chapter  I
35 Pages

The Land and Its Peoples

The history of a people is determined in the long run by their moral and intellectual qualities, by their character and initiative, but geographical environment has a profound infl uence upon racial characteristics. History is governed, if not determined, by geography, and the physical formation of a country lies at the root of the history of its early settlement. As from before the dawn of history until the Norman Conquest the fl at south and east coastlines of England tempted wave after wave of sea-going adventurers to fl ing themselves on the rich lowlands and to drive the older inhabitants ever further into the mountains of the north and west, so the early history of Italy is essentially that of ‘Italy and her invaders’: Illyrians from across the Adriatic claimed a foothold on her eastern shores, Greek colonists established thriving settlements around her southern and south-western coasts, her north-western seaboard fell to Etruscans who were probably invaders from the eastern Mediterranean, and waves of other peoples surmounted the icebound barrier of the Alps and poured down into the rich plains of Lombardy, forcing the dwellers there ever further southwards down into the peninsula.