Garibaldi and Italy

A summary of Garibaldi & his significance in the Unification of Italy

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Early Career

Garibaldi's Early Career

  •  Born a French Citizen in Nice in 1807
  • Joined the merchant navy at 15, following his fathers footsteps
  • Was Inspired by Mazzini and the idea of unifying Italy
  • Became involved in a Mazzinian plan in Piedmont in an army & navy mutiny attempt, however it failed and fled before he had the chance to be killed
  • Sailed to South US, Rio De Janeiro where he stayed for a dozen years, joined a branch of 'Young Italy'
  • Became a pirate preying on ships of the new world
  • Joined a rebel army in Brazil
  • Returned to Montevideo in Uraguay and sold spaghetti for awhile.
  • Got bored and joined the army, defending Urugauy against the Argentinian takeover - raised a legion of guerilla fighters
  • These became the 'red shirts' due to the red poncho clothing adopted from the slaughtermen Garibaldi had witnessed in america. 
  • Returned to Italy in 1848 due to hearing rumours of revolututions. 
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Revolutions of 1848 - 49

  • 1848 - Arrived in Nice with 60 men & out of date weapons, offering his services to Charles Albert.
  • Charles Albert and the War Minister both refused his services for they were not trusted
  • Joined the army of the revoluntionary goverment in Milan in Lombardy, but before his men could see much action, news came that Charles Alberts piedmontese army had been defeated at Custoza and most of the legionaries deserted.
  • From this moment on, he realised that unity could only be achieved through the power of the king; turning from a republican to a royalist.
  • 1849 - Garibaldi arrived in Rome with his men, but decided to move further upwards to Venitia to relieve them from the Austrian army - also avoiding a bloodbath in Rome and marched towards the adriatic coast. 
  • He collected nearly 5000 men and set off on the 800km journey to the coast, mountanious country, shortage of food and attacks from enemy troops meant only 1500 reached the coast - his wife of 10 years died also.
  • The Gardibaldini were killed/captured and so Garibaldi escaped to Geneo were he was arrested and freed on the condition that he would leave Italy at once.
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Garibaldi - Second War of Independance

  • Once escaping, Garibaldi then sailed to North America. He found what employment he could and returned to ship travelling and inherited some money from his brother, which allowed him to buy half of the small island of Caprera - off coast Sardinia.
  • He took to farming at his home, and was constantly informed of events through the 'National Society' - bridging the gap between Mazzini and Garibaldi - of Italian events. 
  • Cavour as chief minister & Victor Emmanuel met Garibaldi and informed him of the attack on Austia - second war of independance 1859 - and he offered to recruit and train soldiers to fight in this war.
  • French & Piedmontese troops conquered Lombardy and Garibaldi was awarded the Gold Medal for valour.
  • But the handing over of Nice to France as reward for helping Italy in the war was a bitter blow to Garibaldi for it was his hometown.
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Gardibaldi - The Thousand - Expedition to Sicily

  • April 1860, a revolt started in Palermo in Sicily against the King of Naples
  • Garibaldi - who at the time was organising an armed expedition to recover Nice from France when he was distraced the the revolutions in Sicily. 
  • By Early May, Garibaldi had recruited 1200 young men to help him fight - also known as 'The Thousand' 
  • Cavour believed that Garibaldi would be unsuccessful and therefore refused to grant him arms and equipment.
  • However Cavour allowed it as if the expedition failed, he would be rid of a 'troublesome fellow'
  • Reached Marsala on 11 May - his two steamers landed at the harbour alongside a detachment of the british army which led the local commander to believe Garibaldi was under British protection and they were therefore not attacked. 
  • Picking up numbers on the way to Palermo, the thousand had now turned into 3000, to be confronted in the pouring rain by 20,000 enemy troops.
  • Garibaldi took Palermo and the garrison withdrew to Naples and the island of Sicily was his. 
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Sicily and Naples

  • He made himself the 'dictator' of Sicily and was initially sympathetic to the peasants
  • He abolished tax collection on corn being milled into flour and promised a redistrabution of land. However his motives changed when he realised he needed to restore law and order by pleasing the landowners. It was through them that he could use Sicily as jumping ground for the attack on Naples.
  • Cavour was greatly displeased by this as Garibaldi was being seen as a hero, and if he were to take over Naples aswell, he would recieve the majority of credit for the unification of Italy rather than himself and the King
  • August 1860 - Garibaldi marched towards Naples, dodging the ships sent by Cavour to stop him, he ferried his men across the straits to Calabria on the 22 August. 
  • He fought his way northwards and easy named himself dictator for when he arrived, the King of Naples had surrendered.
  • He could not move northward due to a neopolitan barrier in the north - he wanted the Papal States & Rome.  
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Cavour Forestalls Garibaldi

  • Cavour largely feared that if Garibaldi threatened the Rome and the Pope, France and other Catholic Europe would attack in an attempt to protect them.
  • Cavour also knew that alot of Garibaldi's followeres were made up of Mazzinians, which meant that they believed in a republic and were reactionary - if they could take over, then they may force Italy to become a republic.
  • Cavour then sent troops down into the Papal States to meet him before they could reach the city of Rome. Meeting on October 26th, Garibaldi met Victor Emmanuels army and loyally handed over the territory he had taken to the King. Nationalist feeling was running high and the Kingdom of Italy was created.
  • The Garibaldi were disbanded and Garibaldi retired to his island of Caprera with a years supply of macaroni. 
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Garibaldi - Attempts on Rome

  • 1st Attempt - Italian nationalists still wished Rome to be free from French troops
  • 1828, Retured from Caprera to Sicily - Garibaldi collected 3000 volunteers for the conquest of Rome with the Kings consent, however he later withdrew this consent when he thought it was too dangerous.
  • They landed in Calabria, were shot by local troops and forced to retreat into the mountains - all but 500 deserted.
  • These 500 were then shortly to be defeated at the battle of Aspromonte in August. He was shot in the leg, imprisoned and then forced to return to Caprera - embarresing for himself and the government.
  • 2nd Attempt - Florence in Turin was made capital of Italy, showing lack of interest in Rome. Garibaldi escaped House arrest in Caprera, disguised as a fisherman and sailed to mainland where he retook control of his men. 
  • Hoping anti-papal uprisings would take place, however a French army with breech-loading rifles defeated them at Mentana on the 3rd November.
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Garibaldi - Afterlife/Assessment

  • Garibaldi went on to offer his services to the French Republic, yet at 63 yrs old he had arthritis and suffered from the leg wound at Aspromonte. 
  • French took him on as General of the Vosges army and he led uncordinated soldiers in Prussian defeats in three small battles.
  • He returned to his home in Caprera and died in 1882 at the age of 75.
  • He was overall a flamboyant person with a strong personality - a good commander/guerilla fighter who inspired many with his enthusiasm. 
  • However his relaxed leadership and lack of discipline is probably the main cause behind the high level of desertions beneath him.
  • He was also ill-educated and impatient for action.
  • He was helped greatly by the little resistance put up by the King, the confusion on the island left after the peasant revolts and the local hatred of the neopolitan troops.
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