March on Rome

March on Rome

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The March on Rome was a march by which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 National Fascist Party
National Fascist Party
The National Fascist Party was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism...

 (Partito Nazionale Fascista, or PNF) came to power in the Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 (Regno d'Italia). The march took place from October 22 to October 29, 1922.

Context


In March 1919, Benito Mussolini founded the first "Italian Combat League" (Fasci Italiani di Combattimento
Fasci Italiani di Combattimento
The Fasci Italiani di Combattimento were an Italian fascio organization, created by Benito Mussolini in 1919. After World War I had ended, he reconstituted the Milan fascio, renaming it Fasci Italiani di Combattimento. In 1921, this fascio would be transformed into the Partito Nazionale Fascista,...

) at the beginning of the "two red years" (biennio rosso
Biennio rosso
The Biennio Rosso was a two year period, between 1919 and 1920, of intense social conflict in Italy. The Biennio Rosso was followed by the extremely violent reaction of the Fascist blackshirts militia and eventually by the March on Rome of Benito Mussolini in 1922...

). He suffered a defeat in the election of November 1919
Italian general election, 1919
The Italian general election of 1919, the first after World War I and the electoral reform that introduced proportional representation, took place on 16 November 1919....

. But, by the election of 1921
Italian general election, 1921
The Italian general election of 1921 took place on 15 May 1921.The Liberal governing coalition, strengthened by the joining of Fascist candidates in the "National Blocs" , came short of a majority...

, Mussolini gained entrance to Parliament.

Out of his "Fascist" party the "Blackshirts
Blackshirts
The Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy during the period immediately following World War I and until the end of World War II...

" (Squadristi) were formed. In August 1920, the Blackshirts were used to break the general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 which had started at the Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A. is an Italian manufacturer of cars. Founded as A.L.F.A. on June 24, 1910, in Milan, the company has been involved in car racing since 1911, and has a reputation for building expensive sports cars...

 factory
Factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...

 in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. In November 1920, after the assassination of Giordana (a right-wing municipal counsellor in Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

), the Blackshirts were used as a repression tool by the state to crush the socialist movement (which included a strong anarcho-syndicalist component), especially in the Po Valley
Po River
The Po |Ligurian]]: Bodincus or Bodencus) is a river that flows either or – considering the length of the Maira, a right bank tributary – eastward across northern Italy, from a spring seeping from a stony hillside at Pian del Re, a flat place at the head of the Val Po under the northwest face...

.

Trade unions were dissolved while left-wing mayors resigned. The fascists, included on Giovanni Giolitti
Giovanni Giolitti
Giovanni Giolitti was an Italian statesman. He was the 19th, 25th, 29th, 32nd and 37th Prime Minister of Italy between 1892 and 1921. A left-wing liberal, Giolitti's periods in office were notable for the passage of a wide range of progressive social reforms which improved the living standards of...

's "National Union" lists at the May 1921 elections, then won 36 seats. Mussolini then withdrew his support to Giolitti and attempted to work out a temporary truce with the socialists
Italian Socialist Party
The Italian Socialist Party was a socialist and later social-democratic political party in Italy founded in Genoa in 1892.Once the dominant leftist party in Italy, it was eclipsed in status by the Italian Communist Party following World War II...

 by signing a "Pacification Pact" in summer 1921. This provoked a conflict with the most fanatical part of the movement, the "Squadristi
Blackshirts
The Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy during the period immediately following World War I and until the end of World War II...

" and their leaders the "Ras
Ethiopian aristocratic and court titles
Until the end of the monarchy in 1974, there were two categories of nobility in Ethiopia: the Mesafint or princes, hereditary nobles, formed the upper echelon of the ruling class; while the Mekwanint were the appointed nobles, often of humble birth, who formed the bulk of the nobility...

." In July 1921, Giolitti attempted without success to dissolve the squadristi. The contract with the socialists was then broken at its turn in November 1921, Mussolini adopted a nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 program and founded the National Fascist Party
National Fascist Party
The National Fascist Party was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism...

, which boasted 700,000 members in July 1922. In August, an anti-fascist
Anti-fascism
Anti-fascism is the opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals, such as that of the resistance movements during World War II. The related term antifa derives from Antifaschismus, which is German for anti-fascism; it refers to individuals and groups on the left of the political...

 general strike was triggered, but failed to rally the Italian People's Party (Partito Popolare Italiano
Italian People's Party (1919–1926)
The Italian People's Party was a Christian-democratic political party in Italy.It was founded in 1919 by Luigi Sturzo, a Catholic priest. The PPI was backed by Pope Benedict XV to oppose the Italian Socialist Party...

) and was repressed by the fascists. A few days before the march, Mussolini consulted with the U.S. Ambassador Richard Washburn Child
Richard Washburn Child
Richard Washburn Child was an American author and diplomat.-Early life and career:Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Child went to Harvard University and Law School where he graduated in 1906 to become a business lawyer...

, whether the U.S. government would object to a Fascist participation in a future Italian government. Child encouraged him to go ahead. When Mussolini learned that Prime Minister Luigi Facta
Luigi Facta
Luigi Facta was an Italian politician, journalist and last Prime Minister of Italy before the leadership of Benito Mussolini....

 had given Gabriele d'Annunzio
Gabriele D'Annunzio
Gabriele D'Annunzio or d'Annunzio was an Italian poet, journalist, novelist, and dramatist...

 the mission to organize a large demonstration on November 4, 1922 to celebrate the national victory during the war, he decided on the March to accelerate the process and sidestep any possible competition.

March



The quadrumvirs
Quadrumvirs
The quadrumvirs were a group of four leaders that led Benito Mussolini's March on Rome in October 1922. They were all actively involved in the Fascist party under Mussolini and had been actively been involved in politics and/or war for many years leading up to the Fascist dictatorship.- Members...

leading the Fascist Party, General Emilio De Bono
Emilio De Bono
Emilio De Bono was an Italian General, fascist activist, Marshal, and member of the Fascist Grand Council . De Bono fought in the Italo-Turkish War, World War I, and the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.-Early life:De Bono was born in Cassano d'Adda...

, Italo Balbo
Italo Balbo
Italo Balbo was an Italian Blackshirt leader who served as Italy's Marshal of the Air Force , Governor-General of Libya, Commander-in-Chief of Italian North Africa , and the "heir apparent" to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.After serving in...

 (one of the most famous ras), Michele Bianchi
Michele Bianchi
Michele Bianchi was an Italian revolutionary syndicalist leader. He was among the founding members of the Fascist movement. He was widely seen as the dominant leader of the leftist, syndicalist wing of the National Fascist Party, and one of the most influential politicians of the regime before his...

 and Cesare Maria de Vecchi
Cesare Maria De Vecchi
Cesare Maria De Vecchi, 1st Conte di Val Cismon was an Italian soldier, colonial administrator and Fascist politician.-Biography:...

, organized the March while the Duce
Duce
Duce is an Italian title, derived from the Latin word dux, and cognate with duke. National Fascist Party leader Benito Mussolini was identified by Fascists as Il Duce of the movement and became a reference to the dictator position of Head of Government and Duce of Fascism of Italy was established...

stayed behind for most of the march, though he allowed pictures to be taken of him marching along with the Fascist marchers. Generals Gustavo Fara and Sante Ceccherini assisted to the preparations of the March of October 18. Others militaries who organized the march included the Marquis Dino Perrone Compagni
Dino Perrone Compagni
Marquis Dino Perrone Compagni was a leading figure in the early years of Italian fascism....

 and Ulisse Igliori.

On October 24, 1922, Mussolini declared before 60,000 people at the Fascist Congress in Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

: "Our program is simple: we want to rule Italy." Meanwhile, the Blackshirts
Blackshirts
The Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy during the period immediately following World War I and until the end of World War II...

, who had occupied the Po plain, took all strategic points of the country. On October 26, former prime minister Antonio Salandra
Antonio Salandra
Antonio Salandra was a conservative Italian politician who served as the 33rd Prime Minister of Italy between 1914 and 1916...

 warned current Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 Luigi Facta
Luigi Facta
Luigi Facta was an Italian politician, journalist and last Prime Minister of Italy before the leadership of Benito Mussolini....

 that Mussolini was demanding his resignation and that he was preparing to march on Rome. However, Facta did not believe Salandra and thought that Mussolini would govern quietly at his side. To meet the threat posed by the bands of fascist troops now gathering outside Rome, Luigi Facta (who had resigned but continued to hold power) ordered a state of siege
State of Siege
State of Siege is a 1972 French film directed by Costa Gavras starring Yves Montand and Renato Salvatori.-Summary:...

 for Rome. However, King Victor Emmanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III of Italy
Victor Emmanuel III was a member of the House of Savoy and King of Italy . In addition, he claimed the crowns of Ethiopia and Albania and claimed the titles Emperor of Ethiopia and King of Albania , which were unrecognised by the Great Powers...

 refused to sign the military order. On October 28, the King handed power to Mussolini, who was supported by the military, the business class, and the right-wing.

The march itself was composed of fewer than 30,000 men, but the king in part feared a civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 since the squadristi had already taken control of the Po plain and most of the country, while Fascism was no longer seen as a threat to the establishment. Mussolini was asked to form his cabinet on October 29, 1922, while some 25,000 Blackshirts were parading in Rome. Mussolini thus legally reached power, in accordance with the Statuto Albertino
Statuto Albertino
The Statuto Albertino or Albertine Statute was the constitution that King Charles Albert conceded to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in Italy on 4 March 1848...

, the Italian Constitution. The March on Rome was not the conquest of power which Fascism
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

 later celebrated but rather the precipitating force behind a transfer of power within the framework of the constitution. This transition was made possible by the surrender of public authorities in the face of fascist intimidation. Many business and financial leaders believed it would be possible to manipulate Mussolini, whose early speeches and policies emphasized free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 and laissez faire economics. This proved overly optimistic, as Mussolini's corporatist view stressed total state power over businesses as much as over individuals, via governing industry bodies ("corporations") controlled by the Fascist party, a model in which businesses retained the responsibilities of property, but few if any of the freedoms.

Mussolini pretended to be willing to take a subalternate ministry in a Giolitti or Salandra
Antonio Salandra
Antonio Salandra was a conservative Italian politician who served as the 33rd Prime Minister of Italy between 1914 and 1916...

 cabinet, but then demanded the presidency of the Council. Fearing a conflict with the fascists, the ruling class thus handed power to Mussolini, who went on to install the dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

 after the June 10, 1924 assassination of Giacomo Matteotti
Giacomo Matteotti
Giacomo Matteotti was an Italian socialist politician. On 30 May 1924, he openly spoke in the Italian Parliament alleging the Fascists committed fraud in the recently held elections, and denounced the violence they used to gain votes...

 - who had finished writing The Fascist Exposed: A Year of Fascist Domination - executed by Amerigo Dumini
Amerigo Dumini
Amerigo Dumini was an American-born Italian fascist activist who led the group responsible for the 1924 assassination of United Socialist Party leader Giacomo Matteotti.-Biography:Born in St...

, leader of the Ceka, the secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 agency
Agency
Agency may refer to:* Agency * Agency , refers to a person who acts on behalf of another person.* Agency * Agency , the ability of social actors to make independent choices....

 precursor to the OVRA
OVRA
The Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell'Antifascismo was the secret police of the Kingdom of Italy, founded in 1927 under the regime of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and during the reign of King Victor Emmanuel III. The German Gestapo were the equivalent of the OVRA...

.

Other participants

  • Giacomo Acerbo
    Giacomo Acerbo
    Giacomo Acerbo, Baron of Aterno was an Italian economist and Fascist politician that drafted the Acerbo Law which solidified Benito Mussolini's position once in power.-Early life:...

  • Roberto Farinacci
    Roberto Farinacci
    Roberto Farinacci was a leading Italian Fascist politician, and important member of the National Fascist Party before and during World War II, and one of its ardent anti-Semitic proponents.-Early life:...

  • Giovanni Giuriati
    Giovanni Giuriati
    Giovanni Giuriati was an Italian Fascist politician.-Biography:Giuriati was born in Venice.A law graduate and lawyer, he associated in 1903 with the irredentist group Trento e Trieste , and soon became its president...

  • Serafino Mazzolini
    Serafino Mazzolini
    Serafino Mazzolini was an Italian lawyer, fascist politician, and journalist.Mazzolini was born in Arcevia, in the Marche. He founded a nationalist group in Macerata, and soon became editor of the daily newspaper L'Unione...

  • Ettore Muti
    Ettore Muti
    Ettore Muti was an Italian aviator and Fascist politician. He was Party Secretary of the National Fascist Party from October 1939 until shortly after the entry of Italy into World War II on June 10, 1940.-World War I and Fiume:Born in Ravenna, Romagna, Muti was banned from any school in the...

  • Alessandro Pavolini
    Alessandro Pavolini
    Alessandro Pavolini was an Italian politician, journalist, and essayist, notable for his involvement in the Fascist government during World War II and also for his cruelty against the opponents of fascism....

  • Carlo Scorza
    Carlo Scorza
    Carlo Scorza was a prominent member of the National Fascist Party of Italy during World War II. He built his reputation in the Fascist paramilitary group known as the Blackshirts, and later rose to the position of party secretary, second only to Benito Mussolini in authority over the wartime...

  • Achille Starace
    Achille Starace
    Achille Starace was a prominent leader of Fascist Italy prior to and during World War II.-Early life and career:Starace was born in Gallipoli in southern Italy near Lecce. He was son of a wine and oil merchant....


See also

  • Fascist and anti-Fascist violence in Italy (1919–26)
    Fascist and anti-Fascist violence in Italy (1919–26)
    Italy witnessed significant widespread civil unrest and political strife in the aftermath of World War I and the rise of the Fascist movement led by Benito Mussolini which opposed the rise of the international left, especially the far-left along with others who opposed Fascism. Fascists and...

  • March of the Iron Will
    March of the Iron Will
    The March of the Iron Will , or the Iron-Will Column , was a Fascist propaganda event staged during the final days of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia...


External links