WHAT WERE THE KEY PROBLEM FACING ITALY IN THE EARLY PART OF THE 20TH CENTURY

WHAT WERE THE KEY PROBLEM FACING ITALY IN THE EARLY PART OF THE 20TH CENTURY

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As you can probably tell, I am not going in any particular order with my revision, which I should probably do but I have mocks and stuff so….

This section will cover the 1st part of the question: 

WHAT WERE THE KEY PROBLEM FACING ITALY IN THE EARLY PART OF THE 20TH CENTURY:

1. Unification:

  • Having only become fully unified in 1870, political leaders struggled to create a national identity and shared patriotism as people were used to identifying as part of their town or region as  Italy had been fragmented politically, economically and culturally since the Middle Ages causing campanilismo
  • 99% of Italians spoke regional dialects only understandable in their region. ‘Italian’ was the Florence dialect – only people from Florence and educated classes could understand. King Victor Emmanuel II = Piedmont dialect. Risorgimento – ‘Resurgence/Rebirth’ to reunite Italy under one ruler.
  • Political and Economical turmoil (particularly Anarchism) threatened to separate the nation. 

2. Italy’s Political System:

  • Protests – In May 1989 against the political system and growing economic problems – met with brutal Government crackdown killing 100 in Milan. In 1900 July 29, King Umberto I was assassinated by an anarchist who wanted to avenge the deaths. 
  • Politicians – Mainly Northern, middle class and represented own ideas at the expense of the population, same liberal ideologies. 
  • Political development hindered by Catholics – Angered by Roman Question; refused to accept Italian state; Pope Leo XIII forbade the Catholics from participating politically; Politicians feared challenging the church as it would further alienate the population (predominately Catholic). Stopped the formation of a National party with Catholic values = no parliamentary challenge.
  • Limited Suffrage – less than 25% of men had the vote. Population majority were disenfranchised and illiterate. 
  • Frequent government change – Governments were formed by prominent politicians offering positions as deputies to other parliament members = frequent changes in government when deputies were offered a better position.
  • Division –  Legislation rarely improved lives of population, population considered politically uneducated, protest met with violent repression – this elite attitude emphasized divide between ‘real Italy’ and ‘legal Italy’. The inability to voice anger led to support for extremist revolutionary ideologies i.e anarchism. 

3. Economic growth and Social Problem:

  • Industrialization: Accentuated serious problems. 
  • Economic – 1899-1914, Italy expanded both economically and industrially (focused in North), industries such as chemical, mechanical, electrical, iron, steel and car grew significantly (car= great success). Industrialization increased agricultural production.
  • Social – living standard remained low. Unemployment, food shortages, high taxes and protests about them were common across Italy. 
  • North/South Divide – Wealthy North/impoverished South – greatest barrier of Unification. 

4. North-South Divide – Questione Meridionale – Southern Question”

  • Economic – Southern Intellectuals called for economic investment but by 1911 situation worsened with economic focus on Northern Cities (industrial triangle – Milan, Turin, Genoa), the south became agriculturally stagnated. In 1911, census showed half of Italy’s 2.2 million industrial workers were employed in Northern provinces of the Industrial triangle and income per head was twice in the north than in the south.
  • Social – Italy’s politicians ignored the major issues – impoverished, suffered from poor diet, malnutrition, high infant mortality,  lack of clean drinking water, tuberculosis and malaria. (1910-11, 25,000 died from Cholera epidemic). More than 50% = illiterate.
  • Attempts to ‘solve’ Questione Meridionale – failed to make any noticeable improvements to living standards through policies such as encouraging southern industrial investment. Only way to alleviate pressure was emigration and millions of Italians immigrated to mainly America (240,000 between 1901-1913 (20, 000 per year)) – helped lessen economic strain, did not deal with the long term issues and became reliant on other countries.  

(was going to leave it here but I only have one point left so sorry for the long post but here is our last point!)

5. Least of Europe’s great powers: 

  • Behind  – Italy’s industrial development was behind Britain and Germany. 
  • Foreign Policy – Focus on Irredentism and reclamation of South Tyrol and Istria (high Italian speaking population) from Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy did not have the military or diplomatic means to do this o it looked to African colonization. First focused on Tunisia but the French  (diplomatically supported by UK) invaded 1881 (angered Government) resulting in the signing of the defensive alliance with Austria and Germany “Triple Alliance” (angered Italians, Austria = traditional enemy).
  • Geographical Disadvantage – Britain and France navies dominated Mediterranean. 
  • British Support – Britain agreed to the Italian expansion into Abyssinia in 1884 but attempts failed (Battle of Dogali – forces where defeated by Ethiopian army and 500 Italians died). Further attempts 1894 and on-wards (Battle of Adwa, March 1 1896, 5000 killed, thousands injured from the Abyssinia’s army). Prime Minister Francesco Crispi hoped colonization would unite Italians with patriotic pride but instead humiliation accentuated growing anger political system and was a catalyst for mass protest and riots. 

Whoooooooooa…. that was a lot! Sorry for the information bomb… 

There are a lot of Key Terms which I have done in bold, I will do a separate post with all these key terms and full explanations which I have hyperlinked here as well as on the words 🙂

Best Wishes, 

HistoryA2 xoxo

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