Mussolini’s Blackshirts March on Rome Seizing Total Control

Today on October 28, 1922, Benito Mussolini’s Blackshirts infamously March on Rome, seizing total control over the Italian government.

The March on Rome marked the beginning of Fascist rule over Italy, ending all social-liberal parliamentary regimes. Benito Mussolini was the founding member and leader of the Fascist Party in Italy. With an abundance of personality and charisma, he was capable of captivating massive crowds and attracting large swaths of loyal followers. The end of World War I resulted in unfavorable peace treaties for both Germany and Italy, leaving widespread discontent across the population and a fragile political environment. The government was ripe for the taking. On October 24, the fascist party leaders planned to March on Rome and seize power from the liberal regime. Nearly a decade later, Hitler too would rise to power in Germany on the basis of popular unrest.

On the morning of October 28, over 30,000 militia known as the Blackshirts marched on the capital city. Different groups simultaneously captured strategic locations throughout Italy. Prime Minister Luigi Facta immediately ordered a state of siege for Rome, which would have granted him access to the army. However, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy refused to sign the order. The King refused his request for fear of losing his own throne to the invading fascists if he did not capitulate. His decision to side with Mussolini likely prevented Italy from breaking out into a civil war.

The next day, King Emmanuel asked Mussolini to form a government, making him the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history at the time. Two days later, Mussolini arrived in Rome and held a triumphant parade across the city. He quickly transitioned into a totalitarian dictator and ruled over the country for another two decades until the end of World War II. As the Allies systemically bombed and captured Italy, Mussolini was forced to run for his life. He was eventually captured by his own people and executed by firing squad. His mutilated corpse was publicly displayed near a train station in Milan.

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