To What extent did the revolutions of 1848-49 fail in Italy due to a lack of support from the masses?

A B grade essay exploring the reasons to why the 1848-49 revolutions failed, looking at the various reasons why and how they failed.

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Tom Dyson
To What extent did the revolutions of 184849 fail in Italy due to a lack of support from the
The failure of the 1848 49 revolutions was only partly down to lack of support from the
masses. There were many other underlying factors that combined had a greater influence on the
outcome of the revolutions than the lack of support from the masses. These numerous other
factors included a significant lack of leadership, a worrying problem, which ran deep into the
history of Italy, of a lack of unity of the people of Italy. Also there was the lack of support from
the International community as well as there being no support from the church, which would
have been a very evocative subject at the time with Italy being an almost entirely Catholic
nation. So as outlined above it was not entirely down to a lack of support from the masses that
influenced the failure of the 184849 uprisings in Italy.
There was one prime example of the severe lack of the very important leader that could have
taken Italy through the arduous process of a revolution, and this example came in the form of
the Pope at the time, Pope Pius . In Italy the Pope has a great influence on the people as
almost the entire population is of a catholic following and this would have been even more
prominent in 1848. One of the first actions Pope Pius when he came into power were to bring
about some reforms in the Papal States. These reforms improved rights and freedoms of the
people and as a result increased the Pope's status among Liberals at the time. He was
becoming a Liberal sympathiser which was very unusual for Popes in history who were usually
expected to take up more conservative views. This would have had great implications on the
outcome of the 184849 revolutions. Had the Pope stuck with his liberal views it would have
given the people of Italy a reason to come together. The people of Italy would have been able
to support the church as well as being able to look for reform in Politics. This would have had a
great significance as the Pope also had influence on the international community so he would
have been able to conjure up support for any uprisings, from foreign lands of a catholic
following. The prospect of a Liberal Pope even frightened Metternich the Austrian foreign
minister who stated `We were prepared for anything, except a liberal Pope'.
However the Pope never stuck with his initial stance that looked promising for those hoping for
national unity. His indecisive manner in a way gave the people false hope and set them up for an
even bigger fall when the Pope and the church eventually withdrew their backing for national
unity and returned to the side of reaction and absolutism. This made it an extremely difficult
decision for a lot of the revolutionaries they had to choose between their religion and their
political views. Some turned anticlerical and stuck with their political views whilst many switched
allegiances and followed the church's lead. This would have had a great influence on the
outcome of the revolutions as religion was very important to all the people, possibly making it
more important than a lack of support from the masses.
To rub further salt in the wounds of the revolutionaries who wanted national unity and had been
given temporary backing by the Pope, it was also down to Pope Pius to why the Roman

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Republic failed. The Pope called in the help of the French to help defeat the republic. Although
it could be that the Pope was right to call in international help because it was fairly obvious that
Italy was going to be defeated by the Austrians in any attempt to use force to release Austria's
grip on the Italian Peninsula.…read more

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Piedmont named the Statuto. The Statuto gave way to a political dawn
in Italy where the people of Piedmont were given a new lease of life in terms of more rights to
freedom of speech. The Statuto gave the opportunity for political life to continue unlike
anywhere else in Italy and refugees flooded to the state of Piedmont. The constitution became
the basis of the United Kingdom of Italy in 1860.…read more


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