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How far do you agree that it was Cavour's diplomacy rather that Garibaldi's ideas and actions which made the greater contribution to Italian Unification?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Shantalie Hewavisenti How far do you agree that it was Cavour's diplomacy rather that Garibaldi's ideas and actions which made the greater contribution to Italian Unification? The historical view of Italian Unification like other revolutionary processes of the nineteenth century has become a mix of both exaggerated myth and fact. With hindsight historians can now detach themselves sufficiently from events to distinguish, objectively which figures in the Risorgimento allowed it to result in the United Kingdom of Italy in 1870. Any historical movement is a culmination of events and combination of different figures. Both Giuseppe Garibaldi and Count Camillo Benso di Cavour emerge as leading figures in the movement. Garibaldi is celebrated as a hero, a natural leader and military genius who inspired men to follow him to the death and he has become an admired figure in Italian History due to his inescapable charisma. On the other hand, Cavour is distinguished from Garibaldi and other revolutionaries of the Risorgimento, quite simply because, at heart he was not a revolutionary at all. Cavour instead was an astute politician and pragmatist whose great awareness and sensitivity to changing international events, acted as the catalyst for Italian Unification. Garibaldi is celebrated for his two main contributions to the Risorgimento, his valiant defence of the Roman Republic in 1848 and his Expedition to the South in 1860. Garibaldi only really emerged on the Italian scene in 1848 when he returned from South America where he was held in exile and never ceased to think about the liberation of Italy1. Garibaldi's power and influence became obvious with his brave resistance to Pius IX's French intervention in 1848. Although Garibaldi was ultimately defeated by Napoleon he still emerged as hero. In the public eye, Garibaldi was perceived as a romantic hero and he coined the phrase 'Roma o morte'. He inspired the masses through his adventures like no other revolutionary nationalist had done previously. ...read more.

Middle

It stated France would come to Piedmont's aid if Austria was the aggressor. Seaman categorises this compromise as the singularly most important factor to Italian Unification. This view is valid because had it not been for the 1859 war against Austria, Austrian influence would never have been expelled from the peninsula. This illustrates that it was through Cavour's diplomatic negotiations that unification became more realistic. It is important to realise that Cavour's attitude towards Italy displayed how his flexibility allowed his ideas to develop in a fashion that was ultimately beneficial for Italy. Cavour's actions led to the creation of the fundamental geographical foundations for a unified Italy in the formation of the 'Kingdom of Northern Italy'. Although there is little debate surrounding the importance of northern unification the fact that Cavour ceded Nice and Savoy over to France was seen a great betrayal by Italians especially Garibaldi as it displayed a lack of devotion to the Italian cause. However, this deficiency on Cavour's part was counteracted by Garibaldi's enthusiasm to recapture his hometown, Nice and so he set off on his expedition to the South where he unified Naples and Sicily. Another of Cavour's positive attributes that is forwarded by Denis Mack Smith was that he knew his own limitations and was aware of other figure's opinions of him illustrated by the following quotation: 'Cavour was much aware of the fact that he had come into politics with little experience of administration ...this remained one of the main charges against him'.12 Cavour was highly sensitive to the political climate. His pragmatic approach even though unpopular with his contemporaries, was his strongest attribute and enhanced the Unification movement. In contrast, Garibaldi's passion for unification blinded him to the stark reality of international sensitivities and this ironically led to his downfall. Jasper Ridley claims that Garibaldi was 'a great commander but not a great general'13. ...read more.

Conclusion

For this reason, we cannot celebrate Garibaldi's military input to the same extent as Cavour's contributions to unification. Although he was unable to inspire the masses with the same revolutionary zeal as Garibaldi, it was Cavour that was the leading force in unification at least up till 1861 as he was able to manipulate the political arena. Thus, Cavour's diplomacy did make a greater contribution to Italian Unification than Garibaldi's. There is an element of debate surrounding the success of the Risorgimento, yet we should not underestimate this momentous event in Italian history, which was only made possible by this clash between Cavour and Garibaldi and the fact that they were both able to put their differences aside in order to achieve the common goal of Italian unification. Word Count: 2992 1 Jasper Ridley - Garibaldi (1974)- p.224 2 A.J.Whyte - The Political Life and Letters of Cavour 1848-1861 (1930)- p.399 3 Denis Mack Smith - Garibaldi (1969)- p.147 4 Jasper Ridley - Garibaldi (1974) - p.636 5 Adriana Stiles- The Unification of Italy 1815-70 (2001) - p.53 6 George Macaulay Trevelyan - Garibaldi and the Thousand (1909)- p.5-7 7 Cesare Cant� - Della indipendenza italiana cronistoria (1878) - p.580 8 Carlo Tivaroni - Storia crtica del risorgimento italiano (1897) - p.506 9 Garibaldi - Denis Mack Smith (1969) - p.156 10 Adriana Stiles - The Unification of Italy 1815-1870 (2001) 11 Denis Mack Smith - Cavour (1985) - p.71 12 Denis Mack Smith - Cavour (1985) - p.70 13 Jasper Ridley - Garibaldi (1974) - p.635 14 ibid 15 Denis Mack Smith - Cavour (1985)- p.274 16 Jasper Ridley - Garibaldi (1974) - p.435 17 Vecchi - Garibaldi et Caprera - p.144 18 Denis Mack Smith - Cavour and Garibaldi 1860 - A Study in Political Conflict (1985)- p.222 19 Ibid 20 A.J.Whyte - The Political Life and Letters of Cavour 1848-61 (1930)- p.398 21 William Roscoe Thayer - The Life and Times of Cavour(1911) - p.479-81 22 Session of Camera dei deputati (April 18th 1861 ) quoted in : Il parlamento dell'unit� d'Italia - p.610-19_ 1 ...read more.

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