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Title: 1848-’49 in Italy: a war of people, a war of armies
Other Titles: Il 1848-’49 in Italia: guerra di popolo, guerra di eserciti
Authors: Crivellari, Cinzia
Keywords: MIH
digital module
módulo digital
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Università Ca’ Foscari – Venezia
Abstract: Of the three revolutionary cycles, echoing through the U.S.A. and Europe following the Congress of Vienna, the last one definitely revealed the typical features of the Italian movement. These were a democratic demand for a Constitution, a yearning for national independence in order to free Italian territories from the “foreign” presence and build a new independent State, in which way was yet to be defined. These two feelings have often blurred and blended: in some episodes the demands for equality are overwhelming, while in other cases the will and need to establish as soon as possible a State based on “freedom and independence” appears to prevail. A number of thinkers, artists scholars, poets and musicians encouraged this wide movement in different ways: on one side, by fighting as volunteers in irregular armies. Others, in parallel, were indirectly helping the struggle by secretly canvassing and supporting the organisation from abroad. The most important and active was with no doubt Giuseppe Mazzini. Victim of persecution in his own country, while living in different cities like Geneva, Marseille and London, he had restlessly plotted and attempted coups on absolute monarchies' kings. Ultimately, the goal he was to pursue so hard was the ideal of Italy as a Republic, united from north to south free from any kind of foreign domination. During the 1848/49 biennium, some temporary governments were instituted in many Italian cities, as a consequence of revolutionary uprising. They didn’t just limit their action to a military defence, but they even passed real constitution, in order to ensure public order and enforce laws. As popular uprisings were taking place in some cities against despotic rulers and foreign domination, the Savoy Kingdom of Sardinia took military action: it declared war on the Austrian Empire and moved its armies towards Lombardy and the Veneto. Thus began what would become in the official history of Italy the First War of Independence, in which the monarchist armies of Savoy, Giuseppe Garibaldi’s volunteers, the Pontifical troops of Pius IX and those of Leopold of Tuscany would fight together against the common enemy, Austria, until diplomatic reasons and political opportunism would lead the Pope to withdraw his forces unexpectedly and the King of Sardinia to sign an unexpected, disappointing armistice with the Austro – Hungarian empire.
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