London, Treaty of


London, Treaty of
   The agreements signed in London on 26 April 1915, induced Italy to join the war as an Anglo-French ally with the objective of neutralizing Austria. At war’s end Italy was to gain control over South Tyrol, Trentino, Gorizia, Gradisca, Trieste, Istria, and portions of the Dalmatian Coast. It was also to get a protectorate over Durazzo (Albania), sovereignty over the Dodecanese Islands, and—in Asia Minor—Adalia, if Turkey should be partitioned in Asia. Moreover, if Great Britain and France divided Germany’s colonies, Italy would receive compensation enlarging Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia. In return, Italy pledged to go to war within a month of signing, that is, before 26 May 1915. Not only was the text of this treaty not discussed in Parliament, it was not made public until Russian archives had been opened by the communists in the last year of the war and many documents were published in the neutral Swedish press. Once the United States entered the war and Russia had withdrawn (after the 1917 Revolution and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk), the Treaty of London was a dead letter. The United States had not been a signatory so was not bound to overlook the contradictions between the treaty and President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points, which promised Serbia access to the sea and national self-determination. Italy’s fury when it became clear that the Paris peace conference would renege on the Treaty of London knew no bounds. Italian nationalists deplored the “mutilated peace” and Premier Vittorio Emmanuele Orlando left Paris in disgust in April 1919 (although he later returned to the conference table). In 1916, the Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France regarding oil-rich territories in the Middle East excluded Italy, thus necessitating a special treaty to placate Italian interests. This was the Treaty of St. Jean de Maurienne (17 April 1917), which promised Italy Smyrna as well as Adalia—thus, for the first time, showing a readiness to put Ottoman Turks under foreign rule. The treaty was never ratified, and the failure to give Italy a foothold in the Middle East also served as a grievance for postwar Italian governments.
   See also Fiume; World War I.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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