History of Italy 1850-1914 - 19th Century Encyclopedia Entries



Meyer 1902-1909 : 1850-1871, 1871-1914
Nordisk Familjebok 1904-1926


Meyer's Konversationslexikon 1902-1909, Article : Italy
The Unification of Italy to a Single Kingdom
Since 1850 the national and liberal movements were suppressed by the strictest rule of force; but the hard school [experience] Italy had to go through, had one positive consequence : that the dispute over federal or unitary development, over monarchy or republic more and more became of secondary nature, that the vision of Italian unification under Sardinian leadership gained ground. In this state, the Liberal constitution of which made an economic policy based on insight possible, which knew how to free itself from Clerical influence, the military force of which, on land and at sea, carefully was trained and strengthened, soon all patriots of Italy invested their hopes. And at the head of this state stood, resolved to fulfil these hopes, as prime minister since November 1852 the greatest statesman Italy has produced in the last 5 centuries, Count Camillo Cavour. With admirable mastery he solved the problems which faced Italy's foreign policy. By Sardinia's participation in the Crimean War (1854-1855) he acquired the claim on the gratitude of the western powers and was given the opportunity, in 1856 on the Paris Peace Congress in front of all of Europe to raise his voice in favour of Italy. Then he succeeded in winning France over for the concept of expelling Austria from the peninsula. In the spa of Plombieres Cavour met Emperor Napoleon III. in July 1858, and here an alliance between France and Sardinia against Austria was agreed upon. Upper Italy was to fall to Sardinia, Savoy and Nizza [Nice] were to be ceded to France; an Italian Federation under the presidency of the pope was foreseen, the marriage of Vittorio Emmanuele's daughter with Prince Jerome Napoleon was to seal the alliance.
The words which Napoleon III. directed to January 1st 1859 to the Austrian ambassador Baron Hübner, caused Austria to a policy of military armament. After the mediation by England [!] and the proposal of Russia for the convocation of a European Congress had failed, the Emperor of Austria, urged by the Military Party and the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, had been influenced to take the decisive step toward war. On April 23rd he directed the ultimatum at Turin, to disarm within three days, or to be prepared for being attacked. As the response was negative, on April 29th the Austrian invasion of Sardinia under Gyulay followed (see Italian War of 1859). They took up a position in the Lorrellina, but remained here, awaiting the attack by the enemy, and thus letting the opportunity of a successful offensive pass by. Meanwhile Vittorio Emmanuele increased his army to a size of 80,000 men, and united the volunteers arriving from all over Italy under the command of Garibaldi. The French partially crossed the Western Alps on April 25th, partially landed in Genova on April 26th, and united with the Sardinians. A reconnaissance, in the course of which Gyulay on May 20th near Montebello ran into superior French forces, convinced him that he had to expect the main attack from southerly direction. But Napoleon went around the Austrian right flank, while Garibaldi with his volunteers, along the mountains, had movved on Monza and Milan, and in the Battle of Magenta (June 4th) he forced the Austrians to withdraw to the Mincio Line, under the protection of the quadrangle of fortresses. The allies entered Milan on June 8th. In central Italy already on April 27th the Grand Duke of Tuscany, by a military conspiracy, had been forced to flee. Vittorio Emmanuele now had accepted the protectorate over this country. After the Battle of Magenta the Duchess of Parma and the Duke of Modena fled. In the Romagna, after the withdrawal of the Austrians, the dictatorship of Vittorio Emmanuele was proclaimed, while in the Marches and in Umbria rebellions against papal rule were suppressed with the force of arms. In the meantime the Austrian Emperor personally had taken command of his troops, and on June 23rd ordered the march on the allies. In the decisive Battle of Solferino (June 24th) the French, despite heroic resistance, broke the Austrian center, and these had to withdraw, although the Sardinian attacks on Benedek near San Martino had been repelled. On July 8th a truce, on July 11th duyring a meeting between Emperor Franz Joseph and Napoleon a preliminary peace was concluded in Villafranca. Austria ceded Lombardy, while Napoleon gave up on the "liberation of Italy until the Adriatic" (see Free until the Adriatic), because in case of the continuation of the war he had to fear the interference of Prussia. The Princes of Tuscany and Modena were to return into their states; Austria promised to join the Italian Federation for Venetia. The final peace on this basis was signed on November 10th 1859 in Zürich.
The fact that Venetia was to remain with Austria disregarded, the peace conditions shared the fate that they were outdated already before the treaty was signed. In Florence, Parma, Modena and the Romagna the deposition of the previous dynasties was proclaimed, and unification with Sardinia decided on. When France now suggested a congress for the regulation of the Italian affairs, Austria made its participation dependent of the pope's approval, which the latter rejected, as he rejected any concession to the national and liberal desires of Italy. Napoleon therefore decided to undertake the organization of Italian affairs on his own. He demanded of Sardinia the cession of Nizza [Nice] and Savoy, and a general plebiscite in the central Italian states. On March 11th and 12th 1860 in Tuscany, Parma, Modena and the Romagna plebiscites decided the annexation into the kingdom of Vittorio Emmanuele, which the king accepted on March 18th and 22nd. On March 24th the treaty concerning the cession of Savoy and Nizza [Nice] was signed. The pope's ban against all who had participated in the interference in his states, remained unnoticed. The Action Party now focussed her attention on the Kingdom of Both Sicilies, where the absolutist system maintained by young king Francesco II. was generally hated. Early in April 1860 the rebellion in Sicily broke out; in Palermo and Messina troops restored calm, but in the mountains the insurrection continued to ferment. Garibaldi, who on May 6th in Genoa embarked with 1067 volunteers and 4 artillery pieces, landed on May 11th at Marsala, rallied the insurgents, on June 6th forced the garrison of Palermo to surrender. When Francesco II. in May rejected any change to the system, as well as an alliance with Sardinia, but was willing to do both, it was too late. After Garibaldi had established control over Sicily, in the night to August 20th with 4,300 men he landed in Calabria. Royal troops dissolved almost everywhere, and Francesco II. helplessly fled from Naples to Gaeta, where he rallied the remainder of his faithful. On July 7th under the jubilation of the population Garibaldi entered Naples. Now the serious danger existed that he might turn against the Papal State and try to liberate Rome from the rule of the pope. In order to prevent this, Napoleon and Cavour agreed, that Sardinian troops were to occupy the Marches and Umbria, and would move on Naples, in order to establish an organized monarchic government instead of Garibaldi's dictatorship, while the so-called Patrimonium Petri, which was to be occupied by the French, would remain untouched. Two Sardinian corps under Cialdini hardly had appeared on the borders of the Papal State, when the insurrection broke out in Umbria and the Marches. The papal army under General Lamoriciere on September 18th was dispersed at Castelfidardo; Ancona, to where he had fled, had to surrender on September 29th. After that the occupation of Naples proceeded quickly. After a general plebiscite on October 21st had opted for the union of the Kingdom of Both Sicilies with Sardinia, and after the plebiscite in Umbria and the Marches on November 4th and 5th had produced a result in the same direction, Vittorio Emmanuele on November 7th entered Naples. The fortress of Gaeta, the last point to resist, had to surrender on February 13th 1861. So a change of immense successes had completed the unification of Italy, with the exception of Rome and Venice. On February 18th the first Italian parlament convened in Turin; at their decision, almost taken unanimously, Vittorio Emmanuele on March 14th accepted the title King of Italy.
One difficulty was the selection of a suitable capital for the unified kingdom. Rome was in the hands of the French, Napoleon could not want to give up the pope and did not want to. The Italian government all the more had to consider his situation, as among Europe's powers until that moment only England [!] had recognized the new kingdom. Therefore Cavour on March 26th called on the chamber to be patient and moderate, and expressed the hope for a peaceful solution to the Roman Question, by promising the Roman Church complete freedom and independence in all spiritual matters in return for surrendering its temporal power (Chiesa libera in libero stato), a hope which was unfounded given the irreconcilability of the Roman Curia. Not long after Cavour died, on June 6th 1861. His loss was irreplacable for Italy; but at least his successors, the prime ministers Rattazzi, Ricasoli, Minghetti, Menabrea, Lanza and others, were able to secure the maintenance of national unity, to whatever party faction they may have belonged. When Garibaldi tried to solve the Roman Question by force, the government speedily and resolutely opposed him, his volunteers were dispersed at Aspromonte, Garibaldi himself wounded and taken prisoner. In order to appease Frances distrust, Italy on September 15th 1864 agreed to a treaty which was to regulate the Roman Question (September Convention). France obliged itself to evacuate Rome within two years, while Italy promised not to touch papal territory, and to protect it against attacks from abroad. At the same time it was determined, that the Italian government, within 6 months, was to move her seat from Turin to Florence, and this decision was executed on February 3rd 1865.
Napoleon III. had hinted at the Italian government that her concession in the Roman Question would result in the recognition of the Kingdom of Italy by Austria. Italian prime minister Lamarmora only was willing to sign an agreement with Austria if the latter simultaneously would cede Venetia. He hoped that the Austrians would accept this against a high compensation. But as this offer was rejected in Vienna in 1865, he opened negotiations with Prussia, the relation of which with Austria was rather tense because of the Schleswig-Holstein Question. In March 1866 General Govone was sent to Berlin, on April 8th an alliance between Italy and Prussia was formed, according to which Italy promised armed assistance if Prussia were to declare war on Austria within 3 months. On June 14th the war between Austria and Prussia broke out; on June 20th Italy declared war (Italian War of 1866). The Italian field army counted about 230,000 men, to which came about 35,000 volunteers under Garibaldi. Further there were 150,000 men in reserve troops and garrison troops. Commander-in-chief, under the king, was Lamarmora. He scrapped the campaign plan designed by Prussia, of a bold offensive, and decided to cross the Mincio with 12 divisions and to penetrate through the fortress quadrangle, while Cialdini with 8 divisions was to cross the lower Po. But Archduke Albrecht used the break-up of the enemy force in the most skilled way and on June 24th near Custozza dealt a severe defeat to the Italian main army. In the meantime in Bohemia on July 3rd near Königgrätz the war was decided. Immediately afterward Austria ceded Venetia to Napoleon III. and called for his mediation for a peace with Italy. But the Italian cabinet Ricasoli refused to break its obligations toward Prussia. Military operations were resumed, Cialdini on July 8th crossed the Po, occupied Venetia except for the fortresses, as the Austrians evacuated the country almost without a blow. The Italians already thought of a conquest of Welsh Tyrol and of Istria and moved into these countries; even the defeat Austrian Admiral Tegethoff dealt to the Italian fleet under Persano near Lissa, did not calm down the Italian desire to conquer. But when Austria, after the preliminary peace of Nikolsburg, set its army in motion against Italy, at Bismarck's advice the Italian government on August 11th concluded an armistice and withdrew her troops from Tyrol and Istria. The definitive peace was concluded in Vienna on October 3rd; in return for the cession of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom in its pervious borders Italy took on 35 million Florin of the Austrian state debt. After a plebiscite on October 21st and 22nd decided the annexion, Vittorio Emmanuele on November 7th 1866 held his entry in liberated Venice.
Now the impatient Action Party pressed for the solution of the Roman Question. According to the September Convention, after a papal army had been formed, mostly from volunteers, the French had evacuated the Papal State. For the first time in centuries Italian soil was free of foreign troops. The Italian government now resumed negotiations with the Papal Curia over a peaceful agreement, which was harshly rejected. The Radicals pushed for action. Garibaldi rallied volunteers, on October 22nd 1867 crossed the border of the Papal State and moved on Rome. But with the support of a corps of 6,000 Frenchmen, who had landed in Civitavecchia, the papal troops were victorious near Mentana on November 3rd. The little concealed favours the cabinet Rattazzi had shown to Garibaldi, brought Italy vis-a-vis France, which complained about the violation of the September Convention, in a humiliating situation. The ruination of its finances, the immense deficit, the jealousy of party leaders, the indolence of a large part of the population made difficult an invigoration of the newly created state. The Old Piemontese Party, the so-called Consorteria, which was most suited for the implementation of the necessary reforms, was rather unpopular in the remainder of Italy, and the measures implemented by it, such as the confiscation of the monasteries, cuts in the military budget etc., could not fix all problems.
Again fortune sided with the Italians. When in 1870 the war between France and Germany broke out, Vittorio Emmanuele was willing to repay the debt, which he believed to owe Napoleon III. and France, by aiding them against Germany. This was prevented by the cabinet Lanza- Sella, as the French government, despite her defeats in August and despite withdrawing her troops from the Papal State, refused to grant permission to the occupation of Rome. But the disaster of Sedan changed the entire European situation and freed Italy of her moral obligations to the French Empire. Already on September 8th Italian troops entered the Papal State. The pope rejected all conciliatory suggestions and ordered, to prove violence having been used, that Rome should be defended. Only after a breach had been shot, the Italian army entered jubilating Rome. The plebiscite in the Papal State held on October 2nd produced 133,681 yes votes, 1507 no votes among 167,000 who had the right to vote. A royal decree now proclaimed the annexation of Rome into Italy on October 8th. Pope Pius IX., who on October 20th had postponed the Vatican Concil, where papal infallibility had been proclaimed, on November 1st declared the ban against all those who had participated in the occupation of Rome. This disregarded, the Italian government tried to prove to the Catholic world, that their head would be independent in Rome. The so-called guarantee laws oublished in May 1871 declared the person of the pope for inviolable, equal to that of the king. They left to the pope his lifeguard, his residences with full immunity, and which during a conclave would be off limits for state authorities. Communication of the pope with foreign countries was guaranteed full security and freedom, any state control was excluded. Papal emissaries and the emissaries of foreign states with the pope should guarantee the protection of international law. The king gave up his right of patronat when it came to the appointment of bishops. The pope was offered by the state an annual dotation of 3,225,000 Lire. Pius IX on May 15th declared ceremoniously, not to be willing to accept any guarantee from the "Subalpine" government, and played the role of the prisoner in the Vatican. People and government of Italy were not mislead. After the chamber on January 26th 1871 decided to move the seat of the government to Rome, King Vittorio Emmanuele on July 2nd formally held his entry here, and by moving their embassies here, most foreign powers recognized what hat happened.

Italy as a United Kingdom
On November 27th 1871 parliament was opened on Monte Citorio in Rome by a royal sddress, which declared his life's work, the unification of Italy, for completed, and which declared the organization of freedom and order for the future as the highest task of the nation. Most of all, the finances were to be brought in order. As hitherto all other matters had been subordinated to the creation of national unity, and had made great sacrifices for the establishment of a strong army and navy, state debt had increased to 8 billion, the bonds and banknotes with a fixed value included, to 10 billion, which required 460 million annually in interest. The deficit for 1872 : 80 million, although the country's economy since 1861 had greatly developed, regular revenues had increased from 458 to 1,056 million. In order to pay for the expenses for the army, minister of finances Sella in 1873 suggested to the chambers a number of tax laws, but the Chamber of Deputees even refused to debate them. So Lanza, and Sella resigned, and Minghetti, who on July 16th 1873 took the presidency in the cabinet and the portfolio of finances, by a combination of savings and the natural increase of revenues, succeeded in abolishing the deficit in the budget of 1875. As France still refused to recognize the annexion of the Papal State, and as it left its embassy with the Italian government vacant, while its ambassador with the Vatican was supported by a military attache, and a French frigate lay in the port of Civitavecchia at the disposal of the pope, Italy looked for support among the eastern powers. In September 1873 the king, in the company of Minghetti and minister of foreign affairs Visconti-Venosta, travelled to Vienna and Berlin, by which Italy's attachment to the Three Emperors' League was prepared. Now the government, in October, temporarily withdrew her ambassador from Paris, and strictly implemented, also in Rome, the law requiring the closure of almost all monasteries and the sale of their property. In April 1875 Emperor Franz Joseph spent a countervisit in Venice, in October Emperor Wilhelm spent a countervisit in Milan.
But despite these successes, the cabinet Minghetti in March 1876 was toppled by a part of the majority, the Left Center and the so-called Tuscans or Liberists, joining the opposition. So the rule of the Consorteria ended, which from 1860 to 1876 had held government in their hands, which had created the union of the kingdom and which had brought order into finances. The new cabinet was formed by the leaders of the left under the leadership of Depretis. In the elections of November 5th 1876 it gained a majority of almost 300 votes. It declared as its main tasks the abolition of the pressing mill tax, and the extension of the franchise. But when the government proposed a positive law to the chamber, it met resistance in her own party; the cabinet majority broke up into several groups because of the ambition and jealousy of her leaders. The promised reforms were delayed, those laws which had been passed, on mandatory elementary schooling and the exclusion of clergy and many classes of state officials from the Chamber of Deputees, did bring only little satisfaction. So ministerial crises and changes were frequent. Vittorio Emmanuele took a stricyly constitutional stand and followed the will of the majority of the chamber; after his death (January 9th 1878) his son and successor, King Umberto followed the same political principles. In 1879 a lasting cabinet seemed to have been formed by the union of Cairoli, who assumed the presidency in the cabinet, and Depretis, who was given the portfolio of the interior. In 1880 the cabinet was given permission by Senate to gradually abolish the mill tax, and it took on an electoral reform and the gradual abolition of the forced exchange rate. In February 1881 a law draft on the circulation of banknotes was approved by the chamber, which had the banknotes issued by the various state banks (1860 million) withdrawn,and replaced in part by 640 million in gold and silver coin, in part by banknotes issued by the Italian [National Bank], which could be converted into gold any time. After a loan of 644 million had been signed, in 1883 the implementation of the law was begun. The Italian return rate, which in 1870 had sunken to 30, in consequence increased almost to pair, the trade balance improved considerably, and the deficit seemed to have vanished from state budgets. But the debate of the electoral reform suddenly was interrupted by an unexpected event in foreign policy.
Influenced by their radical views, Cairoli and Depretis had loosened the close relations to the three Imperial powers, in the hope, by a policy of a free hand to best use the advantages of circumstances, and to gain new territory for Italy. They failed to take measures against the active agitation of the Irredentist Party, and so relations of Italy especially with Austria deteriorated. On the other hand they trusted in the friendship of France, where the Radicals also were in government. This was bitterly disappointed. In 1881 the French Republic suddenly took control of Tunis, which because of its location and the numerous immigration of Italians belonged into the Italian sphere of interest. In consequence Cairoli in May 1881 was forced to resign, and Depretis took over the presidency in the cabinet. The letter in 1882 pushed through an electoral law, which granted the right to vote to all [male] Italians [at least] 21 years old, who could prove being able to read and write, and who paid 20 Lire annually in state and provincial taxes. The number of voters was expanded from 632,000 to 2,600,000. The elections held according to this law (October 29th 1882) produced a strong majority for the cabinet, but within the party of the left still personal ambitions had an effect. In May 1883 the Dissidents severely attacked the government, which caused Depretis to convince the friends of the opposition within his cabinet, Zanardelli and Baccarini, to leave the cabinet, and to replace them by Moderate Liberals. The ex-ministers and their supporters now joined those of Crispi, Cairoli and Nicotera, to form the so-called Pentarchy, which separated from the cabinet majority.
In the meantime the minister of foreign affairs, Mancini, had again approached Germany and Austria, and thus stabilized Italy's position in Europe. Simultaneously, in the spirit of the time, he began an active colonial policy, by having taken possession of Assab on the Red Sea, and in 1885 also of port and territory of Massawa. But this not only placed a severe burden on the country's finances, so that the budget of 1886 showed a deficit of 20 million, but Italy entered into serious entanglements with Abyssinia. Mancini already in June 1885 had to give way to the attacks of the opposition; his successor in the foreign office, Count Robilant, after the Italians on January 26th 1887 by a raid of the Abyssinians near Dogali had suffered a serious defeat, was attacked with equal severity and also resigned. As all attempts to replace him failed, Depretis was forced to reshuffle the cabinet, by bringing in two heads of the Pentarchy, Zanardelli and Crispi (April 1887). The required troops and sums for the strengthening of the position in Massawa now were approved, the formation of a special colonial force decided upon.
Just before, in March 1887 Count Robilant had concluded a formal alliance with Germany and Austria, by which Italy joined the Triple Alliance, and thus gained security not only against the malitious intentions of France, but also against the unending agitations of the Roman Curia and of their supporters in the Catholic states of Europe. The friendly relations to the allies, most notably Germany, were strengthened by Crispi, who after the death of Depretis (July 29th 1887) in addition to the portfolio of the interior also took over the presidency and the portfolio of foreign affairs, to which the visit of Emperor Wilhelm II. to Italy (October 1888) and the visit of King Umberto, to Berlin (May 1889) contributed not inconsiderably. Also the situation of the troops in Massaua improved in 1889. Negus John of Abyssinia fell in a skirmish with the dervishes, and his successor, Menelek of Shoa, formed an alliance with Italy. Now the higher elevated stretches west of Massawa could be occupied, and in January 1890 the African possession was organized, which was given the official name Colonia Eritrea.
The main difficulties the Italian administration had to deal with, continued to be in the field of finances. For Italy's entry into the Triple Alliance France took revenge by measures in trade policy. As the trade agreement Italy and the French Republic had concluded had expired on May 1st 1888, was not renewed, both countries entered a severe custom tariff war, which severely harmed Italy's economic interests. In trade policy Italy now approached the powers of the Triple Alliance, but the trade agreements concluded early in 1892 with Germany and Austria, and a little later also with Switzerland, only gradually could show an effect. In the meantime Italy's state finances suffered severely from the unfavorable economic situation; the budget showed considerable deficits, and in vain by a number of smaller measures, savings, hidden loans etc. an attempt was made to surmount the obstacles of the situation. Then the cabinet Crispi, after the elections in the fall of 1890 seemingly produced a large majority for the government in the Chamber of Deputees, early in 1891 decided to take stern measures. He suggested by savings, especially by the reduction of the number of prefectures, and by a raise of taxes and customs tariffs to remove the deficit. Both sides of the program met strong opposition, and when the leader of the right, Marchese di Rudini, joined the opposition, on January 31st 1891 the cabinet was toppled. Di Rudini formed a new cabinet which mainly leant on the right and the center, but to which also members of the left such as Nicotera, and Pelloux, belonged. The foreign policy of the country largely remained on the previous course. In June 1891 the Triple Alliance treaties, even before their expiration, were renewed; early in 1892 the aforementioned trade agreements were signed. In domestic affairs the cabinet Rudini could not solve the problems. Already in April 1892 differences of opinion within the cabinet, in regard to the financial suggestions to be presented to parliament, became apparent, and when di Rudini presented the latter to the chamber on May 5th, a majority of 8 votes decided against him and forced the cabinet to resign. The new cabinet was formed on May 14th by Giolitti, who in 1889 had become minister of the treasury under Crispi; in the fall it dissolved the chamber and in the elections of November 6th it gained the majority. Giolitti also continued the foreign policy of his predecessors. But in domestic affairs the situation continued to deteriorate. The minister of the treasury Grimaldi on February 11th 1893 calculated the deficit for 1893 to be 48 million, while others estimated it to be much higher; the value of state bonds continued to drop, the value of gold rose, silver coins streamt out of the country, so that commerce seriously suffered from a lack of currency. To this came, that in the administration of several banks issuing banknotes, namely the Banca di Napoli and the Banca Romana, irregularities of the worst kind had been uncovered, for the investigation of which a parlamentary commission was formed. After a law regulating the circulation of paper money was passed in July, which only allowed three banks to continue the issuance of banknotes, on November 23rd the commission delivered her report in which several ministers, namely Giolitti himself, were sharply criticized. The following day Giolitti resigned, and after a crisis lasting several weeks, Crispi, whom public opinion described as the only man capable of leading the state out of this critical situation, again took the presidency of the cabinet.
Italy's foreign policy did not see any change. In Africa considerable successes were achieved. In December 1893 Major Arimondi defeated the dervishes near Agordat. General Baratieri in July 1894 took Kassala, and he defeated the Abyssinian prince of Tigre, Ras Mangasha, who had risen against the Italians, on January 14th and 15th 1895 near Coatit and Senafe. But here soon a setback was registered. In October 1895 Baratieri resumed his advance and brought all of Tigre under his control, but now the Abyssinian Emperor Menelek personally interfered in the war, and this thoroughly changed the situation. The defeat of Major Toselli near Amba Aladju (December 7th), the surrender of Lieutenant Major Galliano in Makalle (January 20th 1896) and the withdrawal of Arimondi to Adigrat in the most unfavorable way changed the mood in country and parlament, and even had an impact on the financial situation, as the government had to request a loan of 20 million for armament. In order to hold on to his position, Crispi needed a victory in Africa and urged Baratieri to attack. But when the latter, after a long period of inactivity, even before the arrival of reinforcements on March 1st 1896 decided on an offensive against Menelek, near Adua he suffered a crushing defeat. The immediate consequence was Crispi's resignation. The new cabinet formed on March 10th by the Marchese di Rudini, which in domestic matters by granting amnesty to the troublemakers from Sicily and the Lunigiana, was determined to completely change the African policy.
In the meantime, Menelek and his army on March 20th had begin to withdraw; so General Baldissera, the successor of Baratieri, was able to relieve the Italian garrison which had been surrounded in Adigrat; afterward he evacuated the territory of Tigre. In June negotiations with Menelek were begun, which on October 20th resulted in the treaty of Addis Abeba, in which Italy obliged itself to give up the protectorate over Abyssinia, and Menelek obliged himself to free the Italian prisoners, and which left the determination of the border to Eritrea to separate negotiations. Vittorio Emmanuele with princess Helene of Montenegro, which was concluded on October 23rd 1896, resulted in the improvement of the relations of Italy to Russia. Now the minister of foreign affairs, Visconti-Venosta, tried to remove the alienation between France and Italy. In a trade agreement concluded on September 30th with Tunis Italy recognized the French protectorate over Tunis and gave up the old capitulations, but achieved in return that a number of privileges for the Italians living in Tunis remained in force. During the complications on Crete and in the Graeco-Turkish [!] War (1896 and 1897) the Italian government participated in all measures, which had been decided on by the European concert of powers; during the operations on and around Crete in 1897 the Italian Admiral Canevaro, as the senior ranking officer, had the supreme command.
The cabinet, which on March 5th 1887 dissolved the chamber, which had been elected under Crispi, in the elections on March 21st and 28th gained the majority and maintained it during the parlamentary spring session. In Africa it declared its willingness, for financial reasons, to limit the territory of the Eritrean colony, if necessary, on Massawa and its environs, and to hand Kassala over to Egypt, and this policy was approved by the chamber. A law on the organization of the army, maintaining the number of army corps under the assumption of a military budget of 246 million Lire, was accepted. But in the fall session quickly a new cabinet crisis appeared. During the debate of a law proposed by minister of war Pelloux on promotions in the army, on December 3rd a proposal for a change not approved by the government was accepted. In consequence first the minister of war, and then the entire cabinet, handed in its resignation. Rudini, who again formed a cabinet, persuaded Zanardelli, to take over the portfolio of justice; some of his followers followed their leader; General San Marzano was appointed minister of war.
In the first months of 1898, Italy was shaken by severe unrest. It began in the city of Siculiana in Sicily, where the population in consequence of increased prices for bread and flour, and because of the heavy tax burden, rose in rebellion early in January; both on the island of Sicily, which suffered severely, and on the mainland it found an echo. Although the government already on January 23rd had called 47,000 reservists to arms, and enforced police everywhere, it did not succeed in restoring order, and soon the Socialist Party took over the movement. After a rebellion had broken out on May 2nd near Ravenna, on the 5th in Pisa, on the 6th in Livorno, on May 7th and 10th especially heavy fights were fought in Milan. In May new insurrections followed near Genzano, in Luino, in Naples, in Messina, and only after attempts by the insurgents to draw support from Switzerland had been prevented, the government slowly regained control. Already during the measures to be taken against the insurgents, in the cabinet sharp differences of opinion between liberal minister of justice Zanardelli and the more conservative minister of foreign affairs, Visconti-Venosta, had appeared, in consequence of which the latter on May 28th declared his resignation from the government. Rudini thought he could deal with the situation by reshuffling the cabinet, but met resistance from all directions in the chamber, that he once and for all had to resign on June 19th. Now General Pelloux formed a new cabinet, which for the larger part was formed by supporters of Giolitti and Zanardelli, who were joined by three members of Crispi's faction. He succeeded taking a great step forward in the reconciliation with France. Already in May 1898 Rudini had entered in negotiations toward the termination of the customs war between both countries, which had begun in 1888. The Cabinet Pelloux, by Luzzatti, continued these negoriations in Paris, and the latter on November 21st concluded an agreement with France, according to which both countries treated each other on the basis of the most favoured nation, and made numerous tariff concessions to each other. This agreement, which alsomeant an approachment of both countries, took force on February 12th 1899. Pelloux, now by a tax reform trying to bring about the urgently needed reduction of the burden on the lower classes of the population, but also by proposing a number of laws, aimed at curbing the inciting agitation of the Socialists and Republicans by restricting the freedom of the press, the rights of clubs and associations, measures against repeat offenders, and the hiring of retired soldiers by the railroad, mail and telegraph service, met the heaviest resistance of the Left in the Chamber. But before the proposed laws came to a decision, the political situation had thoroughly changed.
At the beginning of March 1899, Italy had made the attempt, following England [!], Russia, Germany and France, to acquire territory in China, but her proposal to lease Sanmun Bay had been rejected in insulting manner. This diplomatic defeat, which could not be turned around, because regarding the general dislike of the nation the government did not want to take violent action against China. Public emotions were further increased by the arrival of the news of the Anglo-French convention in regard to North Africa (see under Great Britain, p.412), by which Britain had conceded the hinterland of Tripolis to France, thus a territory, the acquisition of which in Italy many still hoped, after the acquisition of Tunis by France. After the reopening of parlament thus spirited debates on foreign policy took place. General Pelloux recognized, that the situation of the government had become untenable, and on May 3rd the cabinet resigned. Charged by the king with the formation of a new cabinet, he now turned resolutely to the right. Of the previous ministers, except for Pelloux, only Baccelli and Lacava remained in office; foreign affairs were taken by Visconti-Venosta, finances and treasury Carmine and Boselli, two political friends of Sonnino, who took over the leadership of the majority in the chamber in favour of the government. After stormy debates the cabinet on May 31st received the vote of confidence and now pushed for the passage of the drafts regarding the change in the las of association, assembly and the press. But the Revolutionary Party, supported by parts of the Left, disgruntled because of the cabinet reshuffle, obstructed the progress of the debate in such a manner, that only on June 17th the first article could pass. Then the government postponed chamber sessions for 6 days and had the political measures, which in principle already had been accepted by the majority, sanctioned by a royal decree, which were to take force on July 20th. When this ordinnance was presented to the chamber for approval, the opposition on June 30th took extreme steps, and by wild noise and brute force prevented a vote being held. Under such circumstances the government dissolved the session of parlament.
While the chambers were not assembled, Pelloux maintained public order in Italy with severity, and by the systematical termination of banditry on the island of Sardinia gained a special achievement. Legal action was taken against the leaders of the violent actions of June 30th. But before the trial began, the chambers reconvened on November 14th. The government again presented the decree of June 22nd for approval. But the deliberations began only, after the budget had been approved in February 1900. In the meantime the government, because it was not sure of the outcome, given the weakly position of the chamber toward the Radicals, had stopped legal action against the accused deputees, and on January 1st 1900 had proclaimed a general amnesty for all accused of political crimes and violations.
Nonetheless the parlamentary storm resumed, when on February 24th the debate of the Decreto-Legge was opened. The Radicals lead by deputee Pantano, by their obstruction, for several weeks prevented the continuation of the debate, and were supported by Rudini, Giolitti and Zanardelli, who wanted to see the cabinet fall, by all kinds of manoeuvres. Finally the majority in the chamber also took to a violent measure, by accepting a change to the agenda on April 3rd, which was to make obstruction impossible, after which the chamber postponed its session until May 15th. In order to contribute to calming the situation down, the government on April 4th withdrew the Decreto-Legge of June 22nd 1899. But after the end of parlamentary vacation the extreme left continued the obstruction, and also the constitutional opposition demanded the abolition of the new agenda. In response the government dissolved the Chamber of Deputees. The elections (June 3rd and 10th) produced a majority for the government, but the extreme left had been strengthened, and now newly elected chamber president Gallo, by negotiating the agenda with the opposition, caused the cabinet Pelloux to resign on June 18th. Now the king charged Senate President Saracco with the formation of a new cabinet.
The new cabinet had Moderate Liberal character, but it lacked important figures, except for the prime minister and the minister for foreign affairs, Visconti-Venosta, it contained hardly another excellent statesman. It did secure the resumption of ordinary parlamentary work, by approving a new agenda on July 2nd, in response to which the left gave up her policy of obstruction. But while this agenda did contain a few improvements compared to the earlier condition of matters, the far-reaching concessions the government made to the left were a clear sign of its weakness. Italy participated in the intervention of the European powers in China by sending an expedition force of 2,000 men under Major Garioni, which embarked on July 18th in Naples.
A few days later the country the country was set in the state of deepest mourning by a criminal act of terror. On July 29th King Umberto, the strictly constitutional government of whom was recognized by all parties of the country, who by his [sense of] justice and gregariousness has gained general affection, was murdered by the Italian anarchist Angelo Bresci, who had been charged with the cowardly act by fanatic comrades in the American industrial town of Paterson near Hoboken in New Jersey. When the king, after having handed out prizes at a gymnastic festival, at 10.30 in the evening wanted to return to his palace in Monza, the assassin was waiting for him and shot three bullets at him, one of which hit the heart. At the time of the assassination, the crown prince, who succeeded his father as King Vittorio Emmanuele III., with his wife was on a tour of the Orient, but returned immediately; on August 1st he confirmed the cabinet and on August 3rd issued a proclamation to his people, in which he promised to rule according to the unforgettable example of his grandfather and father.
When the chamber reconvened on November 22nd, it soon showed, that the government did not have a secure majority, and that it only could stay in office for a while because of its inactivity and the dispute in the camp of her opponents. In the fall session of 1900 it did gain approval for the budget, but the reopening of palament in 1901 it survived only for a few days. On the occasion of the workers' chamber in Genoa it had displayed weakness vis-a-vis the Republican Party . On February 6th the chamber accepted a vote scolding the government; in response Saracco and his colleagues had to resign. The king charged Zanardelli with the formation of a new cabinet; he composed the new cabinet mainly of members of the resolute left, but did include three members of the right. He himself took the presidency without portfolio; the interior was given to Giolitti, who was one of the most determined protagonists of a tax reform, foreign affairs were taken by the Milan entrepreneur Prinetti. war by Ponza di San Martino, the minister on the navy in cabinet Saracco, Morin, held on to his office. The program of the new cabinet, presented by Zanardelli to the Chamber of Deputees on March 7th, announced decisive liberal reforms domestically, and promised in foreign policy to stick to [the country's] alliances, and to pursue a peaceful and amiable policy toward all powers. Already in the session of 1901 the abolition of communal fees on flour and flour products, which were pressing on the poorer classes of the population, in all communities of the country except for 59 larger cities was passed. The loss in communal revenue was in part to be covered by state subventions. The surprising sustained improvement of the country's economic position made the implementation of this and other reforms easier, and also improved state finances. Already the financial year 1900-1901 ended with a surplus of 40 million Lire, instead of the expected deficit of 7 million Lire; the surplus of the fiscal year 1901-1902, despite 27 million Lire in unexpected expenses for railroad construction and Italy's participation in the Chinese expedition, still amounded to 32.5 million Lire; in the fiscal year 1902-1903 the surplus exceeded 69 million Lire. In the course of these two years, the Italian rent rose above even; the gold agio, which long had existed for the Italian banknotes, completely vanished, in brief : Italy's finances enjoyed a general upswing, which no other country in Europe could show to the same extent. In foreign affairs a notable approachment to France took place. In April 1901 the Italian fleet paid a visit to Toulon, on the occasion of which French President Loubon and the Duke of Genoa exchanged warm assurances of friendship. In the same year successful negoriations because of the construction of the Col di Tenda railroad (Cuneo-Nice) were held; in December Prinetti could inform of the conclusion of an agreement with France concerning Tripolis, which removed the worries caused by the Anglo-French treaty of 1899. In all this the government maintained her close relations to the powers of the Triple Alliance; repeated mutual visits of the rulers of Germany and Italy, and meetings of the ministers, provided evidence; in June 1902 the renewal of the Triple Alliance was signed. Italy pursued an energetic foreign policy; it participated in the expedition against China (see there, p.55), in the forced measures implemented by Germany and England [!] against Venezuela in 1902, and, together with Russia and Austria, by influencing Turkey [!] to reorganize the administration of Macedonia. In January 1904 the Italian General De Giorgis was elected supreme commander of the Macedonian gendarmerie.
But the cabinet Zanardelli had not held on that long. Despite of great successes in domestic and foreign policy it had been fought in the chamber by Social Democrats and Republicans on one side, and by members of the Right, namely the supporters of Sonnino, on the other. During the three years of its existence it had seen a number of changes, and had been seriously weakened by the resignation of Prinetti, who had become seriously ill, and who was only briefly replaced by Admiral Morin. Morin's successor as minister of the navy, Admiral Bettolo, in June 1903 had to fend off severe attacks against the administration of the Italian navy. And as the government, in votes in these matters, prevailed with only a tiny majority, and as it relied for this majority on the unreliable support of the Extreme Left, which previously always had been hostile to the government, while a part of the Moderates, because of a law draft on divorce presented by the government, had voted against the latter, the most influential man in the cabinet, Giolitti, in order to maintain his ability to govern, decided to separate his fate from that of Zanardelli, and on June 12th 1903 handed in his resignation. Shortly after Admiral Bettolo did the same, and Zanardelli did not find proper replacements for both; he had to decide to personally take over the ministry of the interior, while Morin in addition to the portfolio of foreign affairs provisionally also took that of the navy. The government after this change was given a vote of confidence by the chamber, but it had to be ready for new severe fights, when it became known in October, that the Czar of Russia had postposed the countervisit to Italy, following the visit of King Vittorio Emmanuele to St. Petersburg in July 1902, to an undetermined point of time, no doubt because of the severe attacks the Socialists in the Italian chamber had made against him. Shortly after Zanardelli, whose health was no longer up to parlamentary struggles, handed in his and his cabinet's resignation. Already on December 26th the old statesman, who had provided Italy with great services, died in Maderno on Lago di Garda.
Giolitti was charged with the formation of the new government, which he concluded on November 2nd 1903, mainly by leaning on the same groups which had supported the cabinet Zanardelli, but who brought in new faces. He himself again took the portfolio of the interior; minister of the treasury became Luzzatti, who soon after also took over the ministry of finances after the suicide of Rosano, who after having been appointed had been accused of dishonesty by the Socialists. The portfolio of foreign affairs was given to Tittoni, that of education to Orlando, that of justice to Ronchetti, that of war to General Pedotti, that of the navy to Admiral Mirabello; the other ministers were of lesser importance. The new government successfully continued the policy of the previous administration. The surplus of the fiscal year 1902-1903 made possible further reductions in customs tariffs and taxes. In the session of 1904 laws for the industrial development of southern Italy, most notably of Naples, for improvements in elementary education, for the provision of communal officials and others were passed. Relations to France became more and more friendly; in April 1904 President Loubet, made his countervisit to Rome, after King Vittorio Emmanuele had visited him in October 1903 in Paris; in May 1904 both countries concluded an agreement which permitted the workers of both states to make use of mutual welfare institutions. Finally a treaty on arbitration was signed with France. Visits which Tittoni paid to Count Goluchowski in April in Abbazia, and Giolitti to Count Bülow in September in Homburg, and the conclusion of new trade agreements not only with Switzerland, but also with Germany and Austria documented the continuation of good relations with the Triple Alliance powers. The birth of the long-awaited heir to the throne, Prince Umberto (September 15th) was greeted with general joy. That the king gave his son the title "Prince of Piemonte" and not that of a "Prince of Rome" was regarded as a sign of accomodation toward Pius X.
A few days later a movement began, which caused unexpected decisions of the cabinet. For several years the Socialist movement in Italy, which here also among the peasant population counted many thousands of supporters, had made great progress, and already in April 1903 did their leaders regard it opportune, to test their power by a three-day general strike in Rome. This act now was repeated; in all major cities of Italy, in the second half of September work was shut down for several days, tumults and unrest of all kind disturbed public order. Then Giolitti decided to counter the demonstration of the Revolutionary Party by a demonstration of the entire people, and on October 19th dissolved the Chamber of Deputees. The new elections, in which in many regions, with the permission of the Roman Curia, for the first time since the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy, also supporters of the pope participated, were held on November 6th and 13th and provided the government with a strong majority; the revolutionary parties of the Republicans and Socialists, but also the one of the Radicals, were somewhat weakened, but not as much as the government may have hoped; instead of 105 votes in the old chamber, the three parties combined held about 90 votes in the new one. On November 30th the chambers were opened, on December 1st Marcora, who was proposed by the government but belonged to the Left, with 292 of 445 votes was elected president of the Chamber of Deputees.

source in German, posted by Zeno

Nordisk Familjebok 1904-1926, Article : Rothschild (1916)

source in Swedish, posted by Project Runeberg





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First posted on June 22nd 2009

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