Italian Unification: Revolutions of the 1840s

Detailed notes on what I think is the most confusing part of the Italian topic, the revolutions that took place in Italy in the 1840s. It's in date order and I hope it helps :)

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  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 13-02-12 15:46
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Sicily, January 1848 Spring 1849
Sicily started off the violence that would start the first uprisings since the 1830s. They wanted independence from
Naples this wasn't about national unity.
In Palmero, the capital, in January, notices told of an intended revolution and arms were handed out. There were
clashes between peasants, sick of repression and cholera outbreaks and with troops in the city. Although the army
shelled the city, and two days later another 5000 troops arrived, they controlled Palmero and by April had most of
Sicily. The middle class made a provisional government, but they were scared of the peasants. A national guard was
meant to control them but they carried on burning tax collection records and properties. By the next March in 1849,
there was an elected parliament. They declared Sicily and Naples separated.
All this time King Ferdinand struggled to fight back because of what was happening in Naples: Sicily's attempts at
revolt had sparked a revolution there. But once he crushed that revolution, he could send soldiers over, which he
did in September 1848. By the Spring of 1849, Sicily had to accept reunification with Naples. He now ruled both
states stricter than ever, an absolutist monarchy with a police state.
Naples, January 1848 September 1848
Literally, a few days after Sicily, the people in Naples decided that they would try to restore a constitution similar to
the Spanish 1812 constitution they had had almost decades earlier and stop the oppressive rule of King Ferdinand.
They wanted a constitution.
The King, out of fear like in the last revolutions, granted a two chamber government but with limited power. People
of all classes who resented his tight control and the power of the church revolted. He promised to form a National
Guard and free press from censorship. However, squabbles amongst peasants over change to the common land
meant fighting, and King Ferdinand could declare the government useless and by May had his own right wing
government appointed. The fighting was suppressed and now the King was back in control with a "right wing
government" that really just did what he wanted. The revolution was crushed.
While this was going on in Naples, he couldn't send troops to Sicily to regain the land he had lost there. By
September 1848, the Naples revolution was crushed enough he could send soldiers to Sicily. Sicily was controlled
by Spring 1849. Now he ruled both states stricter than ever, an absolutist monarchy with a police state.
Tuscany and Piedmont saw what was happening in Sicily and Naples and out of fear that they too would
have a full scale revolution, promised constitutions too in February. The Papal States followed afterwards
in March 1848.
Tuscany, February 1848 April 1849
Grand Duke Leopold II felt he had to give a constitution because of what was happening in Sicily and Naples. A
government was formed. When they heard of what was happening in Vienna in March 1848 and that other states,
Piedmont along with Venetia and Lombardy, were fighting the Austrians, they sent a small army to help although
Grand Duke Leopold couldn't have wanted it.
Workers began to demand over pay and conditions and the middle class began to teach republicanism. The Duke
was afraid and fled to Naples absolutism meant safety. The state established its own revolutionary government and
a dictator was appointed as a stepping stone to establishing their own republic.
Before this was done, the Piedmontese who were fighting the Austrians failed for a second time, Charles Albert
being defeated at Novara, in April 1849. The Austrian army moved into Tuscany and crushed the revolution, eager
to keep the Settlement of Vienna. The Duke was restored.

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What was happening in Austria was very important. In March 1848, Revolution broke out in Vienna.
This meant that Lombardy, who wanted to be free of Austrian rule, decided now would be a good time to
rebel and try and gain independence while the Austrians were preoccupied! When Tuscany heard that
Austria was also in trouble from March to the July of 1849, they decided to also send soldiers to help
fight the common enemy.…read more

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Due to what happened in Sicily and Naples, the Pope promised a constitution. He became very liberal. The issue
came when Piedmont invaded Austria. The Pope did not want to fight Austria, but his army commander took some
men with him to help fight.
He made an Allocution. It said he wouldn't fight. Two years earlier he had referred to Italy as "united". Now he was
choosing to not fight from Austria, not lead an Italian federation, not support a united Italy.…read more


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