Risorgimento was a 19th century movement for Italian unification. Reforms introduced by France into its Italian states in the Napoleonic period remained after the states were restored to their former rulers in 1815 and provided an impetus for the movement. Secret groups such as Young Italy advocated Italian unity, and leaders such as Camillo Cavour, who founded the journal Il Risorgimento (1847), Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Giuseppe Mazzini called for liberal reforms and a united Italy. After the failure of the Revolutions of 1848, leadership passed to Cavour and Piedmont, which formed an alliance with France against Austria (1859). The unification of most of Italy in 1861, followed by the annexation of Venetia (1866) and papal Rome (1870), marked the end of the Risorgimento.
1. On March 23, 1849, with defeat hovering over the revolution, Mazzini was made one of the Roman Triumvirate. His strong hand kept some order in the city until its surrender on June 30 forced him first into seclusion and then once again into exile. He kept his revolutionary fervor and in the next decade became involved, from London, in several more abortive Italian uprisings. His new journal, Pensiero e azione (Thought and Action), published in London, urged violence in the cause of liberty and unity.
Mazzini came to believe, as the fateful years of 1859 and 1860 approached, that the only force capable of leading a successful insurrection against the repressive regimes of Italy was the kingdom of the Piedmont. Accordingly, he wrote to King Victor Emmanuel II, urging him in powerful language to take up the cause of Italian unity. He did this without surrendering to the monarchical principle. Inwardly at least he had not lost hope of a republican form of government for his countrymen, and when practical necessity made of the new Italian state a kingdom rather than a republic, he was disappointed. He demonstrated this continuing antipathy to monarchy as a governmental form when, in 1865, he rejected a seat in the Italian Parliament to which he had been elected by Messina. He did this because, as he put it, he felt that he could not take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy.
2. Camillo Benso count di Cavour leading figure of the Risorgimento. Influenced by revolutionary ideas from an early age, he traveled to Paris and London and in 1847 founded the liberal newspaper Il Risorgimento, and he helped persuade Charles Albert to grant a liberal constitution. Elected to Parliament in 1848, Cavour held several cabinet posts before becoming prime minister of Piedmont (1852 – 59, 1860 – 61). His exploitation of international rivalries and of revolutionary movements brought about the unification of Italy under the house of Savoy, with himself as the first prime minister of the new kingdom (1861).
3. Garibaldi began his long and varied career as a revolutionary striving for the liberation and unification of Italy by joining in Giuseppe Mazzini's unsuccessful insurrection at Genoa in 1834. Although Garibaldi fought for Piedmont during the Franco-Austrian war of 1859, he is perhaps best remembered for his role in overthrowing the monarchy of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In May 1860, he set out to liberate southern Italy from the repressive regime of King Francis II. On 11 May, he landed with his ‘Thousand Redshirts’ at Marsala, Sicily, and destroyed the Neapolitan army in several battles. Garibaldi crossed the Straits of Messina on 22 August and advanced up the peninsula, being greeted enthusiastically by the people along the way. On 7 September, his forces occupied Naples.
In March 1861, Garibaldi surrendered his conquests to King Vittorio Emanuele of Piedmont in order to realize his lifelong dream, a united and independent kingdom of Italy. Although most of the Italian peninsula was under the rule of Vittorio Emanuele, the Papal States remained separate. In August 1862 and again in January 1867, he attempted to take Rome. These attempts failed due to French intervention, and the Papal States were only incorporated into the kingdom when the French withdrew their troops in 1870.
1. Mazzini urged King Victor Emmanuel II, urging him in powerful language to take up the cause of Italian unity. He did this without surrendering to the monarchical principle. Inwardly at least he had not lost hope of a republican form of government for his countrymen.
2. Cavour helped bring about the unification of Italy under the house of Savoy, with himself as the first prime minister of the new kingdom (1861).
3. Girabaldi gave up fighting and surrendered his conquests to King Vittorio Emanuele of Piedmont in order to realize his lifelong dream, a united and independent kingdom of Italy.
Each employing different methods achieved the goal of political reform and unification in Italy.