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The Modern Era

1789 - 1914

In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.



Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.



Italy from the Congress of Vienna to the Eve of World War I



After the rccstablishment of the Italian kingdoms and states at the Congress of Vienna, restorative and conservative policies could not prevent the emergence of a national unification movement and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. However, political unification did not lead to a social or economic unification. The poor agricultural south had little in common with the industrialized north, and the latter dominated the politics of the new state. The government of Prime Minister Crispi, who wanted to give Italy more weight internationally, was replaced by the era of Giolitti, under whom social reforms were made and the economy blossomed.


The Call for Freedom and the Violent Unification Movement

The restoration of the prewar kingdoms and states in Italy stood in opposition to the national unification movement.


During the Congress of Vienna, Italy was largely restored to its pre-Napoleonic condition: Naples and Sicily were reunified as the 1 Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the Kingdom of Sardinia was reunited with Piedmont and Savoy, and Lombardy and the V'eneto became part of the Austrian Empire.

In addition to the regional realignment, the Code Civil and the political reforms from the Napoleonic era were also revised. The absolutist policies of the Italian kingdoms caused outrage, particularly among the liberal middle classes, who demanded political representation and the national independence of Italy.

The activities of secret societies such as the Carbonari and Giovane Italia were an expression of the national unification movement known as the Risorgimento ("resurgence").

King Charles Albert of Sardinia-Piedmont was unsuccessful in his attempt to conquer the Italian regions of Austria in 1848-1849 and had to abdicate in favor of his
son 2 Victor Emmanuel II.

1 Ferdinand IV, King of the Two Sicilies,
painting by
Mengs Anton Raphael, 1760

2 Victor Emmanuel II, King of Italy

see also: Anton Raphael Mengs

In 1849, Pope Pius IX was briefly expelled from the Papal States, and à republican commune was declared in Rome by 3 Giuseppe Mazzini and, 4 Giuseppe Garibaldi.

They were hopelessly outgunned when Louis-Napoleon's French troops intervened to restore the pope, and the commune fell in July.

3 Giuseppe Mazzini
Giuseppe Garibaldi



Giuseppe Garibaldi


Italian revolutionary

born July 4, 1807, Nice, French Empire [now in France]
died June 2, 1882, Caprera, Italy

Italian patriot and soldier of the Risorgimento, a republican who, through his conquest of Sicily and Naples with his guerrilla Redshirts, contributed to the achievement of Italian unification under the royal House of Savoy.

Early life
Garibaldi’s family was one of fishermen and coastal traders, and for more than 10 years he himself was a sailor. In 1832 he acquired a master’s certificate as a merchant captain. By 1833–34, when he served in the navy of the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, he had come under the influence of Giuseppe Mazzini, the great prophet of Italian nationalism, and the French socialist thinker the comte de Saint-Simon. Garibaldi, in 1834, took part in a mutiny intended to provoke a republican revolution in Piedmont, but the plot failed; he escaped to France and in his absence was condemned to death by a Genoese court.

Exile in South America
From 1836 to 1848, Garibaldi lived in South America as an exile, and these years of turmoil and revolution in that continent strongly influenced his career. He volunteered as a naval captain for the Rio Grande do Sul republic during that small state’s unsuccessful attempt to break free from the Brazilian Empire. Actually, he did little more than prey on Brazilian shipping. In the course of often harrowing adventures on land and sea, he managed to elope with Anna Maria Ribeiro da Silva (Anita), a married woman, who remained his companion in arms until her death. After a succession of victories by the Brazilians in 1839–40, Garibaldi finally decided to leave the service of Rio Grande. Driving a herd of cattle, he made the long trek to Montevideo with Anita and their son. There he tried his hand as commercial traveler and teacher but could not accustom himself to civilian life. In 1842 he was put in charge of the Uruguayan navy in another war of liberation—this time against Juan Manuel de Rosas, the dictator of Argentina. The following year, again in the service of Uruguay, Garibaldi took command of a newly formed Italian Legion at Montevideo, the first of the Redshirts, with whom his name became so closely associated. After he won a small but heroic engagement at the Battle of Sant’Antonio in 1846, his fame reached even to Europe, and in Italy a sword of honour, paid for by subscriptions, was donated to him.

He was in charge of the defense of Montevideo for a short time in 1847, when he first came to the attention of Alexandre Dumas père, who later did much to foster his reputation. Garibaldi also greatly impressed other foreign observers as an honest and able man. His South American experiences gave him invaluable training in the techniques of guerrilla warfare that he later used with great effect against French and Austrian armies, which had not been taught how to counter them. These first exploits in the cause of freedom cast him in the mold of a professional rebel, an indomitable individualist who all his life continued to wear the gaucho costume of the pampas and to act as if life were a perpetual battle for liberty.

War of liberation
In April 1848 Garibaldi led 60 members of his Italian Legion back to Italy to fight for the Risorgimento, or resurrection, of Italy in the war of independence against the Austrians. He first offered to fight for Pope Pius IX, then—when his offer was refused—for Charles Albert, the king of Piedmont-Sardinia. The king, too, rebuffed him, for Garibaldi’s conviction as a rebel in 1834 was still remembered; moreover, the regular army despised the self-taught guerrilla leader. Therefore, Garibaldi went to the aid of the city of Milan, where Mazzini had already arrived and had given the war of liberation a more republican and radical turn. Charles Albert, after his defeat at the hands of the Austrians at Custoza, agreed to an armistice, but Garibaldi continued in the name of Milan what had become his private war and emerged creditably from two engagements with the Austrians at Luino and Morazzone. But at the end of August, heavily outnumbered, he had to retreat across the frontier to Switzerland.

For a time Garibaldi settled down in Nice with Anita (whom he had married in 1842) and their three children, but his resolve to help free Italy from foreign rule was stronger than ever. He was confirmed in his purpose by his belief—which he and only a handful of others shared with Mazzini—that the many Italian states, though often engaged in internecine warfare, could nonetheless be unified into a single state. When Pius IX, threatened by liberal forces within the Papal States, fled from Rome toward the end of 1848, Garibaldi led a group of volunteers to that city. There, in February 1849, he was elected a deputy in the Roman Assembly, and it was he who proposed that Rome should become an independent republic. In April a French army arrived to restore papal government, and Garibaldi was the chief inspiration of a spirited defense that repulsed a French attack on the Janiculum Hill. In May he defeated a Neapolitan army outside Rome at Velletri, and in June he was the leading figure in the defense of Rome against a French siege. There was no chance at all of holding the city, but the gallantry of the resistance became one of the most inspiring stories of the Risorgimento. Refusing to accept defeat, Garibaldi led a few thousand men out of Rome and through central Italy in July 1849, maneuvering to avoid French and Austrian armies, until he reached the neutral republic of San Marino.

There Garibaldi found himself surrounded and decided to disband his men. Soon afterward, he was pursued by the Austrians as he tried to escape. Although Anita died, Garibaldi successfully crossed the Apennines to the Tuscan coast. The retreat through central Italy, coming after the defense of Rome, made Garibaldi a well-known figure. From then on he was the “hero of two worlds.” Some criticized his military skill in this campaign, but his qualities as a leader had proved to be extraordinary, and his courage and determination not to surrender were a lesson in patriotism for his fellow countrymen.

The Piedmontese monarchy, however, was too frightened to let this rebel return to his mother and children, and soon he was in exile again, first in Tangier, then on Staten Island, and finally in Peru, where he returned to his original trade as a ship’s captain. Only in 1854 was he allowed to return to Italy. The conte di Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont, believed that by permitting Garibaldi’s repatriation he could pry him away from the republican Mazzini. In the following year, Garibaldi bought part of the island of Caprera off the Sardinian coast, which remained his home for the rest of his life. In 1856 he tried to lead an expedition to release political prisoners held by the Bourbon kings of Naples, but it came to nothing. In 1858 he received an invitation from Cavour to help prepare for another war against Austria. His task was to lead an army of volunteers from other Italian provinces, and he was given the rank of major general in the Piedmontese army. When war broke out in April 1859, he led his Cacciatori delle Alpi (Alpine Huntsmen) in the capture of Varese and Como and reached the frontier of the south Tirol. This war ended with the acquisition of Lombardy by Piedmont.

In September 1859, after peace had returned to northern Italy, Garibaldi transferred his attention to central Italy, where a revolutionary government had been established in Florence. There, on several occasions, he had private meetings with King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont-Sardinia, and it was agreed that he should prepare to invade the Papal States; the king would support his venture if it succeeded but disown him if it failed. At the last moment, however, the king realized that the undertaking was too dangerous and asked him to give up the idea. Garibaldi agreed, though reluctantly. He was ready at any moment to revive this kind of unwritten agreement with Victor Emmanuel, but it became increasingly clear that their aims were not identical. Though both men were patriots, Garibaldi was already working for the unification of Italy. The king was more prudent, concerned foremost with expanding Piedmont. Garibaldi was especially furious when, early in 1860, Cavour and Victor Emmanuel gave his hometown of Nice back to France (it had become Piedmontese in 1814), and he made one of his rare appearances in parliament to protest this violation of the national principle. In January 1860 he married Giuseppina, the daughter of the Marchese Raimondi, but abandoned her, within hours of the marriage, when he discovered she was five months pregnant, almost certainly by one of his own officers. Twenty years later, he was able to obtain the decree of nullity that enabled him to legitimize his children by Francesca Armosino, his longtime companion.

Conquest of Sicily and Naples
In May 1860 Garibaldi set out on the greatest venture of his life, the conquest of Sicily and Naples. This time he had no government backing, but Cavour and Victor Emmanuel did not dare to stop him, for he had become a popular hero. They stood ready to assist, but only if he proved successful, and he accepted this unwritten arrangement, confident that he could thus force Cavour to support a new move toward the unification of the Italian peninsula. Sailing from near Genoa on May 6 with about 1,000 men, he reached Marsala in Sicily on May 11 and in the name of Victor Emmanuel proclaimed himself dictator. A popular revolution in Sicily helped him considerably, for his personal charm was irresistible, and many of the peasants thought him a god intent on freeing them from slavery and feudalism. The decisive moment for his forces was a small engagement at Calatafimi, when he gave convincing proof that he could defeat the regular soldiers of the king of Naples’s army. Immediately there was a great popular movement in his support, and at the end of May he captured Palermo.

The seizure of Palermo was one of Garibaldi’s most remarkable military successes, and it convinced Cavour that this volunteer army should now be strongly, if still secretly, supported by Piedmont. Moving across the island, Garibaldi won the Battle of Milazzo in July, helped by reinforcements from northern Italy. In August he crossed over the Strait of Messina and landed on the mainland in Calabria. As always, his strategy was to deny the enemy a moment’s pause. After a lightning campaign, he moved up through Calabria and on September 7, 1860, entered Naples, Italy’s largest city, where he proclaimed himself “Dictator of the Two Sicilies” (the name of the territories of the king of Naples, comprising Sicily and most of southern Italy).

With 30,000 men under his command, he then fought the biggest battle of his career, on the Volturno River north of Naples. After his victory, he held plebiscites in Sicily and Naples, which allowed him to hand over the whole of southern Italy to King Victor Emmanuel. When the two met, Garibaldi was the first person to hail Victor Emmanuel as king of a united Italy. The king made a triumphal entry into Naples on November 7, and Garibaldi sat beside him in the royal carriage. But immediately afterward the former dictator returned to Caprera, refusing all the rewards thrust on him. He had asked for only one thing—to be allowed to continue governing Naples as the king’s viceroy until conditions returned to normal; but this was refused him, for in the eyes of the conservatives he was still a dangerous radical—an anticlerical who also professed to hold advanced ideas on social reform. He was also a man who was known to want to reconquer Rome from the pope and make it into Italy’s capital. This was too dangerous a scheme for Victor Emmanuel, for a French garrison defended papal temporal power in Rome. There was also another, more insidious danger: Garibaldi was more popular than the king himself. Furthermore, the regular army of Piedmont was deeply jealous of his successes and determined that he should not be permitted to score fresh ones. Finally, it was feared that Mazzini and the republicans might recapture Garibaldi’s allegiance and make him desert the monarchical cause.

Kingdom of Italy
In 1861 a new kingdom of Italy came into existence, but from the start it found Garibaldi virtually in opposition. Many people regarded him as an embarrassment. He opposed Cavour in parliament and accused the government of shabby treatment of the volunteer soldiers who had conquered half the country and given it to the king. Moreover, he condemned the inefficient administration of the provinces that he had conquered and for which he felt especially responsible. In many ways he showed that he considered himself almost an independent power, both in his dealings with his own government and with foreign powers. So admired abroad was Garibaldi that in July 1861 U.S. President Abraham Lincoln offered him a Union command in the American Civil War; the offer was declined, partly because Lincoln would not make a sweeping enough condemnation of slavery, but also because he would not give Garibaldi supreme command of the Federal troops. Another sign of Garibaldi’s reputation was the rapturous reception that he received in England in April 1864. Perhaps never before in history had there been such a large spontaneous gathering as the one that cheered him through the streets of London.


Last campaigns
Early in 1862 Victor Emmanuel again persuaded Garibaldi to lead a revolutionary expedition, this time to attack Austria in the Balkans. He was allowed to recruit another volunteer army, and munitions were collected for him in Sicily; but he then decided to use this army to attack the Papal States. Not wanting to jeopardize its relations with the French, the Italian government ordered its own forces to stop Garibaldi. At the ensuing Battle of Aspromonte, he was badly wounded and taken prisoner. When he was freed, however, the king’s complicity could no longer be denied. Garibaldi’s wound left him lame, but this did not prevent the government from using him more openly when war broke out with Austria in 1866. He was given an almost independent command in the Tirol, and once again he emerged from the war with a good deal more credit than any of the regular soldiers. This conflict led to the acquisition of Venice. In 1867 Garibaldi led another private expedition into the Papal States. This, too, was secretly subsidized by the government, though, of course, the king pretended otherwise; but political mismanagement of the whole incident forced France to intervene, and French troops defeated Garibaldi’s volunteers at Mentana. Once more he was arrested by the Italian government to cover up its complicity, but he was soon released and taken back to Caprera. Garibaldi led one final campaign in 1870–71, when he assisted the French Republic against Prussia. Again he distinguished himself, though on a small scale, and he was subsequently elected a member of the French National Assembly at Bordeaux.

During the last decade of his life he was crippled by rheumatism and by his many wounds. Though he had become something of a recluse on his island, he kept abreast of affairs through the numerous deputations that called on him, and he habitually made pronouncements on affairs of the day. Toward the end he called himself a socialist, but both Karl Marx and the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin disowned him. He also became something of a pacifist, for his own experience had taught him that wars were seldom either righteous or effective in achieving their ends. Garibaldi was recognized as a champion of the rights of labour and of women’s emancipation. Moreover, he showed himself to be a religious freethinker and ahead of his time in believing in racial equality and the abolition of capital punishment.

One of the great masters of guerrilla warfare, Garibaldi was responsible for most of the military victories of the Risorgimento. Almost equally important was his contribution as a propagandist to the unification of Italy. A man of the people, he knew far better than Cavour or Mazzini how to reach the masses with the new message of patriotism. Furthermore, his use of his military and political gifts for liberal or nationalist causes coincided well with current fashion and brought him great acclaim. In addition, he attracted support by being a truly honest man who asked little for himself.

But Garibaldi’s forthright innocence coloured his politics. Not interested in power for himself, he nevertheless believed in dictatorship as a result of his South American experiences. He distrusted parliaments because he saw them to be ineffective and corrupt. Actually, his own dictatorship of southern Italy in 1860, though much criticized, compares surprisingly well with the subsequent administration by the Kingdom of Italy. There was little of the intellectual about Garibaldi, yet his simple radicalism sparked the first political awareness in many of his fellow countrymen and brought home to them the significance of nationality. Notwithstanding his turn toward socialism, he remained primarily a nationalist—but the object of his nationalism was always the liberation of peoples and not patriotic aggrandizement. To his embodiment of this aim he owes his eminent place in Italian history.

Denis Mack Smith

Encyclopaedia Britannica




Giuseppe Mazzini

Giuseppe Mazzini

Italian revolutionary

born June 22, 1805, Genoa [Italy]
died March 10, 1872, Pisa, Italy

Genoese propagandist and revolutionary, founder of the secret revolutionary society Young Italy (1832), and a champion of the movement for Italian unity known as the Risorgimento. An uncompromising republican, he refused to participate in the parliamentary government that was established under the monarchy of the House of Savoy when Italy became unified and independent (1861).

Education and exile.
Giuseppe Mazzini was a doctor’s son; his birthplace, formerly a republic, was annexed to the Kingdom of Piedmont in 1814. As a child, he gave promise of high intellectual ability, fully confirmed when he entered the University of Genoa at 14. Two years later, strongly influenced by seeing a patriot fleeing from Italy after an unsuccessful insurrection, he began to think “that we Italians could and therefore ought to struggle for the liberty of our country.”

On graduating in law in 1827, he practiced as a “poor man’s lawyer,” wrote articles for progressive reviews, and hoped to become a dramatist or historical novelist. But his life was already shaping itself differently. His love of freedom led him to join the Carbonari, a secret society pledged to overthrow absolute rule in Italy. In 1830 he was betrayed to the police, arrested, and interned at Savona, where for three months he reviewed his political beliefs and conceived the outlines of a new patriotic movement to replace the decaying Carbonari.

When released early in 1831, he was ordered either to leave Piedmont or to live in some small town. He chose exile and went to Marseille, where his slight figure, handsome olive features, black hair and beard, and black velvet suit were soon familiar to the other Italian exiles, who accepted him as their leader. His first public gesture was an “open letter” to Charles Albert, the king of Piedmont, urging him to give Piedmont constitutional government, to lead a national movement, and to expel the Austrians from Lombardy-Venetia and their other Italian strongholds. The letter was circulated in Italy, but Charles Albert’s only reaction was to threaten Mazzini with arrest if he returned to Piedmont. As a lifelong republican, Mazzini was afterward censured for this friendly approach to an autocratic sovereign; he explained that he had meant to expose Charles Albert as one who would never fight for Italian freedom.

Foundation of Young Italy.
At Marseille Mazzini spent two of his most rewarding years. He founded his patriotic movement for young men and called it Giovine Italia (Young Italy). It was designed as a national association for liberating the separate Italian states from foreign rule and fusing them into a free and independent unitary republic. Its methods were education and insurrection, and it had a moral basis derived from Mazzini’s own belief in God (though he was not a Christian) and in permanent laws of progress, duty, and sacrifice. It was the first Italian democratic movement embracing all classes, for Mazzini believed that only a popular initiative could free Italy. “Neither pope nor king,” he declared. “Only God and the people will open the way of the future to us.”

The new movement captured the imagination of Italian youth. Branches were secretly formed in Genoa and other cities; by 1833 there were 60,000 members. Mazzini edited the propagandist journal Giovine Italia, which was smuggled into Italy with other revolutionary pamphlets. He also became the lover of a fellow exile, the beautiful Modenese widow Giuditta Sidoli.

Young Italy’s attempted insurrections were failures. A projected rising in Piedmont in 1833 was discovered before it had begun; 12 conspirators were executed, one committed suicide, and Mazzini was tried in absence and condemned to death. He said prophetically, “Ideas ripen quickly when nourished by the blood of martyrs.” A few months later, when he had moved to Switzerland to escape from the French police, he tried to rally 1,000 volunteers to invade Savoy (then part of the kingdom of Piedmont). Only 200 could be mustered, and the force was disbanded.

These failures destroyed Young Italy as an organization, though its spirit lived on. Mazzini turned to wider revolutionary plans, based on his faith in the brotherhood of man and his hopes for a world republican federation. He founded Young Europe and helped to establish Young Germany, Young Switzerland, and Young Poland, but his three years in Switzerland were unhappy and frustrated. Giuditta Sidoli had gone back to Italy to rejoin her children; he suffered an emotional crisis through doubts and disillusionment. In 1837 he went with a few Italian friends to live in London.

Stay in England.
England was now his real home. He lived in modest London lodgings, surrounded by books, papers, and the tame birds in which he delighted; he studied at the British Museum and wrote for English periodicals. Though he had little money, he started a school for Italian boys in London and a newspaper, Apostolato popolare (“Apostleship of the People”), in which he published part of his essay “On the Duties of Man.” In 1840, with the help of Giuseppe Lamberti in Paris, he revived Young Italy, primarily as a means of building up a national consciousness among Italians everywhere. He wrote innumerable letters to his new agents in Europe and North and South America; he also became acquainted with Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle and other notable people.

In 1844 he was in touch with the Bandiera brothers, who made an ill-fated attempt to start a revolt in Calabria. After their execution, he told two friends who were members of Parliament of his fears that the British government was opening his letters and had passed on information about the Bandieras’ plans to the Neapolitan authorities. The matter was raised in Parliament, and the government was compelled to admit that it opened private letters. There was much public indignation and widespread sympathy with Mazzini. The affair made him better known in England and brought him into contact with a notable liberal family, the Ashursts. Many English liberals supported him when he founded the People’s International League in 1847.

In that year he wrote an “open letter” to the new pope, Pius IX, who had introduced liberal reforms in the Papal States. He urged the pope to unify Italy, but Pius made no comment. Mazzini returned to Italy for the first time in the revolutionary year of 1848, when the Milanese drove out their Austrian masters and Piedmont began a war to expel the Austrians from Italy. Milan welcomed him, but he was soon unpopular because he wanted Lombardy to become a republic and he thought that union with the kingdom of Piedmont, as proposed by the Milanese provisional government, was the wrong kind of pattern for the future Italy. When the Piedmontese armies withdrew and the Austrians reentered Milan, he served briefly with an irregular force under Giuseppe Garibaldi before returning to England.

Triumvir of republican Rome.
Mazzini was again in Italy in 1849, first in Tuscany and then in Rome, where a revolution had driven out the pope and a republic had been proclaimed. He had long believed that the imperial and papal Romes would be followed by a third Rome—a Rome of the people; now his dream had come true. He was acclaimed as a great patriot, was elected a triumvir of the republic, and became the effective head of the government, showing great administrative talent in ecclesiastical and social reforms. His rule was short-lived. The pope appealed to Catholic countries for help, and a French army landed in Italy; after heroic resistance, the republic was crushed, and Mazzini left Rome.

Back in London, he founded another society—the Friends of Italy—in 1851 and was soon involved in new revolutionary activities. In 1853 he backed the Milanese workers in their unsuccessful rising against the Austrians. In 1853–54 he sent Felice Orsini on two unproductive missions to raise a revolt in Carrara. In 1856 he went secretly to Genoa to plan a number of simultaneous insurrections. The only one that was seriously attempted was Carlo Pisacane’s disastrous landing in Calabria in 1857. Even the apparently futile conspiracies of this period had the useful effect, however, of keeping Italian problems before the governments of Europe. For these plots Mazzini was reviled in Piedmont, where the new moderate party was working for orderly progress without revolution. Count Cavour, the prime minister, called him “chief of the assassins,” but this charge was unfair; Mazzini’s plots were for insurrection, not assassination, and he expressly disclaimed the “theory of the dagger.”

In 1858 Mazzini founded another journal in London: this was Pensiero ed azione (“Thought and Action”), a title reflecting his view that thought is only of value when it results in action. He did not participate in the Franco-Piedmontese war against Austria in 1859, by which Cavour with the help of Napoleon III vainly sought to free Italy from the Alps to the Adriatic; nor did he belong to the “party of action,” which sponsored Giuseppe Garibaldi’s expedition to Sicily in 1860. Yet this expedition has been called “Mazzini’s gift to the ‘party of action,’ ” for it followed plans devised by him in earlier years. Mazzini went to Naples during Garibaldi’s brief dictatorship of southern Italy but was back in London when the new united Kingdom of Italy (excluding Venice and Rome) was proclaimed in 1861.

Impractical schemes for seizing Venice and Rome occupied Mazzini’s mind in the 1860s. This was the decade of the Socialist First International; he had early contact with its members but soon withdrew, since the moral and religious basis of his own political thought prevented him from accepting either Karl Marx’s communism or Mikhail Bakunin’s anarchism. Messina repeatedly elected him as its parliamentary deputy, but the elections were quashed by the Italian government. In 1870 he misguidedly agreed to lead a republican rising in Sicily. He was arrested on his way there and interned at Gaeta but was released and pardoned after the occupation of Rome by Italian troops.

Accomplishments and reputation.
Mazzini’s life was ending in disappointment, even though both Venice (acquired in 1866) and Rome were now part of the new kingdom. Italy had been united by fusion, as he had always advocated against strong opposition, rather than by federation, but it was a monarchy and not the republic he had wanted. “I thought I was awakening the soul of Italy, and I see only the corpse before me,” he said.

In his last years he founded another paper, Roma del popolo (“Rome of the People”), which he edited from Lugano, and made plans for an Italian workingmen’s congress. He died from pleurisy at Pisa in 1872. He had never married.

Mazzini’s reputation has fluctuated greatly. In his earlier years, he was an almost legendary hero in his own country, but he was later denounced by many of his compatriots as an enemy of the state. For two generations after his death, most historians considered that his useful work ended in 1849 and that he should then have withdrawn from conspiracy.

A different view, however, prevails among modern historians. Many believe that all his plots were valuable, since they held out a permanent threat of violent revolution if Italy were not freed and united. By spurring on the Piedmontese government, and later the Italian government, to work for the national cause, he is now considered to have played an indispensable part in the making of modern Italy.

Edgar Crawshaw Holt

Encyclopaedia Britannica



The Path to Unity and International Dreams

Cavour and Garibaldi successfully fought for the unity of Italy. Internal reforms were accompanied by the attempt to turn Italy into a major European power.


After the Revolution of 1848, Sardinia-Piedmont retained its parliamentary constitution.

The count of Cavour, 10 Camillo Benso, who became prime minister of the kingdom in 1852, decided on reforms and sought an alliance partner for the unification of Italy.

10 Camillo Benso di Cavour

With French assistance, Cavour triumphed over Austria in the 9 Battle of Solferino on June 24, 1859, which brought him Lombardy.

9 Battle of Solferino

In 1860, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Modena, and Parma-Piacenza all voted to join Sardinia-Piedmont.

In May 1860, Garibaldi's 8 "Expedition of the Thousand" conquered the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Expedition of the Thousand

8 The beginning of the expedition at Quarto.

Italian campaign
campaign undertaken in 1860 by Giuseppe Garibaldi that overthrew the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples) and permitted the union of southern Italy and Sicily with the north. The expedition was one of the most dramatic events of the Risorgimento (movement for Italian unification) and was the archetype modern insurrection and popular war.

By 1860 Garibaldi had established a reputation as a successful military leader. He was totally committed to the cause of Italian unification, and, although sympathetic to democratic ideas, he was willing, for the sake of the nation, to work for Victor Emmanuel II, the king of Piedmont-Sardinia. But Garibaldi became impatient with the cautious, diplomatic tactics of Piedmont’s prime minister, Count Cavour, and was ready to act on his own initiative to help unite Italy. A revolt in Sicily, beginning on April 4, 1860, caused Garibaldi to make the decision to begin with an attack on the Bourbon kingdom in the south. On the night of May 5–6, he embarked from Quarto (a suburb of Genoa) with more than 1,000 men, mostly idealistic young northerners. Narrowly missing contact with the Bourbon Navy, the expedition landed at the western Sicilian port of Marsala on May 11.

Garibaldi was faced with the problem of defeating more than 20,000 Neapolitan troops of the Bourbon king Francis II in Sicily with an untrained force armed only with rusty rifles. After proclaiming himself dictator of Sicily in the name of Victor Emmanuel, he led his men across the island toward Palermo. He defeated a Neapolitan force at Calatafimi (May 15), and many Sicilians then joined him to help overthrow their hated Neapolitan rulers. Aided also by the incompetence of the Bourbon command, Garibaldi captured Palermo (June 6) and, with the Battle of Milazzo (July 20), won control of all Sicily except Messina.

Garibaldi now hoped to take Naples and even to complete Italy’s unification by a march on papal Rome. On August 20 he crossed the strait of Messina and landed in Calabria. His advance to Naples became a triumphal march as Bourbon rule totally collapsed; he was welcomed as a hero on entering Naples on September 7. The regrouped forces of King Francis made a final effort at the Volturno River (October 1–2) and, although Garibaldi defeated them, his march to Rome was checked. But Garibaldi was also blocked by political maneuvering. Cavour decided to take the initiative, fearful that the Risorgimento was being turned into a popular movement by the radical followers of Garibaldi and that France would intervene if Rome were attacked. To insure that Piedmont kept the leadership of the unification movement, Cavour ordered Piedmontese troops to invade the papal territories of Umbria and Marche and to join Garibaldi at Naples. Realizing that completion of unification was impossible in the existing situation, Garibaldi agreed to hold a plebiscite in the south, which resulted in an overwhelming victory for annexation under Piedmont (October 21). On October 26 Garibaldi met with Victor Emmanuel and relinquished his dictatorship over the south into the king’s hands.

Encyclopaedia Britannica


When the Marches and Umbria acceded almost all of Italy was united in a single state.

The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, with Victor Emmanuel II as king, and the first parliamentary elections were held in 1861.

Italy acquired the Veneto in a war against Austria in 1866 but decided to forego Trentino and Istria. After the occupation of the Papal States in 1870, the pope ruled over only the Vatican and Rome, which finally joined Italy as its capital in 1871. The liberals, under Prime Minister Agostino Depretis, provided for social improvements and expanded the electorate, though only to seven percent of the population. Founded in 1892, the Partiro Socialista Italiano became the main socialist party in Italy.

7 King Umberto I

During the reign of 7 King Umberto I after 1878, the organization "Italia Irredenta," dedicated to the incorporation of "unsaved Italian areas," was founded. Trentino and Istria stood at the center of these efforts and shaped the alliance policies of the new state until World War I As Prime Minister, Francesco Crispi strove for a stronger and more credible Italy and also sought to acquire new colonies with the stipport of its two partners, Austria-Hungary and the German Empire, in the 1882 Triple Alliance. Its humiliating defeat in a war against Abyssinia in 1896, however, dashed Italian hopes of acquiring an East African empire.

After Umberto was assassinated in 1900, Victor Emmanuel III came to the throne. The left-wing prime minister Giovanni Giolitti pushed through numerous reforms in the years that followed: The right to strike and social security were introduced, and electoral suffrage was extended to almost all adult males. Internationally, Giolitti ensured continuity. In 1911, Italian forces occupied the city of Tripoli, and in a war against the Ottoman Empire, Italy seized control of the Dodecanese and the rest of Libya. At the outset of World War I Italy remained neutral but on 26 April 1915, Italy signed the "secret treaty of London" with the Entente powers. The treaty offered Italy Trieste, the South Tirol, and Dalmatia in exchange for entering the war. Italy duly declared war on Austria-Hungary on May 23, 1915, and on Germany on August 28,1916.



Pope Pius IX

Pope Pius IX, from a noble Italian family, proclaimed the infallibility of the pope in 1870 and is said to have left the Papal States with the words,

"I might be infallible, but in any case I am bankrupt."

Pius IX, pope 1846-78




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