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History and traditions

The Military Academy dates back to the 17th century when the Savoy dukedom in Piedmont, for its strategical position, realized to flank national militia units to the traditional mercenary army. After that decision it was necessary to have professional commanders faithful to the regnant family. For that reason in 1669 Duke Carlo Emanuele II had the idea of building an Institute to train the ruling class of the State and in particular its Army. The premature death of the Duke caused a delay in implementing the project that was later completed by his widow the Duchess Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy Nemours.

On 1st September 1677 an announcement was sent to all the European courts to give advance notice of the Royal Academy inauguration on 1st January 1678; that document was important because it gave the Military Academy the first military educational institute in the world, preceding the Russian Academy in Petersburg (1723), the Royal Academy (1741), the École Royale Militaire (1751), the Kriegsakademie of potzdam (1745), the West Point (1802), etc.

The famous court architect Amedeo di Castellamonte (1610-1683) was designated to design the building that, started in 1675, hosted the famous Academy Palace until 1943. Unfortunately the air attacks during the Second World War destroyed the building; but a part of the colonnade was saved and in 1960 it was moved to the courtyard of the Ducal Palace, taking the name of Courtyard of the Military Academy of Turin.

The Savoy Royal Academy was so important in history for the professionalism of the teachers and the high number of foreign attenders belonging to the European prestigious families.

After the first Napoleon's campaign in Italy (1796) and the constitution of the Cispadania Republic (1797), the Ducal Palace of Modena (renamed National Palace) hosted the National School of Engineer and Artillery Corps (1798) that trained Officers for the Army of Italy until 1814. From that use of the Palace Farini and Fanti took the idea of install a Military School in it.

During the Restauration also Duke Francesco IV founded a Noble Military Academy that became Estense Military Academy (1821-1848), heir of the Ducal Academy desired by Francesco III d'Este in 1757. Meanwhile in Piedmont Vittorio Emanuele I took office and the Royal Military Academy was founded (1815).

By initiative of General Manfredo Fanti, in 1859 a Military School of Central Italy was founded in Modena (1859-1860) that became Military School of Infantry in 1860, Military School of Infantry and Cavalry in 1865 and later Military School (until 1922). In Turin there was still the Royal Academy of Artillery and Engineer that became Military Academy until 1922. In 1923 they were respectively named Military Academy of Infantry and Cavalry (Modena) and Military Academy of Artillery and Engineer (Turin) before becoming Royal Academies in 1928.

Since 1937 the Military Academy of Modena hosted training courses for Officers of the Carabinieri Corps and from 1933 to 1936 the 37th and 38th Cadet Officers Courses of the Royal Finance Police.

After the war and the events on 8th September 1943 the activities of the two Institutes were temporary interrupted until May 1944 when they restarted at the Pico Barracks in Lecce with the constitution of the Royal Military Academies Special Command on 15th April 1944 that received the War Flag of the 26th "Bergamo" Infantry Regiment.

On 1st November 1945 the 1st course of postwar, named Combat Special Course, started followed by the 2nd Ordinary Course on 10th February 1946.

After the war the Military Academy (1947) was removed to Modena by request of the Chief of General Staff, General Raffaele Cadorna, and the Ordinary Courses restarted while the 1st Combat Special Course and the 2nd Ordinary Course ended in Lecce.

A long and important history for the Military Academy of Modena that was heir of the Savoy Academy of Turin. In the picture below there is a graphic representation of the historical headquarters and the respective names of the prestigious Institute from 1678, when the Royal Savoy Academy was funded, to 1947, when the Institute returned to Modena as Military Academy.

Foundation of the Royal Savoy Academy

In 1669 the Duke Carlo Emanuele II decided to found the Royal Savoy Academy and in 1675 he started to build the palace designed by the famous architect Count Amedeo di Castellamonte. When the Duke died the project was finished by his widow Royal Madam Maria Giovanna Battista of Savoy Nemours, Duchess of Savoy, that inaugurated it on 1st January 1678. The main objective of the Institute is to educate a managing and military class with sense of duty as well as great general and military culture. The small Savoy Dukedom was the first to create that king of Institute in Europe and it was an example for the other Countries. The Royal Military Academy in Naples in 1787 (later called Nunziatella) followed that model. In the Academy of Turin, the severity of the humanistic and scientific studies and the high preparation of the teachers made it famous all over the world and attended by kings and institutions. The years following its constitution were characterized by violent battles to survive and enlarge, alternated with peaceful periods. Thanks to the School the military tradition of a population and an army were reinforced.

Napoleonic storm and reconstitution of the Royal Military Academy

The Napoleonic campaign of 1796 determined the crisis of the Savoy State. The king was forced to take refuge on 3rd March 1799 in Cagliari where the Officers’ courses were reorganized with the same subjects of the Institute in Turin. On 2nd November 1815 Vittorio Emanuele signed the decree for the reconstitution of the Institute in its traditional headquarter, only with military purpose. According to the art. 2, belonging to the nobility was not a requisite yet to enter the School. The Royal Military Academy had to educate Officers of all the Army Corps that participated in the battles in 1848 and 1861. Under Vittorio Emanuele I the Institute educated Cadets destined to the line Corps (Infantry and Cavalry) that, at the end of the course, gained the Second Lieutenant rank and went to the regiments; the Cadets destined to the erudite Corps (General Staff, Artillery and Engineer) completed their scientific and applicative preparation firstly at the Academy and then at the Application School. After the campaign in 1859 the Sardinian Army was enlarged, passing from the 5 Divisions with 70,000 soldiers of the Campaign in 1859 to the 13 Divisions with 183 thousand infantrymen in 1860. As a consequence the Military Academy was insufficient to host the great number of Officers for all the Army Corps.
For that reason it was necessary to find a solution considering the national needs and those of the new regions become part of the Reign of Italy. Moreover it was essential to consider the educational and organizational military needs: a second Institute for the Officers’ education outside the Piedmont region to educate Officers of Infantry (in Ivrea and Modena) and Cavalry (in Pinerolo). The head office was the Military School in Modena. That decision was in contrast with the principle of the uniqueness of the Institute in the education of Officers from all the Corps determining disparities. The differences especially in the scientific field and in the duration of the preparation course between the Cadet Officers of Infantry and Cavalry and thos of the “erudite Corps” led up to a difference in the educational level of the two groups reflected in the names of the Institute: Military School and Royal Military Academy.
Between 1861 and 1862 there was another important step: King Vittorio Emanuele II gave the Ducal Palace as head office to the Military School and it was inaugurated on 2nd January 1863. By Royal Decree on 6th April 1862 new rules were approved by the War Minister General Agostino Petitti Bagliani di Roreto, establishing the high Institutes for the Officers’ education:
  1. Royal Military Academy;
  2. Infantry Military School;
  3. Cavalry Military School.
Since then the Infantry Military School realized its complete separation from the Royal Military Academy. On 18th September 1865 the Military School was named “Infantry and Cavalry Military School”, educating also the Cavalry Officers.

First World War

During the Great War the Military Academy and the Military School increased their activity with brief courses and focusing the preparation in technical-military activities, postponing the courses after the war to culturally and professionally requalified them. The young Officers of the Institutes paid blood tribute on battlefield: heroic deeds up to the sacrifice of their lives.

Postwar and Second World War

After war, in addition to the improvement courses of the Officers prepared during the war, regular courses restarted.
In 1923 the Military School was named “Infantry and Cavalry Military Academy” while the previous Military Academy became “Artillery and Engineer Military Academy”.
When the 2nd World War started, the two Academies reduced the duration of the single courses and the scientific subjects in favour of technical-tactical activities.
In November 1942 the bombardments of Turin that hit the Palace of Castellamonte forced to move the Artillery and Engineer Academy to Lucca. The two Institutes had to dissolved for the dramatic events on 8th September 1943.

The reunified Academy

The activity of the two Institutes, suspended for the armistice, restarted on 5th April 1944 in Lecce with the constitution of a “Military Academy RR. Special Command”, rounding up in a battalion two companies of second-year Cadets from the preexistent Academies (86th Infantry and Cavalry Courses and 125th Artillery and Engineer Course). On 24th May the War Flag of the 26th Infantry Regiment substituted the Flags of the two Academies. On 1st December 1945 the Institute was named “Royal Military Academy”, changed on 19th June 1946 into “Military Academy” (after the Monarchy became a Republic).
On 15th October 1947 the Military Academy came back to the Ducal Palace in Modena where some repairing works were carried out because of war damages. On 4th November it received the new Flag substituting that of the Infantry and Cavalry Academy. The official inauguration took place on 8th December 1947 with the intervention of the President of the Republic On. Enrico De Nicola. An important link with the ancient traditions was the adoption in 1956 of the nineteenth-century uniform.
The Academy returned to be the unique source for the recruitment of Officers in permanent service of all the Army Corps, adopting the motto “Una Acies” that was adopted by the Royal Military Academy until 1860.
In 1967 the Chief of General Staff of the Army gave the Military Academy a bronze copy of the ancient bell donated to the Royal Academy in 1678 “ut Academici horarum pulsu ad consueta munera regia quasi voce excintentur”.
Since 1968 the General Staff of the Army restored the traditional numeration of the courses in force at the Royal Military Academy since 1815. In fact it was decided to retake the traditional historical numeration naming 150th the Course that would have been called 25th.
In 1998 the Military Academy received the task of educating doctors, pharmacists and veterinarians of the Army; in the same time the Medical Academy of Florence was closed (constituted in 1968, it was heir of the Military Medical School founded in 1883 and become Medical Application School). Since 1998 the Institute also organizes courses for the Engineer Corps.
With the 182nd Course (academic year 2000-2002) women are also admitted to attend the Military Academy.