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Italian Revolutions 1846-1848.

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Introduction

Italian Revolutions 1846-1848 In the Italian peninsula there were far-reaching developments based to some extent on aspirations which had been definitely stirring since shortly after the time of the election in June 1846, as Pope Pius IX, of a Cardinal who followed policies which led to his being perceived as holding liberal views. Prior to his demise in 1846 the previous Pope, Gregory XVI, backed by a sure reliance on Prince Metternich's Austria for support, had been responsible for establishing a pervasively repressive administration where spies and informers could ensure that liberals, nationalists, or intellectuals were routinely harassed and often received non-legal punishments. The more radical amongst the population of the States of the Church, and indeed the Italian Peninsula in general, for their part tending to be involved in secret political or revolutionary societies such as the Carbonari. By the authority of the incoming Pope there was a declaration, on July 17th 1846, of an amnesty. Amnesties, as such, were usually declared after Papal elections, (and indeed were traditional in association with changes of sovereign in several European states), but this amnesty was unusual in being extended to many sentenced for political crimes. ...read more.

Middle

which demanded a Constitution, supported industrial development, and encouraged the speaking of "Tuscan" Italian rather than French or any of the many regional dialects then in everyday use in the Italian peninsula. On July 17th 1847, (the first anniversary of the papal amnesty), Field Marshal Radetzky, the Austrian commander in Lombardy, decided to very publicly reinforce the Austrian garrison in Ferrara, a town within the territories of the church. Although an Austrian garrison was present in the Citadel of Ferrara in line with the provisions of the treaties framed at the close of the Napoleonic Wars the public nature and the timing of this process of reinforcement was seen as provocative by Italian opinion. After the Austrians moved to secure several strategic points outside the Citadel "to protect their men from insult" Pope Pius personally protested to the European powers. This protest was welcomed and supported by many in the Italian Peninsula. In January 1848 there were 61 fatalities during so-called "tobacco riots" in Milan as people demonstrated against taxes imposed by Lombardy's Austrian Authorities. On 12th January there was a rising in Palermo on the island of Sicily, then a notably populous city, and a principal seaport, against the absolutist King Ferdinand, with outcomes including the ...read more.

Conclusion

" ...Seeing that some at present desire that We too, along with the other princes of Italy and their subjects, should engage in war against the Austrians, We have thought it convenient to proclaim clearly and openly, in this our solemn Assembly, that such a measure is altogether alien from our counsels ...." Many persons who had welcomed the Papacy's apparent support for Italian national aspirations were disappointed by this speech of Pope Pius. But, from a broader perspective, by adopting a non-partisan position Pope Pius avoided - (as Benedetto Croce has pointed out) - being "marked with the stamp of nationality and thus being deprived of a universal character as head of the Catholic Church above all national States." It happened that the forces of King Ferdinand of Naples, on 25th May, accomplished a counter revolution which returned Naples to his absolutist rule, the forces that had earlier been sent north, against Austria, were withdrawn. This decisive move was precipited by an attempted overthrow of royal power in Naples. The Constitution awarded some weeks earlier was withdrawn and the local assembly suspended. The Neapolitan force that had been sent north, during the more radical recent developments, against Austria was now recalled. ...read more.

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