Showing posts with label Giovanni Giolitti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Giovanni Giolitti. Show all posts

27 October 2023

Giovanni Giolitti – Prime Minister

Long-lasting Liberal politician made important social reforms

Giovanni Giolitti was one of Europe's main liberal reformers
Giovanni Giolitti was one of
Europe's main liberal reformers
Giovanni Giolitti, who served as Prime Minister of Italy five times, was born on this day in 1842 in Mondovì in Piedmont.

A Liberal, he was the leading statesman in Italy between 1900 and 1914 and was responsible for the introduction of universal male suffrage in the country.

He was considered one of the main liberal reformers of late 19th and early 20th century Europe, along with George Clemenceau, who was twice prime minister of France, and David Lloyd George, who led the British government from 1916 to 1922.

Giolitti is the longest serving democratically-elected prime minister in Italian history and the second longest serving premier after Benito Mussolini. He is considered one of the most important politicians in Italian history.

As a master of the political art of trasformismo, by making a flexible, centrist coalition that isolated the extremes of Left and Right in Italian politics after unification, he developed the national economy, which he saw as essential for producing wealth.

The period between 1901 and 1914, when he was Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior with only brief interruptions, is often referred to as the Giolitti era.

He made progressive social reforms that improved the living standards of ordinary Italians and he nationalised the telephone and railway operators.

Giolitti’s father, Giovenale Giolitti, had worked in the avvocatura dei poveri, assisting poor people in both civil and criminal cases. He died in 1843, the year after his son, Giovanni, was born. The family moved to live in his mother’s family home in Turin, where she taught him to read and write.

Giolitti earned a degree in law from the University of Turin
Giolitti earned a degree in law
from the University of Turin
Giolitti was educated in Turin and went to the University of Turin at the age of 16, where he earned a law degree after three years.

His uncle was a friend of Michelangelo Castelli, the secretary of Camillo Benso di Cavour - the united Italy's first prime minister but Giolitti was not interested in the Risorgimento and did not fight in the Italian Second War of Independence, choosing instead to work in public administration.

At the 1882 Italian general election, Giolitti was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. In 1889 he was selected by Francesco Crispi as the new Minister of Treasury and Finance, but he later resigned because he did not agree with Crispi’s colonial policy.

After the fall of a new government led by Antonio Starabba di Rudini, Giolitti was asked by King Umberto I to form a new cabinet.

He resigned after a series of problems and scandals and was impeached for abuse of power, but this allegation was later quashed. He was once again appointed prime minister by King Victor Emmanuel III, but he had to resign in 1905 after losing the support of the Socialists.

When the next prime minister, Sidney Sonnino, lost his majority in 1906, Giolitti became prime minister again. He introduced laws to protect women and child workers and passed a law to provide workers with a weekly day of rest.

Giolitti was re-elected in 1909 but soon had to resign again, afterwards supporting the new head of government, Luigi Luzzatti, while remaining the real power behind the scenes.

In 1911, Luzzati resigned from office and Victor Emmanuel III again gave Giolitti the task of forming a new cabinet.

In 1912, Giolitti got Parliament to approve an electoral reform bill that expanded the electorate from three million to eight and a half million voters. This is thought to have hastened the end of the Giolitti era. The Radicals brought down Giolitti’s coalition in 1914 and he resigned.  

He became prime minister again in 1920, supported by Mussolini’s Fascist party, but he had to step down in 1921. By 1925 he had become completely opposed to the Fascist party and refused to join. He died in 1928 in Cavour in Piedmont and his last words to the priest were that he could not sing the official anthem of the Fascist regime.

A section of the Piazza Maggiore, with its frescoed Baroque architecture
A section of the Piazza Maggiore, with its
frescoed Baroque architecture
Travel tip: 

Mondovì is a beautiful town of some 22,000 inhabitants situated in Italy’s Piedmont region at the foot of the southern Alps, close to the border between Piedmont and Liguria.  Like much of the area in which it sits, the town is rich in mediaeval frescoes and Baroque architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries, many of the buildings designed by local architect Francesco Gallo.  The town is in two sections: the lower town called Breo, which grew up alongside the Ellero river, is linked to the upper town of Piazza by a funicular railway.  Mondovì Piazza, the old part of the city founded around 1198, has the two-level Piazza Maggiore at its heart, surrounded by beautiful porticoed buildings such as Palazzo dei Bressani and the Governor’s Palace.  Mondovì was one of the most important towns during the Savoy era, with an ancient university and a printing press that produced, in 1472, the first book printed in Piedmont with modern typography.  The town’s printing museum - the Museo della Stampa - can be found in the 17th century Palazzo delle Orfane. 

Cavour is dominated by the giant Rocca di  Cavour, which looms over the town
Cavour is dominated by the giant Rocca di 
Cavour, which looms over the town
Travel tip: 

Cavour is a small town of around 5,500 residents in Piedmont, situated about 40km (25 miles) southeast of Turin, built at the foot of the Rocca di Cavour, an isolated mass of granite rising from otherwise flat terrain. On top of the Rocca, once the site of a Roman village, are some mediaeval remains. The town gave its name to the Benso family of Chieri, of whom the most famous member was Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, the statesman who was a driving force in the Risorgimento and was appointed the first prime minister of the united Italy in 1861.  The Rocca di Cavour has been a protected natural park since 1995.

Also on this day:

1782: The birth of virtuoso violinist Niccolò Paganini

1952: The birth of Oscar-winning actor Roberto Benigni

1962: The death of entrepreneur industrialist Enrico Mattei

1967: The birth of mountaineer Simone Moro


15 April 2020

Giovanni Amendola - journalist and politician

Liberal writer died following attack by Mussolini’s thugs

Giovanni Amendola was a committed anti-Fascist who accused Mussolini of murdering a fellow politician
Giovanni Amendola was a committed anti-Fascist who
accused Mussolini of murdering a fellow politician
Giovanni Amendola, a dedicated opponent of Fascism, was born on this day in 1882 in Naples in southern Italy.

As a critic of the right wing extremists in Italy, Amendola had to suffer a series of attacks by hired thugs. He endured a particularly brutal beating in 1925 by 15 Blackshirts armed with clubs near Montecatini Terme in Tuscany and he later died as a result of his injuries, becoming one of the earliest victims of the Fascist regime.

Amendola had obtained a degree in philosophy and contributed to the newspapers, Il Leonardo and La Voce, expressing his philosophical and ideological views. He was given the chair of theoretical philosophy at the University of Pisa but, attracted by politics, he stood for parliament and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies three times to represent Salerno.

He began contributing to Il Resto di Carlino and Corriere della Sera, urging Italy’s entry into World War I in 1915. He then fought as a volunteer, reaching the rank of captain and winning a medal for valour.

Amendola supported the Italian Liberal movement but was completely against the ideology of prime minister Giovanni Giolitti. During the war he adopted a position of democratic irredentism and at the end of hostilities was nominated as a minister by prime minister Francesco Saverio Nitti.

Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti was murdered on the orders of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini
Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti was murdered
on the orders of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini
In 1924 Amendola refused to adhere to the ‘Listone Mussolini’ and attempted to become prime minister himself at the head of a liberal coalition. He was defeated in the election but continued his battle for democracy, writing for Il Mondo, a new daily newspaper, which he had founded together with other intellectuals.

Amendola is famous for publishing the Rossi Testimony in December 1924. The document directly implicated the prime minister, Mussolini, in the murder of Giacomo Matteotti, the leader of the Socialist PSU party as well as declaring that Mussolini was behind the reign of terror that had led up to the 1924 elections.

Amendola was one of the deputies who withdrew from the Chamber in protest against the result afterwards. In spite of the threats against his life that had been made during the election campaign, he declared the Fascist government to be unconstitutional.

He was resented by Mussolini for his prominent opposition and as a result suffered an horrific attack in July 1925. He managed to get out of the country and into the south of France but, still suffering from his severe injuries, he died in April 1926 in Cannes.

Amendola left a wife and four children. His eldest son, Giorgio Amendola, became an important political writer and politician.

The statue of Giovanni Amendola in front of Salerno's Palazzo di Giustizia
The statue of Giovanni Amendola in
front of Salerno's Palazzo di Giustizia
Travel tip:

Salerno, the city represented in parliament by Giovanni Amendola, is in Campania in southern Italy on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It has a Greek and Roman heritage and was an important Lombard principality in the middle ages, when the first medical school in the world was founded there. King Victor Emmanuel III moved there in 1943, making it a provisional seat of Government for six months and it was the scene of Allied landings during the invasion of Italy in World War II.  There is a statue of Giovanni Amendola in front of the Palazzo di Giustizia in Salerno.

The Terme Tettuccio is one of the most famous of  Montecatini Terme's famed spas
The Terme Tettuccio is one of the most famous of
Montecatini Terme's famed spas
Travel tip:

Montecatini Terme in Tuscany, where Amendola suffered the attack that caused his death, is an elegant spa town in the province of Pistoia. Its heyday was in the early part of the 20th century, when restaurants, theatres, nightclubs and a casino were built there and many celebrities visited. The town welcomed the famous composers, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Giuseppe Verdi and Pietro Mascagni, and the tenor, Beniamino Gigli.

Also on this day:

1446: The death of architect Filippo Brunelleschi

1452: The birth of Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci

1754: The death of Venetian mathematician Jacopo Riccati


29 July 2019

Agostino Depretis – politician

Premier stayed in power by creating coalitions

Agostino Depretis served three terms as Italy's premier in the last 19th century
Agostino Depretis served three terms as
Italy's premier in the last 19th century
One of the longest serving Prime Ministers in the history of Italy, Agostino Depretis, died on this day in 1887 in Stradella in the Lombardy region.

He had been the founder and main proponent of trasformismo, a method of making a flexible centrist coalition that isolated the extremists on the right and the left.

Depretis served as Prime Minister three times between 1876 and his death.

He was born in 1813 in Mezzana Corti, a hamlet that is now part of Cava Manara, a comune in the province of Pavia.  After graduating from law school in Pavia, Depretis ran his family’s estate.

In 1848, the year of revolutions in Europe, he was elected as a member of the first parliament in Piedmont.  He consistently opposed Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, the Prime Minister of Piedmont Sardinia.

A disciple of the pro-unification activist Giuseppe Mazzini, Depretis was nearly captured by the Austrians while smuggling arms into Milan, but he did not take part in the 1853 uprising planned by Mazzini in Milan. It is thought he predicted it would fail.

Depretis briefly served as Governor of Brescia in Lombardy after Cavour’s resignation in 1859.

Depretis was a master at making coalitions from the Right and Left
Depretis was a master at making
coalitions from the Right and Left
After Italian unification, Depretis was elected to the country’s parliament and served successively as minister of public works, minister of the navy and minister of finance.

He became leader of the Left after the death of Urbano Rattazzi in 1873 and he was invited to become premier for the first time in 1876.

For the next 11 years he was the dominant force in Italian politics. A scandal in March 1878 brought down his first Government before he could introduce liberal reforms, but he returned to power later in 1878 and formed a Government that lasted for the next eight months.

In 1881 he formed another Government that lasted for more than six years. The main reform he achieved was the extension of suffrage from two per cent to seven per cent of the population of Italy.

Depretis managed to stay in office by perfecting the art of trasformismo, taking ministers from both the right and the left to form coalitions.

In 1882 Depretis signed the Triple Alliance, which allied Italy with Austria-Hungary and Germany. He was then persuaded to colonise Africa, but when 500 Italian soldiers were killed by Ethiopians at the Battle of Dogali in January 1887, his Government resigned.

Depretis was chosen as Prime Minister again in April but, because he was suffering badly from gout, he moved to live in Stradella, near Pavia. He died there while still in office on 29 July, making him the fourth longest-serving Prime Minister in Italian history after Benito Mussolini, Giovanni Giolitti and Silvio Berlusconi.

The church of San Lorenzo Martire
in Mezzana Corti
Travel tip:

Mezzana Corti, where Agostino Depretis was born, is a small village - a  frazione - that is now part of the municipality of Cava Manara in the province of Pavia. Cava Manara was originally known as Cava Taverna, but was renamed Cava Manara in 1863 in honour of Luciano Manara, an Italian patriot who was killed in battle at the age of 24.

The Monument to Agostino Depretis in Stradella
The Monument to Agostino
Depretis in Stradella
Travel tip:

Stradella, where Agostino Depretis died, is part of the Oltrepò Pavese in the province of Pavia, an area to the south of the River Pò and therefore oltre - beyond - the Pò. Stradella was once an important centre for the production of accordions and there is still a museum in the town dedicated to the instrument, Il Civico Museo della Fisarmonica Mariano Dallapè di Stradella.  There is a monument to Deprestis in Piazza Vittorio Veneto.

More reading:

Giuseppe Mazzini, the thinking man's revolutionary who is seen as a hero of the Risorgimento

How Cavour became the first Prime Minister of a united Italy

The Five Days of Milan

Also on this day:

1644: The death of Pope Urban VIII, whose extravagance led to disgrace

1883: The birth of Benito Mussolini

1900: The birth of Teresa Noce, the partisan who became a campaigner for the rights of working women