Risorgimento Movement In Italian History

Risorgimento, a 19th-century movement for Italian consolidation, has multiple political actors that spurred or delayed its development. One of such individual is Metternich, a statesman whose political views influenced the minds of the Europeans regarding Italy. Namely, Metternich believed Italy had no political reality and stated it was “a purely geographical expression” (Hearder, 1996, p. 2). According to Hearder (1996), Metternich’s view was proven to be wrong but highlighted the popular opinion on Italy’s fragmentation during the beginning of Italian Risorgimento. Moreover, he was necessary for providing a matter for discussing the possibility of political unity on the Italian peninsula.

Several key events are essential for Italian unification between 1815 and 1870 that could be placed on a timeline. First, Metternich is believed to have dismissed Italy as a “geographic expression” in 1815. (Hearder, 1996, p. 2). Next, Alessandro Manzoni published the updated version of his famous novel, “I Promessi Sposi,” between 1840 and 1842, which had implications for the national Italian language (Hearder, 1996, p. 4). Furthermore, the Piedmontese constitution, bestowed in 1848, was extended to the whole of Italy (Hearder, 1996, p. 8). In 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was created, while Victor Emmanuel II was declared the King of Italy by the newly selected Italian parliament (Hearder, 1996, p. 4-7). Finally, the party of the Right had begun to rule Italy since the coronation.

The article “Italy: A geographical expression” contains a few sections, each of which argues an idea. In “Cultural unity,” Hearder (1996) retells Sir James Hudson’s points regarding the language spoken in different regions of Italy and by various social classes. Next, Hearder (1996) highlights the importance of Italian poets as creators and examples of language mastery, including St Francis of Assisi and Dante. The author concludes that the cultural unity of Italy may claim to have a more extended history than the cultural unity of England. Furthermore, in “Diversity of dialect,” the author disproves the idea that Italy had no national language when the kingdom of Italy was formed, claiming that most Italian dialects are mutually understandable. The “Exaggeration of disunity” section states that Italian writers overemphasize the division between Italian North and South for effect. The “Political unity?” describes the process of centralizing Italy’s administrative and legal power.

Next, the author claims that Italy had not only established a strong sense of identity as a nation-state but was even recognized as a great power by the 19th century in “International insignicance?”. Moreover, Hearder (1996) shortly notes the rise of fascism in “Crisis of conscience.” The “The threat from federalism” section describes the emerging regional autonomies and Leagues as an issue of Italian unity. Finally, in “The threat from corruption,” it is claimed that the dishonesty of Italian officials divides the public, yet the author concludes that Italians will survive this crisis as well.

The topic and factor that deserves specific attention is cultural unity. The author has not mentioned it, but there is a Tuscan art school, a Venetian school, an Umbrian tradition, and even a Sienese school different from the Florentine and Pisan styles (Villari, n.d.). However, every Italian is persuaded of the vital importance of the country’s unity (Villari, n.d.). Moreover, Villari (n.d.) claims that the unity of Italy is confirmed by the fact that its parties are not based on regions but rather on ideas. The described facts demonstrate Hearder’s (1996) arguments. He believes Italy has a long-standing sense of unity due to its cultural, linguistic, and territorial ties. For example, he argues that the ability to understand the old poetry in Italian proves this statement. Moreover, the author states that the Risorgimento had long-lasting effects on Italian politics until today due to the fact that Italians survive the challenges and crises in unity. For illustration, he focuses on corruption, which is viewed as a threat by all the regions of Italy.

The further questions concern the Carbonari Society. The Carbonari Society was a secret organization that originated in Southern Italy. It is thought to have some ties to Italian freemasonry, and a lot of its known members are also freemasons. Members of the organization typically supported constitutionally guaranteed rights of the individual, freedom of expression, and autonomy from external colonial oppression (Frascella, n.d.). The Carbonari society had several secret ceremonies, and members were obliged to accept mutual support vows. Upon approval, members would receive code phrases that would allow them to distinguish one another (Frascella, n.d.). During the quick arrival of the Neapolitan Republic, members of the society became more visible. The Carbonari principles took root and flourished over the Italian peninsula under Napoleon’s rule. Despite being destroyed, the southern Italian Carbonari demonstrated extraordinary and recurrent perseverance in defending their rights and interests. The Carbonari are important because they indicate the existence of various political movements in the country and the presence of republican ideals. It could be claimed that the Italians joined the organization because of the hope of a better future that it gave them.

The other question is about the writings of Mazzini, which are primarily concerned with the idea of Italian unification. The piece of paper is written in an encouraging, inspiring tone, which should motivate the readers to contemplate and maybe even take actions that would help “regenerate Italy” (Wells, 2017, p. 59). However, it is possible that Mazzini is interested in Italian unification and the idea of increasing the country’s global power. For example, he mentions Rome, which is associated with the Imperial past of Italy. Moreover, he hopes to give a new faith, concentrated in Rome, to “humanity,” not just to the Italian people (Wells, 2017, p. 59). Writing such as this might have been influential due to the power of associations and the hopefulness of the tone that the author employed.

There are several reasons why the Italian risings between 1821 and 1844 achieved so little. First, there is little evidence of any nationalist support during the majority of the unrest and revolutionary attempts. As a result, there was no unity among the larger Italian society, which could have coordinated the rising. Next, most people chose to support the uprisings due to their local and regional issues instead of the idea of a united Italy. Thus, they did not want to fight for their neighbors. The third reason is the help of the Austrian army to the kings, which had easily crushed any attempts at revolution. Next, the groups that organized to rising could form only a small army, which the police had easily beaten. Finally, most of the time, the rebels had poor plans of attacks with unrealistic goals.


Frascella, T. (n.d.). Carbonari movement. Web.

Hearder, H. (1996). Italy: A geographical expression. History Today. Web.

Villari, L. (n.d.). Cultural divisions and unity in Italy, c. 1900. TOTA. Web.

Wells, M. (2017). History for the IB Diploma Paper 3 Italy (1815–1871) and Germany (1815–1890) (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.