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Encyclopedia > Renzo De Felice

Renzo De Felice (1929-May 1996) was a Italian historian of Fascism. He was born in Rieti and studied under Federico Chabod and Delio Cantimori at the University of Naples. During his time as student, De Felice was a member of the Italian Communist Party. Later, De Felice was to break with the Communists and moved somewhat towards the right. He was taught history at the Univeristy of Rome. He married Livia De Ruggiero. He died in Rome. The University of Naples is the third Italian university and was initiated in 1224 by Emperor Frederick II. It is known as one of the first universities to be founded by a secular ruler. ... Logo of the Italian Communist Party The Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI) or Italian Communist Party emerged as Partito Comunista dItalia or Communist Party of Italy from a secession by the Leninist comunisti puri tendency from the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) during that bodys congress on 21 January 1921... City motto: Senatus Populusque Romanus – SPQR (The Senate and the People of Rome) Founded 21 April 753 BC mythical, 1st millennium BC Region Latium Mayor Walter Veltroni (Democratici di Sinistra) Area  - City Proper  1290 km² Population  - City (2004)  - Metropolitan  - Density (city proper) 2,546,807 almost 4,000,000 1...

De Felice was best known for a massive 7 volume biography of Benito Mussolini that was unfinished at the time of his death. De Felice was the founder and editor of the influential journal, Storia Contemporanea. De Felice also wrote well-regarded history of Jewish life under the Fascist government and articles on Italian Jacobinism. Benito Mussolini created a fascist state through the use of propaganda, total control of the media and disassembly of the working democratic government. ...

De Felice's leading interest was in fascism. In his view, there were two types of fascism, "fascism as a movement" and "fascism as a regime". De Felice saw the fascism, especially in the "movement" stage as a revolutionary middle-class ideology that had deep roots in the Enlightenment. Moveover, De Felice insisted that fascism was not caused by fear on the part of the middle classes, but rather a assertive movement that sought to give the middle classes their proper power. Thus, De Felice felt that fascism should be seen as valid political ideology, not just something to be demonized and dismissed in what De Felice saw as being simplistic "Marxist" terms. Fascism (in Italian, fascismo), capitalized, was the authoritarian political movement which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. ...

Furthermore, De Felice insisted that there was no connection or valid comparsions to be drawn between Italian Fascism and German National Socialism, which De Felice saw as being a completely different political ideology. De Felice was very controversial in both Italy and abroad for the sympathatic studies of Italian Fascism. Many such as Giuliano Procacci, Paolo Alatri and Nicola Tranfaglia accused De Felice of writing a apolgia for Fascism.


  • Storia degli ebrei italinai sotto il fascismo, 1961.
  • Mussolini, 7 volumes, 1965-1992.
  • Le interpretazioni del fascismo, 1969.
  • Il fascimo: le interpretazioni dei contempranei e degli storici, 1970.
  • Intervista sul fascismo, edited by Michael Ledeen, 1975.
  • Ebrei in un paese arabo: gli ebrei nella Libia contemporanea tra colonialismo, nazionalismo arabo e sionismo (1835-1970), 1978.


  • Leeden, Michael "Renzo De Felice and the Controversy over Italian Fascism" pages 269-283 from Journal of Contemporary History, Volume 11, 1976.
  • Painter, Borden "Renzo De Felice and the Historiography of Italian Fascism" pages 391-405 from American Historical Review, Volume 95, 1990.



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