How Many Blackshirts Marched on Rome?

By Alice Nichols

How Many Blackshirts Marched on Rome?

The March on Rome was a key event in the rise of Fascism in Italy. It took place in October 1922, when Benito Mussolini and his Blackshirt paramilitary group marched on the Italian capital. The march marked the beginning of Mussolini’s ascent to power and the establishment of his fascist regime.

The Blackshirts

The Blackshirts, or Squadristi, were the paramilitary wing of Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. They were known for their black shirts, which gave them their name, and their violent tactics. The Blackshirts were largely made up of World War I veterans and unemployed young men who were attracted to the promise of action and a strong leader.

Mussolini’s Rise to Power

Mussolini rose to prominence as a journalist and political agitator in the years following World War I. He founded the National Fascist Party in 1921, which quickly gained support among disaffected Italians who were disillusioned with the post-war political climate.

The March on Rome

In October 1922, Mussolini decided to seize power by leading a march on Rome. The march was initially planned as a show of strength and a demand for governmental reforms, but it quickly escalated into a full-blown coup attempt.

On October 28th, around 30,000 Blackshirts gathered outside Rome and began their march towards the capital. As they moved closer to the city, their numbers swelled with supporters who joined them along the way.

The Fascist Regime

By October 31st, an estimated 50,000 Blackshirts had reached Rome. The city was in chaos as the Blackshirts clashed with police and government forces. Mussolini demanded that King Victor Emmanuel III appoint him as Prime Minister, or he would unleash a full-scale revolution.

Under pressure from both Mussolini and the threat of further violence, the king relented and asked Mussolini to form a government. On October 31st, 1922, Mussolini was sworn in as Prime Minister of Italy.

The Legacy

The March on Rome solidified Mussolini’s position as the leader of Italy and allowed him to consolidate power. It marked the beginning of the Fascist regime, which lasted until Mussolini’s downfall in 1943.

  • The March on Rome demonstrated the effectiveness of mass mobilization and propaganda in seizing power.
  • It also highlighted the weaknesses of Italy’s liberal democracy and the failure of established political parties to address the concerns of ordinary Italians.
  • Mussolini’s rise to power paved the way for other fascist movements across Europe, with Adolf Hitler taking inspiration from his methods.

In conclusion, an estimated 50,000 Blackshirts marched on Rome during the March on Rome in October 1922. This event marked a turning point in Italian history and set the stage for Mussolini’s fascist regime.