Giuseppe Garibaldi

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  • Topic: Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italy, Italian unification
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  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Giuseppe Garibaldi, b. Nice, France; July 4, 1807, d. Caprera, Italy; June 2, 1882. He was known as Italy's most brilliant soldier of the Risorgimento (the Italian Unification), and one of the greatest guerrilla fighters of all time. While serving (1833-34) in the navy of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont, he came under the influence of Giuseppe Mazzini, the prophet of Italian nationalism. He took part in an abortive republican uprising in Piedmont in 1834.

Under a death sentence, he managed to escape to South America, where he lived from 1836 to 1848. There he took part in struggles in Brazil and helped Uruguay in its war against Argentina, commanding its small navy and, later, an Italian legion at Montevideo. The warrior achieved international fame through the publicity of his elder Alexandre Dumas. Wearing his colorful gaucho costume, Garibaldi returned to Italy in April 1848 to fight in its war of independence. His exploits against the Austrians in Milan and against the French forces supporting Rome and the Papal States made him a national hero. Overpowered at last in Rome, Garibaldi and his men had to retreat through central Italy in 1849. Anita, his wife and companion-in-arms, died during this retreat.

Disbanding his men, Garibaldi again escaped abroad, where he lived successively in North Africa, the United States, and Peru. The "hero of two worlds" could not return to Italy until 1854. In 1859 he helped Piedmont in a new war against Austria, leading a volunteer Alpine force that captured Varese and Como.

In May 1860, Garibaldi set out on the greatest venture of his life, the conquest of Sicily and Naples. This time he had no governmental support, but Premier Cavour and King Victor Emmanuel II dared not stop the popular hero. They stood ready to help, but only if he proved successful. Sailing from near Genoa on May 6 with 1,000 Red shirts, Garibaldi reached Marsala, Sicily, on May 11 and proclaimed himself dictator in the name of Victor...
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