Abstract: Claudia Baldoli „The Catholic Peasant Protest against War in the Po Valley, 1914–1917“
Confrontation between interventionists and neutralists in Italian cities and countryside saw the former prevail between autumn 1914 and spring 1915. The stereotyped image of an immobile peasant mass waiting passively to be directed by others does not reflect the reality of the war years; indeed, sections of the peasantry demonstrated actively against the war.
My contribution proposes to explore the forms, language and content of the peasant protest in the Po Valley in northern Italy against interventionism and war. In particular, it will focus on the activity of the Catholic peasant Leagues and on the writings of their leaders.
The newspaper of the Catholic Leagues L’Azione supported forms of protest often more radical than those of the socialists. Its intransigent rejection of war was based on sociological considerations, pacifist belief, and evangelical reasons. This contribution examines their arguments and their forms of resistance between 1914 and the most difficult year for Italian neutralism – 1917, with the defeat at Caporetto, and the emergence of interventionist violence which anticipated the Fascist squadrismo of the following years.