Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Both Italy and Prussia-Germany were united from the years 1870-1871. Instead of small provinces, the country became united under one political leadership. Their unification received the help of France and from the Austro-Hungarians backing off their claims. Italy formed a Royal Navy, increased industrial output and worked towards internal reforms.

The internal improvements failed to raise them to the status of a world power. Relative to the other world powers like Germany and Great Britain, Italy lacked a strong and efficient navy and a standing army. Although Italy had iron and steel industries they were dwarfed by that of their neighboring countries.

Why did Italy's development lag so far behind that of Germany, or other European powers?

share|improve this question
1  
Are you asking a question and answering it at the same time? –  coleopterist Dec 6 '12 at 7:51
1  
Just a quick question, do most of you people have PhD or grad student credentials? I am not getting the impression that history stackexchange is similar to mathstackexchange at all. –  Person Dec 6 '12 at 7:58
3  
@Person How is that relevant? Credentials mean nothing --verifiable facts are all that matter and they can come from a farmer or a doctor. –  Monster Truck Dec 6 '12 at 9:18
1  
You will want to ask such questions on meta. –  coleopterist Dec 6 '12 at 9:19
2  
@Person: Presumably most people here are not professionals. Myself, I do have a Ph.D. - but it's in mathematics, not in history. :) Btw, mathstackexchange is also not populated only by pros, nevertheless it's a decent resource. The professional mathematicians actually hang out on mathoverflow. Back to the point, this site is surprisingly good. Almost all the questions are interesting and quite a few of the answers are knowledgeable and enlightening. Others aren't. You do need some experience so separate the wheat from the chaff, of course. –  Felix Goldberg Dec 6 '12 at 9:49
show 7 more comments

2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

December 2012 BBC History magazine contains an article that analyzes popular support for Benito Mussolini. In passing the article mentions a widespread perception on the part of Italians that liberal government had utterly failed. Fascisim saved them from the obscurity and humiliation to which liberalism would have doomed them. I suspect that the conditions that led to the perception that liberal democracy had failed also contributed to Italy's inability to project power on the world stage.

I don't have sufficient scholarship to make the case, but I suspect that the first generation after unification set the stage for divergence between Germany and Italy. Germany under Bismarck developed a vigorous central state that opposed democracy. Italy pursued a more liberal democratic course:

The government of the new kingdom took place in a framework of parliamentary constitutional monarchy dominated by liberal forces. In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted. As Northern Italy quickly industrialized, the South and rural areas of North remained underdeveloped and overpopulated, forcing millions of people to migrate abroad, while the Italian Socialist Party constantly increased in strength, challenging the traditional liberal and conservative establishment. Wikipedia

If I remember correctly, Niall Ferguson's book Civilization also contains a discussion of the difference in development between Northern and Southern Europe that may be relevant to your question.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Italy is also more separated by geographical features than Germany is. I also am under the impression that the linguistic differences among various groups that became Italy were greater than those in Germany.

share|improve this answer
    
These are just speculations, not really useful as an answer. Could be a fine comment, though. –  Lohoris Nov 26 '13 at 10:09
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.