The March on Rome
|“Either the government will be given to us or will shall seize it by marching on Rome.”|
Mussolini, with the party’s hierarchy, drew up a blueprint on how to do this.
1. Fascists would be brought into Rome from all over Italy.
2. All-important public buildings would be taken over including those outside of Rome in the important cities in the north.
3. Mussolini would demand the resignation of the government and that a new Fascist government be allowed to take over.
4. Armed Fascists would be near Rome. If the government failed to meet these demands, they would march into Rome and take over by the use of force.
The plan was grandiose if naïve. The military in Rome far out-numbered the Fascists who were poorly armed. Many Fascists only had tools brought with them from farms. Many had the wrong clothing for a party that was trying to seize power.
However, Mussolini gambled on one thing. He believed that the Italian government lead by Facta and the king, Victor Emmanuel, did not want any form of conflict especially as Italy had suffered so much in World War One. Mussolini miscalculated with Facta – he wanted to make a firm stand against Mussolini. But Mussolini was correct with regards to the king. Victor Emmanuel was convinced that any form of conflict would lead to a civil war and he was not willing to contemplate that.
Victor Emmanuel also knew that his cousin, the Duke of Aosta, was a Fascist supporter. He was fearful that his cousin would replace him if he stood up to Mussolini and failed.
On October 29th, 1922, Mussolini was summoned to meet the king in Rome.
Mussolini arrived on October 30th and was sworn in as Prime Minister. Only then were the Fascists who had gathered outside of Rome allowed to march in triumph through Rome. Just five years earlier, Mussolini had been a corporal in the Italian Army fighting in World War One.