The corps was created in by Victor Emanuel I, King of Sardinia, in the aim of providing the Piedmont with a police corps similar to French Gendarmérie. Police duties were then managed by the Dragoni di Sardegna corps, created in 1726 and composed of volunteers.
After the French soldiers had invaded Turin in the end of 18th century, and after they left it back to the Savoy family, the corps of Carabinieri Reali was instituted with the Regie Patenti (royal law) of July 13, 1814.
Both a military and a police corps, Carabinieri fought in every conflict in which Italy was involved, reporting losses and one of the brightest collection of medals of the world, for the many heroic acts.
Carabinieri are particularly proud of the memory of brigadier Salvo D'Acquisto, who died in Palidoro, near Rome, in WWII executed by Germans, having exchanged his life for the life of innocent citizens that were going to be executed as a retaliation for the murder of a German soldier. Brigadier D'Acquisto falsely claimed guilt, this way saving the innocent citizens, and was shot for the offense.
The history of Carabinieri is sadly crowded of many similar altruist behaviours, which granted them the deepest popularity an armed force can collect in a peaceful population. The nickname of the corps is La Benemerita (the well deserving).
They are organised in a wider territorial display (which covers capillarily the national territory in its entirety) and in many specialised parties, some of which have international reputation, such as the Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Artistico (specialised in the protection of artworks and in the recovery of stolen pictures). Carabinieri's elite corps is GIS - Gruppi di Intervento Speciale, with same duties and training as more famous NOCS (of State Police).
Carabinieri recently became an armed force (like Army, Navy and Air Force), thus ending a glorious fame as the first corps (Arma) of the Army (Esercito). It is likely that Carabinieri will remain the Armaby antonomasia, unrivalled in the popular affection and in the national pride.
Carabinieri traditionally are a model of serious behaviour in Italian culture and are tributed a strict formal respect, even if in recent times they were nicely made protagonists of jokes (in the role that blondes play in american jokes). The first time they appeared in a fictional constest it was in Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio, not without a certain scandal.