Mussolini and World War Two
unification of Italy
4/12/2016, Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister, resigned after a referendum rejected his government reform proposals by over 60%.
13/2/2011, Women across Italy protested against Berlusconi.
1/1/2008, Malta adopted the Euro.
20/7/2001, The 3-day 27th G8 talks began in Genoa, Italy, sparking major protests by anti-globalisation groups.
28/3/1994, Silvio Berlusconi became Prime Minister of Italy.
1992, The Northern League (Lega Nord) won over 50 seats in the General Election. The Northern League was resentful of taxes generated in the prosperous north of Italy being used by Rome to support the poorer South, and wanted an independent State in northern Italy, so-called Padania.
7/1/1990. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed to the public for the first time in 807 years so work could begin to stop it leaning any further; the leaning rate had accelerated. After nearly 12 years of repairs costing 53 billion lire that reduced its lean by 44 cm the tower re-opened in December 2001, and was expected to be safe for another 2 or 3 centuries. Parties of up to 30 are allowed up on guided visits. The Tower of Pisa is the bell tower for a nearby cathedral, and its construction began in 1173, and continues with two long interruptions, for nearly 200 years. Designed to be vertical, a lean developed during its construction. The walls at its base are eight feet thick, and it has 294 steps. Injection of cement into the base in 1934 had accelerated the lean.
6/9/1987. The historic Venice regatta was held without gondoliers for the first time since 1315. The gondoliers were on strike as a protest against the damage to the fabric of Venice caused by powerboats.
23/12/1984. Terrorist bomb killed 29 on a train in Bologna, Italy.
22/12/1984, Dom Mintoff resigned as President of Malta.
24/9/1983, In Italy, the executives responsible for the Seveso dioxin disaster were jailed.
4/8/1983. Bettino Craxi became Italy’s first Socialist Prime Minister.
18/3/1983, King Umberto II of Italy, in exile since 1946, died in a Geneva clinic aged 78.
3/9/1982, Anti-Mafia chief murdered in Rome.
2/8/1980, A right-wing terrorist bomb hit the railway station at Bologna, Italy, killing 85 people and wounding over 200.
31/3/1979, The British Royal Navy finally withdrew from Malta.
9/5/1978. The body of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was found in the boot of a car in central Rome, a victim of the Red Brigade.
16/3/1978, In Rome, former Prime Minister Aldi Moro was kidnapped.
13/12/1974. Malta became a republic within the Commonwealth.
21/9/1964. Malta became independent of Britain, after 164 years of British rule.
9/10/1963, Three thousand were killed as the Vaijont Dam burst in the Italian Alps. Despite warnings that the valley sides were being destabilised as the dam filled, work continued until a rock slide hit the site.
4/12/1962, Pietro Tomasi Della Torretta, Italian politician and diplomat, died aged 89.
11/2/1956. A Maltese referendum favoured integration with Britain.
28/12/1947, Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy from 1900 until he abdicated in 1946, died.
15/9/1947, The Free Territory of Trieste was created as the Peace Treaty with Italy came into effect.
17/4/1947, In Rome, a mob of about a thousand unemployed workers staged a noisy protest outside the Parliament building, stopping private cars and sometimes beating the occupants. One of those assaulted was Italian Foreign Minister Carlo Sforza, who was struck by several fists as he stepped out of his car to go to his office. The Foreign Ministry said that Sforza had been shaken but not seriously hurt.
28/6/1946, Enrico de Nicola became first President of Italy.
27/6/1946, Italy ceded the Dodecanese islands to Greece.
11/6/1946, Italy was officially declared a Republic.
3/6/1946, King Umberto II left Italy, to join his family in Lisbon.
2/6/1946, A referendum in Italy produced 12.7 million votes for a Republic and 10.7 million votes for continuing the monarchy.
9/5/1946. King Victor Emmanuel III, monarch of Italy since 1900, abdicated. He was succeeded by Umberto II. A referendum voted narrowly for a republic on 2/6/1946. Enrico de Nicola became the first President of Italy on 28/6/1946, and Umberto II left Italy on 3/6/1946.
15/9/1943, Three days after freed from imprisonment by Germany, and seven weeks after his overthrow in July, Benito Mussolini was restored to leadership of Italy by the Nazi occupiers; German paratroopers also landed in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City in Rome, despite the Vatican's neutrality in the war Mussolini made his announcement of a return to power from Adolf Hitler's headquarters at Rastenburg.
11/9/1943, German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring declared that all Italian territory was under German military control, which former dictator Benito Mussolini would later describe as reducing Italy to the status of a German "colony". Adolf Hitler ordered that the occupied Italian territory be divided into three zones, with the area around Rome extending south toward the front lines against the Allies, the Alpine mountain region ("Alpenvorland") and the coast along the Adriatic Sea ("Adriatische Kusterland"). Hitler also issued orders to deal with any Italian military units that had gone over to fight for the Allies, with all officers to be executed, and soldiers and non-combatants to be deported to Germany as labourers.
9/9/1943. Allied forces landed at Salerno, Italy. King Umberto of Italy left Rome and fled to Brindisi in the south. This was seen as an abandonment by many Italians and contributed to the conversion of the country to a Republic in 1946.
7/9/1943, Suspecting that Italy was about to make peace with the Allies, German troops quickly occupied Italy, especially its airfields, to forestall a complete Allied possession of the country. However the entire Italian navy escaped to Malta, thereby freeing up Allied ships for combat in the Pacific or Atlantic.
19/7/1943, First Allied air raid on Rome. The raid was a political warning that Mussolini’s regime must be overthrown.
1942, The Christian Democratic Party was founded. It was clandestinely anti-Facist, and in fact largely secular. Until 1993 it formed a large bloc in every post-War Italian government; however it began to be plagued by acusations of corruption, and by 1993 its popular support had completely evaporated, The Party disintegrated after 1993.
11/2/1942, Ugo Pasquale Mifsud, two-time prime minister of Malta, died aged 52.
For main events of World War Two in Europe see France-Germany
4/5/1941, Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia from exile in England, after the liberation of his country by British forces.
12/9/1940. Italian forces advanced on Egypt from Libya.
19/8/1940, British Somaliland fell to the Italians. See 4/8/1940.
12/8/1940. In Albania, a revolt against Italian occupation began.
9/8/1939, Romano Prodi, Prime Minister of Italy, was born.
4/8/1940. Italian troops began to invade British Somaliland from Ethiopia. See 19/8/1940.
4/7/1940, Three weeks after Italy entered the War, Italian forces invaded Sudan, occupying Kassala, 300 kilometers east pf Khartoum, They also occupied Gallabat, further south.
10/6/1940. Italy declared war on France and Britain.
2/4/1940. All Italians aged over 14 were mobilised.
For main European events of World War Two see France-Germany
7/4/1939. Italy mounted a surprise invasion of Albania, seeing it as a bridgehead for an invasion of the Balkans. King Zog fled the country. They began an invasion of Greece from Albania on 28/10/1940. They were driven back by the Greeks who occupied most of southern Albania. However the Greeks were beaten back in April 1941 when the Germans occupied Yugoslavia, Albania, and Greece. From 1944 on local partisans, aided by the British, drove Axis forces from much of Albania, also eliminating anti-communist forces. See 11/1/1946.
11/1/1939. Neville Chamberlain visited Mussolini to discuss recognition of the Franco regime in Spain.
17/12/1938, Italy denounced the Franco-Italian agreement of 1935.
14/12/1938, The Italian Parliament was replaced by a Fascist Chamber.
3/5/1938. Hitler and Mussolini met in Rome.
16/4/1938, Chamberlain, British PM, sought to dissuade Italy from allying with Germany.
11/12/1937. Italy left the League of Nations.
6/11/1937. Italy joined the anti-Communist pact between Germany and Japan. See 25/11/1936.
2/6/1937, German War Minister Werner von Blomberg began a three-day visit to Italy to discuss German-Italian military ties.
2/1/1937, The UK and Italian governments made an agreement, to curb dangerous levels of friction between the two in the Mediterranean.
1/11/1936. Mussolini announced an anti-Communist ‘axis’ with Germany, and urged France and Britain to join.
3/3/1936. Mussolini nationalised the Italian banks.
18/12/1935, In response to Leaague of Nations sanctions, Mussolini appealed to Italians to donate their gold wedding rings to the government, in exchange for steel ones, also other gold, to help the invasion effort. Many Italians responded, and a total of 33,622 metric tonnes of gold was handed in.
19/10/1935, After Itlay’s invasion of Abyssinia, the League of Nations imposed economic sanctions on Italy. Meanwhile it was apparent that Italy’s African possessions could not provide economic self-sufficiency for Italy, and the country would never be self reliant in key raw materials sources such as oil, coal and metals. This pushed Italy into a closer partnership with stronger, industrialised, Germany.
24/1/1935. Mussolini dismissed the Italian Cabinet.
18/9/1934. Mussolini said all Italians from the age of 8 must have military training.
15/6/1934. The dictators Hitler and Mussolini met for the first time, in Venice.
20/10/1933. Mussolini denounced Roosevelt as a dictator.
21/5/1933. Britain signed a ten-year non-aggression pact with Italy, France, and Germany.
6/11/1931, The Italian government awarded prizes to the country's biggest families.
20/4/1929. The first Italian Parliament composed exclusively of Fascists led by Benito Mussolini was opened by King Victor Emmanuel III.
24/3/1929. Mussolini’s single party Fascist state claimed it had won 99% of the vote in elections.
1928, In Italy, prefects could prevent people from moving from rural areas to cities. Mussolini wanted to raise the birth rate, and urban women were more lilely to work and have fewer children. In 1927 Mussolini had prohibited the Italian media from promoting slimness in women, as that was also associated with a reduced birth rate, he believed.
20/9/1928, In Rome the supreme legislative body, the Chamber of Deputies, was taken over by the Fascists.
12/5/1928. The Italian electorate was reduced from 10 million to 3 million, under Mussolini.
12/2/1928. The British colony of Malta gained Dominion status.
12/1/1928, The Italian press was banned from reporting suicides or sensational crimes.
6/1/1928, Italian Finance Minister Giuseppe Volpi banned industries from taking out foreign loans without government approval.
5/4/1927, Hungary signed a ‘Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation’ with the Italian leader, Mussolini. Hungary needed allies, and Italy strengthened its influence in the Danube Basin.
15/1/1927. Winston Churchill met Mussolini in Italy.
1926, The Balilla, the pan-Italian Fascist youth organisation, was established. It cultivated Fascist indoctrination of the Italian youth and promoted patriotism, It hosted youth clubs, organised sports events and organised basic military training. Its numbers grew aafter the Catholic Boy Scouts were abolished in 1928.
15/12/1926. The Italian fascist party adopted the Roman symbol of authority, the fasces, or bundle of sticks, and origin of the word ‘fascist’, as its symbol.
27/11/1926, Italy and Albania signed the Treaty of Tirana, effectively making Albania an Italian Protectorate. Britain formally recognised the Treaty, angering France, who saw the Balkans as their sphere of influcnce.
31/10/1926. An attempt was made on Mussolini’s life. This gave him the excuse to remove more civil liberties.
7/10/1926. Mussolini decreed the Fascist party to be the state Party; all opposition was banned.
4/8/1926, Umberto Nobile was feted in Rome for his part in the recent North Pole expedition, as 20,000 filled the square in front of the Palazzo Chigi.
29/6/1926. In Italy, Mussolini increased the working day by one hour.
7/4/1926. Mussolini survived an assassination attempt.
12/2/1926. Mussolini outlawed strikes in Italy.
7/1/1926, The Royal Academy of Italy was created.
4/12/1925, The Italian Chamber of Deputies passed a law allowing the government to regulate rates of industrial production based on the needs of the country.
5/11/1925. In Italy, Mussolini banned all left-wing parties.
3/1/1925. Mussolini assumed full dictatorial control in Italy. He nominated his cabinet on 5/1/1925.
10/6/1924, Italian socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti was assassinated by Mussolini’s fascists. He had replaced Filippo Turati as leader of Italy’s reformed Socialist Party, and on 30/5/1924 he denounced the Italian elections of April 1924, in which Mussolini’s Fascists had done well, as fraudulent.
17/4/1924. Mussolini’s Fascist Party won a sweeping victory in the Italian general election.
27/1/1924. Mussolini signed a pact with Yugoslavia, and Italy annexed the free city of Fiume.
16/7/1923.Mussolini banned gambling in Italy.
9/6/1923, In Italy, the Vatican ordered the Catholic Party to disband, and many of its members joined Mussolini’s Fascist party. The Catholic Party, or Partito Popolare Italiano (Italian People’s Party), had been formed in 1919;before then the Vatican had forbidden Catholics to vote. In Italian elections in 1919 and in 1921 the Catholic Party received 20% of the vote, second only to the Italian Socialist Party. Following Mussolini’s victory in 1922 Cardinal Gasparri, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, made a deal with Mussolini that the Catholic Church would support him; in return Mussolini would restore the historic privileges of the catholic Church in Italy. In 1927 Mussolini was baptised as a Catholic, and in 1929 he signed the Lateran Treaty, making the Vatican a separate sovereign State. He also made Catholicism the State religion of Italy, and paid the Vatican 750 million lire as compensation for the Vatican’s loss of the ancient Papal States territory in Italy.
2/1923, Fascists were forbidden to be Freemasons; this helped gain support for Fascism from the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was alarmed by the spread of Leftist influence and possible Communist-inspired anarchy, especially in impoverished southern Italy, and saw the Fascists as promising welcome stability. The Liberal Left would likely tax Church property. The Fascists were also anti-contraception and birth control.
21/2/1923, In Italy the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Vincenzo Cardinal Vanutelli, said ‘Mussolini had been chosen to save the nation and restore her fortune’.
31/10/1922, Mussolini’s supporters organised a mass rally in Rome.
30/10/1922. Benito Mussolini took power in Italy.
29/10/1922, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy invited Mussolini to travel to Rome from Milan to form a government. Mussolini’s Fascist Party had been founded in March 1919, and was dissolved on 28/7/1943.
24/10/1922, A mass rally of 40,000 Fascists at Naples.
7/11/1921, Benito Mussolini, the 38 year old son of a blacksmith from the Romagna, became leader of the Italian National Fascist Party, with its 35 seats in Parliament. Black-shirted Fascist sqaudristi roamed the country disrupting Communist meetings.
14/5/1921. Fascists won seats in Italian elections.
27/2/1921. Communists and Fascists rioted in Italy.
12/11/1920, The first Treaty of Rapallo was signed, between Italy and Yugoslavia, settling territorial disputes in the Adriatic and pledging collaboration to prevent a Hapsburg restoration. Istria, the territory east of Venice, became part of Italy. The town of Fiume, seized by Italian Nationalists in September 1919, was to return to Free City status. However, although the Nationalists were ejected from Fiume by the Italian Navy, Fiume did not regain this status and in 1924, when Mussolini came to power, Italy abrogated these terms and retained control of Fiume (although Yugoslavia controlled the adjacent port of Susak). After World War Two, Fiume became part of the Republic of Croatia, itself a part of Yugoslavia.
1919, Italy had made considerable territorial gains through the Treaty of Versailles, adding some 14,500 square kilometers of land at Austria’s expense. Italy gained the provinces of Trentino, South Tyrol and Istria, and in 1924 annexed the Free City of Fiume (see 12/11/1920). Italy, however had hoped for more, such as some of Germany’s former colonies.
19/11/1919, In Italy, Benito Mussolini and 37 Fascists were arrested after rioting at the election of the Socialists.
16/11/1919, First Italian elections that were contested by the Fascists. However the Fascists did badly, receiving just 4657 votes out of 270,000 cast in Milan, supposedly a Fascist stronghold. In Predappio, Mussolini’s birthplace, not one vote went to the Fascists. The Socialists, however, did very well, gaining 1.76 million votes, their best tally to date; they raised their seats from 52 to 156, and became Italy’s largest single party. Socialist support had been boosted by the suffering of World War One, especially in Germany and the troubles in Russia. The Popolari Party, run by Don Sturzo, representing Catholics, the forerunner of the post-World War Two Christian Democrats, also did well, gaining 100 seats. The Pope, who had previously discouraged Catholics from voting, had now informally encouraged Catholic support for the Popolari. The Socialists were later undermined by the split in their ranks between the reformists (riformisti) and the revolutionaries (massimilasti), the latter defecting to the Communist Party in 1921. This split allowed the fascists to gain power.
23/3/1919 The Italian Fascist Party (Fascio di Combattimento) was founded in Milan by Benito Mussolini. The party aimed to fight both Liberalism and Communism. The Fascists wanted land for the peasants, abolition of the Senate, a seizure of Church property, and tax reform. However most of this agenda was already offered by the Socialists and by December 1919 the Fascists only had 870 members. During 1926 Party membership rose from 600,000 to 938,000. By the end of 1933 there were 1,400,000 members, a figure that went up to 2,633,000 by 1939.
4/11/1918, Italian troops occupied Trieste. Under the Treaty of London (25/4/1915), The UK, France, and Russia agreed to give Trieste to Italy after the War.
1917, Food riots in Turin put down by troops; 50 people were killed.
28/8/1916. Italy declared war on Germany.
9/8/1916. Italian troops took Glorizia.
6/8/1916, Dom Mintoff, Labour politician and Prime Minister of Malta, was born.
25/5/1915. The Austrians bombarded Venice.
24/5/1915. The Austrian fleet bombarded Ancona, N.E. Italy.
23/5/1915, Italy entered the war on the Allied side.
4/5/1915, Italy denounced the Triple Alliance (Italy, Germany, Austro-Hungary). This was a preparatory move to her entering the War on the Allied side on 23/5/1915.
For main European events of World War One see France-Germany
25/4/1915. Italy signed a secret treaty, the Treaty of London, with Britain, France, and Russia. Italy agreed to enter the war on the Allied side within one month in return for territorial gains. Italy was to gain the Austrian provinces of Trentino, South Tyrol, Istria, Gorizia, Gradisca, and Trieste, also a large stretch of the Dalmatian coast and islands, some Albanian territory around Valona, full sovereignty over the Turkish-controlled Dodecanese Islands, the Turkish province of Adalia in Asia Minor, colonial gains in Africa, and a share of war indemnities. The Allies agreed to this because they believed that Italian intervention would soon destroy Austro-Hungary, opening the ‘back door to Germany’. Italy duly entered the war on 24/5/1915, but the expected breakthrough against Austria never materialised. When the Bolsheviks took over in 1917 they revealed the terms of this secret treaty, which ran totally against the ethnic-determination principles of President Wilson of the USA; he stated he did not consider the treaty terms as binding. At the Paris Peace Conference the UK and France also opposed implementation of the treaty’s terms, and Italy received far less than originally specified. This created popular resentment in Italy and was a factor in the rise of Mussolini and Fascism in Italy.
25/1/1915, Mussolini formed the Fasci d’Azione Rivoluzionara in Milan.
30/3/1913, Censu Tabone, President of Malta, was born.
For more on 1911-12 conflict between Italy and Turkey see Greece-Turkey
1912, Electoral reform in Italy extended the vote to all literate men aged 21 and over, and all men aged over 30. This expanded the Italian electorate from 3 million to 8.6 million. A subsequent electoral reform soon after abolished the literacy requirement for man aged 21-30, further expanding the electorate to 11 million, and was a measure to ensure continued popular support for the Italian war in Libya. It was estimated that 70% of these new voters were illiterate.
1911,The Camorra were suppressed. Starting as a band of prisoners united against their gaolers in Naples in the 1820s, the Camorra entered Italian politics in 1848.
29/9/1911. Italy declared war on Turkey, having been assured of the neutrality of other European countries. The Italian Navy bombarded Preveza, and Italian forces landed at Tripoli and in Cyrenicia. This was in retaliation for the alleged mistreatment of Italians in Libya. The Italians expected the Arabs to welcome them as liberators from Turkish rule, but instead the Arabs sided with the Turks in resisting Italian rule. In May 1912 Italy invaded some islands off Turkey, including Rhodes, to put further pressure on Turkey. Then Italy had some unexpected good fortune when in 1912 Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece started the Balkan War against Turkey, forcing the Ottomans to surrender Libya to Italy. However Arab resistance continued and despite a permanent Italian garrison of 50,000 troops Italian rule only covered Tripoli and other major towns. At least, though, Italy could now claim to have its own African colony.
19/11/1910, Alessandro Mussolini, father of the Italian dictator, died, aged 56.
16/12/1900, France and Italy agreed to respect each other’s sphere of influence in North Africa.
30/7/1900. In Italy, Umberto I, 56, King since 1878, was shot dead in Monza by an anarchist. Victor Emmanuel III, 30, succeeded him.
1898, Nearly 100 people died in riots in Milan sparked by poverty.
3/1/1894, The Italian government ordered the dissolution of the Fasci, and the arrest of their ringleaders. Over 1,000 people were deported to Italian islands, often without trial. The Fasci were small alliances, groups of radical or socialist academics and peasants, and some anarchists, local gentry and Mafiosi. The name derived from the fasces, or bundle, of sticks used in ancient Rome. Starting in Sicily in 1893 the fasci agitated for political ends, with strikes and riots, alarming the larger landowners.
1893, 40,000 troops had to be sent to Sicily to quell unrest there caused by poverty.
11/4/1890, Birth of Donna Rachele Mussolini, wife of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (died 1979)
1/1/1890, The Kingdom of Italy established the colony of Eritrea in Africa.
27/2/1888, As Italian-French relations deteriorated, France imposed selective duties against Italian products. Italy retaliated in kind on 1/3/1888.
29/7/1883. Benito Mussolini, Italian founder of the Fascist party and ally of Hitler, was born in Predappio, near Forli, a town in the impoverished Romagna region of east-central Italy. He was the son of a blacksmith.
2/6/1882, Guiseppe Garibaldi, Italian soldier and politician who helped form the Kingdom of Italy, died aged 74.
9/1/1878, Victor Emmanuel II, who became the first King of Italy in 1863, died of fever in Rome aged 57. He was succeeded by his son Umberto, aged 33, who ruled until his assassination in 1900.
10/3/1872, Guiseppe Mazzini, Italian revolutionary who fought for his country’s unity and independence, died in Pisa.
20/9/1870. Taking advantage of the French defeat at Sedan, Italian troops under Victor Emmanuel II entered Rome and expelled the Papal troops. Garibaldi had made several attempts to take Rome with his people’s army, the last in 1867, but had been defeated by the French. Now however Napoleon III had his troops away from Rome to fight the Prussians. There was little resistance from Rome; the walls were shelled, and breached at Porta Pia, and only a few lives were lost.
11/11/1869, Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, was born.
25/7/1866, The Italians were defeated in a sea battle against Austria off Lissa.
8/4/1866. Bismarck arranged an alliance between Italy and Germany. Italy promised to join Germany in was against Austria if war broke out in the next three months.
15/9/1864, Under the ‘September Convention’, Napoleon agreed to evacuate Rome and Italy agreed to move her capital from Turin to Florence.
28/8/1862, Garibaldi’s army landed at Calabria en route to Rome.
6/6/1861, Count Cavour, the politician primarily responsible for the unification of Italy, died.
17/3/1861, Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed King of Italy at Turin by the country’s first Parliament.
2/1861, The formerly independent Grand-Duchy of Tuscany declared itself part of Italy.
18/2/1861, The Italian Parliament opened at Turin. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed.
26/10/1860, Guiseppe Garibaldi, soldier and fighter for Italian unification, proclaimed Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy.
21/10/1860, Several territories in Italy voted with large majorities to join the emerging Kingdom of Italy under King Victor Emmanuel, including the Marches and Umbria, as well as the territories conquered by Garibaldi. This deprived Garibaldi of political momentum. This was a relief to the rest of Europe, who had feared that Garibaldi would overrun the Papal Territories, destabilising other States in Europe. Garibaldi handed power to Victor Emmanuel (see 26/10.1860) and retired to the island of Caprera.
1/10/1860, Garibaldi’s forces decisively defeated Naples at the Battle of Volturno.
6/9/1860, Francis II, last King of Naples., left the city which had fallen to Garibaldi’s army. Naples ceased to be a separate state and came under the Italian rule of King Victor Emmanuel.
20/8/1860, Garibaldi’s forces, having conquered all of Sicily, crossed the Straits of Messina to attack the Italian mainland.
5/5/1860, The radical Italian, Garibaldi, striving for Italian Unification, set sail from Genoa for the port of Marsala in Sicily.
2/4/1860, The first Italian parliament met, in Turin.
10/11/1859, A peace treaty signed at Zurich ended the war between France, allied to Piedmont, and Austria. The effects of the treaty were crucial in the unification of Italy. Under its terms, Lombardy passed from Austria to Piedmont, with the exception of the Quadrilateral forts (see 24/6/1859) which were retained by Austria. Piedmont compensated France 60 million lire for the cost of the war with Austria. Plebiscites were held in various territories to determine which State they would join.
10/7/1859, The Treaty of Villafranca was signed, see 24/6/1859. The war between France (allied with Piedmont) and Austria was finally concluded by the peace treaty signed at Zurich on 10/11/1859.
See also Austrian history
24/6/1859, At the Battle of Solferino, Lombardy, Italy, the French under Napoleon III allied to Piedmont defeated the Austrians. However the victory was costly for the French. Napoleon III knew that his armies must next face the Austrians at the ‘Quadrilateral’, the four fortresses of Legnano, Mantua, Peschiera and Verona, where the Austrians had retreated northwards to, and opposition to the French would increase in this region. Within France, the war against Austria was becoming unpopular as army casualties, and deaths from a typhus epidemic within the ranks, mounted. The war was expensive to France, There was also the question of what Britain might do, being opposed to the extension of French power in Italy. Prussia’s intentions, with its 400,000 strong army, were also uncertain. Therefore Napoleon, without consulting his Piedmont ally, signed the Treaty of Villafranca, see 10/7/1859.
23/4/1859, Austria issued an ultimatum to Piedmont to disarm. This followed an agreement between France and Piedmont to ally against Austria. This agreement was strengthening the power of Italy (see 14/1/1858) and was a significant threat to the southern flank of Austria. See also 3/5/1859.
14/1/1858, An Italian assassin threw a bomb at French Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie as they drove to the Paris Opera. The bomb, thrown by Felici Orsini, missed its target but killed eight bystanders and injured 100. Orsini planned the attack in London, causing anti-British sentiment in France. Napoleon III, now convinced of the magnitude of nationalist sentiment in Italy, invited Count Cavour to the spa town of Plombieres in the Vosges Mountains where the Plombieres Agreement of July 1858 was worked out. This Agreement provided that Piedmont would provide 100,000 men along with 200,000 French to fight Austria. After victory against Austria, three kingdoms would be set up in Italy. Northern Italy would include Lombardy, Romagna, Sardinia and Venetia. Central Italy would include Tuscany and the Duchy of Parma; the Papal lands however would continue under the rule of the Pope. Thirdly, southern Italy, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, would be ruled by Luciano Murat, if its current ruler, Ferdinand II, abdicated. A secret agreement of 24/1/1859 between France and Piedmont provided that both would respect the sovereignty of the Pope.
11/11/1854, Mussolini’s father, Alessandro, was born in Montemaggiore, close to Predappio.
23/3/1849, Victor Emmanuel II became King of Sardinia, on the abdication of his father, Charles Albert (1789-1849), following the defeat of Charles at the Battle of Novara, against Austria. Charles had been assisting the Lombards in a rebellion against Austrian rule, and had been defeated once before by Austria, at the Battle of Custozza (25/7/1848), by forces under Radetzky (following this 1848 defeat, the Salasco Armistice was signed).
9/2/1849, The Republic of Rome was proclaimed.
26/8/1848. Garibaldi was defeated by the Austrians at Morrazone.
13/4/1848.Sicily declared itself independent from Naples.
18/3/1848, Revolution broke out in Milan.
1847, In the Papal states, the National Guard was set up to keep civil order, by Pope Pius IX.
14/3/1844, Umberto I, King of Italy, was born in Turin, the son of King Victor Emmanuel I.
28/8/1834, Mussolini’s paternal grandfather, Luigi Mussolini, was born.
4/1/1825, Ferdinand I, King if the Two Sicilies, died aged 73. He was succeeded 47-year old son, Francesco I.
14/3/1820, Victor Emmanuel II, King of Sardinia and first King of a united Italy, was born.
13/10/1815, Joachim Murat, King of the Two Sicilies, was executed.
Murat – see also Napoleonic France
28/9/1815, Joachim Murat, former King of Naples, landed with only 30 men at Pizzon to try and regain the throne. He was soon captured.
10/8/1810, Count Cavour, Italian politician who played a major role in the unification of Italy, born in Turin.
4/7/1807, Giuseppe Garibaldi, soldier who played a major role in the unification of Italy, was born.
1802, Ludovico Manin, last Doge of Venice (born 1726), died. He was elected as Doge in March 1789. He both antagonised the French by allowing sanctuary to those fleeing it, and refused to join the league of Italian states proposed by Victor Amadeus III to counter French ambitions. The French forced the Republic of Venice to capitulate in 1797 with overwhelming military force.
For Napoleonic campaign in Italy, 1800s, see France
4/6/1798. Casanova, Italian adventurer, lover, and romancer, died at his Castle of Waldstein, Bohemia.
25/3/1767, Joachim Murat, king of Naples, was born.
1739, Archeological excavations began at Herculaneum, near the town of Pompeii buried by an eruption of Vesuvius. Excavation of Pompeii itself began in 1748.
19/9/1734, The Battle of Luzzara.
29/6/1734, The Battle of Parma.
25/5/1734, The Battle of Bitonto.
2/4/1725. Giovanni Casanova, Italian adventurer, gambler, secret agent, and ‘world’s greatest lover’, was born in Venice.
See also Spain-Portugal, 1700-1718, for events related to the War of the Spanish Succession
17/11/1617, A naval battle between Sicily and Venice ended inconclusively.
12/12/1602, Duke Charles Emmanuel attempted to take the city of Geneva by surprise, for the Kingdom of Savoy. He failed with heavy losses.
18/2/1564. Michelangelo Buonarotti died in Rome, aged 89.
10/8/1557, The Battle of St Quentin. Spanish forces under the Duke of Savoy defeated the French under the Constable of Montmorency. The French were driven out of Italy.
2/8/1553, Battle of Marciano. A French army invading Tuscany was defeated.
15/4/1542, Leonardo da Vinci was born. His father, Piero da Vinci, was a notary and his mother, Caterina da Vinci, was a peasant
6/1/1537, Alessandro de Medici was assassinated
24/10/1535, Francesco Sforza II, Duke of Milan, died aged 45 without a successor. Milan became a suzerainty of Charles V.
26/10/1530, The Knights of Malta were formed when the Knights Hospitaller were given Malta by Charles V.
23/2/1530, Carlos I of Spain was crowned Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Italy by Pope Clement V.
22/6/1527. Nicolo Macchiavelli died in Florence, Italy, aged 58.
6/5/1527, German mercenaries sacked the city of Rome, an event considered by many to mark the end of the Renaissance. This occurred during warfare between the Holy League and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.
24/7/1526, The Spanish captured Milan.
24/2/1525. The Battle of Pavia. Pavia, held by the French, had been under siege by Spanish forces since October 1524. Italy itself was a territory being fought over by the rival powers of France, Germany, Turkey and Spain. The French under King Charles VIII defended Pavia with cavalry and cannon, but the Spanish had adopted the arquebus or hackenbushe, an early version of the handgun; this weapon replaced the Spanish crossbow. The arquebus meant an unskilled infantryman could kill a skilled knight and Pavia was the start of the dominance of the handgun as a military weapon.
24/6/1519, Lucrezia Borgia, Italian noblewoman from a corrupt family, illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VII, died.
2/4/1512, At the Battle of Ravenna, French forces defeated a Spanish – Papal army.
29/4/1507, Louis XII, King of France, led his troops into Genoa.
29/12/1503, At the Battle of Garigliano, near Gaeta, Italy, Spanish forces under Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba defeated a French-Italian mercenary army under Ludovico II, Marquis of Saluzzo. French forces withdrew to Gaeta.
13/5/1503, The Spanish captured Naples.
7/9/1496, Ferdinand II, King of Naples, died.
18/12/1495, Alfonso II, King of Naples, died.
6/7/1495, At the Battle of Fornovo, the French Army secured its retreat from Italy by defeating a combined Milanese-Venetian force under Giobvanni Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua.
28/6/1495, At the Battle of Seminara, Cordoba and Ferrante were defeated by a French army under Bernard Stewart, Lord of Aubigny.
26/5/1495, A Spanish army under Gonzalo de Cordoba landed in Calabria, to oust the French and restore Ferrante II to the throne of Naples.
22/2/1495, King Charles VIII of France entered Naples to claim the city’s throne. A few months later he returned to France with most of his army, leaving a force under his cousin, Gilbert Count of Montpensier as viceroy.
8/4/1492. Lorenzo de Medici, patron of learning and the arts, died aged 43, after a 23 year reign of cultural enlightenment.
14/4/1489, The Queen of Cyprus, Catherine Cornaro, sold her kingdom to Venice.
10/9/1481, Alphonso II of Naples recaptured the city of Otranto.
18/4/1480, Lucrezia Borgia, Italian noblewoman, illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Borgia (later Pope Alexander VI) was born in Rome.
3/5/1469. Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian statesman and historian, was born in Florence.
7/10/1468, Sigismondo Malatesta, tyrant and soldier, died.
1//8/1464, Cosimo de Medici died aged 75 in Florence. He was succeeded as head of the banking family by his son, Piero.
1457, Death of Francesco Foscari, Doge of Venice from 1423. He pursued an aggressive policy on the Italian mainland, gaining territories for the Republic of Venice. However his rule was too nepotistic and despotic for the citizens of Venice, who deposed him in 1457, shortly before his death from grief.
9/4/1454. Three rival Italian powers – Venice, Milan, and Florence – agreed to unite in an ‘Italian league’. Rome and Milan also seemed likely to join.
11/2/1435, Joanna II, Queen of Naples, died.
7/8/1409, The Council of Pisa was dissolved.
8/10/1354, Cola di Rienzi, reformer, was murdered.
1339, Venice conquered Treviso, gaining its first mainland possession.
1299, Construction of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, began (completed 1301)
11/9/1298, The Governing Body of Venice, the Great Council, accepted a further amendment (see 5/10/1286) that entrenched the position of the existing ruling families.
1291, Venice moved its glass ovens to the island of Murano, initially to limit the risk of fire to the city. However this also facilitated restrictions on the movement of glass-makers, who were forbidden under strict penalties to jeopardise Venice’s monopoly in fine glassware by taking their secrets abroad.
5/10/1286, The Governing Body of Venice, the Great Council, accepted an amendment that effectively confirmed membership amongst the families of existing families (an earlier proposed amendment on 3/10/1286 had failed). The governance of Venice began to become more exclusive and autocratic, see 11/9/1298.
28/11/1284, Florence began to extend its city walls. The first stone of the new walls was blessed this day.
31/3/1282, The French were massacred in Sicily (Sicilian Vespers). The Sicilians resented Angevin rule.
30/3/1282. Peter III of Aragon opened hostilities against Charles of Anjou for possession of Naples and Sicily. This war was ended by the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302.
26/2/1266, Manfred, King of Sicily, killed in the Battle of Benevento.
4/9/1260, The Battle of Montaperti.
2/12/1254, The Battle of Foggia.
1194, Norman rule in Sicily ended with the death of King Tancred of Lecce, son of Roger III, who had seized the throne of Sicily in 1189 when William II died. Tancred was succeeded by his youngest son, William III. However 8 months later Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, husband of Roger III’s daughter Constance, invaded sicily and was crowned in Palermon Cathedral on 25/12/1194. On 26/12/1194 Constance gave birth to the future Frederick II.
24/7/1177, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa effected a reconciliation with Pope Alexander III at Venice.
29/5/1176, The Battle of Legnano; Italian city-states gained autonomy from the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. The Lombard League of Italian towns, supported by Pope Alexander III, objected to Barbarossa’s interference in their internal affairs. Barbarossa had laid waste to Milan, but was defeated at Legnano, north-west of Milan, and admitted defeat.
8/8/1173, The construction of what is now known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa began.
27/4/1167, Italians from the cities of Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Mantua, Treviso and Verona arrived at the ruins of Milan to rebuild it. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had imposed a non-native ruler, or Podesta, upon it, as he had upon other Italian cities he controlled, following the surrender of Milan to him after his siege of it in 1158. The taxes imposed upon Milan by the Podesta were heavy and they revolted. In 1162 Frederick returned to Milan and this time razed it to the ground, dispersing its inhabitants into the countryside. Although Frederick went on to capture Rome in 1167, his army was decimated by malaria and he had to return to Germany for reinforcements. Facing domestic issues in Germany he could not return south and deal with this act of defiance in rebuilding Milan. He was unable to re-enter Italy until 1174, by which time the Lombard League had consolidated and gained control of the central and eastern Alpine passes. In 1168 the Lombards founded a new city, called Alessandria in honour of Pope Alexander II, to defend the western frontier. Alessandria withstood a 6-month siege by Frederick (1174-5) and on 29/5/1176 Frederick was decisively defeated at Legnano.
26/2/1154. (-) King Roger II of Sicily died and was succeeded by his son William the Bald.
25/12/1130, The Norman King Roger II was crowned King of Sicily in Palermo Cathedral by the anti-Pope Anacletus, who thereby gained a powerful supporter for his claim on the Papacy against the Pope Innocent II.
1101, Roger I of Sicily died. He had finally subdued the whole of Sicily, taking the town of Enna from the Muslims in 1087 and expelling the Muslims from SE Sicily in 1091. Roger I was succeeded by his eldest son, Simon; however Simon died in 1105 and was succeeded by his younger brother, Roger II.
1094, First record of gondolas in Venice.
10/1/1072, The Normans conquered Palermo, Sicily.
16/4/1071. The Norman, Robert Guiscard, took Bari after a three year siege. This ended Byzantine rule in Italy, which had lasted five centuries. On 10/1/1072 Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger took Palermo in Sicily.
1059, Pope Nicholas II invested the Norman leader, Robery Guiscard, with the Dukedoms of Apulia, Catalonia and Sicily. The Papacy had initially been opposed to the growth of Norman power in southern Italy, but a Norman victory at Civitato in 1053 forced the Popes to reconsider.
1016, The Normans were ‘invited’ to help liberate southern Italy from Byzantine rule.
1/8/902. The Arabs captured Taormina, which completed their conquest of Sicily from Byzantium.
878, Taormina, Sicily, fell to the Saracens.
869, The Arabs captured Malta.
10/8/843, The Treaty of Verdun divided the Holy Roman Empire into three equal shares The imperial crown and central portion from Frisia to Italy went to Lothair. Louis the German received Germany, and Charles the Bald, son of Pepin, received France.
5/5/840, One of the sons of Charlemagne, Emperor Louis of Bavaria, died of fright during a solar eclipse. His other sons quarrelled, causing the division of his empire into France, Germany, and Italy, see 843.
831, Palermo, Sicily, fell to the Saracens.
740, The Saracen invasions of Sicily began.
607, Venice elected its first Doge, and began its rise to become a major power in the Mediterranean. The fish and salt trade, and Venice’s central location, helped it become very wealthy.
1/4/568. King Albion of the Lombards (King since 565, died 573), a Germanic tribe, assembled an army that included his allies, 20,000 Saxons, in order to cross the Alps and form a settlement in Italy. The Lombards may have been invited to attack Italy by the Byzantine General Narses. Milan was occupied by the Lombards on 4/9/569 and Lombard rule established in northern Italy.
552, King Totila, Ostrogoth, killed fighting Byzantium (King Narses) at the Battle of Taginae. In 553 Narses again took Roma and Naples for Byzantium.
550, The Ostrogoth King Totila reconquered Rome.
540, The Ostroghtic King Totila took Italy from Byzantium.
534, Malta taken by Byzantium (who held it until 870).
2/10/534. Death of Athalaric, King of the Ostrogoths in Italy. Grandson of Theodoric, he was born in 516 and became King in 526; aged ten, his mother Amalasuntha held the Regency.
15/3/493, Odoacer was killed by Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths.
26/2/493, Ravenna capitulated to Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths.
30/9/489, Theodoric conquered Verona.
452, Venice had become a thriving merchant city, founded by refugees from the Huns invading Italy.
25/3/421, Venice was founded at twelve o'clock noon (according to legend) with the dedication of the first church, San Giacomo, on the islet of Rialto (Italy).
401, The Visigoths invaded Italy.
3/9/301, The republic of San Marino was established (traditional date).
See also Roman Empire