Establishment and War
On July 18, 1815, Napoleon I of France formed the Kingdom of Italy. The kingdom was composed of middle and southern thirds of the Italian Peninsula; the northern part went to France. The kingdom nearly unified the Peninsula; the last time it was unified was during the Roman Empire. Napoleon chose Joachim Murat, his brother-in-law, to rule the new nation. On September 10, 1815, Joachim Murat was coronated as Joachim I, beginning the House of Murat, the only ruling house of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom then entered the Mediteranean Campaigns, a war against the pirates of the Mediteranean and North Africa. The Italians, along with their French and Iberian allies, entered and occupied cities on the northern coast of Africa. Italy occupied Tripoli, which they used as a springboard for the colonization of Africa. The Royal Italian Army was improved on, as well as the national infrastructure. Meanwhile, their colony in Libya was being improved on as well. Large roads were being built, connecting Tripoli by land to other major cities such as Ghadamis. By the early 1850s, these roads would be replaced by railways.
Revolution and the Loyalist War
In 1847, the European Revolutions were beginning, which made beloved King Joachim's death at the worst time as possible. His son, Joachim III, ascended the throne, but during the first weeks of his rule, the revolutionaries, who wanted an end to the monarchy in Italy, took many areas of the Italian Peninsula. But Joachim organizaed the Royal Italian Army, and began one of the most famous campaigns in history. Beginning in Rome, the Army headed south toward the revolutionary capital, Palermo, on the island of Sicily. The campaign, taking two years, resulted in the death of 200,000 thousand men, but the monarchy won. Almost, at least. The army was exhausted, and the revolutionaries still controlled northern Italy. Joachim then negotiated a treaty with the revolutionaries, ending the Italian Uprising, and the Republic of Italy in the north was established.
Two years later, the Kingdom found themselves in another war, and this war was even larger. It was the Iberian-Italian War, one of the most devastating wars in during the 1800s. The war had its roots in the Iberian Revolution. The revolutionaries won, and created a new, democractic Iberian Union. Most of the Loyalists had fled to the Balearic Islands. Joachim was sympathetic to the Loyalists, and sent the army there. He also created the Kingdom of the Balearics, and placed his younger brother, Achille, on the throne. The Iberians came to the islands, in an attempt to finish the "Loyalist threat". The result was the Iberian-Italian War. Lasting 3 years, the Iberians would come out on top, capturing Rome.
The defeated Italians were forced to give up their colony in northern Africa, and the Kingdom of the Balearics was disbanded. Tribute would also have to be paid to the Iberians for the next five years. Joachim III, once cemented as a military genius, stepped down as king and lived the rest of his life in exile. His son, Joachim IV, came to power, but over a weak, defeated nation.
Following the end of the Iberian-Italian War, the main job for new king Joachim IV was to rebuild the ruined kingdom. He put all able-bodied men to work, and child labor was used as well. The harbors of port cities were rebuilt, as well as the merchant fleet, which had used for the war and had been totally destroyed by the Iberian Navy. In the army, older generals who were defeated in the war were forced to leave their posistions, and younger soldiers who were willing to accept new forms of warfare were put there instead. For transportation, many roads were improved on or replaced with railroads. The Peninsula Railroad, which began construction in 1855 and was completed in 1865, connected Rome to many cities in the south. In 1870, the railroad was extended to Florence, a city extremely close to the border.
In 1875, during the Continental War, the Kingdom was invaded by the Republic. 15,000 Republic troops poured over the border, aiming at Florence. The Republic hoped to destroyed telegraph and railroads there before the Kingdom could move troops. Stubborn Italian defense prevented this, and troops poured to the front. The Iberian Union, wanting to help its allies, began sending supplies to the Republic. Iberian ships began to board Kingdom ships and take the crew as prisoners and the boat. The Kingdom repsonded with a declaration of war. The Union then blockaded the Tyrrhenian Sea, with major bases on Corsica and Sardinia. This did not hamper the Italian economy, as trade could still be conducted through the Adriatic Sea, which was controlled by the Kingdom's allies. The war was a stalemate, and in 1880 a peace treaty was signed. The war was over, with no major advances for either side.The Kingdom was involved in the Sramble for Africa, and aided their ally, Great Britain, by sending soldiers to fight in the Anglo-Egyptian War in 1883. After winning the war, Great Britain created the Egyptian colony. The Kingdom set up a colony in Libya, next to Egypt. The colony expanded southward into the interior of Africa, which created the need for better transportation for goods coming from the interior to the coast. A main railroad was created, with several branches coming off it. Libya was one of the smaller colonies in Africa, but King Joachim V said it was the "jewel of the continent."
Defeat in the Third Great European War
In the begining of the 20th century, issues over Africa and arms races divided the European continent. In 1902, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, and several other countries created the Great Alliance, and in response several other countries joined together to form the Paris Entente. The Alliance and the Entente jockeyed for position and power in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Union was angry at Italy because of the proposed "Gibraltar Territory". The Gibraltar Territory was proposed by the Alliance to the League of European Nations to create a League-controlled territory at the southern end of the Iberian Union. If the league controlled it, it would be much harder for the Union to block off Great Britain from the Meditteranean Sea. Tensions increased in 1913 with the Tunisia Crisis, in which the Union and Kingdom disputed Tunisia. To show off their might, the Union took over Tunis and killed 30 Italian soldiers and the local Italian colonial administater. The Kingdom responsed with a declaration of war, causing the chain of Alliances to declare war as well, beginning the Second Great European War.By the war's end in 1919, the northern part of the Kingdom laid in ruins, with Paris Entente campaigns devastating the region. Rome was also captured, and Joachim VI abdicated the throne. The Kingdom was forced to give up the northern part of the Kingdom as well as pay massive war reparations to the Republic and the Union. The monarchy soon began very unpopular in the Kingdom. New king Joachim VII, fearing a socialist or communist revolution, created the posistion of Prime Minister, and changed the country's government to more of a parliamentary democracy. The people, with the ability to voice their opinions to the government, became happy. However, the economy spiraled downward, and hyperinflation was massive. In 1929, the Great Depression worsened this, with thousands of Italians unemployed. The ruined country turned to Fascit leader Benito Mussolini, who promised to make the country better. He was elected Prime Minister in 1935, and quickly set to work on the country. The economy turned to the military, even though it was in violation of the Treaty of Munich. Factories opened up to create weapons, vehicles, aircraft, and ammunition. The armed forces were expanded, going from 100,000 men strong to nearly 10 million. Millions of tanks, vehicles, and aircraft were produced as well.
Mussolini's main problem was the young King Joachim VII. Joachim opposed Mussolini's militaristic policies, as the king actually hoped for the Kingdom to stay neutral in the coming wars, and grow stronger before, during, and after them. Mussolini longed for the king to be gone, but could not kill him because it would be treason in the eyes of the people. On April 1, 1937, a fire broke out in Rome, destroying the palace and the king inside it. Mussolini put blame on local workmen who he claimed were communists, and they were subsequently arrested. It is disputed if the fire was caused by the communists or Mussolini. Following the king's death, 11-year-old King Joachim VIII was next in line for the throne. Because he was too young, a regency had to be established. Mussolini used this to advantage, and the members of the regency were all hard core supporters of him.
Second Great War
With the king out of the way, Mussolini was free of restrictions. In 1939, the Kingdom invaded Ethiopia, beginning the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. The war was used to test new weapons, and they were successful, and the Ethiopians were destroyed in the six-month war. After other territorial conquests in the region, the colony of Italian East Africa was created. In a daring move against the European powers that opposed him, Mussolini invaded the Kingdom's former colony of Libya, which after the Second Great European War was turned into the Free State of Libya. The Libyians were no match for the aweing Italian weapons, and were defeated in seven months. The Organization of Nations attempted to impose sanctions on Italy, so the Kingdom left it. This led to the Kingdom's allies to leave as well. The boiling point came in 1941, when Italy claimed that the Republic had massacred supporters of the Kingdom. After a false flag operation, the Kingdom launched a massive invasion of its northern neighbor, beginning the Second Great War.
Their invasion of the Republic was a huge success, with the president and other advisors forced to flee to the Iberian Union. Italy then turned Africa, and set up defensive fortifactions in western Libya to prevent Spanish soldiers from striking the colony. The Kingdom then invaded Egypt, destroying the British defenders in several battles. Cairo, Alexandria, and all the other important cities were captured by the Italians. The Kingdom was right up to the Suez Canal. The British and Indians were forced to put down a rebellion in Iraq, allowing Mussolini to consolidate his new territories. Mussolini claimed that his plans for a New Roman Empire were coming into fruition. Mussolini then turned west into Spanish colonies.
In his way was General Francisco Franco, whose military units were well-disciplined and were ready to fight to the death. The Kingdom troops were overconident and arrogant, and were unprepared for the ferocity of the Iberians. The Iberians soon launched a counterattack, forcing the Italians back. As they were about to be pushed out of the Spanish land, they launched a desperate attack on Algiers, but the attack was repulsed. Worse for the Italians, the British were back and put down the rebellion. The Italian territories were being squeezed from the sides, and could not hold back both sides. Libya was conquered in 1944, and an offensive was prepared for the Italian Peninsula. A large attack was launched on Sicily, and by summer 1945 the island was under the control of the Allies. A second attack occured, this time on the peninsula itself. A German attack in northern Italy was the nail in the coffin for the Kingdom. In late 1946, Rome was captured after heavy fighting.
In 1947, it was agreed that Sicily and the Italian Peninsula would be given to the Republic of Italy, signifying the end of the Kingdom of Italy.