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Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 496
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary leader and popular hero, was among the best-known figures of the nineteenth century. This book seeks to examine his life and the making of his cult, to assess its impact, and understand its surprising success.For thirty years Garibaldi was involved in every combative event in Italy. His greatest moment came in 1860, when he defended a revolution in Sicily and provoked the collapse of the Bourbon monarchy, the overthrow of papal power in central Italy, and the creation of the Italian nation state. It made him a global icon, representing strength, bravery, manliness, saintliness, and a spirit of adventure. Handsome, flamboyant, and sexually attractive, he was worshiped in life and became a cult figure after his death in 1882.Lucy Riall shows that the emerging cult of Garibaldi was initially conceived by revolutionaries intent on overthrowing the status quo, that it was also the result of a collaborative effort involving writers, artists, actors, and publishers, and that it became genuinely and enduringly popular among a broad public. The book demonstrates that Garibaldi played an integral part in fashioning and promoting himself as a new kind of "charismatic" political hero. It analyzes the way the Garibaldi myth has been harnessed both to legitimize and to challenge national political structures. And it identifies elements of Garibaldi's political style appropriated by political leaders around the world, including Mussolini and Che Guevara.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17651-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Maps
    (pp. ix-xi)
    (pp. xii-xiv)
    (pp. 1-18)

    The life of Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807–82) spanned the defining events and places of the nineteenth century. He was born in Nice, at that time under Napoleonic rule, and spent much of his youth travelling as a merchant sailor through the Mediterranean from Nice to the Black Sea and back again. It was through travel that he acquired a political awareness, mainly through encounters with French political exiles and with Italian revolutionary conspirators. He became a follower of the Italian nationalist, Giuseppe Mazzini, and embraced republican nationalism. In 1834, involvement with an abortive ‘Young Italy’ uprising in Genoa against the...

    (pp. 19-32)

    In 1843, the Italian nationalist leader Giuseppe Mazzini wrote from his exile in London to another Italian exile in Uruguay: ‘Garibaldi is a man who will be of use to the country when it is time for action’.¹ His correspondent was Giovanni Battista Cuneo, who was a journalist and a Ligurian like Mazzini, and who, like Mazzini and Garibaldi himself, had been forced to flee Italy in the early 1830s as a result of his involvement in political conspiracies against the Piedmontese government. Such transatlantic contacts between Mazzini and Cuneo tell us much about the ambitions of Mazzini and the...

    (pp. 33-58)

    At the time of his 1843 letter to Cuneo about Garibaldi, Mazzini had been in exile from Italy for a decade. Young Italy had been more or less wiped out in Piedmont and elsewhere after the failure of a series of conspiracies which Mazzini had organised in Genoa in 1833 and 1834. In the harsh crackdown which ensued, most of his followers – including Cuneo and Garibaldi – had been forced to flee Genoa, while conditions became so difficult for Mazzini in Marseille that he had to leave for Geneva in 1833. In Geneva he founded a new organisation, ‘Young...

    (pp. 59-97)

    The early fame of Garibaldi was a Mazzinian creation, and its success was tied up with immediate political events. More precisely, the growing political cult of Garibaldi reflected and assisted the rapidly changing nature of Italian politics and public opinion in the early to mid-1840s. These changes then combined with economic hardship and social transformation to produce a general revolutionary conflagration in 1848 and 1849. Yet like the revolutions themselves, which were the product of a long-term crisis and extended rapidly across Europe, the pace at which Garibaldi’s popularity grew and spread cannot be understood as a short-term or purely...

    (pp. 98-127)

    At the beginning of August 1849, having come within fifty miles of Venice, Garibaldi disappeared for an entire month. The Austrian authorities in Bologna issued a proclamation on 5 August which warned of ‘Summary Military Justice’ for anyone ‘who knowingly aids, shelters or shows favour to the fugitive Garibaldi or to any other individuals of the band led and commanded by him’.¹ Several of the Roman Republic’s most celebrated radicals – the priest Ugo Bassi and the popular leader Ciceruacchio, along with his two sons – were captured and executed, but Garibaldi himself managed to escape and went into hiding....

    (pp. 128-163)

    It is ironic that the Mazzinian movement suffered its greatest setbacks and schisms at a time when the propaganda methods which it had pioneered were being vindicated. Perhaps especially, the changes of the 1850s showed that Mazzini’s faith in writing and the printed word as a vehicle for the production and dissemination of nationalist ideas had not been misplaced. In fact, the repression of the 1850s and the restrictions it imposed on press and other cultural and social activity did not really manage to close the new space for political action opened up by the 1848–9 revolutions, and one...

    (pp. 164-184)

    On 10 January 1859, at the opening of parliament in Turin, King Vittorio Emanuele II made the most important political speech of his life. Much of the speech was made up of political banalities: the king looked to Piedmont’s future with confidence and spoke vaguely of his love of liberty and the ‘fatherland’. But one short reference to the ‘cries of grief’ – reaching him, the king said, from the other regions of Italy and which he found impossible to ignore – received enormous publicity, and cemented the king’s reputation as a national leader in Italy and abroad.¹

    The speech...

    (pp. 185-206)

    Events were to prove Garibaldi right in one sense. The peace of Villafranca was by no means the end of the affair; rather, it was just the beginning of a rapid series of events which culminated in Garibaldi’s expedition to Sicily in the spring of 1860, and which were drastically to alter the political map of Italy and European diplomatic relations. Just as remarkable was the public response to Garibaldi and the wars of Italian independence. Enthusiasm for Garibaldi spread across Europe and to the United States, and publications about him found a wide readership in France, Britain and Germany,...

    (pp. 207-225)

    The expedition which sailed from Quarto for Sicily was ill supplied and undermanned. This problem reflected the hurried circumstances of its departure and Garibaldi’s equivocal attitude, as well as the confiscation of its guns by the Piedmontese government. After they left Quarto on 5 May, Garibaldi’s thousand volunteers put in at Talamone on the Tuscan coast. There, Garibaldi put on the Piedmontese general’s uniform which he had brought along (‘[t]oday these clothes should be useful’, he is said to have remarked),¹ and talked the military commander into giving them some – but not nearly enough – Enfield rifles and assorted...

    (pp. 226-271)

    Much has always been made of the unexpected nature of Garibaldi’s triumph in Sicily in 1860. Yet his successes were surprising only in terms of the initial disorganisation and the sheer scale of the task which the men had set themselves. In other respects, he and his leadership did have a military strategy which was well suited to the unstable situation in the rural South. They also had a political and social strategy which reflected a clear awareness of the need to get ordinary Sicilians – and, subsequently, Neapolitans – materially on their side.

    As is well known, the economic...

    (pp. 272-305)

    The year 1860 was Garibaldi’s ‘moment’. Despite a disastrous personal and political start to the year, he went on to overthrow a kingdom and help construct another. He also achieved a remarkable level of fame: he was cheered by crowds, pursued by journalists and made front-page news throughout the summer, and across the world. The purpose of this celebrity, as we have seen, was political communication. Garibaldi embodied and promoted a political ideal, and he symbolised – and aimed to construct – a sense of national identity which could be transformed into active political consent. The popularity of Garibaldi was...

    (pp. 306-346)

    Garibaldi threw away a huge political advantage when he agreed to hand over power to Piedmont and retired ‘backstage’ to Caprera in November 1860. At least initially, however, he was not aware of the scale of his defeat. On 18 October, he wrote simply to Mazzini that ‘if one must concede it is better to do so with good grace’.¹ He was careful to thank everybody who had helped in the expedition, which may suggest he was planning to call on their support another time. He wrote a public letter to the Garibaldi committee in New York, in which he...

    (pp. 347-387)

    Garibaldi lived for twenty more years after his defeat at Aspromonte, and he was involved in three more military campaigns. The first of these was in the summer of 1866 when he fought with his volunteers on the side of the king and the royal army, who had joined Prussia in the war against Austria. Once again in this war, his volunteers were armed at the last minute, and they were sent away from the main action around the Po and Mincio rivers, up into the mountains of the Tyrol. There they engaged in two battles, at Monte Suello and...

    (pp. 388-392)

    When Garibaldi died in 1882,The Timesexpressed its shock at the loss of a man who had ‘fascinated two hemispheres for thirty years’. He had, according to the paper, accomplished ‘a miracle of national regeneration . . . To him . . . Italy is indebted for an ideal of manliness and individual self-reliance.’ ‘A nation is better for an ingredient of romance in its history’, the paper concluded, and Italy had ‘that ingredient copiously in the entire career of Garibaldi’.¹ These words sum up neatly the combination of political wonder, literary fantasy and physical excitement which Garibaldi’s name...

  19. NOTES
    (pp. 393-455)
    (pp. 456-469)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 470-482)