Analyse the Political Factors Involved in the Unification of Italy Up to 1861 - Essay

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  • Topic: Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian unification
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Analyse the political factors involved in the Unification of Italy up to 1861 Italian Unification or Italian Risorgimento is known as the chain of political and military events that produced a united Italian peninsula under the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. These events can be broken down in four stages: Revolutionary, Cavour’s Policy and the Role of Piedmont, Garibaldi’s Campaign, and the creation of the Italian Kingdom. The unification of Italy up to 1861 is due to two main political factors. The first factor would be nationalism and the other would be the two main individuals who contributed to the Kingdom of Italy, Garibaldi and Cavour. After Napoleon had thoroughly ravaged Europe and had finally been exiled the second time in 1815, nationalism became a wonderfully dangerous thing. Nationalism is pride in one's country, but in the 19th century Italy, it was regionalism that was dominant as the people of Italy showed loyalty to their states and not Italy. By 1848 the entirety of Europe suffered a few massive revolts in which monarchies were toppled left and right. In Italy, there was almost no respect for the existing governments by the population and a great desire for a unified Italy grew. The movement was divided into two groups, one radical and one moderate. The moderate faction was lead by Josef Mazzini, whose writings became the basis of the moral cause for unification. The radical faction was greatly divided, but the main figure head was Giuseppe Garibaldi. Both figures were very prominent with Italian secret societies like Young Italy. Garibaldi first became involved in Italian Unification when he joined Young Italy in 1831 and became a passionate supporter of Mazzini's proposed Italian Republic. Although Garibaldi's political affiliation later changed to royalism, his commitment to Italian unification never faltered; at no point, however, did Garibaldi possess a design by which he planned to achieve his goal. A military figure with no particular political skills, as shown by his brief governance of Sicily, Garibaldi's success in Sicily would have been predicted by very few. Additionally, it is likely that had Garibaldi succeeded in his attack on Rome then he would have inspired foreign intervention on the part of reactionary countries such as Austria and set back the cause of Italian unification by many years. Thus while Garibaldi was an extraordinarily successful soldier and general, his achievements were governed more by opportunism and chance than an overarching plan. In the same way as Garibaldi, Mazzini was a passionate supporter of Italian unification, although he was not prepared to compromise his principles and remained deeply hurt by Garibaldi's abandonment of republicanism. However, although Mazzini can be credited with almost single-handedly creating at least a partial Italian consciousness and while he possessed a huge influence in the Milanese and Roman Republics his practical contribution to Italian unification was minimal. For much of the period between 1848 and 1870 within which Italian unification came about, Mazzini was in exile in London. Additionally, his political writings were unfathomable even to the educated minority and comprehensively failed to encourage popular revolutions after 1848. Thus while Mazzini had a definite political agenda which he succeeded in imposing on the Roman Republic, for most of the period in question he was powerless in political terms. The second most important factor towards the unification of Italy would be the Nation of Piedmont and the brilliance of Cavour. After 1848, the Kingdom of Sardinia, or Piedmont, as it is better known, arose as a constitutional monarchy with the one and only Italian monarch in Italy, King Victor Emmanuel of the House of Savoy. The king was just a figurehead however, for there was a great power behind the throne of the small nation. This power was Camillo di Cavour, and he easily rivals Bismarck as the greatest politician of all time....
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