Antonio Salandra

Antonio Salandra

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Antonio Salandra was born in Italy in 1853. He was professor of administrative science at Rome before entering parliament. On the resignation of Giovanni Giolitti in March 1914, Salandra became prime minister of Italy. On the outbreak of the First World War, Salandra declared that Italy was going to remain neutral.

At a secret meeting held in England on 26th April 1915, representatives of the Italian government agreed to enter the war in return for financial help and the granting of land currently under the control of Austria-Hungary. The Treaty of London resulted in Britain granting an immediate loan of £50 million and a promise to support Italian territorial demands after the war.

Lack of military success made Salandra an unpopular war leader and in June 1916 was replaced by Vittorio Orlando as prime minister.

Salandra was a delegate at the Paris Peace Conference and later represented Italy at the League of Nations.

Antonio Salandra died in 1931.

World War I and fascism

On Giolitti’s resignation in March 1914, the more conservative Antonio Salandra formed a new government. In June, “ Red Week,” a period of widespread rioting throughout the Romagna and the Marche, came in response to the killing of three antimilitarist demonstrators at Ancona. When World War I broke out in August, the Salandra government stayed neutral and began to negotiate with both sides—a policy that Foreign Minister Sidney Sonnino described as “sacred egoism.” The Austrians eventually agreed to grant Trentino to Italy in exchange for an alliance, but the Triple Entente (France, Britain, and Russia) made a more generous offer, promising Italy not only Trentino but also South Tirol, Trieste, Gorizia, Istria, and northern Dalmatia. The Italians accepted this offer in the secret Treaty of London (April 1915) and joined the war against Austria-Hungary a month later, hoping for major territorial gains.

The negotiations, conducted by the foreign and prime ministers and a handful of diplomats, had been kept secret. The majority of deputies, meanwhile, favoured neutrality, as did former prime minister Giolitti, the major opposition groups (Catholics and Socialists), and most of the population. War therefore was supported only by the conservatives in government, by the Nationalist Association, a group formed in 1910 by Enrico Corradini and others to support Italian expansionism, by some Liberals who saw it as the culmination of the Risorgimento’s fight for national unity, by Republicans and reformist Socialists who knew nothing of the Treaty of London and thought they were fighting for national liberation, and by some syndicalists and extremist Socialists—including Benito Mussolini, then editor of the Socialist Party newspaper—who thought the war would bring about the overthrow of capitalism. Mussolini was soon expelled from the Socialist Party, but with help from the Triple Entente he managed to found his own alternative, pro-war newspaper, Il Popolo d’Italia (“The People of Italy”). Futurists and nationalists (including Gabriele D’Annunzio) agitated for intervention. In April–May 1915 the government, helped by a series of noisy demonstrations by pro-war activists (the so-called “Radiant Days of May”), pushed through its war policy despite the opposition of the majority in parliament and in the country. Neither Giolitti nor any other “neutralist” could form a government without renouncing the Treaty of London, betraying Italy’s new allies, and compromising the king. The Salandra government officially declared war against Austria-Hungary on May 23 and entered combat the following day. Meanwhile, despite a series of defections to the nationalist cause, the Socialist Party expressed its official position in the slogan “Neither adherence, nor sabotage.” Unlike its sister parties in the Second International (an international meeting of trade unions and socialist parties), the PSI did not get behind the Italian war effort. The reformist Claudio Treves voiced the pacifist opinions of the movement in parliament in 1917, when he made a plea that the troops should not spend another winter in the trenches. Other Socialists took a more active role against the war and distributed antiwar propaganda or organized desertions. Many Catholics also failed to support Italy’s participation in the war, although others took an active part in the conflict. In August 1917 Pope Benedict XV called for an end to what he called a “useless slaughter.”

In June 1916, after a series of military failures, the Salandra government resigned. The new prime minister was Paolo Boselli, who in turn resigned after the momentous military disaster at Caporetto in October 1917, which enabled the Austrians to occupy much of the Veneto in 1917 and 1918. This single battle left 11,000 Italian soldiers dead, 29,000 injured, and 280,000 taken prisoner. Some 350,000 Italian soldiers deserted or went missing, and 400,000 people became refugees. Only a strong rearguard action in November and December prevented further Austrian advances.

Caporetto signified the end of the war for many Italians and encapsulated the disastrous leadership of General Luigi Cadorna, as well as the terrible conditions under which the war was being fought. In some mountain regions, far more soldiers died from cold and starvation than from actual fighting with the Austrians. The generals themselves tended to blame the defeat at Caporetto on poor morale and “defeatism.” Cadorna blamed “shirkers” and called Caporetto a “military strike.” (Caporetto had coincided with the Russian Revolution of 1917). Cadorna himself was replaced by General Armando Diaz in November. Nonetheless, the invasion of Italian territory helped consolidate the war effort on the home front, and thousands of support committees, often sustained by middle-class groups, were formed to “defend the nation.” Some Socialist deputies and intellectuals, such as Turati, rallied to the war effort as the threat to Italian territory became clearer. After the war, the wounds of the defeat in 1917 were reopened in the long Caporetto Inquest of 1918–19, which blamed the invasion largely on various top military leaders.

The war was deeply unpopular both among the troops—mostly conscripted peasants who were undernourished and fighting for a cause few could understand—and among the civilian population back home, which included almost one million workers in arms factories who were also subject to military discipline. Many rebelled within the army. (It has been estimated that some 470,000 conscripts resisted call-up, 310,000 committed acts of indiscipline under arms, and 300,000 deserted.) More than 1,000,000 soldiers came before military tribunals before a postwar amnesty was granted. Many once again saw the Italian state only as a repressive institution. Antiwar disturbances struck Milan in May 1917, and serious bread riots took place among the industrial workers of Turin in August 1917. Troops occupied Turin and took four days to restore order some 50 demonstrators and 10 soldiers were killed in the clashes.

After November 1917 a more liberal government under Vittorio Emanuele Orlando rallied the country to defend its frontiers. Diaz made welfare concessions to the troops and fought a far more defensive campaign until October 1918, when, in the closing stages of the war, the Italians won a final, decisive victory at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. In reality, Italy’s victory was as much the result of the internal collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany as of any radical transformation in the capacities and motivations of the Italian army.


Salandra, Antonio, Premier. (1853-1931).

Salandra, Antonio, born Troia, Foggia, August 13, 1853 died, Rome, December 9, 1931. Premier of Italy, March 1914 - June 1916.

Salandra was a political protégé of Baron Sidney Sonnino, leader of the traditional right in the Italian parliament at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Salandra served as Minister of Agriculture in the would-be dictatorship of General Luigi Pelloux, 1899-1900. Yet, by 1912, Salandra articulated a National Policy which distanced him somewhat from the traditional right and incorporated aspects of the neo-romantic new right, such as that of Enrico Corradini's Il regno group. Salandra now looked to utilizing an aggressive foreign policy and war in fusing the Italian people and eliminating internal divisions.

In March 1914, Salandra received his chance when the hegemonic parliamentary leader, Giovanni Giolitti, stepped down. By June Salandra had crushed Red Week insurrectionaries and rebels, and the outbreak of war in July and August afforded him the opportunity to pursue the military option. Initially, war was unthinkable for an unprepared Italy but, with the death of his giolittian foreign minister, the Marchese Antonio San Giuliano, in October, followed by the resignations of his ministers of war and the treasury, Salandra - in conjunction with Sonnino - formed an interventionist new cabinet.

Under Sonnino's direction, Italy negotiated the Pact of London with the Entente governments, which traded Italy's entry in the war for territorial gains in Istria (but not Fiume), the Trentino, Dalmatia, and elsewhere, and for British financial assistance in prosecuting the war. The financial aspects of the agreement betray the expectation of all concerned that Italian intervention would bring the war to a speedy conclusion. As it was, in the wake of the collapse of the Russian war effort - beginning in May 1915 - the Italian intervention probably saved the Entente from defeat for some time.

Salandra's wartime government assumed a strong anti-parliament cast and exercised a rigorous censorship. Its failure to declare war upon Germany (as opposed to Austria-Hungary) also cost it support, and the government fell in June 1916 by thirty-nine votes. Salandra was succeeded by Paolo Boselli, who had served in a Sonnino cabinet in 1906 and who formed a broader government coalition than Salandra's.

The post-war years found Salandra a supporter of Mussolini's fascist regime until 1925, when he formally broke with the regime.

Antonio Salandra, La Neutralita Italiana, 1914 (Milan: 1928)
L'Intervento, 1915: Ricordi e Pensieri (Milan: 1930)
Memorie Politische, 1916-1925 (Milan: 1951)

Italy’s role in World War One

World War I was a stage for many battles, big and small. Often overlooked or overshadowed by the more famous battles taught in the classroom, the fighting on the Italian Front proved to be very important for Italy’s reputation as a country and its inhabitants. It led to a significant loss of life, the absorption and reclamation of new territories, domestic unrest, and new alliances… for a while. Georgie Broad introduces World War One's Italian Front.

Italian Alpini troops in 1915. From the Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

Italy enters the war… But only just

In the years leading up to World War One, Italy had been allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary, a group more commonly and widely known as the “Triple Alliance”. Italy and Austria-Hungary had canonically be considered foes since 1832, and this tension showed in the August of 1914 when the Italian Government refused to enter the war alongside Austria-Hungary, and politicians began to consider the advantages of backing the Allies.

Many at the time, citizens and people in power alike, believed that Italy’s entering into the war at all was a bad move for the country. Even so, Italy as an entity was a relatively new nation state, becoming a unified country only after the

Place In the Sun: What If Italy Joined the Central Powers?

"There is a common good, mein Herren, there is a common good. Just think, would you rather cede land to Rome as the price for alliance, or cede land to the Russians as the price for survival?"
- attributed to Arthur von Zimmerman, February 1915

The Second Vienna Conference commenced on the thirteenth of February 1915. Just like a century before, diplomats from all over Europe congregated in the Habsburg capital. Just like a century before, bitterness and disagreement lay just an inch below the facade of an ostensible alliance. And, just like a century before, history was to be made here.

Ever since 1882, the Triple Alliance had linked the German Empire, its ramshackle Austro-Hungarian counterpart to the south, and the Kingdom of Italy. The young kingdom was looking for protection against France and support for its colonial ambitions, and Germany was all too happy to gain an ally for the next war with France they knew to be imminent. An attack on one, the treaty declared with one eye fixed on Paris, was an attack on all. Then, in 1914, the world went mad. The assassination of an Austrian archduke created a crisis that spiralled out of control, and by the first week in August, the world was at war. Yet, the Italians got cold feet at the last minute. A brief war with the Ottoman Empire had demonstrated the woeful inadequacy of their armed forces, and they had no desire to be forced to throw their men against France and Britain. Thus, as the world fell down in the summer of 1914, Italy opted out on a technicality- seeing as how Austria-Hungary had fired the first shots, not Serbia, Russia, or even France- they were not bound by treaty to enter the war.

The response from the Central Powers was predictable. Germany was deeply embarrassed that, while the British followed through on their treaty obligations to Belgium and entered the war, their own Italian ally pulled out. In Vienna and Budapest, the response was a dismissive sniff and a snide comment, usually to the tune of “well, what did you expect from a lot of Italians?”

Following the German defeat at the Marne, the war bogged down into stalemate and trenches. Frustration grew in Berlin as it became increasingly apparent that the war, far from being “over by Christmas”, would drag on into the indefinite future. France would not crack soon, while Austria-Hungary’s performance- losing Galicia to the Russians and failing to subdue tiny Serbia, the cause of this bloody war anyhow- was, to say the least, disappointing. Something else was needed if the Central Powers were to seize the initiative in 1915.

Despite sitting out the first months of the war, Italy was by no means intent on simply sitting back and watching the show- on the contrary. Italian prime minister Antonio Salandra pursued a policy of “sacro egoisimo”- or ‘sacred self-interest.’ To put it bluntly, this meant playing the Entente and the Central Powers to discern who would give Italy the best deal. For many, the Entente seemed like a more logical choice- Austria had tried for centuries to hold Italy down, while as mentioned above, war with Ottoman Turkey was a living memory. Besides, Rome coveted the largely ethnic Italian Trentino, Trieste, and Tyrol- all of which lay under Vienna’s yoke. Yet, there was an argument amongst many for siding with Berlin and Vienna. For a start, there was the obvious- Italy was still tied to the Central Powers by the Triple Alliance. If they backslid, and Germany won the war, well, that would leave them in a fine pickle. Beyond that, many Italian nationalists had historical grudges against France- who could forget Napoleon III’s occupation of the Papal States, or his illicit seizure of Savoy? Going back further, these same nationalists could point to Napoleon I’s subjugation of the peninsula to his every whim. Gradually, Antonio Salandra became more and more influenced by these voices, and began dropping hints that he was interested in drawing closer to the Central Powers- such as including a line in a speech of his that "as Trentino can be seen by some as a part of Greater Italy, so too can Savoy, and Nice."

Many an Italian politician and intellectual was left scratching his head in the last months of 1914.

Throughout December and January, telegrams and notes crossed from Rome to Berlin, and back again. None of it was official, but the message was quite clear. Berlin badly wanted Italy in on its side and would pay over the odds to get them. If the Italians would like to meet representatives of the Central Powers at some mutually agreeable location, the details could be hashed out more fully.

Which brings us back to the Second Vienna Conference.

The German Empire dispatched its seasoned diplomat Arthur Zimmermann, and Erich von Falkenhayn, Chief of Staff and arguably the man most in the driver’s seat regarding the strategy of the Central Powers. Naturally, the ambassador to Austria-Hungary was also present. Given that the conference was being held in its capital, the Austro-Hungarian Empire had a wide range of delegates. Just about everyone dropped in at some point or another- Falkenhayn’s Austrian counterpart Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Foreign Minister Count Stephan Burian von Rajecz, even old Emperor Franz Joseph himself occasionally. Italy sent its seasoned foreign minister Sidney Sonnino and General Luigi Cadorna. In addition to the principal figures, there were dozens of minor functionaries, secretaries, interpreters, and ministers from all three nations- to say nothing of the flood of journalists eager to pick up a quote or photograph. For almost a month, Vienna was filled with pomp and gaiety the likes of which hadn’t been seen since before the war. Balls and banquets became standard fare for all, and many a bottle of wine was consumed. Indeed, it was a good time to own a hotel or drive a cab in the imperial capital.

Beneath all the elaborate ceremony and celebration, things weren’t quite so rosy. The Italians proved surprisingly firm negotiators, much to the fury of the Austrians (many of whom felt like the Germans were forcing them to do this). In transcripts from meetings and notes from Prime Minister Salandra back in Rome, one can detect more than a little cynicism and opportunism. Italy’s position was simple- if you can give us more than France and Britain can, we’ll join you. If not, then… What they wanted was the territories of Trentino, Tyrol, and Trieste from Austria, plus Nice, Savoy, and Corsica from France. In the eyes of Italian nationalists like Salandra and Sonnino, this would finally complete the process of Risorgimento begun in 1861, thus creating a “Greater Italy.” Of course, this being the twentieth century, they also wanted a colonial empire to match the status they dreamed of. Since one of the planks of the Triple Alliance was nominal German support of Italian colonial ambitions. When the Italian ministers mentioned this with an irrepressible smile, the Germans all shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Of course, Germany had its own colonial ambitions, and there was no way on earth they were going to give up their Mittelafrikan dreams for Rome’s sake. Fortunately, there was surprisingly little conflict in terms of colonial claims, and Africa wasn’t a substantial sticking point for either side.

Austria-Hungary, however, was livid. The two German-speaking regimes might have been allies, but one couldn’t have guessed by listening to the late-night arguments between their representatives. Profanity and thinly veiled barbs flew back and forth between both sides on multiple occasions, and for much of the conference, the Austro-Hungarian and Italian delegates were hardly on speaking terms… even through an interpreter. This was all very frustrating to Berlin, which had a genuine strategic vision and a plan to win the war the only problem was that Vienna couldn’t dream of making the sacrifices it entailed. Many of these grey-whiskered men had been born in an Austrian Empire stretching into the mountains of Italy, an Austrian Empire where the Germans reigned supreme. Voluntarily ceding territory to a country that had only cobbled itself together fifty years ago- and wasn’t much of a country, as far as these Habsburg gentlemen were concerned- was a disgusting prospect. It didn’t matter that the Trentino was ethnically Italian, or that Italy had long had its eyes on the Trieste peninsula: for the Austro-Hungarians, ceding land to Italy was simply unacceptable. It was a point of pride- one of the few things the Habsburg regime possessed in abundance. Indeed, after the war, Austria-Hungary would continue to bear a grudge against Germany and Italy for "cheating" it out of land it considered theirs. the fact that it was a wartime expedient was forgotten. For a moment, it looked as though the conference might fall apart over the issues of Trentino and Trieste, with Italy sitting out the war or- oh, the horror!- casting its lot with the British and French.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Eventually, the obtuse Austrian diplomatic corps came round to seeing things Zimmermann's way. Through a combination of promises of rewards- such as Germany partially compensating Vienna for ceding the territory- and threats- such as raising the possibility of refusing to assist Austria-Hungary in its next attempt to conquer Serbia if they didn’t co-operate- Zimmermann and the Italians eventually got most of what they wanted- the Viennese absolutely refused to budge on the issue of South Tyrol, and the Italians reluctantly agreed to accept this. On the twenty-fourth of February 1915, the Tripartite Vienna Accords were signed by all three nations. The key points of the accord were as follows:

  • The Kingdom of Italy shall declare war upon the Entente three months from now that is, on the twenty-fourth of May.
  • The Austro-Hungarian Empire is to void all claim to Trentino and Istria. Austro-Hungarian forces shall vacate the territory within thirty days’ time, and Italian forces may enter immediately.
  • Upon the conclusion of the war, Nice, Savoy, Corsica, Tunisia, and French Somaliland shall be ceded to Italy. Germany and Austria-Hungary pledge to support any future Italian claim to British Somaliland, Kenya, Malta, and Uganda.
  • Germany and Austria-Hungary will recognise Italy’s claim to the Dodecanese Islands.
  • Germany and Austria-Hungary will grant Italy a free hand in Albania.

Thus, as pen was put to paper, history was about to be changed forever.

Comments? (Even if it's merely "this is ASB" or "good thus far". that sort of thing can be quite helpful)

Antonio Salandra

Antonio Salandra (Troia, Foggia, 31. kolovoza 1853. — Rim, 9. prosinca 1931.), bio je talijanski konzervativni političar. Obnašao je dužnost premijera Italije u dvije vlade u periodu između 21. ožujka 1914. i 18. lipnja 1916. godine.

Salandra je rođen u situiranoj obitelji u Troii, a završio je pravo u Napulju. [1] Imenovan je profesorom 1876. i radio je u periodu od 1879. do 1914. s administrativnim pravon na Sveučilištu u Rimu.

Izabran je za zastupnika u talijanskom zastupničkom domu 1886., i na kraju se priklanja stranci baruna Sidneya Sonnina. [1] Radio je kao državni tajnik u nekoliko ministarstava a bio je osim toga i ministar u vladama Crispija, Sonnina i Pellouxa. Poslije obnašanja dužnosti ministra financija u Sonnininovoj vladi, 1906. udaljuje se od Sonninove stranke i priklanja lijevo orijentiranoj stranci Giovannija Giolittija. Kada je Giolitti napustio mjesto premijera 1914., Salandra je formirao konzervativnu vladu. U početku Salandrova vlada se držala neutralno u Prvom svjetskom ratu. [2]

Ministar vanjskih poslova San Giuliano bio je također član Giolittijeve vlade. Kada je San Giuliano preminuo 16. listopada 1914., Sonnino postaje ministar vanjskih poslova u Salandrovoj vladi. Poslije toga talijanska stajalište o ratnim zbivanjima se sve više podudaraju sa stajalištima trojnog saveza. Talijanska vojna industrija počinje raditi punom parom, dok istovremeno pregovaraju s Austro-Ugarskom o kompenzaciji zbog neutralnosti. [3] Italija se osim toga sve više približava Francuskoj i Engleskoj. Kada je 20. svibnja 1915. Salandrova vlada progasila oružanu intervenciju, ulaze u rat protiv Austro-Ugarske 23. svibnja 1915. godine. Istovremeno prekidaju diplomatske aktivnosti s Njemačkom.

Talijani su imali malo uspjeha u vojnim operacijama i Salandrova vlada bila je izložena jakim kritikama u parlamentu, osobito su je kritizirali socijaldemokrati. Poslije bitke na Monte Meleti, Salandrova vlada podnosi ostavku. [1]

Poslije Prvog svjetskog rata, Salandra se politički još više pomjera udesno i podržava Mussolinija. [1]


He is author of a considerable number of works on economics, finance, history, law, and politics (New International Encyclopedia). These include:

  • Tratto della giustizia amministrativo (1904)
  • La politica nazionale e il partito liberale (1912)
  • Lezioni di diritto amministrativo (two volumes, 1912)
  • Politica e legislazione : saggi, raccolti da Giustino Fortunato (1915)
  • Il discorso contro la malafede tedesca (1915)

Allies sign Treaty of London

On April 26, 1915, after receiving the promise of significant territorial gains, Italy signs the Treaty of London, committing itself to enter World War I on the side of the Allies.

With the threat of imminent war looming in July 1914, the Italian army under Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna had begun preparing for war against France, according to Italy’s membership in the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Under the terms of that agreement, however, Italy was only bound to defend its allies if one of them was attacked first. Italian Prime Minister Antonio Salandra deemed the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia late that month an act of aggression, declaring that Italy was free of its alliance obligations, and was officially neutral. In the first year of war, both sides—the Central Powers and the Entente, as the British-French-Russian axis was known𠅊ttempted to recruit neutral countries including Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, to join the war on their side. Italy, more than any other country, was clear about its aims for joining the war effort: to gain the most possible territory for itself and raise its status from a minor to a great power.

In reality, Italy’s geographical position𠅋ounded on all sides by the sea, and thus subject to pressure from Britain’s great navy—inclined it to favor the Entente. Moreover, past interactions between Italy and Austria-Hungary had been driven more by mutual animosity than alliance, as the Italians had been forced to push the Austrians out of their peninsula in order to achieve unification in 1860. In making a bid for Italy’s allegiance in World War I, the Central Powers clashed over Germany’s desire to promise the Italians the Trentino region (now occupied by Austria) in return for their entrance into the war. Though Austria-Hungary agreed to cede the Trentino in March 1915, their army’s sorry performance against Russia gave the Italians more bargaining power and led them to demand even more territory.

I address myself to Italy and to the civilized world in order to show not by violent words, but by exact facts and documents, how the fury of our enemies has vainly attempted to diminish the high moral and political dignity of the cause which our arms will make prevail. I shall speak with the calm of which the King of Italy has given a noble example, when he called his land and sea forces to arms. I shall speak with the respect due to my position and to the place in which I speak. I can afford to ignore the insults written in Imperial, Royal, and Archducal proclamations. Since I speak from the Capitol, and represent in this solemn hour the people and the Government of Italy, I, a modest citizen, feel that I am far nobler than the head of the house of the Hapsburgs.

The commonplace statesmen who, in rash frivolity of mind and mistaken in all their calculations, set fire last July to the whole of Europe and even to their own hearths and homes, have now noticed their fresh colossal mistake, and in the Parliaments of Budapest and Berlin have poured forth brutal invective of Italy and her Government with the obvious design of securing the forgiveness of their fellow-citizens and intoxicating them with cruel visions of hatred and blood. The German Chancellor said he was imbued not with hatred, but with anger, and he spoke the truth because he reasoned badly, as is usually the case in fits of rage. I could not, even if I chose, imitate their language. An atavistic throwback to primitive barbarism is more difficult for us who have twenty centuries behind us more than they have.

The fundamental thesis of the statesmen of Central Europe is to be found in the words "treason and surprise on the part of Italy toward her faithful allies." It would be easy to ask if he has any right to speak of alliance and respect for treaties who, representing with infinitely less genius, but with equal moral indifference, the tradition of Frederick the Great and Bismarck, proclaimed that necessity know no law, and consented to his country trampling under foot and burying at the bottom of the ocean all the documents and all the customs of civilization and international law. But that would be too easy an argument. Let us examine, on the contrary, positively and calmly, if our former allies are entitled to say that they were betrayed and surprised by us.

The horrible crime of Sarajevo was exploited as a pretext a month after it happened -- this was proved by the refusal of Austria to accept the very extensive offers of Serbia -- nor at the moment o the general conflagration would Austria have been satisfied with the unconditional acceptance of the ultimatum. Count Berchtold on July 31st declared to the Duke of Avarna that, if there had been a possibility of mediation being exercised, it could not have interrupted hostilities, which had already begun with Serbia. This was the mediation for which Great Britain and Italy were working. In any case, Count Berchtold was not disposed to accept mediation tending to weaken the conditions indicated in the Austrian note, which, naturally, would have been increased at the end of the war.

Where is, then, the treason, the iniquity, the surprise, if, after nine months of vain efforts to reach an honorable understanding which recognized in equitable measure our rights and our liberties, we resumed liberty of action? The truth is that Austria and Germany believed until the last days that they had to deal with an Italy weak, blustering, but not acting, capable of trying blackmail, but not enforcing by arms her good right, with an Italy which could be paralyzed by spending a few millions, and which by dealings which she could not avow was placing herself between the country and the Government.

The effect was the contrary. An immense outburst of indignation was kindled throughout Italy and not among the populace, but among the nobles of the country, which is ready to shed its blood for the nation. This outburst of indignation was kindled as the result of the suspicion that a foreign Ambassador was interfering between the Italian Government, the Parliament, and the country. In the blaze thus kindled internal discussions melted away, and the whole nation was joined in a wonderful moral union, which will prove our greatest source of strength in the severe struggle which faces us, and which must lead us by our own virtue, and not by benevolent concessions from others, to the accomplishment of the highest destinies of the country.

Antonio Salandra (1853-1931) served as Italy's Prime Minister from the outbreak of war in Europe until his resignation two years later following military defeat at the Trentino in May 1916.

Born in Troia, Puglia to a wealthy family on 13 August 1853, Salandra was educated in law and was professor of administrative science at the University of Rome before deciding to enter politics.

An authoritarian conservative, Salandra's political career saw steady progress. He was appointed Minister for Agriculture in 1899 and Finance Minister seven years later (and again in 1909-10).

Taking office as Prime Minister in March 1914 in the wake of a political crisis and with shortages caused by the Turkish war of 1911-12 commonplace, Salandra was seen by many as merely a stop-gap premier. Indeed it is probable that his administration would have fallen by mid-summer had not the July Crisis intervened, halting the riots that had broken out in June.

Salandra publicly announced Italy's policy of neutrality on 2 August, reflecting popular opinion across the nation. This was despite Italy's membership of the Central Powers alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

However Italy (which had earlier negotiated a secret treaty with France in any event) escaped its obligations by citing Austria-Hungary's decision to attack Serbia without first notifying Italy as providing legitimate cause for the latter's policy of neutrality.

Salandra, who was determined to pursue a policy of Italian self-interest, was eventually persuaded that Italy's future was best served by entering the war on the side of the Allies. His hand was strengthened when he came away from the secret 1915 Treaty of London with commitments from the Allies to support Italian territorial ambitions after the war (chiefly at the expense of Austria-Hungary).

Finally entering the fray on 23 May 1915 on a wave of popular support, Salandra hoped for a relatively short war with the prospect of sweeping Italian territorial gains. He was to be disappointed in both.

With military policy firmly dictated by Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna - who repeatedly resisted Salandra's ineffectual attempts to assert political control of the military campaign - Italy failed to make any significant gains despite innumerable attempts along the Isonzo (eleven battles in all).

At last, with defeat at the Trentino in May 1916, Salandra's government fell on 10 June 1916, the first to do so among the Allies. Salandra played no further wartime role in either the Boselli or Orlando administrations, although he served as a delegate at Versailles and subsequently represented Italy at the League of Nations.

After the war Salandra's brand of conservatism led him to initially support Benito Mussolini and his fascist policies, although he later modified his position. He was made a senator by Mussolini in 1928.

Entering World War I

Salandra used the term "sacred egoism" (sacro egoismo) to define Italy's outlook on which side Italy would enter the war. Expecting the war would be short – over by the late summer of 1915 – there was some pressure on the decision to make. [4]

Negotiations had been started between Sonnino, the British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey and the French Foreign Minister Jules Cambon.

On February 16, 1915, despite concurrent negotiations with Austria, a courier was dispatched in great secrecy to London with the suggestion that Italy was open to a good offer from the Entente. [ . ] The final choice was aided by the arrival of news in March of Russian victories in the Carpathians. Salandra began to think that victory for the Entente was in sight, and was so anxious not to arrive too late for a share in the profits that he instructed his envoy in London to drop some demands and reach agreement quickly. [. ] The Treaty of London was concluded on April 26 binding Italy to fight within one month. [. ] Not until May 4 did Salandra denounce the Triple Alliance in a private note to its signatories. [5]

The secret pact, the Treaty of London or London Pact (Italian: Patto di Londra ), was signed between the Triple Entente (the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire) and the Kingdom of Italy. According to the pact, Italy was to leave the Triple Alliance and join the Triple Entente. Italy was to declare war against Germany and Austria-Hungary within a month in return for territorial concessions at the end of the war. [3]

While Giolitti supported neutrality, Salandra and Sonnino, supported intervention on the side of the Allies, and secured Italy's entrance into the war despite the opposition of the majority in parliament. On 3 May 1915, Italy officially revoked the Triple Alliance. In the following days Giolitti and the neutralist majority of the Parliament opposed declaring war, while nationalist crowds demonstrated in public areas for entering the war. On 13 May 1915, Salandra offered his resignation, but Giolitti, fearful of nationalist disorder that might break into open rebellion, declined to succeed him as prime minister and Salandra's resignation was not accepted. [6]

On 23 May 1915, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary. Salandra had expected that Italy's entrance on the allied side would bring the war to a quick solution, but in fact it changed little, and Italy's first year in the war was marked by only very limited success. Following the success of an Austrian offensive from the Trentino in the spring of 1916, Salandra was forced to resign.

After World War I, Salandra moved further to the right, and supported Mussolini's accession to power in 1922. Nine years later he died in Rome.

Watch the video: Eccellente. Puntata 5 Stagione 2. Marzia Campagna presenta Antonio la Salandra. La Tua Tv.


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