Vittorio Orlando

by Spencer Di Scala

The Italian premier Vittorio Orlando came to Paris as one of the ‘Big Four’, yet in April 1919 walked out in one of the most dramatic crises of the Peace Conferences. Orlando’s failure to win for Italy the territories she felt were owed to her was to have far-reaching consequences for both Italy and Europe as a whole. Italy in 1918 was in an ambivalent position: at the outbreak of war the country had been part of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but had stayed neutral until joining the Allies in 1915 on the promise of territorial rewards. The war was a near-disaster for the Italians, culminating in the collapse of their armies at Caporetto in 1917. It was this crisis that brought Orlando to power, and he did much to restore the situation, but the Italians looked to Versailles to compensate them for the terrible losses they had suffered. In this book, the clash between Italy’s territorial demands in the Balkans, which had been guaranteed by the Allies in 1915 and earned through her losses in the War, with the new Wilsonian doctrine of open diplomacy and national self-determination is detailed, and it traces the effects the failure of Orlando’s delegation to satisfy their people’s demands which directly to the rise of Fascism and to Mussolini’s policies in the 1930s as he sought to obtain what Italy had been denied at Versailles.

SPENCER DI SCALA is research professor of history and History Graduate Program Director at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of numerous scholarly books and articles on Italian and European politics and culture, serves on the editorial boards of scholarly journals, and edits a book series on Italian and Italian American Studies. In 1983 he was named a Senior Fulbright Research Fellow in Rome and in 1997 Research Professor by the University of Massachusetts.<br /><br />The focus of Professor Alan Sharp’s teaching and research has been 20th-century international history and British foreign policy after the First World War, with a particular emphasis on the making and implementation of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 on which he is an internationally recognised expert.

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