Italy from 1815 to 1849 Part 3

By | February 16, 2022

The constitutional problem for Naples and Piedmont could not have been resolved except on the battlefields of Lombardy, with independence from Austria. The internal regional question was a national question. The Carbonari uprisings, however, have the merit of having pushed Piedmont and Neapolitan into the national movement. The Italian conscience, thanks to the Carbonari, overcame regional prejudices; the idea of ​​independence with the help of all the Italians acquired other minds and other hearts of patriots. The example of those Carbonari who suffered persecutions and condemnations for Italy served to build the moral spirit of Italy; and this too was a positive result of the riots of ’20 and ’21. Outside of Italy then lives a painful Italy, yet full of faith, the Italy of exiles who flock to wherever there is a fight for freedom, in Spain, Greece, Belgium and Poland. They succeeded by the strength of their faith in attracting the sympathies of foreigners to the Italian cause. That action served in a certain way as a link between our movement and the wider and more varied one of liberal Europe.

According to usaers, these connections were more numerous and stronger (they had a whole tradition) between Italian exiles and French liberals. Paris was the animating center of the entire secret liberal movement during the reactionary government of Charles X. The  Italian Emancipation Committee was then constituted by our exiles in France., connected to the Cosmopolitan Committee which proposed to found a league of constitutional states. The hopes of our exiles seemed to be realized with the revolution of July 1830; their French friends, liberals, then came to the government with Louis Philippe. Minister Lafitte’s solemn declaration of December 1830 against the principle of intervention, supported by the Holy Alliance, inflamed minds, and incited the revolution. The Italian revolutionaries are still within the orbit of the Carbonari, they have a federal monarchical program, they have neither a center, nor unity, nor great forces. They are looking for a prince to lead the movement, they are deluded and deceived in designating the Duke of Modena. It is precisely the Duke of Modena who begins the repression by attacking the house of Ciro Menotti, where the conspirators had gathered on the evening of February 3, 1831. The wounded Menotti is arrested with 60 of his companions. The day after hearing the news of the Bologna insurrection, the duke flees to Mantua, pulling Ciro Menotti behind him in chains. The revolution rapidly spread to Emilia and Romagna; the end of temporal power was proclaimed in Bologna and the Government of the United Provinces. In reality this union did not exist: the provisional government of Modena opposed the merger with that of Reggio; Parma was hostile to Piacenza, Bologna intended to break away from Rome and be the center of the state. Municipalism was revived, and rekindled old jealousies. The Italian patriots had too much relied on France in a war against Austria; Louis Philippe was too keen to secure the throne not to provoke Austria. Austria therefore succeeded in detaching France from the Italian revolution; and this was from that moment doomed to fail with its weak forces against powerful Austria. The Austrian army entered the Modenese area on 6 March, and therefore passed into Romagna. General Zucchi in Rimini on 25 March valiantly opposes the Austrian advance: but he is forced to retreat towards Ancona. The day after the battle in Rimini, the government of the united provinces negotiated with the Austrians and with the papal government. Temporal power and the ousted dukes were restored.

The Italy of the patriots emerged from the uprisings of ’31 conquered, more than by foreign weapons, by the errors of Italians: by their easy illusions, by the uncertainty and imprecision of their programs, by their municipal and regional jealousies, by the lack of unity , of direction, of harmony, of discipline, of strength. To the bold victorious reaction and to the malicious foreign criticism, the Italians in 1931 appeared incapable of a political resurgence. Yet the riots of ’31 marked a step forward in the Risorgimento: new regions, new social groups of the city bourgeoisie took part in the revolution: it was not, as it had been in ’20 and ’21, largely a military mutiny. The hatred against Austria grew, the Carbonari experiments failed, the illusion of a foreign aid fell: Ciro Menotti going to the gallows said:

A few months after the failed uprisings of ’31, the Italy of the Risorgimento springs up renewed and sublimated by an idea, which is a precise political program, and which is faith, and works heroism, and which survives all defeats: idea of ​​unity, conceived and desired by Giuseppe Mazzini with his  Giovine Italia , founded in 1832.

From his soul, from his mystical conception of the mission of life, Mazzini drew a new element of great moral strength: faith. He felt that the Risorgimento of Italy had to take place thanks to the moral and religious elevation of the people. National redemption is conceived as a duty to be performed in the interest not of one nation alone, but for the good of humanity. As for the political form, he longed for the republic, however he always subordinated that form to the unitary ideal. Mazzini pointed to the means to implement his program in the strength of the people, in the revolution and in the people’s war. Those means proved to be ineffective, but profound was the effectiveness in the Italian conscience of the concept of the Italian Risorgimento no longer conceived, through the mentality nurtured by the French Enlightenment and the Carbonaro sectarianism,

All the major men of the Risorgimento passed at some point in their life through Mazzinianism. And this is its historical value, even if all the attempts of insurrection failed in the decade from ’34 to ’44, from the Savoy expedition to that in southern Italy, crowned by the martyrdom of the Bandiera brothers and their companions (July 1844).

Italy from 1815 to 1849 3