Italian History X: Finally, A Nation United

The new nation of Italy and World War I

A united nation?

On paper, yes, but the old sectional differences remained.

While there was rapid industrialization in the north, the south labored under the repressive neofeudal agricultural ways of the late 19th century. Many southerners escaped economic hardship and political powerlessness by emigrating to the industrialized north, or to greener pastures abroad in America, South America, or northern Europe.

Italy entered World War I on the Allied side in exchange for territorial demands, and to vanquish that old foe, Austria.

In the end the Austro-Hungarian Empire was defeated, but at the Paris Peace Conference, Italy was granted much less territory than had been promised (though it did receive Trieste), which compounded the country’s problems.

As southerners abandoned the country in droves, the economy stagnated, and what remained of Italy’s world importance seemed to be fading rapidly, along came Benito Mussolini, promising to restore national pride and bring order out of the chaos.