1860-1878 History of Italy 1896-1914

Italy, 1878-1896

Foreign Policy . Domestic Policy . The Economy . Demography

Foreign Policy . When France turned Tunisia in a French protectorate in 1881/1883, Italian public opinion reacted emotionally. Imperialist circles within Italy hoped for Italy to become a colonial power herself; they had regarded Tunisia, because of her proximity and common history as the natural colonial acquisition for Italy. Supporters of a colonial policy did not have a strong base in Italy's parliament, and the latter at first only was willing to grant charters to colonial companies such as the Rubattino Navigation Company which had acquired land in Eritrea since 1869; in 1882, Italy took over her possessions and declared the Colony of Eritrea. The Vincenzo Filonardi Co. acquired Benadir (later renamed Somalia) in 1889. Italy was represented at the Berlin Africa Conference in 1884/1885. In 1896, an Italian army invading Ethiopia was defeated in the Battle of Adowa, seen as a national humiliation at the time.
In 1882, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy formed the Triple Alliance, a defensive alliance. Italy and Britain had entered into a Naval Entente (1887); relations to France were dependent on who held the office of prime minister; Cavalotti was pro-French; Crispi was pro-German and even tried to persuade Bismarck to fight a preventive war against France (1887-1889).

Domestic Policy . Italy, since the 1880es, experienced emigration at a significant level, to the United States, Brazil, Argentina, but also to France and French North Africa. The Fasci Siciliani (1891-1894), an anarchist movement, were suppressed.
In 1878, the Radical Party (PR) split from the Sinistra; in 1892, Italy's Socialist Party (PSI) was established.

The Economy . By the late 1870es, cheap grain and meat exports from the United States resulted in the Italian agriculture becoming less profitable. The policy of free trade was altered by the introduction of protectionist measures (import tariffs); these benefitted the owners of latifundia, but were disadvantageous to the poor, as prices for bread and pasta were artificially high.
Industrialization took off on a moderate scale; domestic steel and machinery industry was supported by protective tariffs and subsidies. In 1884 the Italian National Exposition was held in Turin; a World Exposition was held in Rome in 1887, an Italian-American Exposition in Genoa in 1892. Italy, as well as other European countries, suffered from the depression of 1889-1896.

Demography . Italy's population was estimated as 28 million in 1878, counted as 28.4 million in 1884, as 30.3 million in 1892, estimated as 31.1 million in 1896 (Lahmeyer). The population of Milan rose from 252,000 in 1870 to 322,000 in 1880, that of Turin from 208,000 in 1870 to 254,000 in 1880, that of Rome from 244,000 in 1870 to 300,000 in 1880, that of Naples from 449,000 in 1870 to 494,000 in 1880 [IHS pp.72-74]. Between 1881 and 1890, 992,000 Italians emigrated [IHS p.124], to the U.S., Argentina, Brazil etc.

Cronologia, Italian language site on Italian and World History
History of Italy : Monarchy, from Wikipedia
Il Regno d'Italia, 1860-1913, in Italian, rich source of information
Articles Francesco Crispi, Felice Cavalotti, Fasci Siciliani from Wikipedia
Christopher Duggan, Francesco Crispi and Italy's Pursuit of War against France 1887-1889, from Australian Journal of Politics and History 2004
Article King Humbert of Italy, from EB 1911
History of Italian Anarchism, from Anarchist Archives
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Italy
Historical Population Statistics : Italy, from Population Statistics, by Jan Lahmeyer
Etsi Nos, Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, February 15th 1882, on conditions in Italy, posted by EWTN
Ethiopian-Eritrean Conflict Webpage, posts 1 map and 9 documents 1891-1908
REFERENCE History Book Reviews : Italy : Liberal State, 1860-1922

Article Italy, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia, Vol.22 pp.165-247, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.22
Christopher Duggan, A Concise History of Italy, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1994, pp.133-188
Luciano Cafagna, The Industrial Revolution in Italy 1830-1914, in : Carlo M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe, Vol.4 : The Emergence of Industrial Societies [G]
Article : Italy, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.672-714 (on events of 1894) [G]
Article : Italy, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events 1886 pp.451-455, 1894 pp.382-386 [G]
IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics, Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 3rd 2007

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