Questions and Answers: Italian Unification



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Questions and Answers: Italian Unification

1. What factors discouraged an early unification of Italy and how were these overcome?


Before the year of 1848, the Italian faced a lot of difficulties to urge the unification movement. Until, 1848, the situation had been changed and directly contributed to the unification movement.
After 1815 Italy was once again a mere geographical expression. Austria was to control a large part of Italy directly, that is, Lombardy and Venetia, and indirectly through the restored Bourbon Kings in some minor Italian states. Italian unification was once again frustrated ever the Risorgimento was quickly in advance. The explosion of Austrian power in Italy was the main problem which discouraged an early unification of Italy. Moreover, the general political atmosphere in Europe did not allow new concessions to Italian balance when the powers were concerned with maintaining the balance of power and to prevent the setting of French hegemony in Europe again. So a united Italy in 1815 would only mean French domination of Italy, so the powers generally accepted the settlement even though the 1815 settlement ignored the moral principles which first French Revolution and the Romanticism had unleashed in Europe. Even liberal powers like Britain and the mother of Revolution, France did not dare to take the risk of a war which may be caused if Italy was united and this might invite foreign intervention in the young Italy. So foreign aid was generally unavailable in the first generation of the nineteenth century. Moreover, any war against Austria in the 1820's would mean war against Russia and Prussia too because the Holy Alliance acted as international police force resisting the tide of change. So the political, diplomatic and military condition in 1820's and 1830's did not favour the unification of Italy.
Moreover, the movement of unification tied more in Italy itself because Italy was divided, without communication network backward in economy and local rivalry prevented a common front to develop when states were as states localism with different culture, languages, political system and interest prevented any united effort against foreign rule, for example, the position of Rome was the central position of any unifying movement. But the Pope had its own finance, army and administration which formed an individual and separate state local rivalry was marked and particularism prevented the rise of a homogeneous nationalism. As Metternich said "in Italy, states are against states, provinces against provinces, towns against towns, families against families and men against men." This was of no less significant a factor which discourage early unification.
Moreover, the movement of Risorgimento which was the awakening of Italian nationalism and an intellectual and civil revival called English tenmen, was not "pure" in any way because many lines worked at the same time her unification without coordination and unity, but on the contrary rivalry was marked the revolutionaries and the republicans feared the masses more than they feared Austria power. The lead of Mazzini was vague and he was concerned more with the government structure of Italy them with unification. He and Garibaldi had little political principle but only unification from below and under the flag of republicanism. His optimism was his main weakness because he thought that Italians, illiterate and divided could carry out the revolution from, that is, to achieve liberty before independence. As Fisher says "Mazzini was the Saint of Italian unification but he was doomed to failure because he could not foresee that the unification with Rome and the entire extinction of Austrian power in Italy could not be achieved without foreign aid". The Young Italy was only a minority movement and he was the die-hard enemy of monarchism.
Federation was another line when unification was to be under the Pope as advocated by Goberti. However, the Papal States as marked by religious conservatism was greatly doubted for her sincerity. And finally it proved useless when the movement was betrayed by the Pope.
Moreover, the Piedmontese army was also one of the potential source of unification, but its reluctance to first social concession and political liberty weakened her cause when the Emperor feared and hated the massed more than he feared Austrian power. When liberty and unity were to be achieved at the same time, the emperor feared the former and finally abandoned both came to conservatism prevented a common union between the throne and the people to achieve any effective movement against Austrian rule in Italy.
Moreover, the uncoordinated and ineffective effort of the secret societies, for Carbonari did not achieve. Gicat's success when Austrian power was strong but the sects unity and forced was weak. As Metternich said "the seats are not nearly so dangerous as we may fear." These uncoordinated and piece-meal effort was doomed to failure.
In conclusion the question before Italy was foreign rule on independence, unity in federation, political change from above or social and economic revolution from below. All these were undecided and even the road was unclear. It was doubtful whether they could succeed with no foreign aid but only an ant-revolutionary Holy Alliance. The main forces of Risorgimento, that is, Romanticism with the intellectual work of Lesparda and Mazzini and industrialism with little economic basis and an awakened education were still weak, uncoordinated, vague in goal and divided in leadership and this was no clear effort to know which method was to the employed.
In revolution of 1848 frustrated these uncoordinated and contradicted effort, but the movement had not gone to far to be stopped. The Republicans under Mazzini ceased to be a main stream of movement when the Young Italy was defeated by Austrian and Italian conservatism. The Federalists betrayed the movement and it was the wrong horse to be backed. Only Piedmont posed the needed economic basis and military force to fight Austrian rule in Italy. The three great task of achieving unity, explosion of Austrian from Italy and gaining liberty had to be sacrificed to achieve national unity under Piedmont. As Rascaoli says "Piedmont today is all of Italy." Cavour when he came to power, carried out vigourous economic reform and industrial development since he knew that a strong economic basis was the prerequisite for national struggle. Moreover, he knew that diplomacy was important by exploiting the revolution of 1848 when the Holy Alliance was on the reign of collapse, Italian unification was to be achieved by foreign war with friendly foreign relationships. "Italy could not make herself, she could only be made by exploiting the differences between the powers", as A. J. P. Taylor comments, and France was the potential ally when Napoleon III was a member of the Carbonari and he was eager for national prestige and to break the 1815 settlement. As Cavour once said, "We must be the partner of France in the great game that sooner or later must be played in Europe."
Moreover, the war was to be achieved from above not below, by the monarchy, not the masses. Mazzini and the Carbonari still served the Italian cause, but their role now was only subsidiary. Mazzini was continue to be preacher of Italian nationality and it needed "Mazzini to endow the revolutionary movement with a spiritual quality", as J. Dnz says, and as Lipson observed "Mazzini broadened the political horizon of the Italians and create vigourous public opinion in favour of nation unity." While the Carbonari was now served little, but the "political immigration was the political hard school in which the political philosophy of Italian unification was gradually evolved." Romanticism still played a role in keeping alive a national spirit, but the crux of the question was to achieve by diplomacy not the republican slogan of the masses. Cavour was to make known to the world the Italian question and to exploit the enthusiasm of Napoleon III in order to exclude Austrian power from Italy. While it left to the monarchy to take care of the liberty of the people at time the essential condition was the break up of the Holy Alliance with the fall of Metternich. Whole the goal was a constitutional monarchy under the House of Savoy. It was to be achieved not in Italy but in Europe. While the Italy to be united should not include South Italy which marked by backwardness and this was only a source of economic and social problem (the final unification was only forced on Cavour by the military action of Garibaldi), so the Italy to be achieved was a small Italy, based on its division not unification and the problem of Rome was to be solved, in a peculiar way which formed a perpetual obstacle to real Italian unification. When France occupied Rome in 1848 and this was also to be excluded in 1870.
As a conclusion, with the help of nationalists such as Mazzini and Cavour, the nationalistic feeling and factors for Italian unification had been risen. Thus, Italy could at last be unified in the hand of the Italians.
2. Discuss the part played by nationalism in the Italian Unification movement.
The Napoleon Conquest and reorganization of 'Italy' had revealed to Italians the advantages of enlightened laws and administration and secondly awaken them to a desire to free themselves from foreign rule. The restoration of 1815 lost for the Italians in large measure the advantages of French rule and substituted the French domination by the Austrian domination. Hence, revolutionary sentiment grew, aiming at first to overthrow the existing government and gradually embracing the idea of unity for all of 'Italy".
Following the restoration of ancien regime and the legitimate despots in the Italian peninsula, there broke out in Naples, in 1820, in Piedmont in 1821, in Central Duchies and Papal States in 1831 some liberal revolts engineered by the secret societies - Carbonari which aim was to combat tyranny and to overthrow the existing governments. Though these small scale and sporadic risings were easily suppressed by a combine force of royalists and Austrians, they indeed represented the embryonic Italian nationalism which growth ultimately led to full scale 'liberation' war against Austria in the northern Italian plain in 1848, as well as the proclamation of the Roman Republic in 1849. That Piedmont could easily incorporate Central Duchies in 1860; Papal Sates, Naples and Sicily in 1861 and finally Rome in 1870, Italian nationalism played the most important part without which Cavour's diplomacy and foreign powers' aid could only rendered slightly to the completion of Italian unification.
The political restoration under the domination of Austria as well as the failure of the anti-absolutist risings led by the Carbonari in 1820 and 1830 greatly fostered the Italian Risorgimento. It was first witnessed by the appearance of a republican movement led by Mazzini, a romanticist as well as a former Carbonaro who from early youth had dreamt of freeing Italy from the present rulers and of giving her a republican constitution. Realizing the importance of unified effort by Italians everywhere, Mazzini found a new revolutionary society - The Young Italy in March 1831 and thence launched the propaganda and risings for a free 'Italy'. Seen in 1840s there appeared another political stream fro constitutional reform and for some type of unification for the peninsula. There stream represented the idea of moderate liberals in northern Italy who found Mazzini's republicanism offensive and his methods dangerous and impractical. Among these moderate liberals, one school favoured a federation of states under the presidency of the Pope. These were the neo-guelphs led by Gioberti whose book On the Moral and Civil Primacy of the Italians was the representative of the political view. The other school led by Balbo advocated the extrusion of Austria by a peaceful means if possible and the reorganization of Italy under the Monarchy of Piedmont.
The impact of Italian Risorgimento could well be felt in 1848 - 1849 Revolution. It was a liberal national revolution under which tide all the rulers were obliged to promulgate a liberal constitution to their respective states. The liberal revolution in each Italian state was seen examined in a national liberties movement under Piedmont against Austria following 'the Five Days of Milan' and the proclamation of a Venetian Republic under Xannim. Under the impact of this tide, Charles Albert of Piedmont, the Pope and even the Naples sent troops to expel the Austrians from the northern Italian plains. As a romantist, Charles Albert believed that 'Italy will do it alone.' But his illusion was soon shattered by his defeat in the Battle of Sustozza (July 1848) and the Battle of Novara (March 1849). The Austrian Sword was proved to be mightier. Moreover, particularism and forces of conservatism in the Italian peninsula were still predominant and the formation of a common front against Austria was seen rendered abortive by the withdrawal of the Papal and Neapolitan troops. In the height of Italian national revolution Mazzini and Garibaldi in early 1849 proclaimed the establishment of the Roman Republic. Despite its collapse owing to the joint intervention of Austria, France and Spain, it was the most memorable episode of Italian nationalism which from then on was fast expanding. After 1849, Italian nationalism took a more realistic form of struggle.
The Italian war against Austria in 1859 was initially prepared by Cavour of Piedmont with military aid from Napoleon III of France for the expulsion of Austrians from North Italy and ultimately the establishment of an Upper Italian Kingdom of Piedmont, Lombardy, Venetia, Parama, Modena and Papal Legation. The success of this semi-unification could only be said as a by-product of Piedmontese aggrandizement with French aid for the expulsion of the Austrian influence and at the expense of the Central Italian states. In a real sense it was only unification by war and not unification by popular revolution. In the midst of the Austro-Piedmontese war risings which were engineered by the Italian national societies broke out in Tuscany, Modena and Parma in May 1859 and rulers of these central Duchies fled the country. The Villfrance Pact of July 1859 was reached at last. France and Austria yearly destroyed favour's project of Piedmontese aggrandizement but could no longer stop Italian nationalism and effect the restoration of the overthrow princes in the Central Duchies. It was only under the impact of nationalism that Piedmont and Central were unified-- a great step towards Italian unification.
The unification of north and Central Italy were soon followed by an heroic expedition to the south by Garibaldi and his thousand Red Shirts. After his landing at Marsala, Garibaldi proclaimed himself dictator of the island. The Sicilian people allied to him for the purpose of shaking off the despotic rule of Francis II of Naples. In August, Garibaldi led his forces across the Strait of Messina to attack Naples and took it early in September. The liberation of the south by Garibaldi marked the height of Italian nationalism. For fear that the nationalist mostly in the south might threaten the Piedmontese monarchical rule in the north as well as to forestall Garibaldi's march to take Rome. Cavour by agreement with France sent the Piedmontese army to invade the Marches: then march on to Naples. For the unification of North and South, Garibaldi handed over his conquest to Victor Emmanuel and set sail for his island home refusing all rewards. In February 1861, the first of all Italian parliament met at Turin and in March the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed with Victor Emmanuel II was the first king. Undeniably, the achievement of unification of North and South Italy in 1861 was the great proof of the part played by Italian nationalism.
Though the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861, the Italians were still restless to recover Venetia from Austria and to find their Capital on Rome which was then under the French garrison. To all Italian nationalists Rome historically the cultural centre was the soul of Italy, thus "without Rome, without Italy". In March 1862, Garibaldi organised the society for the emancipation of Italy with the explicit aim to liberate Venetia and Rome. Belying the government, Garibaldi raised the cry. "Rome or Death", and had thrice tried to liberate Rome (August 1862, September 1867 and November 1867) without success. In 1864 September there was the September Convention by which Napoleon III finally agreed to evacuate Rome within two years, in return for an Italian promise to move the capital from Turin to Florence. Though it was approved by the parliament the agreement raised a storm of protest in Piedmont and was denounced by Garibaldi. Napoleon III tried to summon an international congress to discuss the Roman question, but accomplished nothing, as all Italians were all intent in making Rome their capital. As soon as the French troops withdrew from Rome in August 1870 as a result of the Franco-Prussian War, Rome was occupied and controlled by Italians. It was later proclaimed the capital of Italy. This marked the climax of Italian Risorgimento.
3. Give an account of the forces forging the Italian nationality or making for the Risorgimento since 1830-1848.
The French Revolution of 1830 detonated a train of small insurrections up and down Italy. A young lawyer of Modena, Misley had devised a scheme for the creation of a constitutional kingdom of Central Italy under the Duke Francis of Modena whom he had won over to his ideas. On the other hand, a silk merchant Menotti had visions of national unity based on Rome. When Sebastini, the new French Foreign Minister, announced in September that France would oppose any intervention by Austria outside her frontiers in Italy, revolutionary leaders decided to take the risk and in February 1831, revolt broke out in Bologna. The realization that Italian hopes depending upon the attitude of the French was perfectly sound and pointed to the means where by success was ultimately to be achieved in 1860.

The only practical outcome was brief displacement of several governments in central Italy. Francis fled from Madena in February, Maria Louise from Parma, and the Bapal legates from Bologna. But instead of joining a common front, their instinctive municipalism came uppermost Piaconza remained in rivalry with Parma, Rggio was suspicious of Modena, Genoa of Turin and Sicily of Naples. Each city-state was proud of its riches and cultural tradition. In March 1831, the Austrians crossed the Poto to restore the throne of the three former governments.


The revolution of 1831-32 proved that the primary obstacles to the Italian unity was regional particularity and the Austrian predominance was one of secondary importance. However, the Austrian intervention beyond her frontiers in Lombardy and Venetia and the exercise of naked force in the suppression of the liberal revolts contributed powerfully to the popular belief that Austria was the chief oppressor of Italy. Only the presence of French troops in Ancona to counter that of the Austria in Bologna recreated that balance whose absence had frustrated the revolutionaries of the previous year; and on this slender thread of Franco-Austrian rivalry the future of Italy depended.
To Mazzini, a prophet of the new age, the moral was national unity and independence, not the practical liberties demanded by the Carbonari and Federati. Mazzini had bitter words for the ineffectual Italian resistance against Austria in 1831, and concluded that discipline and a self-conscious nationalism were urgently required. He intended his new society, the Givoine Italia (Young Italy), to be not only a regional body, but also national, an integrating and initiating force. Its first test came in the "Sergeant' Conspiracy" of 1833 in Piedmont. Charles Albert reacted with excessive severity. Mazzini and Garibaldi were condemned to death in 1834.
Meanwhile, almost every year, insurrections occurred somewhere. Their inspiration, though not always their direction, came from Mazzini, who wanted not a federation of monarchies but a single republic, not an imposition from above but an autonomous self-determination from below. Mazzini's idea was best expressed in his remarks "Flowers would blossom rapidly if watered with blood." National unity was to be accomplished by a democratic mass uprising. To Gioberti's objections that local insurrections were wasteful and disheartening, Mazzini replied: "only thus, could you rouse the people, and without the Italian nation generated a very powerful force with which the royalists were driven to compete." Charles Albert told D' Azaglioto to assure the people that, if only they abandoned agitation, circumstances might permit his army to stages effective enough to resolve the contradiction between the capital and the labour.
Lastly, the mystic idea of the German as the super race destined to dominate the world, prompted Hitler and the Nazis to launch the anti-semitic campaigns and the Second World War.
Rather than Mazzini, it was the new-guelph writers who provided the necessary intellectual stimulus for the first war of liberation. They tried to involve the pope historically by showing how the medieval papacy had fought the Germans. The advent of a liberal pope, Pius IX, created the hopes for a federation of the Italian states.
In spite of his personal sympathy for the Lombard liberals, the greatest of the Italian of the age of Manzoni had begun to develop the idea of liberal Catholicism. He contributed power fully to Italian nationality in his generalization of Tusean usage in Italian speech and writing.
Silvic Fellice's Le Mie Prigioni (My Life in Prison) appeared as early as 1832. It's greatest success almost accidentally labelled Austria as the greatest oppressor of the peninsula.
At Brussels in 1843, Gioberti produced his Primato Moralo Civile degli Italiani (the Primacy of the Italian Civil Morality). Here he argued that there existed an Italian race which was united in Blood, religion and language, even if political unity was unattainable and its natural leader was the Pope. He was aiming at an audience of priests and he carefully exited from his manuscripts all criticism of Austria and the Jesuits. His scheme reconciled religion and country. Patriotism suddenly became orthodox and matter for public discussion instead of for conspiracy. Yet, his earlier appeal to papal leadership and his theme of Italian 'primacy' helped his countrymen to regain the self-confidence necessary for a political revolution.
Another influential work was Balbo's Belle Speranso Italian (the Italian Spirit). Balbo agreed that federal state was the obvious goal, because the various peoples of Italy were so distinct that they needed different forms f government. As a good Piedmontese, he envisaged Charles Albert, not the Pope, as leader of the future Italian confederation. Unlike Giobetti, however, he developed the idea that Austria would voluntarily expand eastward into the Balkans and leave Italy free.
The influence of the Neo-Guelph writers was to assimilate the distinct Italian peoples into Catholicism, underpinned the cultural unity and associated political liberalism with nationalism.
But if the objective conditions of nationality were not present, no effort of individuals to rose the people would be of avail.
Like other similar societies in Lombardy and Tuscany, the Piedmontese Agricultural Society helped to inaugurate an agricultural revolution by experimenting with new breeds of farm animals, introducing machinery, curing plants diseases, and trying to improve the quality and transportation of wine. The Sardinian Monarchy began to build irrigation canals, railways and above all the port facilities at Genoa.
This spirit was a sign of the times and no peculiar to Piedmont. It was in Naples that there appeared the first Italian steamboat, as well as the first iron bridges and the first railway; and as early as 1833 Ferdinand II had talked of making a league among the various Italian States.
Undoubtedly, it was Austria Lombardy which showed the greatest prosperity and the greatest advance in industrialization. Lombardy boasted the finest system of communications in Continental Europe, and it was not Austrian resistance to reform, as much as the municipal jealousy which held up the Milan-Venice railroad. The Austrian rulers went far ahead of other Italian Sovereigns in educational development. Their taxes, though heavy, were less than those of their predecessors or successors. Their press laws allowed the existence of more than twice as many newspapers as in Piedmont and Tuscany. Apparently the people of Lombardy remained content and loyal, at least until 1840. So far were they from feelings of Italian unity that the Milan chamber of commerce advocated joining the German Zollverein as a means to greater prosperity. Metternich was planning a close economic union of Austria with the States of Italy as an antidote to Italian nationalism. Even some radicals believed that there was more to be gained from Piedmont. Where Metternich failed was in preventing single campaigns against individual gradually developing into a larger scheme of renovations and when the movement for reforms reach a certain point, it became political and even anti-Austrian.
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