Who's Who - Vittorio Orlando

Vittorio Orlando Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (1860-1952) served as Italy's Prime Minister in 1917 following the Italian army's humiliating defeat at Caporetto.

Born on 19 May 1860, Orlando was raised in Palermo, Sicily.  Aside from his prominent political role Orlando is also renowned for his 100+ writings on legal and judicial issues; Orlando was himself a professor of law.

From 1903-05 Orlando served as Minister of Education under King Victor Emanuel III.  In 1907 he was appointed Minister of Justice, a role he retained until 1909; he was subsequently re-appointed to the same ministry in November 1914 until his appointment as Minister of the Interior in June 1916.

The following year, on 30 October 1917, saw Orlando's appointment as Prime Minister, coming fresh in the wake of the disastrous campaign at Caporetto.  Always a strong proponent of Italy's role in the war, Orlando was encouraged in his support of the Allies on the basis of secret promises made by the latter promising significant Italian territorial gains in Dalmatia (at the 1915 Treaty of London).

With his appointment as Prime Minister having boosted national morale, Orlando replaced Cadorna as Chief of Staff with Diaz.  The following year consequently saw Italian success at Vittorio Veneto.

Prime Minister until the end of the war, Orlando headed the Italian contingent at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.  Unable however to obtain the expected territorial concessions - he ran up against U.S. President Wilson's policy of national self-determination, particularly with regard to Fiume - he dramatically left the conference early, in April 1919, returning only to sign the resultant treaty the following month.

His political position seriously undermined by his apparent failure to secure Italian interests at the Paris Peace Conference, Orlando resigned from office on 19 June 1919.  He was succeeded as Premier by Franceso Nitti.

In December of the same year Orlando was elected president of the Chamber of Deputies.  He was an early supporter of Benito Mussolini's fascist government upon its inception in 1922, although he withdrew his support two years later following the political murder of the prominent socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti.

In 1927 Orlando resigned from the Chamber of Deputies, serving thereafter in the Constituent Assembly.  He devoted increasing time to writing and teaching.

With Mussolini's fall Orlando became leader of the Conservative Democratic Union.  He was elected president of the Constituent Assembly in June 1946, although reservations about the peace treaty brought about his resignation in 1947.

The following year saw his election to the new Italian Senate; the same year he was a candidate for the presidency of the republic (elected by Parliament) but was defeated by Luigi Einaudi.

He died on 1 December 1952 in Rome.

Click here to read the urgent appeal issued by the Prime Ministers of France, Italy and Britain to President Woodrow Wilson for additional troop supplies in early June 1918.

An Adrian Helmet was a French regulation helmet named after its designer.

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