Sacro Egoismo or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neutrality

I think is better (even if personally, i think that before March/April 1915 Vienna is not really ready to seriously negotiate), still IMVHO at least a note about an earlier Von Bulow mission to try to mediate things between Italy and A-H is necessary
BTW i need to add another detail: Castello is dying and the Austrian government knows this. While I admit it is not much realistic, the Austrians' decision is also motivated by the fear that Sonnino or other italian nationalists will replace Castello as PM
BTW i need to add another detail: Castello is dying and the Austrian government knows this. While I admit it is not much realistic, the Austrians' decision is also motivated by the fear that Sonnino or other italian nationalists will replace Castello as PM

It can work, a little stretched sure but it can really work and hardly irrealistic but i also expect that the internal debate in the A-H goverment will be ferocious
Would it be a problem if the next update was a story in third person rather than a collections of texts from the people of this TL?
The world reacts
The news of the Trento Agreement and the following Italian neutrality in the conflict were received in different manners in the various European capitals.

While the news greatly irritated Paris and London, the most noticeable effects occurred with the Tsarist government in St. Petersburg, where the failure of the negotiations led to a considerable weakening of the Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov ,causing his eventual dismissal in February 1915

Not surprisingly, the reaction from Berlin was more contained: most of the German public was more concerned with Russia and France than Italy, and the Trento agreement was seen as a minor affair rather than the great diplomatic success like the chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg had been touting since the official signing.

Important to note are the actions undertaken by the Austrian government in the days following the signing of the agreement: under the direction of Emperor Franz Joseph, Vienna revealed the news of the Treaty only after its signature. At the same time the exact contents concerning Trento were heavily censored among the men present at the front for fear of unleashing riots or more simply discouraging the soldiers.

On the other hand, the Ottoman government certainly had a mixed reaction: while there was no doubt that Istanbul would have sided with the Central Powers, in any case the government of the three Pashas [1] formally protested with Berlin for being "too generous" with a country that less than five years earlier had declared war on Turkey and stolen "legitimate Turkish territories" [2].

Also noteworthy is the reaction from Greece, one of the few European states still neutral in the conflict: having occupied Northern Epirus since October of that year, the news that the whole of Albania would become an Italian protectorate it was not well received by Athens, which considered any Italian expansion in the area as a threat to its ambitions in the Balkans.

Ironically, the italian government's actions ended up repairing the relationship between King Constantine I and his prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos. While the two men initially disagreed about the position to be taken during the Great War [3], both considered Italy a dangerous rival since the end of the Italian-Turkish war [4].

Obviously the idea of a direct conflict with Italy was immediately excluded by the Greek government. While many nationalists now viewed the other Mediterranean country as an enemy, many feared that an open conflict would provide Bulgaria (then still neutral in the conflict) a pretext for intervening and regaining the territories lost during the Second Balkan War.

No, the alternative solution was to support armed groups present in Albania that could oppose the Italian army and possibly hinder Rome's ambitions in the region.

Unfortunately this was the source of another problem: Albania was completely devoid of a central government.Since the expulsion of Prince Wied [5], Albania had in fact become a complete disaster, whose political unrest was worsened by the presence of numerous rebels / warlords /bandits (with many of them being openly hostile to Greece) often at odds with each other and by the intervention of various foreign powers [6].
The risk that Greek support could easily have backfired in the future, causing the emergence of a stable and functional Albanian government, was certainly not ignored by Athens, but the fear of finding another hostile power near its borders and the possibility of an Italo-Bulgarian alliance was sufficient to silence these fears.

From documents issued by the Greek government since the 1960s, we now know that the Greek government came into contact with various armed groups between the end of December 1914 and the beginning of January 1915.

From what we can deduce from the documents, it seems clear that neither the Greek government nor the various rebels / brigants (especially Mihal Grameno, the comander of one of the larger groups) present in Albania trusted each other and that opposition to Italy was their only common interest.
There was no discussion about the Albanian territory occupied by Greece and there were never any discussions about a future alliance between the two countries.

-Except from Blood and Soil: the tragedy of the Balkans during the Great War, Richard M. Nixon

greece 1.jpg
greece 2.jpg

Constanine I king of Greece (left), Eleftherios Venizelos (center) and Mihal Grameno (right).


Map showing the greek occopation of Northern Epirus .



DURRES-Carlo Maria Alberto Aliotti was the victim of an attempted murder today in Durres.The ambassador was having dinner in one of the restaurants in the city when a group of men armed with knives broke into the room where he was having dinner.
Fortunately Aliotti managed to escape from his assailants, frightened but not injured.

While daily violence and armed gangs have unfortunately become the norm following the expulsion of Prince Wilhelm of Wied, the attack seems to be too organized to be a casual attack and many witnesses have stated that the assailants targeted only the ambassador, ignoring the others diners in the restaurant.

While the culprits have not yet been found, most of the suspicions are so far directed towards the anarchist and socialist circles present in Albania.
-La Domenica del Corriere, 12/29/1914

This is strange to say but i am pretty sure many people in the parliament were thrilled by the failed assasination attempt against Aliotti.
You know the saying "Never waste a crisis", don't you?

I mean everyone knew or at least suspected that the attack was a consequence of our aspirations towards Albania: the attack happened a few days after the announcement of the Trento Agreement, and ,well, Aliotti had previously supported both Essad Pasha Toptani [7] and Prince Wied, two extremely unpopular men in Albania.
All in all it was one of the few times in which both Sonnino and Giolitti agreed: an attack on a representative of the Italian government had to be punished in any case.
Even some socialists agreed with them, even if they did not directly approve of the military intervention.

It was perfect in short. In those days the whole situation was seen as a perfect opportunity to expand Italian influence in the Balkans, avoid involvement in the Great War by means of a small military expedition close to our borders and in addition it would have allowed a strengthening of the Liberal Union, possibly avoiding a future breakdown of the alliance.

Obviously I cannot say what the prime minister's exact feelings were in this regard: no one had seen him since his last speech before parliament and there were several rumors about his state of health.
All in all the subsequential events proved that we we should have paid more attention in those days. Maybe we would have avoided a lot of troubles.

-Except from Memories of a turbolent time , Victorio Emanuele Orlando


[1] The triumvirate of senior officials who effectively ruled the Ottoman Empire during World War I: Mehmed Talaat Pasha , the Grand Vizier (prime minister) and Minister of the Interior; Ismail Enver Pasha , the Minister of War; and Ahmed Djemal Pasha , the Minister of the Navy.

[2] Lybia and the Dodecanese islands

[3] Like OTL the king favored neutrality (mostly as a result of his admiration for the german empire and his family ties), while the PM hoped to use the war to conquer Constantinople and get rid of both the Ottomans and the Bulgarians

[4] The Dodecanese Islands were regarded as greek territory so Athens wasn't particoularly happy about the italian occupation of the region

[5]Prince Wilhelm of Wied. German ruler of Albania for little more than six months (7 March 1914–3 September 1914 )

[6] Besides Greece's occupation of Nothern Epirus, Serbia and Montenegro occupied parts of northern Albania like OTL.

[7] This guy:
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Sorry for the lack of a third person story, but i didn't particoularly like the final result so for now i am using the style i have previously used
IMHO, I think that part about Rijeka is problematic. I don't think that Hungarians would accept that. Rijeka was their main seaport and under their control. Giving it away to Austrians, major no-no...
IMHO, I think that part about Rijeka is problematic. I don't think that Hungarians would accept that. Rijeka was their main seaport and under their control. Giving it away to Austrians, major no-no...
I must have commited a mistake while writing, because i don't remember adding a part about Rijeka being transfered to the Italians
Sure that move will not backfire in face of Greece, no sir; regarding the north, well without italian support in their retreat the serbian deathtool will be even greater than OTL.

IMHO, I think that part about Rijeka is problematic. I don't think that Hungarians would accept that. Rijeka was their main seaport and under their control. Giving it away to Austrians, major no-no...

They are not giving them away, they simply add the term free-city at her, a term that mean 'nothing and everything' aka a fancy name to keep italy quiet while they try to find a way to not upheld their part of the bargain (unless they give Trentino away now, but i find difficult to see that)
A change of leadership

ROME-It was confirmed by sources close to the government that the prime minister died around midnight yesterday. An unexpected tragedy, the government now has the difficult task of finding a replacement who can continue Castello's work without a hitch.

-La Domenica del Corriere, 1/3/15

Antonino Paternò Castello, Marchese di San Giuliano, 21st Prime Minister of Italy ( 9 December 1852 - 3 January 1915)

The prime minister's death was the source of numerous troubles for the Italian government. Although his precarious state of health was well known to the members of his cabinet, the sudden news of his death nevertheless came as a surprise.
The main problem was finding a successor for Castello.

With the Treaty of Trento just marked, the worsening of the situation in Albania and the ongoing conflict, the position of prime minister was seen as a poisoned cup rather than a desirable position. In fact, the difficult diplomatic situation in which the Italian state was at the end of 1914 must be considered the main reason why almost nobody seemed particoularly eager of replacing Castello.

The main fear was that Vienna would use the sudden change of leadership to deny previously signed agreements. Ironically, there was also a fear in Vienna: the risk that politicians like Sonnino could take power was considered a scenario to be avoided at all costs to prevent a further front to be fought.

Perhaps this fear was the reason for the repetition of the same circumstances that had led to the birth of the Castello government a few months earlier: with a total lack of presentable candidates and the government in chaos, the idea of appointing Victorio Emanuele Orlando as new prime minister was presented .

Unfortunately we do not know how this idea originated: more than one political figure in the following years blamed his opponents and / or denied any responsibility.

The only sure thing is that during the extraordinary session of January 10, 1915, the Italian parliament voted in favor of Orlando as the new prime minister.

-Except from A nation without friends: Italy in the first half of the 20th century, Valerio Massimo Manfredi .


"Nobody wants to command a ship in the middle of the storm." This was Sonnino's response to the prospect of becoming Castello's successor. Now many criticize my actions in those days. I'm probably the only man criticized for doing too little and doing too much.

But what else could I do? If you see that your country is paralyzed, the natural reaction is to intervene.

Yes, I presented myself as Castello's replacement, but to say that no one had encouraged or promised me significant support is ridiculous. The truth is that no one could have done better than me, given the circumstances of the time.

I had been one of Castello's closest collaborators, I had been fundamental in the negotiations with the Central Powers and, moreover, I was well known among the various European governments. In 1915 my appointment was clearly the best solution.

Now I am criticized for accepting the appointment of Luigi Cadorna as Chief Of Staff and Giovanni Gentile as Minister of Education.

Well, I would like to point out that a compromise with the conservatives was necessary to guarantee the survival of the Liberal Coalition, especially after the collapse of the socialists and on the other hand the crisis in Albania had to be handled with decision and firmness. I could not waste time looking at every detail of Cadorna's war experience.

So yes, you can accuse me of being an opportunist if by "opportunist" you mean a man willing to take a responsibility rejected by everyone.

- Except from Memories of a turbolent time , Victorio Emanuele Orlando


Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 22st Prime Minister of Italy
The failure of socialism and other "moderate" political forms can easily be demonstrated by events in Italy, a country whose working class lacks a sense of preservation and impulses for improvement.

While the bourgeois of Europe fought each other on the battlefield, the Italian socialists instead of pushing their people to revolution, struggled to avoid conflict. Is it a surprise that immediately after Castello's death they immediately rushed to support his successor?

Ironically their own support was their downfall: perhaps they had underestimated the natural impulse of the bourgeois governments in the wars of conquest or perhaps as sheep they had not seen the imminent danger, but in any case the announcement of the invasion of Albania was a disaster for their party.

There was in fact a minority among their ranks who saw the war in Albania for what it was: the rope that the capitalists themselves had sold to hang them.
Is it therefore a surprise that more determined men like Benito Mussolini, Alceste De Ambris, Filippo Corridoni, and Angelo Oliviero Olivetti [1] decided to abandon that decadent group and created the National Syndicalist Union of the Italian Workers?

Yet they too failed after their biggest success . Perhaps this is an inherent problem in the Italian people ...

-Except from How the revolution was lost, Vladimir Lenin.


Filippo Corridoni and Benito Mussolini pose togheter for a photo shortly after the fundation of the National Syndicalist Union of the Italian Workers.


Although exploration of the complex Italian political situation is not the main topic of this book, a digression is still needed to explain the events that involved Albania during the Great War and in the following period.

Now we have already mentioned the circumstances that led to an almost total situation of anarchy in Albania, but we must also understand why Italy decided to intervene in the country.

The sudden death of Castello and the rise of Orlando must be seen as the main causes rather than the attack against ambassador Carlo Maria Alberto Aliotti : with the various members of the liberal Coalition still in conflict over the Great War and the irregular circumstances that led to the Orlando's appointment it was more than natural for the new government to seek self-legitimacy through what it was considered a small conflict.

A fatal mistake commited by the Italian government was the choice of the new Albanian ruler: although Essad Pasha Toptani was briefly considered, his previous alliance with the Serbian state and the fact that he had already planned to reduce the authority of Prince Weid [2] had convinced the new prime minister does not trust Italy's former ally.

The choice then fell on Prince Filiberto, second son of Prince Thomas of Savoy-Genoa, Duke of Genoa[3].
The second son of a minor noble family, his kinship with the Savoy family and young age were seen as guarantees for the establishment of a stable royal dynasty that could have protected Italian interests in Albania.

Obviously no one posed the problem that the new king knew very little about his new kingdom or that the Albanian population was not particularly friendly with the European kings.

-Except from Blood and Soil: the tragedy of the Balkans during the Great War, Richard M. Nixon


Italian soldiers marching for the streets of Rome in preparation of the invasion of Albania (1/11/15)

"My predecessor promised to italy an honourable peace. He gave us the peace we wanted, but he was taken away from us before honor was obtained.
I promise you that i will finish what he started, that under my government Italy's honor will be defended and expanded.

Now some will criticise our intervention in Albania.

I say they are fools! I say that we must act to protect the albanian people from the chaos that is destroying their country! We must no hesitate! An act of civilisation is needed for Albania"

-Except from Prime Minister Orlando's first speech in front of the italian parliament.

[1] Known in OTL as " Italian Fasci of Combat (Italian: Fasci Italiani di Combattimento, FIC)".
[2] Like OTL, Essad had been exiled to Italy in May 1914 after a failed coup against prince Weid.
[3]Duke of Genoa was a subsidiary title of the King of Sardinia. It was first awarded in 1815 to Prince Charles Felix of Savoy, who became the King of Sardinia in 1821.
Upon the death of King Charles Felix in 1831, the title was given to Prince Ferdinando, the second son of King Charles Albert of Sardinia. In OTL the title became extinct in 1996 on the death of Prince Eugenio, a great-grandson of King Charles Albert.
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I'm guessing Albania will be a bit tough due to the terrain and require a long term occupation to pacify. But I can't see them successfully resisting Italy. Not to mention the Albanians aren't united, it'll be a bloody occupation that'll keep Italy occupied and aloof of the greater political turmoil unfolding Northward.
I'm guessing Albania will be a bit tough due to the terrain and require a long term occupation to pacify. But I can't see them successfully resisting Italy. Not to mention the Albanians aren't united, it'll be a bloody occupation that'll keep Italy occupied and aloof of the greater political turmoil unfolding Northward.

That was what happened OTL and Italy succeded in keeping a certain amount of control of the territory and the general retreat in 1920 was more due to the chaotic postwar internal situation than any military reason.
At the moment the place resemble more Somalia than anything else, with the north occupied by serbians and montenegrin troops for now and the south under Greeks occupation and basically annexed to their Kingdom, so while there will be resistance, it will not be united and many civilians (at least in the beginning) will look at the italian intervention as a good thing, especially in the Vlore/Valona zone and any developement in the future depend on how it will be the relationship with the locals.
In any case, the italian forces used in the operation are a pittance of what used in OTL and same goes for the material, so i doubt that this will be something of so honerous to made her avoid any diplomatic attempt for further agreement in the future
Naturally one of the big reason for such occupation is to avoid that any other power like Bulgaria or A-H occupy it before Italy and later refuse to reliquish control, in any case..and this can bring some serious problem for the future, the OTL bloody retreat of the Serbian Army passed through Albania and the Austrian followed, with Italy neutral and with a strong presence there both side can have different idea regarding going through her.

Cadorna war experience problem was that he don't have any at the moment of his nomination but the real problem was his character and his tendency to have hostile relations with any politicians (especially Giolitti, the two hated each other with a passion) and his 'my way or the highway' with the addition of 'never my fault' character. Said that if Italy remain neutral he can be the right man as while i despise the man, i recognize that he was a very good administrator and know logistic as he basically directed the crash program of equipment of the italian army in the neutrality period and organized the quick transport of the army from the french frontier to the austrian.

Finally, well no intervention in the first world war mean that arabs and the Senussi in libya are in serious trouble