Royal Italian Army

Regio Esercito (RE)
Royal Italian Army

War Flag of the Regio Esercito
Active 1861–1946
Country Italy
Allegiance King of Italy
Type Army
Size 5,000,000 (1915)
3,000,000 (1939)
6,000,000 (1943)
Colors Green, White and Red
Anniversaries 4 November
Engagements Italian War of Independence
Mahdist War
Italo-Ethiopian War (1895–96)
Boxer Rebellion
Italo-Turkish War
World War I
Pacification of Libya
Italo-Ethiopian War (1935–36)
Spanish Civil War
Italian invasion of Albania
World War II
Ceremonial chief First Marshal of the Empire
Victor Emmanuel II,
Pietro Badoglio,
Luigi Cadorna,
Armando Diaz
Alfredo Guzzoni

The Royal Italian Army (Italian: Regio Esercito, "Royal Army") was the army of the Kingdom of Italy from the unification of Italy in 1861 to the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946. In World War II the Royal Army fought first as part of the Axis (1939–43) and then as part of the Allies (1943–45). After the monarchy ended, the army changed its name to become the Italian Army (Esercito Italiano).



The Regio Esercito dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, following the unification of Italy in 1861 after the Papal States were seized. On 4 May 1861, Manfredo Fanti signed the creation decree, by which the new army was to replace the previous Armata Sarda (Army of the Kingdom of Sardinia) and the Army of the Two Sicilies.

The first two task of the new organization were the repression of brigandage in southern Italy against irregular and guerrilla forces (mixed with bands of various criminals), who refused to accept the suppression of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies), and the Third War of Italian Independence. On 20 September 1870, the IV Corps captured Rome, which had remained under Papal control up until then.

On 8 February 1885, a corps of fewer than 1,000 soldiers landed at Massaua, Eritrea, starting the creation of an Italian colonial empire. The Italian advance was halted by an abysmal defeat at the Battle of Adwa by Ethiopian forces. The following year, as part of the Italian collaboration with the international pacification program after the revolt against the Turkish domination in Cyprus, another corps disembarked at Candia. On 14 July 1900, another expeditionary force was constituted to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China in defense of the European protectorates.

On 3 October 1911, Italy invaded Libya as part of the Italo-Turkish War. The war against the Ottoman Empire ended with the signing of the First Treaty of Lausanne in Ouchy, near Lausanne, Switzerland.[1][2]

World War I

The Royal Italian Army's first experience with modern warfare was in World War I, from 19151918. The war was fought mostly on the Italian Front in Northern Italy, costing the Italian Army serious casualties, including some 700,000 dead.

Interwar period

During the Interwar period, the army participated in the final subjugation of Libya, participated in the invasion of Ethiopia, provided troops and materials for the Corps of Volunteer Troops (Corpo Truppe Volontarie) to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and participated in the Italian invasion of Albania.

World War II

The Regio Esercito (Royal Army) was one of the largest ground forces in World War II, during which it was one of the pioneers of the use of paratroopers. Many Italian divisions were reinforced by a MVSN Gruppo di Assalto of two battalions due to the small size of the divisions.

In 1943, Italy surrendered and split into the Italian Social Republic, which fielded its own army, the Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano (National Republican Army). On the other side was the Esercito Cobelligerante del Sud (Italian Co-Belligerent Army), the army of the Italian Royalist forces, fighting on the side of the Allies in southern Italy after the Allied armistice with Italy in September 1943. The Italian soldiers fighting in this army no longer fought for Benito Mussolini, instead pledging their allegiance to King Vittorio Emanuele III and to Maresciallo d'Italia (Marshal of Italy) Pietro Badoglio, the men who had been called to replace Mussolini.

The Kingdom was ultimately replaced by the Italian Republic in 1946, and the Royal Army accordingly changed its name to become the Esercito Italiano (Italian Army).

Main campaigns

19th century

20th century

See also


  1. Treaty of Peace Between Italy and Turkey The American Journal of International Law, Vol. 7, No. 1, Supplement: Official Documents (Jan., 1913), pp. 5862 doi:10.2307/2212446
  2. "Treaty of Lausanne, October, 1912". Mount Holyoke College, Program in International Relations.
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