The population of the Veneto began around 7000 years ago, and intensified during the Bronze Age, firstly in the hills around Verona, along the eastern coast of Lake Garda and near the river courses of the zone. Around 1000 B.C. the Paleovenetian civilisation developed a true culture in the territory of Este, and established links with other distant peoples such as the Greeks, Etruscans, Celts and other Transalpine races.
The Venetians quickly established a strong ethnic, cultural and political identity, and to preserve this they formed an alliance with the Romans in the 3rd century B.C. to confront the barbarian threat. This alliance led to important construction within the infrastructure and organisation and edification of urban centres. The Veneto then became completely absorbed in the Roman Empire during the 1st century B.C. though still maintaining its distinct traits, for which Rome demonstrated great respect.
In the first centuries A.D. Germanic invasions dealt a hard blow to the Venetians and the Romans and following the devastation of the Longobards the inhabitants began their exodus towards the lagoon area. The first nucleus of the city of Venice is datable to around the 9th -10th centuries.
The mainland settlements came under assault from the Hungarians, leading to the erection of new fortifications, which shortly after gave birth to a multitude of autonomous jurisdictions and the phenomenon of feudalism, gradually giving way to the renewal of commerce in the 12th century and the birth of the comune system. These comunes, united through the Lombard League fought against the various attempts at restoring the empire by both Frederick I ('Barbarossa') and Frederick II. These conflicts favoured the noble ruling families such as the da Romano, da Camino, da Carrara and d'Este, who, proclaiming themselves guardians of their respective cities, thus became elected with the title of podestà, or captain of the people.
Meanwhile Venice escaped from the aegis of Byzantium, which had made it one of its provinces, installing an oligarchic government ruled by the Doge, and expanded its power throughout the Mediterranean by controlling the ports and trade routes of the eastern basin. The important commercial conquests of the Venetians led to hostility from Genoa, who in the 13th century began the struggle for domination of the seas, which was finally obtained by Venice. Venice's authority spread also to the mainland, however, and at the beginning of the 15th century it was the greatest power of the Italian peninsula and consequently was able to unify the lands of the Veneto. This hegemony produced a common style of culture, language and architecture. In 1797 the Venetian Republic gave its last breath, conquered by Napoleon and then ceded to Austria with the treaty of Campoformio until 1866, when Venice was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
The Veneto played a highly important role during the Great War of 1914-18 when the Italo-Austrian front, which had earlier stretched from the uplands of the Asiago and Dolomites as far as the hills of Gorizia, withdrew after the defeat at Caporetto (24th November 1917) to Monte Grappa and Piave, that is until the borders of the plain: a front line which was decisive for the whole conflict, and in commemoration of which is the shrine at Cima Grappa and various other war memorials throughout the territory. The armistice was signed on 3rd November 1918 at Villa Giusti in Padua.
The Second World War did not produce a huge amount of damage here, though Treviso and Verona suffered heavy bombardment, and the Germans occupied the area after 8th September 1943, date of the armistice with the Allies signalling the end of Italy's military alliance with the Nazis.