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Assess the significance of Garibaldi's contribution to Italian Un...

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Assess the significance of Garibaldi's contribution to Italian Unification

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  • March 24, 2004
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Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in Nice, and, although he was a born a French citizen, he regarded himself as Italian. Despite the pressure placed upon him to enter the Church, he joined the Merchant Navy where a chance meeting with Mazzini altered the entire course of his life.

One of Mazzini's greatest disciples was Garibaldi, who was inspired with nationalist fervour and patriotic enthusiasm. He quickly converted to share Mazzini's aim of a united Italy, but only an Italy united as a republic. A revolutionary plot in 1833 in Piedmont was introduced to cause mutiny in the army but it failed and Garibaldi was sentenced to death. Execution could not be carried out as Garibaldi left the country prior to the trial. He moved to Brazil and then on to Uruguay where his military ability was first displayed. He fought, defending Uruguay in an Austrian take-over, however, news of the Italian revolutions of 1848 reached him and he decided to return to his homeland. He did this with some out of date weapons and some of his colleagues. Word of his military campaigns in South America had by now reached the Italian States and upon his return, recruits assembled to join Garibaldi's legion.

Garibaldi's contribution in South America had a profound effect on events later on in the fight for unification, as it was due to his military involvement that he came back to Italy a prominent figure. It was only due to his reputation that he was able to recruit so many men.

Although Garibaldi was originally drawn to the cause of unification as one of Mazzini's supporters, he saw the powerful Piedmontese state and monarchy as a more realistic way of achieving unification. It was at this point that Garibaldi and his mentor Mazzini parted ways. Mazzini was only interested in a unified Italy as a republic whereas Garibaldi wanted unification by any means possible. This is also where Garibaldi shows contrasts with Cavour who was above all else Piedmontese.

February 1849 saw the...