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Giovanni Giolitti was Prime Minister of Italy five times between and Although his first government quickly collapsed a year later, Giolitti returned in to lead Italy's government during a fragmented period that lasted until Giolitti had spent his earlier life as a civil servant, and then took positions within the cabinets of Crispi.

Giolitti was the first long-term Italian Prime Minister in many years because he mastered the political concept of trasformismo by manipulating, coercing and bribing officials to his side. In elections during Giolitti's government, voting fraud was common, and Giolitti helped improve voting only in well-off, more supportive areas, while attempting to isolate and intimidate poor areas where opposition was strong.

Southern Italy was in terrible shape prior to and during Giolitti's tenure as Prime Minister.


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Four-fifths of southern Italians were illiterate and the dire situation there ranged from problems of large numbers of absentee landlords to rebellion and even starvation. Corruption was such a large problem that Giolitti himself admitted that there were places "where the law does not operate at all". In , Giolitti's government sent forces to occupy Libya.

While the success of the Libyan War improved the status of the nationalists, it did not help Giolitti's administration as a whole. The government attempted to discourage criticism by speaking about Italy's strategic achievements and inventiveness of their military in the war: Italy was the first country to use the airship for military purposes, and undertook aerial bombing on the Ottoman forces.

The war radicalized the Italian Socialist Party : anti-war revolutionaries led by future-Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini called for violence to bring down the government. Giolitti returned as Prime Minister only briefly in , but the era of liberalism was effectively over in Italy. The and elections saw gains made by Socialist, Catholic and nationalist parties at the expense of the traditionally dominant liberals and radicals , who were increasingly fractured and weakened as a result.

In the lead-up to World War I , the Kingdom of Italy faced a number of short-term and long-term problems in determining its allies and objectives. Italy's recent success in occupying Libya as a result of the Italo-Turkish War had sparked tension with its Triple Alliance allies, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary , because both countries had been seeking closer relations with the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

In Munich, Germans reacted to Italy's aggression by singing anti-Italian songs. Italy's relations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland had also been impaired by constant Italian demands for more recognition in the international stage following the occupation of Libya, and its demands that other nations accept its spheres of influence in East Africa and the Mediterranean.

A major hindrance to Italy's decision on what to do about the war was the political instability throughout Italy in After the formation of the government of Prime Minister Antonio Salandra in March , the government attempted to win the support of nationalists and moved to the political right. At the same time the left became more repulsed by the government after the killing of three anti-militarist demonstrators in June.

Many elements of the left including syndicalists , republicans and anarchists protested against this and the Italian Socialist Party declared a general strike in Italy. The protests that ensued became known as " Red Week " as leftists rioted and various acts of civil disobedience occurred in major cities and small towns such as seizing railway stations, cutting telephone wires, and burning tax-registers.

However only two days later the strike was officially called off, though the civil strife continued. Militarist nationalists and anti-militarist leftists fought on the streets until the Italian Royal Army forcefully restored calm after having used thousands of men to put down the various protesting forces following the invasion of Serbia by Austria-Hungary in , World War I broke out.

Despite Italy's official alliance to the German Empire and in the Triple Alliance , she initially remained neutral, claiming that the Triple Alliance was only for defensive purposes. In Italy, society was divided over the war: Italian socialists generally opposed the war and supported pacificism, while nationalists militantly supported the war. Long-time nationalists Gabriele D'Annunzio and Luigi Federzoni and an obscure Marxist journalist and new convert to nationalist sentiment, future Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini , demanded that Italy join the war. For nationalists, Italy had to maintain its alliance with the Central Empires , in order to obtain colonial territories in expenses of France.

For the liberals, the war presented Italy a long-awaited opportunity to use an alliance with the Entente to gain certain Italian-populated and other territories from Austria-Hungary, which had long been part of Italian patriotic aims since unification. In , relatives of Italian revolutionary and republican hero Giuseppe Garibaldi died on the battlefield of France, where they had volunteered to fight.

Federzoni used the memorial services to declare the importance of Italy joining the war, and to warn the monarchy of the consequences of continued disunity in Italy if it did not:. Mussolini used his new newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia and his strong oratorical skills to urge nationalists and patriotic revolutionary leftists to support Italy's entry into the war to gain back Italian populated territories from Austria-Hungary, by saying "enough of Libya , and on to Trent and Trieste ".

Mussolini claimed that it was in the interests of socialists to join the war to tear down the aristocratic Hohenzollern dynasty of Germany which he claimed was the enemy of all European workers. Mussolini and other nationalists warned the Italian government that Italy must join the war or face revolution and called for violence against pacifists and neutralists.

Left-wing nationalism also erupted in southern Italy, socialist and nationalist Giuseppe De Felice Giuffrida saw joining the war as essential to relieving southern Italy of the rising cost of bread which had caused riots in the south, and advocated a "war of revolution". With nationalist sentiment firmly on the side of reclaiming Italian territories of Austria-Hungary, Italy entered negotiations with the Triple Entente. The negotiations ended successfully in April when the London Pact was brokered with the Italian government.

The pact ensured Italy the right to attain all Italian-populated lands it wanted from Austria-Hungary, as well as concessions in the Balkans and the division of German colonies along France and England in Africa. The proposal fulfilled the desires of Italian nationalists and Italian imperialism, and was agreed to. Italy joined the Triple Entente in its war against Austria-Hungary. The reaction in Italy was divided: former Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti was furious over Italy's decision to go to war against its former defence allies Austria-Hungary.

He claimed that Italy would fail in the war, predicting high numbers of mutinies, Austro-Hungarian occupation of more Italian territory, and that the failure would produce a catastrophic rebellion that would destroy the liberal-democratic monarchy and the liberal-democratic secular institutions of the state. The outset of the campaign against Austria-Hungary looked initially to favour Italy: Austria-Hungary's army was spread to cover its fronts with Serbia and Russia , and Italy had a numerical superiority against the Austro-Hungarian Army.

However, this advantage was never fully utilized because Italian military commander Luigi Cadorna insisted on a dangerous frontal assault against Austria-Hungary in an attempt to occupy the Slovenian plateau and Ljubljana. This assault would put the Italian army not far away from Austria-Hungary's imperial capital, Vienna. After 11 failed offensives with enormous loss of life, the Italian campaign to take Vienna collapsed. Upon entering the war, geography was also a difficulty for Italy, as its border with Austria-Hungary was along mountainous terrain. In May , Italian forces at , men along the border outnumbered the Austrian and Germans almost precisely four to one.

However the Austrian defenses were strong even though they were undermanned and managed to hold off the Italian offensive. The battles with the Austro-Hungarian Army along the Alpine foothills in the trench warfare there were drawn-out, long engagements with little progress. Italian officers were poorly trained in contrast to the Austro-Hungarian and German armies, Italian artillery was inferior to the Austrian machine guns and the Italian forces had dangerously low supply of ammunition, this shortage would continually hamper attempts to make advances into Austrian territory.

This combined with the constant replacement of officers by Cadorna resulted in few officers gaining the experience necessary to lead military missions. In the first year of the war, poor conditions on the battlefield led to outbreaks of cholera causing a significant number of Italian soldiers to die. Despite these serious problems, Cadorna refused to back down the offensive.

Italy's warships were outclassed by the Austro-Hungarian fleet and the situation was made more dire for Italy in that both the French Navy and the British Royal Navy were not sent into the Adriatic Sea. Their respective governments viewed the Adriatic as far too dangerous to operate due the concentration of the Austro-Hungarian fleet there. Morale fell among Italian soldiers who lived a tedious life when not on the front lines: they were forbidden to enter theatres or bars even when on leave.

The Italian Army and the First World War | Reviews in History

However when battles were about to occur, alcohol was made freely available to the soldiers in order to reduce tension before the battle. In order to escape the tedium after battles, some groups of soldiers worked to create improvised brothels. In order to maintain morale, the Italian army had propaganda lectures of the importance of the war to Italy, especially in order to retrieve Trento and Trieste from Austria-Hungary.

Some of these lectures were carried out by popular nationalist war proponents such as Gabriele D'Annunzio. D'Annunzio himself would participate in a number of paramilitary raids on Austrian positions along the Adriatic coastline during the war and lost an eye one of the battles. Prominent pro-war advocate Benito Mussolini was prevented from giving lecture by the government, most likely because of his revolutionary socialist past. The Italian government became increasingly aggravated in with the passive nature of the Serbian army which had not engaged in a serious offensive against Austria-Hungary for months.

The Italian government blamed Serbian military inactiveness for allowing the Austrians to muster their armies against Italy. Cadorna suspected that Serbia was attempting to negotiate an end to fighting with Austria and addressed this to foreign minister Sidney Sonnino who himself bitterly claimed that the Serbia was an unreliable ally. Relations between Italy and Serbia became so cold that the other Entente members were forced to abandon the idea of forming a united Balkan front against Austria-Hungary. As Serbia fell to the Austro-Hungarian and German forces in , Cadorna proposed sending 60, men to land in Thessaloniki to help the Serbs now in exile in Greece and the Principality of Albania to fight off the opposing forces, but the Italian government's bitterness to Serbia resulted in the proposal being rejected.

After , the situation for Italy grew steadily worse, the Austro-Hungarian army managed to push the Italian Army back into Italy as far as Verona and Padua in their Strafexpedition. At the same time Italy faced a shortage of warships, increased attacks by submarines, soaring freight charges threatening the ability to supply food to soldiers, lack of raw materials and equipment, and Italians faced high taxes to pay for the war.

Austro-Hungarian and German forces had gone deep into northern Italian territory, and finally in November , Cadorna ended offensive operations and began a defensive approach. In , France and the United Kingdom offered to send troops to Italy to help it fend off the offensive of the Central Powers , but the Italian government refused, as Sonnino did not want Italy to be seen as a client state of the Allies and preferred isolation as the more brave alternative.

Italy also wanted to keep the Kingdom of Greece out of the war, as the Italian government feared that should Greece join the war on the side of the Allies, it would intend to annex Albania, which Italy wanted as its own. Fortunately for Italy, the Venizelist pro-war advocates in Greece failed to succeed in pressuring Constantine I of Greece to bring the country into the conflict, and Italian aims on Albania remained unthreatened.

The Russian Empire collapsed in a Russian Revolution , eventually resulting in the rise of the communist Bolshevik regime of Vladimir Lenin. The resulting marginalization of the Eastern Front allowed for more Austro-Hungarian and German forces arriving on the front against Italy. Internal dissent against the war grew with increasingly poor economic and social conditions in Italy due to the strain of the war.

Bibliographic Information

Much of the profit of the war was being made in the cities, while rural areas were losing income. The number of men available for agricultural work had fallen from 4. Many pacifist and internationalist Italian socialists turned to Bolshevism and advocated negotiations with the workers of Germany and Austria-Hungary to help end the war and bring about Bolshevik revolutions. The newspaper Avanti! Leftist women in northern Italian cities led protests demanding action against the high cost of living and demanding an end to the war. In Milan in May , Communist revolutionaries organized and engaged in rioting, calling for an end to the war, and managed to close down factories and stop public transportation.

The Italian army was forced to enter Milan with tanks and machine guns to face communists and anarchists who fought violently until May 23 when the army gained control of the city with almost fifty people killed three of which were Italian soldiers and over people arrested. After the Battle of Caporetto in , Italian forces were forced far back into Italian territory, and the humiliation led to the arrival of Vittorio Emanuele Orlando as Prime Minister who managed to solve some of Italy's wartime problems. Some material has been withheld, and there are important gaps.

Brooke-Popham Papers. A large collection, with interesting material about the Akhwan raiders, the Arab Revolt in Palestine and the Assyrian refugees in Iraq. Ismay Papers. The papers of Gen. Hastings Lionel Ismay. Several files concerning operations in Somaliland, , and subsequent inter-service controversies. Lees Papers. His letters to his parents include valuable information about the Kurdish Levy in Iraq in the s, and about the disturbances in Palestine in and Liddell Hart Papers.

The papers of Captain Basil Liddell Hart. A huge collection of over 1, boxes, with a wealth of material on all manner of military and political subjects, although the air is somewhat underrepresented. I have taken only a few samples from the collection of newspaper cuttings and private correspondence. Primary sources, published.


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    WWII Factions: The Italian Army

    Harris , A. Hudson and North eds. Bruce, Jeffery , K. Lee , A. Lee , D. Lewis , C. Perry-Keene, A. Samuel , H. Symes , S. Vincent , S. Baden-Powell , B. Bannerman , A. Bladin , F. Borton , A. Brooke-Popham , R. Burchall , P. Burke , C. Callwell , C. Capper , J. Chamier , J. Churchill , W. Coggle , C. Compton , T. Douglas , W. Douhet , G. Ferrari London : Faber , Edmonds , C. Flight magazine, Fullerton , J. Garrod , A.

    Gwynn , C. Haldane , A. Hannay , A. Howard-Williams , E. Kingsley Heath , A. Kingston-McCloughry , E. McClaughry , W. Mackay , C. Mitchell , W. Perry-Keene , A. Reid , W. Salmond , J. Skoulding , F. Smythies , B. Spicer , R. Stark , F. Vachell , J. Wallingford , S. Waugh , E. Wilson , A. Secondary sources. The Integration of Modern Iraq Arnold, D. Bateman , D. Beach, D. Beaumont , R. Beck , P. Belich , J. Bowyer, C. Cain ed. Aircraft in Profile Vol. Braudel F.

    The Failure of the Italian Socialist Movement

    Brune , L. Cooper , M. Cosmas , G. Cox , J. Crawford, E. Bond ed. Dann , U. Ferris, J. Fieldhouse , D. French , D. Gray, R. Gwassa, G. Ogot ed. Hailey , J. Hardy , M. Hemphill, P. Kelidar ed. Hess , R. Hexter , J. Hinds , J. Iliffe , J. Kennett , L. Khoury , P. Killingray , D. Kopietz, H. In the case of the Italian army, only a few Anglophone scholars such as Gooch, John Whittam and Vanda Wilcox whose work is curiously absent from the bibliography have attempted to step into the breach.

    The central aim of this work is to assess the combat capability and performance of the Italian army during the war, with reference to a variety of contextual factors that shaped this narrative. The complexities of coalition warfare, so often neglected outside studies of the main protagonists, form a centrality to this study that succeeds in framing the Italian front within the wider context of First World War strategy and operations. The implication, and subsequent demonstration over the course of the work, is that Italy discovered a unity through the course of the war that had been sorely lacking previously.

    Perhaps only in the case of Belgium could a similar claim be made. In a conflict that saw the demise of four empires and their royal dynasties such a revelation, that drills down to the very core of nationality and identity, stands out as a point of interest and adds even further relevance to the study of an army that has traditionally been overlooked.

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    It appears to draw heavily on his previous research into the pre-war Italian army and at times is perhaps over-developed for a study of the First World War. As noted throughout the study of the first 11 battles of the Isonzo and Caporetto the 12th , the Italian Comando supremo , Luigi Cadorna, feared the destabilising effect of socialism in his fragile citizen army; a threat that he felt could only be dealt with by extreme repressive measures p.

    Yet, rather surprisingly, Italian culture afforded its own cure to this by providing soldiers with a means to find the will to carry on the fight. The spectre of Adua was never far below the surface. The incompetence of command in Africa was a portent of things to come, albeit possibly worsened by the fact that Cadorna, along with many other officers, had not even seen active service out there. It proved to be a lesson in the difficulties of maintaining healthy civil-military relations and showed above all that the army was in no fit state, in terms of organisation or equipment, to successfully contest a modern war.