The essay examines Pasquale Villani’s crucial contribution to scholarship in early modern and modern history and to the history of historiography. Since the 1950s, Vil- lani played a fundamental role in the renewal of Italian historical studies, convinced of the need to promote research in economic and social history, in conflict with Croce’s tradition of the history of ideas. His reflection on the historiographical and method- ological aspects of historical work and on the relationship between history and the so- cial sciences has exerted a long-lasting influence on generations of scholars. His inves- tigations into the history of the South in the eighteenth century and in the Napoleonic age still represent an essential reference.
Keywords: Modern history, history of historiography, history of Mezzogiorno.