Statesman, Prime Minister of Italy during the concluding years of World War I, and head of his country’s delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference.
Born and educated at Palermo, Orlando made a name for himself with writings on electoral reform and government administration before being elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1897 where he served as Minister of Education (1903–05), Minister of Justice (1907–09 and 1914), and Minister of the Interior (1916). In 1915, Orlando favored Italy’s entrance into the war and, in October 1917, in the crisis following the defeat of Italy’s forces at the Battle of Caporetto by the Austrians, he became Prime Minister successfully rallying the country to a renewed effort. As Italy recovered from the defeat of Caporetto and ended up on the winning side in 1918, Orlando earned the title “Premier of Victory.”
During the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, Orlando was prepared to renounce territorial claims for Dalmatia to annex Rijeka (Fume) but his foreign minister, Sidney Sonnino, was not prepared to give up Dalmatian.Their differences proved to be disastrous during the negotiations. Italy ended up claiming both and got none and Orlando was forced to resign just days before the signing of the resultant Treaty of Versailles. In December 1919 he was elected president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, but never again served as prime minister.
In the rising conflict between the workers’ organizations and the new Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini, he at first supported Mussolini, but when the leader of the Italian Socialist Party, Giacomo Matteotti, was assassinated by the Fascists, Orlando withdrew his support -The murder marked the beginning of Mussolini’s dictatorship over Italy. Orlando opposed the Fascists in local elections in Sicily and resigned from Parliament in protest against Fascist electoral fraud (1925).
In retirement until the liberation of Rome in World War II, Orlando became later a member of the consultative assembly and president of the Constituent Assembly that changed the Italian form of government into a Republic. In 1948 he was nominated senator for life, and was a candidate for the presidency of the republic -elected by Parliament- but was defeated by Luigi Einaudi. Orlanbdo died in 1952 in Rome.
1. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vittorio_Emanuele_Orlando
2. Encyclopedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Vittorio-Emanuele-Orlando