Parma a former duchy of Upper Italy, but now a part of the Italian kingdom, is bounded on the north by Lombardy and Venice, east by Modena, south by Genoa and Tuscany, and west by Piedmont, and contains in all 1278 English square miles, with a population (1889) of 285,790. The Apennines, which cross the southern division of the duchies, send off spurs northwards, and give to the northern part of the country the character of a plain, gently undulating, but sloping uniformly to the Po, which is the recipient of all the rivers of the country. The plain, which is very fertile, produces rich crops of grain (including rice), leguminous plants, fruits of all kinds, olives, and grapes; while marble, alabaster, salt, and petroleum are the chief mineral products. Next to agriculture, the production and manufacture of silk, the rearing of cattle and poultry, cheese-making, and the extraction of the mineral products afford the chief employment. Silk and cheese are the chief exports. The Roman Catholic religion was until its recent union with the kingdom the only one tolerated, though a few Jews are found here and there through the country. The condition of educations much improved of late, is still very defective.
History. — Parma and Piacenza, which was a part of the recent duchy, belonged in the time of the Roman empire to Cisalpine Gaul, and after its fall came under the rule of the Lombards, to whose rule succeeded that of the kings of Italy and the German emperors. In the 12th and following centuries they joined the other territories of Northern Italy which were struggling for liberty and independence, and consequently became involved in the Guelph and Ghibelline contests. Weakened by these strifes, they fell under the domination of the powerful houses of Este, Visconti, and Sforza; but in 1499 they passed under the yoke of the French monarch, Louis XII, from' whom they were soon recovered by the emperor Maximilian, and handed over to pope Leo X in 1513. They continued under the sovereignty of the popes till 1543, when they were alienated by pope Paul III, and with the surrounding territory were erected into a duchy for his natural son Pier- Luigi Farnese, the grandfather of Alessandro Farnese, the celebrated regent of the Low Countries. On the extinction of the male line of Farnese in 1731, by the death of the eighth duke, Antonio, his niece Elizabeth, the queen of Philip V of Spain, obtained the duchies for her son Don Carlos, who, however, exchanged them in 1735 with Austria for the throne of the Two Sicilies. In 1748 they were restored, along with Guastalla. to Spain, and became a duchy for the infante Don Philip, with a reversion to Austria in. case of the failure of his male descendants, or of any of them ascending the Spanish or Neapolitan throne. Philip was succeeded in 1765 by his son Ferdinand, who was an able and enlightened ruler, and expelled the Jesuits in 1768. He died in 1802, and his dominions were immediately taken possession of by the French, and were incorporated with France, under the designation of the department of Taro, in 1805. In 1814, by the treaty of Paris, Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla were presented as a sovereign duchy to the ex-empress Maria Louisa, a proceeding strongly opposed by the king of Spain, who demanded them for his sister, Maria Louisa, the widow of Louis, king of Etruria, the' son of duke Ferdinand. However, in 1817, it was settled that Maria Louisa of Austria should possess the duchies, and that on her death they should descend to Ferdinand Charles. duke of Lucca, the son of Maria Louisa of Spain, and the rightful heir and on failure of his heirs Parma should revert to Austria, and Piacenza to Sardinia. The empress governed very much after the Austrian fashion, but with gentleness, though liberal sentiments were looked upon by her with little favor. On her death in 1847 the duke of Lucca succeeded as Charles II, and certain exchanges of territory, previously settled by the great powers, took place with Tuscany and Modena — the chief of which being the transfer of Guastalla to Modena in exchange for the districts of Villa Franca, Treschietto, Castevoli, and Melazzo, all in Massa-Carrara, resulting in a loss to Parma of about 77 English square miles of territory, and a gain of 193 English square miles. This transfer was not made without great discontent on the part of the inhabitants. The duke's rule was severe and tyrannical, and on an address being presented to him with a view of obtaining a reform of certain abuses, and a more liberal political constitution, similar to what Tuscany had obtained (February, 1848) from its grand-duke, he threw himself into the arms of Austria, and consented to the occupation of his territory by Austrian troops. In March, 1848, a revolution broke out, and the duke was compelled to grant the popular demands, but he almost immediately retired from the country. Parma joined with Sardinia in the war of 1848-1849 against Austria, but on the triumph of the latter power was compelled to receive Charles III (his father, Charles II, having resigned his throne, March 1849) as its ruler. The new duke recalled the constitution which his father had been compelled to grant, and punished with great severity the active agents of the revolutionary movements in his dominions. His arbitrary measures were effectively seconded by his chief minister, an Englishman named Ward, who shared the public obloquy with his master, After Charles III's assassination in March 1854, his widow, Louise-Marie-Therese de Bourbon, daughter of the last duke of Berry, assumed the government for the behoof of her son Robert I, and made some attempts at political reform; but owing to the excited state of the people they were little effective, and she and her son were compelled to leave the country in 1859, on the outbreak of a new war between Sardinia and Austria. On March 18 of the following year the country was annexed to Sardinia, and now forms a part of the kingdom of Italy, constituting the two provinces of Parma (area 1251 English square miles, population 258,502) and Piacenza (area 965 English square miles, population 210,933), a few of the outlying districts, amounting to about 150 square miles, being incorporated with other provinces.