3rd Year: Italy under Mussolini

Benito Mussolini
Main Page: International Relations in the 20th Century

You'll know from CSPE that Ireland is a democracy. You should also know that a democracy gives power to the people, power which they can exercise through voting in elections. You've probably also heard of dictatorships though. These are countries which are controlled by one man or one party. Everything in the country is under the government's control, and peoples' rights might be denied.

In Europe after World War I, a few countries turned away from democracy and became dictatorships. You'll study two of these countries: Italy, which became a dictatorship under Benito Mussolini and Germany, which became one under Adolf Hitler. Both Mussolini and Hitler are called Fascist dictators. Fascism was began by Mussolini in Italy. When Hitler came to power in Germany a few years later, he borrowed some of the concepts of fascism. In this first section on Mussolini, you'll learn what fascism is and how it rose to power in Italy. From there you'll learn what kind of leader Mussolini was, both from his domestic policy (policies to do with Italian affairs) and foreign policy (policies to do with other countries).

Continue to Germany under Hitler

  • What fascism is. (You might also learn about communism here).
  • Mussolini's rise to power: reasons for it, the March on Rome.
  • Becoming a dictator: rule by decree, 'il Duce'.
  • Domestic policy: autostrada, Pontine marshes, Battle for Grain, Battle for Births, Lateran Treaty.
  • Foreign policy: Abyssinia, Hitler, Italy in WWII, Mussolini's downfall.

Click here for exam questions you can be asked about this topic. (Higher and Ordinary)

Blackshirts in the March on Rome.
The Blackshirts later inspired Hitler's SA (Brownshirts) and Ireland's Blueshirts.

Mussolini with Adolf Hitler in 1940.
What is Fascism?
You probably know that people still like to use the words "Nazi" and "Fascist" as insults. But what does fascism actually mean? This overview keeps it simple and should be similar to the explanation in your book.

Life in Fascist Italy
HLS describes what was life was like in Mussolini's Italy, focusing on education and the role of women. 

BBC History: Benito Mussolini
Read a biography of Mussolini here.

The March on Rome (silent video)
British Pathé has original footage of the March on Rome. Additional footage can be found in the Related Videos list.

The Lateran Treaty
The full Lateran Treaty is available on the Vatican website if you're interested, though it can be a difficult read.

News Reports of the Lateran Treaty
See how newspapers reported on the treaty, and see pictures of the signing.

Learn about Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia) here.

Hitler and Mussolini
Learn some more about their dealings here. 

Fascism took its name from the fasces (fa-sheez), a bundle of wooden sticks tied together around an axe.
The fasces was a symbol of power in Ancient Rome. In this re-enactment picture, two Roman soldiers each hold a fasces while a high-ranking official makes an announcement. Mussolini adopted the fasces as the symbol of his movement in an attempt to recapture some of the glory of Ancient Rome.