VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > C. Europe, 1919–1945 > 9. Italy and the Papacy
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See Aug. 3)
9. Italy and the Papacy
When World War I commenced in Aug. 1914, the Italian cabinet, headed by Antonio Salandra, chose neutrality despite Italy's membership in the Triple Alliance. After weighing offers from both camps, the Italian government turned against the Central Powers and joined the Allies on May 23, 1915 (See May 23).  1
1914, Sept. 3
BENEDICT XV (Giacomo della Chiesa) was elected pope on the death of Pius X (Aug. 20). During the war he appealed to the belligerents for peace, submitting outline proposals on Aug. 1, 1917.  2
1916, Dec. 12
The Salandra cabinet resigned and was succeeded by a new ministry led by Paolo Boselli.  3
1917, Oct. 29
The Boselli cabinet fell as a result of the Caporetto disaster (See Oct. 24–Dec. 26). A new cabinet under Vittorio Orlando took office and remained in power until June 1919.  4
Italy had entered the war primarily to gain territory and wrest control of the Adriatic from Austria-Hungary. Its military achievement proved far below Allied expectations and as a result Italy was given but little say at the peace conference. President Wilson took a hostile stand toward the provisions of the Treaty of London (See April 26), and Italy, in return for 600,000 lives lost, received only 9,000 square miles of territory with a population of 1.6 million. None of the former German colonies was assigned to Italy as a mandate. The war, then, left Italy loaded with debt, suffering from high costs of living, and generally restless and discontented. The governments enjoyed no prestige. The political situation was complicated by a rapid spread of Communism and by the emergence of an organized clerical party. Efforts of the government to meet the situation by social legislation had little success.  5
By the end of the war Italian economic bifurcation was becoming more evident as modern industry grew in the north. Industrial wealth centered in the triangle between Turin, Genoa, and Milan, where union activity was especially strong. Workers were split among a socialist union, a Catholic union (which appealed to the peasantry as well), and an anarcho-syndicalist union. As for the peasantry, still the majority of the Italian population, they were disappointed after vague promises of land redistribution during the war were ignored by the government.  6
1919, Jan. 19
Formation of the Partito Popolare, a Catholic party.  7
March 23
Formation of the first Fascio di Combattimento by Benito Mussolini (b. 1883), former socialist and editor of Avanti, who had turned violently interventionist and nationalist.  8
April 24
The Italian delegation left the Paris peace conference after the public appeal of President Wilson against the Italian territorial claims on the Adriatic. The Italian delegation returned on May 5.  9
June 19
The Orlando cabinet resigned. A new ministry was formed by Francesco Nitti, with Tommaso Tittoni at the foreign office.  10
Sept. 2
A new electoral law introduced universal suffrage and the French system of scrutin de liste (election by departmental lists) and proportional representation.  11
Sept. 12
Gabriele d'Annunzio, eminent writer, ardent nationalist, and world war hero, seized Fiume with a band of volunteers (See 1919–24).  12
Oct. 5–8
The Socialist Congress at Bologna voted for adherence to the Third International.  13
Nov. 11
The pope definitely lifted the prohibition against participation by Catholics in Italian political life.  14
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.