Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946)


May 23, 2022

The Kingdom of Italy (Italian: Regno d'Italia), ruled by the royal dynasty of the House of Savoy, was the name of the Italian state from 1861 to 1946, which emerged from the Kingdom of Sardinia after the period of the Wars of independence of the Risorgimento. During the period from 1922 to 1943, the kingdom, led by the fascist government of Benito Mussolini, is commonly referred to as fascist Italy, without the monarchical regime having been interrupted.


The kingdom of Italy, deprived of Nice and Savoy ceded to France in 1860, came from the kingdom of Sardinia after a period of wars of independence called the Risorgimento. The period of the reign of Victor-Emmanuel II of Savoy which goes from 1859 to 1861 is also called "Victor-Emmanuel II King Elect", which indicates the way in which he acceded to the throne of Italy. Indeed, in 1860 the Duchy of Parma, the Duchy of Modena and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany voted plebiscites for union with the kingdom. The same year, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was conquered thanks to the expedition of the Thousand and Romagna, the Marches and Umbria were taken from the Papal States by the Piedmontese. All these territories are officially annexed to the kingdom after plebiscites. It remains to achieve the integration of different states that were separated for centuries. In January 1861 the elections for the first unitary parliament took place. With the first convocation of the Italian Parliament on February 18, 1861 and the proclamation on March 17, Victor Emmanuel II was the first King of Italy from 1861 to 1878. In 1866, following the Third War of Independence, Veneto and Mantua, withdrawn from the empire of Austria, are annexed to the kingdom. In 1870, with the capture of Rome, Latium was annexed to the kingdom, definitively removed from the Papal States. Rome officially becomes the capital of Italy (as had previously been Turin and Florence). The kingdom was then governed by Humbert I (1878 – 1900), assassinated in an attack by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci, and by Victor-Emmanuel III (1900 – 1946). Under the latter's reign, in 1919, after the First World War, Trentino, Alto Adige, Gorizia and Eastern Friuli, Istria, Trieste and Zara (Zadar) were united to the kingdom. Fiume (Rijeka) was united with the kingdom in 1924. After the fascist period and the Second World War, Istria with Fiume and Zara were ceded in 1947 to Yugoslavia. The Kingdom of Italy, led by Umberto II first as Lieutenant General of the Kingdom (1943 – 1946) then for just over a month as King (the "May King") following the abdication of Victor-Emmanuel III, ends with the proclamation of the Italian Republic after the referendum of June 2, 1946, which signs the exclusion of the house of Savoy from Italy after 85 years of reign.

The reign of Victor-Emmanuel II (1861-1878)

The fragility of the new State

Institutionally and legally, the Kingdom of Italy is an enlargement of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the latter being a constitutional monarchy according to the letter of the Albertine Statute made in Turin in 1848; the king appoints the government which is responsible to the sovereign and not the parliament, he also retains his prerogatives in matters of foreign policy and consequently chooses the military ministers (war and navy). The right to vote is attributed, according to the Piedmontese electoral law of 1848, on the basis of the census; in this way, those entitled to vote constitute barely 2% of the population. During the parliamentary elections of January 1861, out of almost 26 million inhabitants, the right to vote was granted to only 419,938 people (or 1.8% of the population), so that only 239,583 voted; at the end, the valid votes are reduced to 170,567 people of which 70,000 are employees of