History of modern Italy

Italy was not a united country until 1870. Before this time, the country was a group of separate states ruled by France, Spain, Austria and other foreign countries. There were many attempts to unify the country but all of these failed until 1860.

In 1860, Guiseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) formed an army of volunteer soldiers to drive out the foreign rulers. Garibaldi's soldiers became known as the 'red shirts' because they all wore bright red shirts. The red shirts soon took over all the states except Rome and Venetia, and in 1861, the states joined together to become one country called Italy. The new country was ruled by Victor Emmanual 11, who was the King of Sardinia. He was the first king of Italy. Nine years later Rome and Venetia joined the other states and became part of Italy.

During World War 1 Italy joined Britain and France to fight the Germans. After the war was over, many Italians were poor and hungry and were without jobs. A man called Benito Mussolini, became leader of a group of people called the fascists. The fascists wanted to change the government and promised the people that they would make things better for them. In 1922, Mussolini's army of fascists marched into Rome and seized power form the King. Mussolini became the ruler of Italy.

..........................Mussolini's army

During World War 11, from 1940 to 1943, Italy fought on the side of the Germans. After Mussolini and his army had suffered many defeats, he was put into prison and the King returned to rule Italy.

After the war, elections were held in Italy and the people voted not to have a royal family but to become a republic headed by a president.

Italian celebrate Republic day each year on June 2.

To read more about the history of Italy, including Ancient Rome go to http://www.arcaini.com/ITALY/ItalyHistory/ItalyHistory.html

Go here to read kidcyber pages about the colosseum and Roman gladiators

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Italy (2004). [Online], Available: www.kidcyber.com.au

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updated February 2004