The Flag of Italy

Posted in Flags, History on Wednesday, 23 March 2011

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This edited article about the Italian flag originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 923 published on 29 September 1979.

The flag of Italy consists of three vertical stripes, the first being green, the second white, and the third red. This flag first appeared in a student demonstration in Bologna on 14th May, 1795.

Italian aerobatic team painting the colours of the Italian flag

Italian aerobatic team painting the colours of the Italian flag

Two years later, the newly-formed Cisalpine Republic adopted the flag as colours for its troops taking part in campaigns against the Austrians.

The Cisalpine Republic united Italy (with the exception of Venice and Sicily) for the first time under French rule. In 1806, however, Napoleon replaced the Cisalpine Republic with a monarchy by crowning himself king of Italy.

He took the flag for his new kingdom, but after his downfall in 1815, Italy was again broken up into independent states and the flag ceased to exist.

Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, resurrected the flag in the first half of the 19th century, and when Italy was again united under his son, Victor Emmanuel II, in 1861, it became the emblem of the whole country. During the reigns of Victor Emmanuel II and his successors (Umberto I, Victor Emmanuel III, and Umberto II) the royal coat of arms was borne on the white stripe of the flag. This disappeared after Italy was declared a republic in June 1946.

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