Military Wiki
Regio Esercito (RE)
Royal Army
Flag of Italy (1860).svg
War Flag of the Regio Esercito
Active 1861–1946
Country  Kingdom of 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
Italo-Ethiopian War (1895–1896)
Italo-Turkish War
World War I
Italo-Ethiopian War (1935–1936)
Spanish Civil War
World War II
Ceremonial chief First Marshal of the Empire
Benito Mussolini,
Pietro Badoglio,
Luigi Cadorna,
Armando Diaz

The Regio Esercito (English: 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. 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. The creation decree by which the new army replaced the previous Army of the Kingdom of Sardinia (Armata Sarda) and the Army of the Two Sicilies was signed by Manfredo Fanti on 4 May 1861.

The first task of the new organization were the repression of brigandage in southern Italy (against irregular/guerrilla forces, mixed with bands of true criminals, which did not 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 States till then.

On 8 February 1885 a corps of less than 1,000 soldiers landed at Massaua, in Eritrea, starting the creation of an Italian colonial empire. The Italian advance was halted by the abysmal defeat at the Battle of Adwa against the 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 expedition force was constituted to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China in defence 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 a treaty in Ouchy near Lausanne (the First Treaty of Lausanne).[1][2]

World War I

The army's first real taste of modern warfare was in World War I. The war was fought mostly in northern Italy, and during it Italians suffered millions of casualties including over 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 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.[citation needed] 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 Salò Republic, which fielded its own army which was called the National Republican Army (Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano). On the other side there was the Italian Co-Belligerent Army (Esercito Cobelligerante del Sud) 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 as their allegiance was to King Victor Emmanuel and to Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia) Pietro Badoglio, the men had been called to replace Mussolini.

The kingdom was replaced by a republic in 1946 and the Royal Army changed its name to become the Esercito Italiano.

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. 58–62 doi:10.2307/2212446
  2. "Treaty of Lausanne, October, 1912". Mount Holyoke College, Program in International Relations. 

External links

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