenes, is explained by the modern industrial development of the city. In 1910, besides the 120,000 subjects of Austria, there were in Trieste almost 30,000 Italian citizens. Out of the 220,000 inhabitants of the city, the Italians represented three-fourths of the population, so that the 60,000 Slovenes, who live chiefly in the suburbs, and to a still greater extent the 12,000 Germans, represented minorities only. At Fiume in 1910 the Italians, including those born in Italy, represented little more than one- half of the population, which numbered about 50,000 ; yet even numerically they formed the dominant element, as compared with 15,000 Slavs and 6,500 Magyars. It is in the presence of these newcomers that the people of Trieste and Fiume felt their allegiance to Italy all the more, though at first but weakly ; but in Istria this allegiance has always been deeply felt, if only in the form of devoted attachment to Venice.


The County of Gorizia

The old County of Gorizia represents a fragment of Friuli which a feudal family in the Middle Ages succeeded in detaching from it and which, as we have seen, later passed to the House of Habsburg. Under the name of County of Gorizia and Gradisca it forms a province by itself. It includes, besides a piece of the Carso behind Trieste and the valley of the Vippacco (German, Wippach), which separates the Carso proper from the high Carso (the plateau of Ternova), two principal geographic regions: the valley of the Isonzo and the eastern part of the plain of Friuli. The limits of this province towards the kingdom of Italy are most unnatural; the most unnatural section of the boundary is that which runs through the plain and which is for the greater part defined by the little river Judrio. This was the limit of Venetian Lombardy as long as this region belonged to Austria, and it represented a rectification of a still more complicated boundary which for centuries limited the Republic of Venice on the east. On both sides of this frontier are to be found not only the same physical and economic conditions, but also the same Italian population, which extends compactly to the foot of the Carso. Here there is no question of a mixed population as in Istria, because the separation between the Italian plain and the Slovene mountain district is almost everywhere clean-cut. As was shown above, the Slavs had also established themselves in some parts of the plain of Friuli, but here the Italian population quickly re- gained the lost territory, and for centuries the ethnographic has coincided with the geographic boundary. Kather than a mixed zone, there could be distinguished one in which the Slavs, who were in close relations with the Italian centers at the foot of the mountains, were compelled to speak, beside their own dialect, that of Friuli.

The City op Gorizia

Gorizia, which was always the political center of the entire territory, has always formed an exception. But ever since the commercial activity of the town in the plain began to prevail over the court life in its feudal stronghold, the city has been almost exclusively Italian in population and character. Recently, however, the development of the city, and especially its suburbs, as a great industrial center has brought about a profound change inasmuch as the workers have been recruited chiefly among the Slovenes. Thus the census of 1910 showed that the population was only half Italian: as against 14,838 Italians (to whom must be added 1,110 sub- jects of Italy) there were 10,782 Slovenes and 3,236 Germans. These last, when they do not belong to the garrison, are there because Gorizia is a favorite resort of Austrian state pensioners and of persons desiring or requiring a mild climate. (Though with evident exaggeration, Gorizia is often called the Austrian Nice.)

Population op the County

Within the confines of the County of Gorizia and Gradisca (2,918 sq. km.) the census of 1910 showed 90,181 Italians (Friulians and, at Monfalcone, Venetians), to which must be added 8,947 Italians born in Italy, while there were 154,537 Slovenes and 4,481 Germans.

The Slovenes op the Province op Udine and the Resians

It must be noted here that the Slovene area of the County of Gorizia, while it continues on one side into Carniola and into Carinthia, on the other side includes, in the province of Udine, a territory consisting in large part of valleys which send their waters into the Isonzo and which have easy communication with this river. These Slovenes of the province of Udine, according to the census of 1911, numbered 31,730, to which must be added 4,650 Eesians, who inhabit the valley of Resia in the basin of the Taglia- mento and speak a dialect which seems to be related to Serbo-Croat. These Slovenes of the province of Udine do not anywhere, as they certainly did in the past, reach the plain and still less the Fella valley, along which run the frequented highway and railroad via Pontebba, while in the mountain- ous region where they have persisted, even if they are distinguished by their origin and dialect from the people of Friuli, they nevertheless, like them, regard Italy as their fatherland.

The Upper Fella Valley

The upper valley of the Fella, on the other hand, is still subject to Austria as far as Pontafel, and throughout its small area of 220 square kilo- meters presents a singular succession of German villages alternating with Slovene villages. A little more than half of the entire population, which does not amount to more than 4,000, is Slav; a little less than half is German. It has been shown elsewhere how in this region German coloni- zation has been superimposed upon that of the Slavs, as is the case through- out Carinthia, of which the upper Fella valley forms a part.


The German-Italian Contact Zone

The valley of the Fella, belonging to the basin of the Tagliamento, is the only valley south of the watershed where for centuries Italians, Germans, and Slavs have lived side by side. The Slavs once extended west as far as the sources of the Eienz (south of Toblach) but left their only trace there in the place names; so that today to the west of the Fella we find only superimpositions of the German element directly on the Italian. These superimpositions took place during a long period of time, but the ethno- graphic situation today is substantially the product of the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, during which German colonization, favored by the foreign lords, became possible because extended tracts in the Venetian mountains were sparsely populated, while they were rich in unexploited minerals, forests, and pastures. Small German groups crossed the Carnic Alps, entering the upper basins of the Tagliamento and of the Piave (the villages of Timau and Sauris in the former and Sappada in the latter, with a total population of less than 3,000, are still German), but the main channels of German penetration south of the watershed led along the upper forks of the Adige, which continue the lines of easiest communication between Central Europe and Italy. These lie over the Brenner (1,362 meters) and the Toblacher Feld (1,208 meters). The German coloniza- tion, though intense, was practically confined within the principal valleys, so that in the higher and more remote valleys the original Ladin population was able to persist for a long time, in some cases even to our own day. Hence beside the Val Monastero (Miinstertal), which is connected with the basin of the Adige but is politically a part of Switzerland, the Val Gardena (Grodnertal), an eastern tributary of the Eisack, is also Ladin, as well as the valleys of Marebbe (Bnneberg) and Badia (Abtei), both of which send their waters to the Rienz. In the lower part of the valley of the Adige the German infiltration was stopped by the presence of a more numerous Italian population, and here, between Bozen and Salorno (Salurn) lay a zone of contest between the two populations — a contest which still continues. But this did not prevent German colonization from thrusting small units much farther south, even to the Pre-Alps, in sight of the Venetian plain; but here, contrary to what happened in the upper Adige region, the Ger- mans did not maintain themselves in the main valleys, but settled in the higher tributary valleys and on the table-lands. This is the case with the isolated German colony of the Mocheni in the valley of the Fersina east of Trent and with the Germans of Luserna, on the Austrian side of the plateau of the Sette Comuni. The whole plateau was once populated by Germanic peoples, but they are today in great part Italianized — the number of Ger- mans in the Sette Comuni being only 2,800 in 1911 — as are also almost all the inhabitants of the Tredici Comuni north of Verona, where in 1911 German was spoken by only 170 persons.

Germanization of the Ladins

While the ethnographic conditions of the Adige basin and the adja- cent regions are largely due to the immigration of the period prior to the fifteenth century, yet many changes have taken place since, even down to our own time. On the one hand the Italianization of the more advanced German centers has made progress; on the other the Ladin element has become in most cases Germanized or is now becoming so. The latter phenomenon is due not so much to inferior civilization as to other circum- stances. The region about the headwaters of the Adige, once Ladin, lost its original character, not only through frequent contact with the German element but also because in the seventeenth century the local dialect was forbidden in order to prevent the spread of Calvinism in the Tyrol from the Engadine. On the other hand, with the change in the suitableness of a terrain to communication which modern progress in methods of transpor- tation has brought about — a change which led to the abandonment of the uplands and divides formerly favored for secondary routes and the selec- tion of the valley trenches, even when narrow — the elevated tracts and high tributary valleys populated by the Ladins partly lost contact with each other and established closer relations with the inhabitants of the deep main valleys. In general, they were no longer able to maintain the isolation which for centuries had preserved their characteristics. Another contribu- tory influence to this result was the passing of tourists, who were in great part German. We are now referring to the Ladins in the Dolomites. By means of the schools and an intense propaganda organized by Austrian and German societies for the diffusion of the German language and influence, these Ladin populations are drifting away from their natural cultural affiliation, without making any appreciable resistance.

The Bozen Eegion

As has been pointed out, the zone for the possession of which the Italians and Germans have most contended and still contend has Bozen for its center and extends from Meran to Salorno. The valley of the Adige lies at a rather low elevation at this point (Meran, 301 meters; Salorno, 224 meters) and especially in the section above Bozen is well protected from north winds, has a limited rainfall, and enjoys a climate which permits the culture of the vine and of the mulberry, thereby making this the region in which Mediterranean vegetation and cultivation penetrate farthest into the Alps. On the racial distribution this fact has had two opposite ejffects: it has favored the inflow of Germans to certain centers as health and summer resorts, on the one hand, and, on the other, the immigration of cultivators from the Trentino into the rural districts. This last phenomenon arises from two causes: the Tyrolese have less experience than the people of the Trentino with intensive agriculture, and the latter, because of the economic conditions in their own district, have been compelled in the last decades to emdgrate in large numbers, some going to distant America and others to the neighboring regions of the Tyrol and Vorarlberg. The 17,182 Italian immigrants from Austria listed in the United States census of 1910 under ** foreign white stock'' were almost all from the Trentino. Through Bozen and the valley south of it passes the Brenner highway. Hence, the development of this center and of the region tributary to the highway always reflected the fluctuations of commerce and industry, which, in the past, have favored the influx now of Italians, now of Germans. Since the construction of the railroad the latter have had a distinct advantage. The conditions of the Italian element between Meran and Salorno have, therefore, been quite varied ; of late, the Italians have tended to increase in the country and to decrease in the cities and towns. However, when we pass from this disputed territory and enter the high, tributary valleys, the upper Adige district is almost entirely German, whereas the Trentino is almost exclusively Italian.

Population of the Alto Adige and the Trentino According to Nationalities

The Alto Adige district, i. e. the basin of the Adige above Salorno (7,178 sq. km.): this district includes the administrative divisions, called political districts, of Bozen, Brenner, Brixen, Meran, and Schlanders.If we depend upon the Austrian census of 1910, which certainly is inexact but for which it is difficult to find any substitute, was inhabited by 215,345 Germans and 16,510 Italians. Even if this last figure ought to be doubled or tripled in an impartial reckoning, and with the addition of those born in Italy, the Italian element would still form a small minority. In the Trentino (6,356 sq. km.), still according to official figures, the Italians, exclusive of those born in Italy, numbered 377,039, the Germans 13,477; but this last number would be reduced to less than half if the members of the garrisons and the government employees were excluded. The Trentino, besides the middle section of the Adige basin between Salorno and the Italian frontier includes Giudicaria, i. e. the basin of the upper Chiese and the Sarca, with a part of Lake Garda; the Valsugana, i. e. the upper Brenta valley; and the regions around the sources of the Astico (Lavarone), of the Cismone (Primiero), of the Cordevole (Livinallongo) and of the Boite (Ampezzo). The two last regions, corresponding to the political district of Ampezzo (390 sq. km., 6,674 population), because of their history and their geographic conditions, are considered to be outside of the Trentino proper. The population speaks a Ladin dialect strongly affected by Venetian. In the Dolomites it is the district most frequented by foreigners ; this explains why in the census of 1910 we find 443 persons who speak German. Though the Trentino does not represent a complete geo- graphic unit, it possesses an individuality of its own, if only by contrast with the upper Adige district, in population and physical and economic conditions. The tree culture of the Italian plain and hills is widespread here, and around Lake Garda even the olive grows. Toward Italy are directed the aspirations and interests of the Trentino.

Individuality and Separatist Tendency of the Trentino

In earlier centuries this difference between the upper Adige and the Trentip^ was recognized politically in the independence of the episcopal principality of Trent, which lasted until 1796 and, though with a few varia- tions in the boundary, embraced almost all the racially Italian area. Yet no account was taken of this difference by Austria in the present system of administrative divisions. In this the Trentino forms, together with the Tyrol, a single province (i. e. the County of Tyrol and Vorarlberg) whose government is in the main entrusted to the German majority. For, accord- ing to the census of 1910, in the total population of 1,049,169 the Germans numbered 651,858, the Italians 391,557. The struggle of the latter for their liberation from the Austrian yoke assumed, then, not only the form of irredentism, or return to the Italian fatherland, but also agitation for administrative autonomy, or separation from the German Tyrol. Notwithstanding the legitimacy and legality of this demand, it was never heeded by the Austrian government. The Italianism of the Trentino, in culture, in tradition, and in sentiments, has been splendidly demonstrated not only in the daily opposition to the arrogance of the central and provincial governments and to the invasion of the German element, abetted by the Pan-German societies, but also in the support of schools and other cultural agencies through which even the lowest classes of the people tried to strengthen their Italian allegiance, even to the point of purging their dialect of the slight traces of German which had crept into it during the centuries of commercial relations. Thus their aspiration grew continuously to free themselves from the double yoke of their forced membership in a foreign state and their administrative association with real enemies. It is not out of place to recall here how the struggles undertaken within the sphere of Austrian law by Italian subjects of Austria, for the autonomy of the Trentino, for an Italian university in Trieste, and for many other ideal and material interests, had little effect, inasmuch as they were strenu- ously opposed by an always hostile government. This is because, while in the Adige region the Italians were in open opposition to the Germans, in Julian Venetia they were confronted chiefly with the Slavs; so that they did not have the support even of the latter, who ought to be, as they now are, their natural friends.


The Two Teutonic-Eomance Contact Zones

When we turn from the territories subject to the Austrian yoke to con- sider Switzerland, the problems of the contact between the Eomance and Teutonic peoples present themselves under quite different aspects. Two contact zones should be distinguished, a longitudinal, running east and west, along which Ehaeto-Eomans and Italians abut against Germans, and a transverse, running north and south, along which French peoples face the Germans. In the latter zone the German element comes into contact chiefly with populations whose dialect belongs to the Franco-Provencal group and whose written language and culture are almost completely French. The ethnic boundary was more subject to successive thrusts toward the west, the chief of which occurred before the year 1000. The French element strongly resisted this movement at various times, but it has resisted it especially in the last decades.

The German Wedge

The ethnic boundary between Germans and French lies not only in Swiss territory, but continues into Italian territory. Here, south of the Monte Eosa group the Germans in the valley of Gressoney (German, Lystal) are on the west in contact with Franco-Provencals of the valley of Aosta, among whom French holds first place in the church, schools, and in general culture. We also find Germans southeast and east of Monte Eosa in the upper Val Sesia and its tributaries (Alagna, Eima, and Eimella) and in the valley of Anzasca (Macugnaga). Gondo (G., Euden) and Simplon (Simpeln) are also German; although on the southern side of the Alpine watershed, they belong politically to Switzerland. In Italian territory the valley of Formazza (G., Pommat), i. e. the uppermost valley of the Toce, and, in the Swiss canton of Ticino on the other side of the crest which encloses the valley on the east, Agaro and Bosco (G., Gurin) are likewise German. It is probable that these German centers, which today number, all told, about 5,000 inhabitants, were in the past more numerous, but the more advanced of them, like Ornavasso on the lower Toce near Lake Mag- giore, have not been able to avoid the assimilating influence of the more numerous and cultured Italian population, and this influence still continues in force. Taken together as a unit, the Germans of these wild Alpine valleys form a wedge whose apex, at Issime,^ is thrust forward to within 20 kilometers of the Po Valley. This wedge completely separates French Switzerland from Khaeto-Romanic Switzerland, which includes almost all the valleys of the uppermost Rhine and Inn basins and the Val Monastero, already mentioned, all, except the last, lying north of the Alpine watershed. The watershed separates this valley from the rest of Rhaeto-Romanic Switzer- land and puts it in more direct and intimate relation with German Tyrol.

The Rhaeto-Romans Increasing Germanization

The condition of things as here set forth explains why the Rhaeto- Romanic people of the canton of the Grisons do not consider themselves Italians, as do the Ladins almost everywhere else in the Alps. The Rhaeto- Romanic people have tried to raise their dialects to the dignity of literary tongues, though with little result. This effort has hardly passed beyond the most elementary stage, for their culture is German and is growing increas- ingly so not only through the influence of the schools but also through commercial relations and the flourishing foreign tourist trade. The Rhaeto-Romanic people of the Grisons could not look toward France, from which they are separated by too wide a German zone, nor towards Italy, from which they are cut off not only by the main divide of the Alps but also by differences of religion (they are largely Protestant) and feeling. In their inability to create for themselves a real language and a culture of their own and in their reluctance to adopt that of one of the great Latin nations, many students of the question see their weakness and fear their early disappearance. Indeed the colonization by Germans of some of the valleys of the upper Rhine in the Middle Ages already at this time interrupted the continuity of the Rhaeto-Romanic territory. Furthermore, in many centers of mixed population, especially those on the floor of the main valleys, the German element has been increasing of late as a result of the growth of commerce and the influx of German travelers. The very favorable climate, both in summer and winter, of the Engadine, for instance, has made it and its center, St. Moritz, one of the most famous health and winter-sport resorts in the world. St. Moritz is frequented especially by Germans. In the commune of issime the subdivision of Issime St. Jacob is German in speech while that of Issime St. Michael is French. In the schools Italian and French are taught, as in the other communes of the District of Aosta. The growth of the tourist trade has not caused any falling off in the old tendency of the natives of the Engadine to emigrate, usually for part of the year, to various parts of Europe.

The Number op Rhaeto-Romans

The number of Rhaeto-Romans in Switzerland has remained stationary for some decades at about 40,000, which represents a constantly diminish- ing proportion to the total population of Switzerland as well as to that of the Grisons, outside of which canton there are only a few thousand in other parts of Switzerland and some in Italy and the United States. (The census of 1910 showed 408 Rhaeto-Romans in the United States.)

The Italian Parts of the Canton of the Grisons

The canton of the Grisons also includes, south of the main Alpine water- shed, territories with Italian populations (in all less than 10,000 people). These are the Val Mesocco and the Val Calanca, whose waters flow first into the Ticino and then into Lake Maggiore, and the Yal Bregaglia and Val di Poschiavo, whose waters reach Lake Como through the Mera and jthe Adda, These form a part of so-called Italian Switzerland, which includes, in addition to these three little pieces of the canton of the Grisons and a small piece of the canton of Valais (the upper valley of the Diveria near the Simplon Pass), the whole of the canton of Ticino.

The Canton of Ticino

Italian Switzerland is lacking in geographic unity as well as in political unity. The territory itself of the canton of Ticino (2,801 sq. km.) is an aggregation of very different parts, with limits which cannot but appear very strange, especially where they include half of Lake Lugano, leaving on one of its shores, as an exclave in Swiss territory, a small area belonging to Italy (Campione). The canton of Ticino, like all of Italian Switzerland, is, in fact, conquered territory. When the strategic importance of the relevant passes is considered — Simplon, St. Gotthard, Lucomagno, San Bernardino (connecting the Val Mesocco with the Rheinwaldtal), Maloggia, Muretto, and Bernina^ — it is easy to understand why Switzerland strove to possess them. The consequent extension of Swiss territory encompassed areas purely Italian not only in population but also in type of cultivation. On the Swiss shores of Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore the vine and mulberry and in some places even the olive flourish. The districts constituting the present canton of Ticino were severally joined to Switzerland at various times and were variously governed, but always as conquered territory, until 1803, when the Ticino became an independent state of the Confederation. The population (160,680 in 1913) is altogether Italian both in dialect and culture and, moreover, is attached to Italy by strong economic inter- ests; but it is much more closely attached to the Swiss Confederation because of the great political liberty granted by its constitution ; so there is no marked tendency to reunite this region with the rest of Italy. More- over it should be remarked that, while the canton of Ticino has furnished a considerable emigration, especially to the United States (the census of 1910 enumerated 14,923 Italian Swiss), it has experienced an intensive agricultural colonization by Lombard peasants, so that half of the present population of the canton is estimated to consist of families born in Italy who have established themselves there in the last fifty years. Then, too, the region, like almost all of Switzerland, is subject to an intense temporary immigration of Italian workmen and day laborers, who spend the working season there and return to their homes for the winter. Indeed, this periodic migration affects all the countries which border on Italy.


In the western Alps there is no clean-cut boundary between the dialects which may be called Italian and those which should be regarded as French ; in most cases only a trained philologist could decide whether certain valleys or districts ought to be placed on one side or the other of this boundary. It appears upon examination that, along the Eiviera, the dialect spoken at Mentone is Provengal, while at Ventimiglia it is still Ligurian ; so that the political boundary of Italy at this point does not diverge much from the dialectal boundary. In the Alps of Liguria and Piedmont, however, the Provengal and Franco-Provencal dialects occupy all the upper valleys of the tributaries of the Po, in some places even approaching the plain, where Gallo-Italian dialects are spoken, which represent a transition between the Italian and French dialects. The Italian literary language and culture, equally with the French, found a soil favorable for development among these different populations. The preference for one language or the other in a given region was usually dependent on its political affiliation or other historical vicissitudes. Hence, the boundary between the Italian and French literary languages does not coincide with that between the Italian and French dialects.

Number of French-Speaking People in Italy

From the last Italian census (1910) we can learn, not how many people speak the Provengal and Franco-Proven§al dialects within the Italian boundaries, but only how many of them use French as the language of the church, of the school (where it is usually spoken along with Italian), and of culture in general. The census shows that 70,560 inhabitants of the administrative district of Aosta spoke French. In the valley of Aosta, Italy has actually kept French in the elementary schools, and in the churches French is used. In the Susa district there are 7,070 French in the villages of the upper Dora Eiparia valley; this area is one of the territories east of the Alpine watershed which was longest under the rule of France (until the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713), and with France, too, it was further related by cultural and commercial contact through the Mont- Genevre Pass. Next to the south lie the valleys of the Chisone and the Pellice, which are inhabited by the Waldensians, the well-known Protestant sect, which, after many persecutions in the Dauphiny and in Savoy, found a final refuge here. According to the census of 1910 there were 8,330 French-speaking people in the administrative district of Pinerolo, which includes these valleys. The dialect of the Waldensians is Provencal, differ- ing, however, from that of the adjoining regions because the Waldensians came from the Dauphiny and settled in the territory which they now occupy only in the Middle Ages. The official language, as well as that of their church and culture, is French.

The Waldensians

It is important to remark that the official language of the Waldensians was Italian until they had to call in the services of pastors from Geneva, because almost all their own native pastors had fallen victims to the pestilence of 1630. The French literary language was thus introduced. It has since flourished because it conformed more closely to the character of the local idioms, but especially because it became, as it were, the symbol of their spirit of rebellion against the Church of Rome. While the French- speaking persons in the district of Pinerolo number 8,330 according to the Italian statistics, the Protestants of the same district, i. e. the Walden- sians, number 14,841; the difference indicates that the Waldensians are largely bilingual. The total number of Waldensians is, however, much greater than these figures indicate, for they do not include the numerous colonies of that sect in Italy, elsewhere in Europe, and in the western hemisphere (especially in Uruguay).

Italian Populations in France: Nice

While some populations with Provengal and Franco-Provengal dialects and often even with French language and culture are thus included within the political boundaries of Italy, there are some populations with Italian dialects and Italian culture within the territory of France. To be sure, the only popu- lations in France with Italian dialects are the inhabitants of that section of the middle valley of the Roia which, being included in the old County of Nice, was detached from Italy in 1860, when this county was ceded to France. Nice, with a good part of the Nice region, including also the principality of Monaco, was at that time prevailingly Italian in language and culture. But gradually, as the ''Cote d'Azur,'' or French Eiviera, has become one of the most frequented winter resorts of the world, the old traditional culture has grown weaker and in some places has even disappeared, so that the whole region, including Nice, the birthplace of Garibaldi, has become almost entirely French. The old character was but little fostered by the modern stream of Italian immigration to this region (the Italians number 30,000 in Nice alone). Beside the Cote d'Azur other centers of the south coast have been affected by this immigration, especially Marseilles, where there are about 100,000 Italians who were born in Italy. But their influence was much less than the number would indicate, because for the most part their sojourn is temporary and they belong mostly to the laboring and servant class.

Italian Emigration to Southern France

This Italian migration into southern France, in its causes and its character, is of exactly the same type as that to Switzerland, Trieste and Fiume, and Austria-Hungary in general. The consequences of this migra- tion, while identical in their influence on the economic and social conditions of the countries bordering on northern Italy, are very different in their effect on the spread of Italian culture. The Italians who change from temporary sojourners into permanent inhabitants of the countries which receive them are quickly assimilated in France, while in Italian Switzer- land, in the Trentino, and in Julian Venetia they go to swell the Italian element and the strength of its resistance against the foreign elements. The ethnographic and political consequences of this modern migration of Italians, which has taken place on so large a scale to the New World, within Europe itself, and to the Mediterranean countries, are not all evi- dent, nor is this the place to consider them.