Contrast The Contribution Made By Mazzini, Cavour and Garibaldi to Italian Unification
Contrast The Contribution Made By Mazzini, Cavour The unification of Italy was a complicated process that started from the 1790s and lasted until the conquest of Rome by the Italian troops in 1871. The Napoleonic Era, however, did not forecast such an outcome of things: at the beginning of the XIX century Italy consisted of separate states that were ruled first by the French, then by the Austrians who did not think about the unity. The 1820s and 1830s signalized the urging need of Italy to change – people missed the partial freedom that Napoleon gave them and wanted to participate in governing, which was impossible as long as Austria held so much influence within the peninsula. The revolutions of 1820-1 (Piedmont) and 1831-2 (Papal States) showed the citizens that a change is possible. The revolution of 1848 and 1849 gave more hope to the Italian patriots all over the country, for they saw that Milan was able to hold back Austria for some time and for Piedmont was beginning to gain the position of a leader within the States. The shrewd policies of the Piedmontese government and the significant conquests at the South of the Peninsula led to the creation of The Kingdom of Italy in 1861 and then connection of Rome and Venetia. Three people clearly played a great role in the process of unifying the State: Giuseppe Mazzini, the ideological leader of the Italian patriots and the creator of the famous Young Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, a skillful military man that to this day is seen as the Italian national hero and Camillo Cavour, the Prime Minister of Piedmont from 1852 to 1861. All of them shared a great contribution towards the Unification, but they took actions at different paths: Mazzini was an ideological leader, Garibaldi – a military one and Cavour a political one. Spreading the nationalistic and
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patriotic ideas was Mazzini’s field of action. He was born in Genua in 1805 which at that time was under the rule of the French, so from the beginning he was interested in the revolutionary movements: he became a member of the Carbonari. Because of being a revolutionary, he was arrested in 1831. The events that strongly influenced a great part of his youth created a great patriot in him and awoke the thoughts of the Unification. He clearly did not trust the government to introduce any changes and believed that the Italian people could make the situation of the country better, so he concentrated on creating a revolutionary movement that would be more efficient than the Carbonari were. With the purpose of changing Italy into a ‘one, independent and free republic’ by a popular uprising he created the Young Italy, a movement that by 1833 consisted of 60,000 members and was spreading towards other countries, eventually creating the Young Europe. Mazzini believed that the popular revolutions that he had in plans would help to achieve the state of his dreams, but all the following uprisings, e.g. the one in 1834 in Piedmont, organised in co-operation with Garibaldi, ended in failure and Mazzini, once again arrested and with a death sentence, was forced to go into exile to London. Although his contribution was the greatest when it came to the ideological path of the Unification, Mazzini took actions on the political and military field. The revolutions organised by him in towns like Bologna (1843) or Milan (1853) all ended in a failure, which was caused by the fact that Mazzini was an ideological leader, not a military one. In politisc, however, he had some acheivements, for during his exiles (1837-1840 and 1850) he gained the British sympathy and support for the case and for himself, which was important, for it gave the Unification the recognition on the international arena. During the siege of Rome he became the leader of the government, showing good administrative capabilities. What is interesting, Mazzini had in mind a certain image of a republican Italy and when he realised that his vision is unlikely to come true, he gave up – for example in Milan in 1848. After 1849 he supported Garibaldi in his attempts to conquer Rome but his role in the unification was coming to the end. The contribution made by Giuseppe Garibaldi was a military one. He engaged himself into the Unification in 1833 when he joined the Young Italy inspired by the idea of an united Italian state. As Mazzini, after the failure in Piedmont in 1834 he escaped to South America. What s important, the time spent by Garibaldi in America was not a wasted period: he learned how to fight at the land, because before, due to his marine origins, he was used to fight on a ship. Like Mazzini, he also gained an important political feature that was recognition in America. When he heard of the planned revolutions during the Spring of Nations, he came back to his motherland with a guerilla called the Red Shirts and helped Mazzini with defending Rome. The actions of Garibaldi were not successful, due to the fact that he was not fully educated in terms of militia and war and once again he fled to America to come back in 1854 and take part in an Austro-Piedmontese war. Because of the favorable circumstances, Garibaldi was able to make a journey towards the South and gradually gain the southern Italian states like Sicily or Naples. As a military leader, Garibaldi had to make decisions connected with politics and ideology. What is worth noticing in Garibaldi is that unlike Mazzini he never gave up and was prone to go for a compromise and fought for the united Italy, not for a vision. A great example of such a political compromise is the fact that at Teano on 18th of February 1861 Garibaldi handed over his conquests to Victor Emmanuel II, literally uniting Italy with the gesture. He was aware that if he would continue the expansionist actions, it would lead to a war which would stop or even destroy the Unification. When it comes to ideology, the contribution of Garibaldi is great, because even though his actions concentrated on a military steps, the conquests that were achieved due to him and his Thousand gave people hope and made him a symbol of the Unification up to now. The political path of the Unification belonged to a great extent to Camillo Cavour. Since childhood he was interested in the politics, for his father was a minister in the government of Victor Emmanuel I. What differed Cavour from Garibaldi and Mazzini was the fact that he did not engaged himself in the revolutionary movements and did not sympathize with them. He was a moderate liberal for whom the Unification was not an aim – he was a Piedmontese expansionist and wanted his country to grow in strength and to force Austrians to withdraw from Italy. When he became the Prime Minister in 1852, he began to introduce Piedmont on the international arena (Crimean War, 1853-6) and to gain the strength for the upcoming war with Austria (Pact of Plombieres with France, 1859). As a skillful and observant politician, Cavour was aware of the fact that reaching his aims demanded a delicate policy, so he strengthened the position of Piedmont within Italy and Europe as well, knowing that without the support of foreign powers any change was impossible. The skill is visible in the situation of 1861, when to prevent the conflict between France and Garibaldi he sent Piedmontese troops with an excuse of disturbances in Umbra to meet with Garibaldi at Teano. What is more, one of the good features of Cavour was his opportunism: when he recognized the nationalistic movements and demands within Italy, not only was he aware that they could endanger Piedmont’s position and policies, but also managed to use them in favor of his own aim. From a Piedmontese expansionist Cavour became a politician whose actions were concentrated on the Unification. Unlike Garibaldi and Mazzini, Cavour’s actions towards militia were minor and towards ideology there were none, for the ideas of Unification and nationalism were foreign and ridiculous to him. He even had a conflict with Mazzini: they both disliked each other and did not try to understand the other’s position. He stood in opposition to the figures of nationalists and their ideas. When it came to military actions, Cavour was not taking part with them, he only planned them and as a Prime Minister did accept some military decisions or did not – for example the decision of taking part in the Crimean War. As a long and complicated process, the Unification of Italy needed the devotion of many people, but it was also in need of leaders that would make the right decision at the right time and be aware of the consequences. Although the contribution made by Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour were not equal, together they built an important base for the future of a united Italy. They actions were often ambiguous, but each one of them was the most important person in one field: Mazzini ideologically, spreading the spirit of nationalism all over the country and making attempts to unite the state; Garibaldi militarily, defending Rome, conquering the South and showing the people that victory is not possible; Cavour politically, rationally planning every step of Piedmont and giving up his aims for the greater good.