Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Many of these war veterans tried to take it upon themselves to redress this injustice on their own by seizing on a particular port city and, by taking it, hopefully forcing the Italian government to take action in favor of their cause. This was the famous seizure of Fiume or ‘Fiume Exploit’, on the Dalmatian coast, led by the poet and war veteran Gabriele d’Annunzio. This was an historically Italian city (a long-time outpost of Venice) that had been part of Austria-Hungary during the war but which afterward was to be handed over to the newly contrived Kingdom of Yugoslavia rather than the Kingdom of Italy. Father Giuliani was part of this effort with what was called the “Catholic Legionnaires”. These men and the other legionnaires declared an Italian regency over the port which the international community tried to side-step by declaring it a “free city” that would belong to neither Italy nor Yugoslavia. The Italian Royal Navy moved in to end the regency by force in 1920, however, the enterprise made such an impression that several years later Fiume was finally annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
Over the next ten years, Father Giuliani did not have so high a profile. The Fascist regime busied itself with domestic issues dealing with the economy, industrial production, agricultural production, improvement of the national infrastructure and so on while Father Giuliani, of course, had his religious duties to attend to. However, he came back to prominence again with the outbreak of war with Ethiopia. Father Giuliani was an outspoken supporter of the war feeling that it was not only justified by the Ethiopian attack but hailing it as a Catholic crusade against heretics (presumably referring to the Copts) and heathens (presumably referring to the animists) to spread Roman civilization in eastern Africa. Once again, Father Giuliani rushed to the colors to enlist with the Royal Army as a field chaplain. He was assigned to the Eritrean Corps with the MVSN division of General Filippo Diamanti. Father Giuliani had lost none of his tenacity or courage and was persistently at the front with the troops. Finally, however, he paid the price when he was killed in action at the Battle of Warieu Pass (or Second Battle of Tembien). Father Giuliani was cut down by Ethiopian warriors while trying to come to the aid of wounded Italian soldiers. For his heroism and self-sacrifice he was posthumously awarded the gold medal for military valor.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
|The Italian submarine Benedetto Brin|
Once arriving in Bordeaux, it took some time to repair the Brin and fully restore it to fighting shape after the ordeal it went through on the way there. Everything was finally in order for a proper war patrol in the summer of 1941 and on June 13, 1941 Longanesi-Cattani and his men participated in an attack on an Allied convoy. It was a great success with the Brin, in only about fifteen minutes, sinking two merchant ships (one a Greek vessel and the other a French ship in use by the British) as well as damaging two more. For this achievement, Longanesi-Cattani was awarded the Silver Medal for Military Valor as well as the German Iron Cross second class. The commander of all German submarines and all Axis submarines in the Atlantic, Admiral Karl Doenitz met with Captain Luigi Longanesi-Cattani and the two became good friends. However, little more than a month later he was ordered to return to Italy, making the dangerous passage in front of Gibraltar again, but arriving safely in Naples with several victory pennants flying.
|Longanesi-Cattani on Leonardo daVinci|
By this time, pressure was being placed on Brazil to join the war and with Allied convoys in the North Atlantic so heavily guarded, it was correctly thought that the Brazilian shipping lanes would offer greater opportunities for the larger Axis submarines such as the Italian boats and the German Type-IX’s that had sufficient range to operate in the South Atlantic. Longanesi-Cattani was sent in and patrolled off the coast of Brazil but was later diverted to the African coast. On June 2, 1942 he sank a large schooner with his deck gun, the Reine Marie Stuart, and a few days later sank the British ship Chile with a single torpedo. On June 10 he successfully torpedoed the Dutch ship Alioth (also with gunfire which was not uncommon for Italian submarines since their torpedoes were not as effective as the German magnetic type) and later another steamer, the Clan McQuarrie. Longanesi-Cattani had become an “ace” sub skipper, sinking more than five ships and returned to port to receive another Silver Medal and the Iron Cross first class from his German ally. After a job well done, in August he was ordered back to Italy for a new assignment, his boat to be given to Gianfranco Gazzana-Priaroggia who would gain fame as Italy’s most successful submarine commander.
|Greeted by the admiral returning to port|
|Longanesi-Cattani on the bridge of his submarine|
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
|Grand Duke Cosimo I|
|war galley of the Order of St Stephen|
|Grand Duke Ferdinando III|
|Grand Duke Leopoldo II|
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Mary of Modena, the daughter of the Duke of Modena and Laura Martinozzi. When the end of the Stuart reign, British monarchs mostly restricted themselves to German spouses but the Italian connections to the House of Stuart were only strengthened. The son of King James II and his Italian bride Queen Mary of Modena, who would have been King James III, spent the final years of his life in Italy, living in a palace gifted to him by the Pope in Rome. His son, "Bonnie Prince Charlie", who would have been King Charles III, spent most of his life in Italy, growing up largely in Rome and after the failed Jacobite uprising of 1745 and some years in France, returned to Italy and lived in Florence. In fact, he had his first experience of battle in Italy at the 1734 siege of Gaeta. He died with no legitimate heir and was succeeded by his brother, Cardinal York, who of course had no children and so the Stuart claim to the British throne then passed to the Italian royal house.
Anne Marie of Orleans, who married King Vittorio Amadeo II of Piedmont-Sardinia, House of Savoy. Because of that union, when Prince Henry, Cardinal York, last male heir of the Stuart line died, their claim to the British throne fell to King Carlo Emanuele IV of Piedmont-Sardinia, making the head of the House of Savoy the pretender to the British throne as "King Charles IV" in 1807, though he never pressed such a claim. The Stuart claim remained with the House of Savoy until the death of Princess Maria Beatrice of Savoy, wife of the Duke of Modena after which it fell to a cadet branch of the House of Habsburg and finally the Bavarian royal House of Wittelsbach (it is next set to pass to the princely House of Liechtenstein). Had then things gone differently in the course of history, the British and the Italians might have shared a royal family, at least for a period of time.
Friday, September 2, 2016
Elected in 847 AD, Pope Leo IV was a native Roman and reigned during a time of great danger for Italy and Christendom as a whole. By this time, Muslim armies had come out of the deserts of Arabia to invade and conquer the Middle East, all of North Africa and were well advanced into Spain. The island of Sicily, for example, had been conquered and made into a Muslim emirate for almost twenty years when Leo IV came to the Throne of St Peter. That same year, 847, saw the Islamic conquest of Bari in Apulia and the establishment of the Emirate of Bari. Muslim raids on Italian coastal towns and cities were a frequent occurrence and the Eternal City of Rome was not immune from danger. Most worrisome to the Pope was the number of people who, in return for special treatment for themselves, aided the Saracen invaders in making war and pillaging the lands of their fellow Italians in rival cities. The year before his election, Muslim invaders had sailed up the Tiber River and pillaged the outskirts of Rome itself, desecrating the churches of Old St Peter's and St Paul's Outside-the-Walls. Further damage was prevented only by the still standing Aurelian Wall, built in the Third Century by the Emperor of Rome.
|Pope St Leo IV waving to crowds below|
|Map of the Leonine City|
Monday, August 22, 2016
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
|Eritrean colonial troops|
There were, of course, bound to be setbacks. When the Italians took control of Eritrea, one of the local chieftains who had given his approval was one Sahle Maryam of Shewa. In exchange for this, Italy gave him support such as modern weapons in defeating his rivals to take control of Ethiopia as Emperor Menelik II. A treaty was signed that was supposed to ensure peace between the two, however, there was a discrepancy in the wording as it read differently in the Italian-language and Amharic-language versions. One established, essentially, an Italian protectorate over Ethiopia and the other said that Ethiopia could have Italian protection but only if and when they wanted it. Each side, of course, accused the other of changing the text in their version, Menelik II broke off diplomatic relations with Italy, effectively declaring war. A small Italian colonial army of a little over 17,500 men was later attacked by an Ethiopian army of around 100,000 and almost totally wiped out, ending, for the time being at least, any idea of Italy establishing any sort of control or influence over Ethiopia.
|Italian troops landing in Libia|
|Italian troops in Ethiopia|
|Albanian militia unit|
|Marshal Graziani in Mogadishu|
|Asmara station, Eritrea|
|Haile Selassie and one of his lions|
|Gaddafi with African chiefs|