The Spanish domination:

12th of October 1492 is an important milestone in the history of the world. Christopher Columbus arrived to what he believed were the Indies and discovered America. This date marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern era. While Columbus’s fleet was sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in Milan Ludovico il Moro, lord of the city, was struggling to maintain his power against the French first and then the Spanish invaders. The Emperor Charles the Fifth conquered the city and so begun a 160 years period of Spanish domination. The Mediterranean area suffered the competition of the trades towards the new world and above all the spread of the plague affected the prosperity of the whole European continent. Alessandro Manzoni, the father of Italian romanticism, described Milan under the Spanish rulers in his masterpiece: The Betrothed (I promessi sposi, 1827).

The Austrian domination

While the Spanish colonization suffered a setback, in 1706 the Austrians with Eugene Savoia took advantage of the struggles to find a successor to the throne of Spain and conquered Milan. During the Austrian domination, thanks to the initiatives of the Archduchess Maria Theresa, Milan went through a rebirth in terms of art and architecture. The Archduchess commissioned the construction of the La Scala theatre (1778) and the renovation of the Royal Palace (1773) to the architect Giuseppe Piermarini.

Napoleon in Milan & the Reign of Italy

In 1805 the advance of the Napoleonic army included Milan and the city became the capital of the Reign of Italy from 1805 to 1814. Napoleon commissioned the completion of the façade of the Duomo (1805) and the construction of the Arch of Peace (1807). During the Congress of Vienna (1815) which aimed to a redistribution of the European territories after the defeat of Napoleon, Milan became once again subject to the Austrian domination even though the Milanese people demonstrated to be intolerant towards the rulers and fought back during the Cinque Giornate (five days) of Milan. From the 18th to the 22nd of March 1848 the Milanese took back their city and got rid of the Austrians. A few years later, in 1861 Milan and its territory became part of much greater country: the Reign of Italy under the king Vittorio Emanuele the II.