Mussolini’s Rule
Il Duce and Italian Fascism
Fasces is a symbol originally
used in ancient Rome to
represent the power of the
empire. Mussolini used it
for his political uses for
two reasons: to go
backwards to the glorious
time of the Roman empire
and to conjure fear of the
the leader. (left) (right)
Italia Irredenta
• Italia Irredenta was land promised to italy by
Britain and France for her support in World War
One (in these lands were ethnic italians). This did
not help to solve the unrest that was present in
Benito Mussolini or Il Duce
• Mussolini was the
leader and Founder of
the Italian Fascism,
Fascisti, party. He
was an early socialist
but when he realized
that stronger support
could be gotten from
the right wing all
socialist aspects were
Fascisti and Italian Parliament
• The Fascisti is the
Italian Fascism party
founded by Mussolini.
This party would by
1922 march on rome
and by doing this
putting Mussolini as
leader of a collision
• Italian Parliament
consisted of 535 seats
and by 1921 the
Fascisti party only had
35 seats. In 1928
Mussolini had
eliminated all parts of
democracy from the
Italian Government.
Blackshirts and ‘Mare Nostrum’
• The fascist party grew
at an incredible rate by
drawing on exservicemen middle
class youth and anticommunists. As well
to give its members
importance they gave
them a uniform and
the name Blackshirts.
• Mare Nostrum
translated means ‘our
sea’. Mussolini used
this along with Give
italy a Place in the
sun” to refer to the
Acerbo law and Giacomo
• The Acerbo Law was
pushed through
parliament to
guarantee two thirds
majority in the
chamber of deputies
for the Political party
that got the most
votes. In 1924 this
gave Mussolini a vast
• Giacomo Matteoti the
leader of the socialists,
spoke out against the
Fascists and
Mussolini, and 11 days
later was killed. He
was one of many
parties that were
eliminated by 1926.
OVRA and Lateran Accords
• In 1927 Mussolini
• The lateran Accords
established the OVRA
were agreements with
or secret police. The
the Catholic church,
secret police are, as for
Mussolini’s last
any Fascist rule,
possible opposition.
important to maintain
These agreements
order because they are
were the elimination
used to instill fear in
of his final opposition.
the populace to
maintain order.
Corporate State Law and Fascist
Grand Council
• In the Italian
Corporate State
management and
workers supposedly
ran everything
together. However it
suppressed the rights
of the workers and
centralized the
economic planning.
• In 1928 the Fascist
Grand Council was
given the power to
decide who would be
on the council of
Deputies. By doing
this Mussolini could
surround himself by
people he wanted.
Concordat 1929 and Stresa
• The concordat was a part
of the Lanteran Treaties
which made the Roman
Catholic church the state
religion. When the
support of the church was
given to Mussolini the
people who did not
originally support
Mussolini but who
supported the Church
were moved to support
• The stresa front was an
informal alliance between
Brittan france and Italy
whose goal was to prevent
Nazi Germany from
extending her borders in to
other countries, more
specifically Austria.
When the agreement fell
apart (in five months after
the English signed the
Anglo-German Naval
Agreement) Italy was
forced by public option
closer to Nazi Germany.
Abyssinia and Austria
• In 1935 when Mussolini’s
army invaded Abyssinia
the Abyssinians stood no
chance against a the
modern Italian army. The
result of this was a very
week response by the
League of Nations which
put no real damaging
economic sanctions on
Italy, rather they did not
restrict much that italy
could not get from the US
(a non league nation).
• When Hitler was threatening
to invade Austria (to bring
the roughly million ethnic
germans back under German
control) Mussolini
threatened support to the
Austrian’s if hitler did not
back down. France
supported a free Austria and
therefore supported this
action by Mussolini,
however this would lead to
more of a surprise when
Mussolini tries to invade
Axis Pact and Anti-Comintern
• The Pact of Steel or Axis
Pact was the agreement by
Germany and Italy to
support the other if the
other became involved in
a war. The forcing
Minister Galleazo Ciano
thought the pact was likely
damaging however
Mussolini wanted to align
himself with the most
powerful country in
• In 1937 Italy joined the
anti-comintern pact
(which was already
established between the
Germany and Japan in
which they agreed to, in
the event of an unprovoked attacked consult
on what measures to take.
This agreement is just one
of a long list of pacts and
treaties that Hitler would
eventually break.
Albania And The ‘stab in the
• On Good Friday of
1939 Mussolini
conquered Albania.
Mussolini viewed this
as a sign of the
increase in italy’s
power however
Albania was with in
Italy’s influence
• On June 10 1940
Mussolini ‘stabbed france
in the back’ by attacking
France; however he
gained very little from the
French army (which
would surrender to the
germans 7 days later).
This would begin the
Italian involvement in
WWII which would
eventually lead to
catastrophic losses.
Listen to the declaration of war by Mussolini on June 10 1940.
Audio clip from It was the Speech of the day a while ago
Greece and North Africa
• When the Italian army
attacked Greece they
were going to face yet
another humiliating
defeat. This was
‘preparation in a way
for the eventual loss to
the Allies.
• The war in North
Africa was yet another
blow to the Italian
military. By december
1940 violent attacks
by the English would
force Mussolini to
request assistance
from Hitler.
The end Is in Milan
• When the Allies capture
southern italy they also
managed to capture and
hold Mussolini until Hitler
rescued him and placed
him as a puppet ruler in
northern Italy. This would
last until the people hung
Mussolini and his wife by
the feet from a garage in
Milan and shot them. This
was the end of Mussolini
and Fascism in Italy.
Introduction-Action Over
• The artist of the cartoon
Mussolini presents a very
strong opinion against
Mussolini. The artist
focuses on the fascist idea
of “action over thought”.
The artist shows
considerable amount of
time and effort in to
building an army.
The cartoon
• As well it shows
Mussolini doing a lot
of posturing and
showing off. The
artist shows a variety
of things about
Mussolini a Pompous Fool
• The best way
to summarize
all of them is
that Mussolini
is a pompous
A functioning Military
• One clear idea was
that the Italians could
not form a functioning
military in spite of the
large amount of time
they had to build it.
Here again we see the
idea of action over
thought prevailing
over Mussolini.
The Cartoon’s Important Years
• The artist shows an
action in each year
from 1922 to 1941.
Some are historical
facts others are
symbolic of actions
taken by Mussolini
In 1922 Mussolini conducts
his march on Rome. This
gives him moderate power
in the Italian government.
As well the artist shows
the Italian flag in the
background. This is
symbolic of the aggressive
nationalism that Mussolini
used to gain support.
• By 1926 Mussolini
had eliminated all
opposition. The artist
depicts this by placing
everyone in line
saluting him.
• In 1927 he is building
up his military power,
here the artist shows it
using the guns.
• In 1931 the artist
shows Mussolini
flying (or pretending
to fly) a plane. As
well there are two
aircraft in the air
beside him.
• In 1932 the artist
shows Mussolini in an
admiral hat watching
over the navy as well
there are 3 planes in
the air. Here the
reader can see the
growth of the navy
and military as a
• In 1933/34 when
Mussolini threatens to
send troops to the
Austrian border to
prevent an attack from
Hitler the artist shows
this as flexing his
• In 1934 the artist
shows Mussolini’s
even bigger army now
with 5 guns not just 3.
• In 1935 the artist shows
Mussolini as a roman
emperor leaning against
the Fasces–a depiction of
extreme power. As well
the artist is playing upon
the idea of his wanting to
expand his empire to the
size of the Roman Empire.
1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939
• Again in 1936, 1937,
1938, and 1939 we see
the increasing size of
Mussolini’s army. As
well during these
years he uses the same
salute as Hitler. By
this time Hitler’s rule
was overshadowing
• In 1940 Mussolini is
depicted as having a
large army. It is in this
year that he declares
war on France and
• By 1941 he is depicted
as having nothing no
army no followers. As
well he is blaming his
loss on the idea that
“We weren’t Ready”.
Personal Response
Identify and Explain the reasons for
the rise of fascism in Italy
Personal Response
For the upper and middle class of Italy workers
(strikes, demands for better wages etc) and
socialism in general were a threat to their way of
life. After World War I, in Italy, there was general
Resentment for the outcome of WWI. Mussolini
saw both these problems and used them to achieve
power in Italy. However it was not just the events
that allowed Mussolini to gain power but also his
political abilities. For example Mussolini
managed to conduct his ‘March on Rome’
Personal Response
• In Italy after WWI there was talk of the socialist “revolution that
was bound to come”. This caused fear in the traditional ruling
class that hadn’t quite realized how to use a full (though open to
men only) democracy to there advantage. At this time the
peasants in the countryside were trying to change the way
ownership of land worked by simply taking land. The Rural
workers were forming ‘unions’ like groups to force employers to
provide better wages and working conditions. The urban
workers were going on strike to get wages back to the value that
they were at before the inflation caused by the war. Mussolini
saw all of this and shifted his party from moderately social to an
anti-social party. By doing so he gained the support of all the
employers and all the supporters of the “movement against the
masses of the people”.
Personal Response
• Mussolini also managed to capitalize on the
feeling of betrayal by the allies. During
WWI the allies promised certain land to
Italy should Italy give its support to the
allies: ‘Italia Irrendetia’. However at the
end of the war the allies only gave Italy a
small fraction of the land that she was
promised. This translated into support for
Mussolini’s aggressive nationalism.
Personal Response
• It was not just the luck of the way that the events
happened that brought Mussolini to power but also
the individual people involved: Mussolini and the
king Emanuel III. Mussolini was a talented
politician. His march on Rome was conducted
with out opposition. However this was not just
due to the way Mussolini managed his supporters
but also due to the week will of the king. Emanuel
III chose not to support parliament and merely let
Mussolini in to Rome and finally Emanuel III
asked Mussolini to form a government giving the
fascist the final step into power.
Personal Response
• A Variety of reasons allowed for
Mussolini’s rise to power, each reason was
vital and supported the others. The time
was right for a leader like Mussolini.
However if it weren’t for the leadership
abilities of Mussolini and the lack of
leadership of the king it would not have
worked out for the Fascists.
Howarth Response
Page 51-53 of Twentieth Century
The world since 1900
By Tony Howarth
Howarth Response
The main question that Howarth answers is ‘How and why did the
Fascists rise to power in Italy?’ To answer the how he looks at
Mussolini’s views and how they found him a place in the political
turmoil of the Italian democracy. There is also the answer to the
question why? Howarth believes part of the reason for Mussolini’s
rise is the march on Rome and part on the people “they had thrown
away their right to disagree”. However it was in fact not the
majority of people who brought people to power but it was the king
who asked Mussolini to form a government. When Mussolini did
so he forced though a bill that gave the party with the most votes at
least two thirds majority in the parliament. By doing this it would
then allow Mussolini to take control of the state. In this process the
majority of the people are not needed in giving him his power but
rather the largest minority group. The one place I do agree with
Howarth is in the area of his description of Mussolini as a “rogue,
liar and bully” for that he was.
Howarth Response
Howarth assumes that everyone reading the text will
support his views for democracy, because he does
not bother to prove or explain is accusation that
Mussolini is an awful person and that “Italian
politics in the twenties is …very sorry”. When he
describes Italian politics he does not even bother
to explain it more than it was under a fascist
regime. Howarth also places blame upon the
people of Italy for Mussolini’s rise when, as I have
said before, it was truly the lack of a will by
Emmanuel III.
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