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Traces of transhumance appear in the neolithic. At that stage the population in its majority had already changed from an economy based on hunting and gathering to one based on agriculture and animal husbandry. It is still an open question whether forms of pastoral mobility, such as transhumance alpiculture , already existed in prehistory. The earliest historical accounts date to the Roman period, mostly due to Greco-Roman ethnography , with some epigraphic evidence due to the Raetians , Lepontii and Gauls , with Ligurians and Venetii occupying the fringes in the southwest and southeast, respectively Cisalpine Gaul during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC.
The Rock Drawings in Valcamonica date to this period.
History of the Alps - Wikipedia
A few details have come down to us of the conquest of many of the Alpine tribes by Augustus , as well as Hannibal 's battles across the Alps. Most of the local Gallic tribes allied themselves with the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War , for the duration of which Rome lost control over most of Northern Italy. The contemporary monument Tropaeum Alpium in La Turbie celebrates the victory won by the Romans over 46 tribes in these mountains. The subsequent construction of roads over the Alpine passes first permitted southern and northern Roman settlements in the Alps to be connected, and eventually integrated the inhabitants of the Alps into the culture of the Empire.
Raetia was conquered in 15 BC. With the division of the Roman Empire and the collapse of its Western part in the fourth and fifth centuries, power relations in the Alpine region reverted to their local dimensions. Often dioceses became important centres. While in Italy and Southern France, dioceses in the Western Alps were established early beginning in the fourth century and resulted in numerous small sees, in the Eastern Alps such foundations continued into the thirteenth century and the dioceses were usually larger.
New monasteries in the mountain valleys also promoted the Christianisation of the population. The German emperors , who received the imperial investiture from the Pope in Rome between the ninth and the fifteenth centuries, had to cross the Alps along with their entourages. In the 7th century, much of the Eastern Alps were settled by Slavs. Between the 7th and 9th century, the Slavic principality of Carantania existed as one of the few non-Germanic polities in the Alps.
The Alpine Slavs , who inhabited the majority of present-day Austria and Slovenia , were gradually Germanized from the 9th to the 14th century. The modern Slovenes are their southernmost descendants. The successive emigration and occupation of the Alpine region by the Alemanni from the 6th to the 8th centuries are, too, known only in outline. For "mainstream" history, the Frankish and later the Habsburg empire, the Alps had strategic importance as an obstacle, not as a landscape, and the Alpine passes have consequently had great significance militarily.
Between and , a Muslim community existed at Fraxinetum in the Western Alps. These "Saracens", as they were known, blocked the Alpine passes to Christian travelers until their expulsion by Christian forces led by Arduin Glaber in , at which point transalpine trade was able to resume. Not until the final breakup of the Carolingian Empire in the 10th and 11th centuries is it possible to trace out the local history of different parts of the Alps, notably with the High Medieval Walser migrations. At first a mixed form of agriculture and animal husbandry dominated the economy.
Then, from the Late Middle Ages onwards, cattle tended to replace sheep as the dominant animals. In a few regions of the northern slope of the Alps, cattle farming became increasingly oriented toward long-range markets and substituted agriculture completely.
At the same time other types of interregional and transalpine exchange were growing in significance. The most important pass was the Brenner , which could accommodate cart traffic beginning in the fifteenth century.
In the Western and Central Alps, the passes were practicable only by pack animals up to the period around The process of state formation in the Alps was driven by the proximity to focal areas of European conflicts such as in the Italian wars of — In that period the socio-political structures of Alpine regions drifted apart. One can identify three different developmental models: one of princely centralization Western Alps , a local- communal one Switzerland and an intermediate one, characterised by a powerful nobility Eastern Alps.
Until the late nineteenth century many Alpine valleys remained mainly shaped by agrarian and pastoral activities.
Population growth favoured the intensification of land use and the spread of corn, potato and cheese production. The shorter growing season at higher altitudes did not seem to be an impediment until around Later, however, it became a major obstacle to the further intensification of agriculture, especially in comparison to the surrounding lowlands where land productivity increased rapidly. Inside the Alpine region there was a striking difference between the western and central parts, which were dominated by small farming establishments, and the eastern part, which were characterised by medium or big farms.
Migration to the urbanised zones of the surrounding areas was already apparent before and was often temporary. In the Alps themselves, urbanisation was slow. In the Central Alps the chief event, on the northern side of the chain, is the gradual formation from to of the Swiss Confederacy , at least so far as regards the mountain Cantons , and with especial reference to the independent confederations of the Grisons and the Valais, which only became full members of the Confederation in and respectively.
The attraction of the south was too strong for both the Forest Cantons and the Grisons , so that both tried to secure, and actually did secure, various bits of the Milanese. This changed dramatically with the construction of the so-called Devil's Bridge by the year Almost immediately, in , the formerly unimportant valley of Uri was granted imperial immediacy and became the main route connecting Germany and Italy.
History of the Alps, 1500-1900: Environment, Development, and Society
Also in , a hospice dedicated to Gotthard of Hildesheim was built on the pass to accommodate the pilgrims to Rome which now took this route. The sudden strategical importance for the European powers gained by what is now Central Switzerland was an important factor in the formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy beginning in the late 13th century. Blenio was added to the Val Bregaglia which had been given to the bishop of Coire in by the emperor Otto I , along with the valleys of Mesocco and of Poschiavo.
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The struggle henceforth was limited to France and the house of Savoy, but little by little France succeeded in pushing back the house of Savoy across the Alps, forcing it to become a purely Italian power. The final act in this long-continued struggle took place in , when France obtained by cession the rest of the county of Nice and also Savoy, thus remaining sole ruler on the western slope of the Alps. The Eastern Alps had been included in the Frankish Empire since the 9th century.
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From the High Middle Ages and throughout the Early Modern era, the political history of the Eastern Alps can be considered almost totally in terms of the advance or retreat of the house of Habsburg. The Habsburgers' original home was in the lower valley of the Aar, at Habsburg castle. They lost that district to the Swiss in , as they had previously lost various other sections of what is now Switzerland. But they built an impressive empire in the Eastern Alps, where they defeated numerous minor dynasties.
They won the duchy of Austria with Styria in , Carinthia and Carniola in , Tirol in , and the Vorarlberg in bits from to , not to speak of minor "rectifications" of frontiers on the northern slope of the Alps. But on the other slope their progress was slower, and finally less successful. It is true that they won Primiero quite early , as well as the Ampezzo Valley and several towns to the south of Trento.
In they obtained Venetia proper, in the secularized bishoprics of Trento and Brixen as well as that of Salzburg , more to the north , besides the Valtellina region, and in the Bergamasque valleys, while the Milanese had belonged to them since But in they lost to the house of Savoy both the Milanese and the Bergamasca, and in Venetia proper also, so that the Trentino was then their chief possession on the southern slope of the Alps.
The gain of the Milanese in by the future king of Italy meant that Italy then won the valley of Livigno between the Upper Engadine and Bormio , which is the only important bit it holds on the non-Italian slope of the Alps, besides the county of Tenda obtained in , and not lost in , with the heads of certain glens in the Maritime Alps, reserved in for reasons connected with hunting. For the modern era it is possible to offer a quantitative estimate of the population of the Alpine region.
Within the area delimited by the Alpine Convention , there were about 3. Sixteenth-century scholars, especially those from cities near the Alps, began to show a greater interest for the mountain phenomena. Their curiosity was also aroused by important questions of the genesis of the earth and the interpretation of the Bible. By the eighteenth century, a distinctive enthusiasm for nature and the Alps spread in European society.
In his work the naturalist from Geneva described, among other things, his ascent of Mont Blanc at metres above sea level. These cultural developments resulted in a growth of interest in the Alps as a travel destination and laid the foundation for modern tourism. As Europe was getting increasingly more urbanised, the Alps distinguished themselves as a place of nature.
During the colonial expansion many mountains in Asia, Australia and America were now named after the Alps as well.
Related HISTORY OF THE ALPS, 1500 - 1900: ENVIRONMENT, DEVELOPMENT, AND SOCIETY
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