Italian Regency of Carnaro

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Italian Regency of Carnaro
Reggenza Italiana del Carnaro
Flag of Carnaro
Emblem of Carnaro
("Who is against us?")
Map of the "Italian Regency of Carnaro".
Map of the "Italian Regency of Carnaro".
StatusUnrecognized state
Common languagesItalian
GovernmentProvisional authoritarian republic
• 1919-1920
Gabriele D'Annunzio
LegislatureArengo del Carnaro
Consiglio degli Ottimi
Consiglio dei Provvisori
Historical eraInterwar period
• Coup d'état and establishment
12 September 1919
• Modus Vivendi Plebiscite
18 December 1919
8 September 1920
12 November 1920
• Conquered
29 December 1920
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Corpus separatum (Fiume)
Free State of Fiume
Today part ofCroatia

The Italian Regency of Carnaro (Italian: Reggenza Italiana del Carnaro), also known in Italian as Impresa di Fiume (lit.'Endeavour of Fiume'), was a self-proclaimed state in the city of Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia) led by Gabriele d'Annunzio between 1919 and 1920.

Impresa di Fiume[edit]

d'Annunzio on a 1920 Fiume postage stamp.

During World War I (1914–1918), Italy made a pact with the Allies, the Treaty of London (1915), in which it was promised all of the Austrian Littoral, but not the city of Fiume. After the war, at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, this delineation of territory was confirmed, with Fiume (or Rijeka) remaining outside of Italian borders and amalgamated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

As a nationalist, Gabriele D'Annunzio was angered by what he considered to be the surrender of an Italian city. On 12 September 1919, he led a force that was about 2,600-strong and drawn mostly from former or serving members of the Granatieri di Sardegna brigade of the Royal Italian Army, as well as Italian nationalists and irredentists. Many members of D'Annunzio's force were reputedly veterans of the Battles of the Isonzo.[citation needed]

They were successful in seizing control of the city, and forced the withdrawal of the Allied (US, British and French) occupying forces. The march from Ronchi dei Legionari to Fiume, by D'Annunzio's so-called "legionaries", became known as the Impresa di Fiume ("Fiume endeavor", or "Fiume enterprise").

Gabriele d'Annunzio (centre; with the cane) and some "legionaries" – in this case former members of the Arditi (shock troops) corps of the Italian Army, at Fiume in 1919. To the right of D'Annunzio, facing him, is Lieutenant Arturo Avolio (commander of a famed World War I Arditi platoon).

On the same day, D'Annunzio announced that he had annexed the territory to the Kingdom of Italy. He was enthusiastically welcomed by the ethnic Italian portion of the population of Fiume.[1] This was opposed by the Italian government, which attempted to pressure D'Annunzio to withdraw. The government initiated a blockade of Fiume and demanded that the plotters surrender. During his time in Fiume in September 1919, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti praised the leaders of the impresa as "advance guard deserters" (disertori in avanti).

Modus vivendi[edit]

On December 8, the Italian government proposed a modus vivendi recognizing Fiume's desire for annexation and promising they would "only consider acceptable a solution consonant with that which Fiume declared to desire."[2] On December 11 and 12, D'Annunzio met with General Pietro Badoglio to try and obtain more concessions. Badoglio refused, and D'Annunzio said he would submit the modus vivendi to the Italian National Council of Fiume. The National Council accepted the proposal on December 15.[3]

After the National Council's decision, D'Annunzio addressed a crowd of five thousand people and incited them to reject the modus vivendi, promising to put the issue to a plebiscite. The plebiscite was held on December 18, and despite violence and irregularities the results were overwhelmingly in favour of the modus vivendi. D'Annunzio nullified the results, blaming the violence at the polls, and announced he would make the final decision himself. He ultimately rejected the modus vivendi. According to Michael Ledeen, D'Annunzio made this decision because he distrusted the Italian government and doubted their ability to deliver on their promises.[4]


Ensign of Carnaro

On 8 September 1920, D'Annunzio proclaimed the city to be under the Italian Regency of Carnaro with a constitution foreshadowing some of the later Italian Fascist system, with himself as dictator, with the title of Comandante.

The name Carnaro was taken from the Golfo del Carnaro (Kvarner Gulf), where the city is located. It was temporarily expanded by D'Annunzio in order to include the island of Veglia.


The Charter of Carnaro (Carta del Carnaro in Italian) was a constitution that combined Sorelian national syndicalist, corporativist and democratic republican ideas. D'Annunzio is often seen as a precursor of the ideals and techniques of Italian fascism. His own explicit political ideals emerged in Fiume when he coauthored the charter with syndicalist Alceste De Ambris. De Ambris provided the legal and political framework, to which D'Annunzio added his skills as a poet. The charter designates music a "religious and social institution."


The constitution established a corporatist state,[5] with nine corporations to represent the different sectors of the economy, where membership was mandatory, plus a symbolic tenth corporation devised by D'Annunzio, to represent the "superior individuals" (e.g. poets, "heroes" and "supermen"). The other nine were as follows:

  • Industrial and Agricultural Workers
  • Seafarers
  • Employers
  • Industrial and Agricultural Technicians
  • Private Bureaucrats and Administrators
  • Teachers and Students
  • Lawyers and Doctors
  • Civil Servants
  • Co-operative Workers


The executive power would be vested in seven ministers (rettori):

  • Foreign Affairs
  • Treasury
  • Education
  • Police and Justice
  • Defence
  • Public Economy
  • Labor


The legislative power was vested in a bicameral legislature. Joint sessions of both councils (Arengo del Carnaro) would be responsible for treaties with foreign powers, amendments to the constitution, and appointment of a dictator in times of emergency.

  • Council of the Best (Consiglio degli Ottimi): Elected by universal suffrage for a 3-year term, with 1 councilor per 1000 population, this council was responsible for legislation concerning civil and criminal justice, police, armed forces, education, intellectual life and relations between the central government and communes.
  • Council of Corporations (Consiglio dei Provvisori): Consisting of 60 members chosen by nine corporations for a 2-year term, this council was responsible for laws regulating business and commerce, labor relations, public services, transportation and merchant shipping, tariffs and trade, public works, medical and legal professions.


Judicial power was vested in the courts:

  • Supreme Court (Corte della Ragione, literally "Court of Reason")
  • Communal Courts (Buoni Uomini, literally "Good Men")
  • Labour Court (Giudici del Lavoro, "Labour-law Judges")
  • Civil Court (Giudici Togati, "Robe-wearing Judges")
  • Criminal Court (Giudici del Maleficio, where "Maleficio" is a literary form for "wrongdoing", but it can also mean "curse")


Benito Mussolini was influenced by portions of the constitution, and by D'Annunzio's style of leadership as a whole. D'Annunzio has been described as the John the Baptist of Italian Fascism,[6] as virtually the entire ritual of Fascism was invented by D'Annunzio during his occupation of Fiume and his leadership of the Italian Regency of Carnaro.[7] These included the balcony address, the Roman salute, the cries of "Eia, eia, eia! Alala!" taken from the Achilles' cry in the Iliad, the dramatic and rhetorical dialogue with the crowd, and the use of religious symbols in new secular settings.[6] It also included his method of government in Fiume: the economics of the corporate state; stage tricks; large emotive nationalistic public rituals; and blackshirted followers, the Arditi, with their disciplined, bestial responses and strongarm repression of dissent.[8] He was even said to have originated the practice of forcibly dosing opponents with large amounts of castor oil, a very effective laxative, to humiliate, disable or kill them, a practice which became a common tool of Mussolini's blackshirts.[9][10][11]


The approval of the Treaty of Rapallo on 12 November 1920 turned Fiume into an independent state, the Free State of Fiume.

D'Annunzio ignored the Treaty of Rapallo and declared war on Italy itself. On 24 December 1920 the Royal Italian Army, led by General Enrico Caviglia, launched a full-scale attack against Fiume: after several hours of intense fighting, a truce was proclaimed for Christmas day; the battle subsequently resumed on 26 December. Since D'Annunzio's legionnaires were refusing to surrender and were strongly resisting the attack using machine guns and grenades, the Italian dreadnoughts Andrea Doria and Duilio opened fire on Fiume and bombed the city for three days. D'Annunzio resigned on 28 December and the Regency capitulated on 30 December 1920, being occupied by Italian forces.

The Free State of Fiume would officially last until 1924, when Fiume was formally annexed to the Kingdom of Italy under the terms of the Treaty of Rome. The administrative division was called the Province of Fiume.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Images of Fiume welcoming d'Annunzio Archived 2011-03-16 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Ledeen, Michael A. (2002). D'Annunzio: The First Duce. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. p. 134.
  3. ^ Ledeen, Michael A. (2002). D'Annunzio: The First Duce. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. pp. 135–136.
  4. ^ Ledeen, Michael A. (2002). D'Annunzio: The First Duce. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. pp. 136–137.
  5. ^ Parlato, Giuseppe (2000). La sinistra fascista (in Italian). Bologna: Il Mulino. p. 88.
  6. ^ a b Ledeen, Michael Arthur (2001). "Preface". D'Annunzio: the First Duce (2, illustrated ed.). Transaction Publishers. ISBN 9780765807427.
  7. ^ Paxton, Robert O. (2005). "Taking Root". The Anatomy of Fascism. Vintage Series (reprint ed.). Random House, Inc. pp. 59–60. ISBN 9781400040940.
  8. ^ The United States and Italy, H. Stuart Hughes, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1953, pp. 76 and 81–82.
  9. ^ Cecil Adams, Did Mussolini use castor oil as an instrument of torture? Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine, The Straight Dope, 22 April 1994. Accessed 6 November 2006.
  10. ^ Richard Doody, "Stati Libero di Fiume – Free State of Fiume". Archived from the original on 8 March 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2002., The World at War.
  11. ^ Cali Ruchala, ""Superman, Supermidget": the Life of Gabriele D'Annunzio, Chapter Seven: The Opera". Archived from the original on 10 February 2005. Retrieved 6 November 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), Degenerate magazine, Diacritica (2002).

Further reading[edit]

  • Reill, Dominique Kirchner. The Fiume Crisis: Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire (2020) online review[dead link]

External links[edit]