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February 11, 2011

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Page 8 The Roman Republic (Continued from Page 1) inevitability: "The king of To the many other causes Sardinia may have a which decided us to resist, crown that he holds there was in my mind one onto by dint of mis- intimately bpund up with the deeds and cowardice, aim of my whole life -- the but my comrades and foundation of our national I do not wish to hold on unity. Rome was the natu- to our lives by shame- ral center of that unity, and ful actions." (Alfonso it was important to attract Scirocco, Garibaldi: the eyes and reverence of Citizen of the World, my countrymen towards her Princeton U Press: ... (Trevelyan, 112) 2007, 145) To understand what hap- Garibaldi's legion- pened, some acquaintance naires were then with the events of 1848 is hunted by both the necessary. Due partly to crop Austrians and a force failures in 1845-7, and partly to ideas of liberation among the middle classes, popular uprisings rocked Europe's monarchies in 1848, forcing many rulers to either flee or grant concessions. Prince Metternich was forced to resign as Austria's foreign minister; King Louis Philippe fled France and a Republic was declared; similar revolts took place in Krakow, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Madrid and elsewhere. In Italy, insurrections shook all the major territories. In Janu- ary, citizens protested Aus- trian rule in Lombardy by refusing to smoke or play the lottery --- thus denying the Austrians needed taxes. Soon Sicily revolted against the Bourbon King Ferdinand, who then granted his King- dom of Two Sicilies a consti- tution. Tuscan revolts in February led to a constitu- tion and a provisional gov- ernment. Later in February, the newly-installed Pope, Plus IX (Pio Nono), surprised sent by Charles Albert to capture him. By the end of August, after daring battles in Luino and Morazzone, an exhausted the hated Austrians, victory over the "cowardly" but also from the Span- Italians. ish and the French. What Oudinot did not That the Austrians and count on was the genius and the Spanish came to charisma of Giuseppe his aid was not sur- Garibaldi, now elevated to prising. But that the general. With skills honed in French --- the initia- South America, and in guer- tors of revolution rilla war against the Austri- against despotic rule ans, Garibaldi was at the -- would do so was met height of hispowers. Though with near disbelief. As he would have preferred to the American, Marga- fight a guerrilla war in the ret Fuller, wrote in one Italian hills, he yielded to of her letters: Mazzini's urging that Rome The interference of had to be defended at all costs the French has roused (even though both knew it the weakest to resis- was futile). When he arrived together a Provisional Gov- ernment. Then in February 1849, when a Constituent tance, "From the Aus- trians, from the Neapoli- tans," they cried, "we ex- pected this; but from the Garibaldi took refuge in Assembly was summoned, Switzerland, where Mazzini Garibaldi traveled to Rome had earlier fled, and then in and, as a member of the As- his hometown of Nice sembly, made a speech urg- (Nizza). ing quick action. He was Garibaldi was-soon ready to given a command, though renew his efforts, deciding not of the whole army as he in October that Sicily, now had hoped, l ather, he was a.t war with King Ferdinand made a lieutenant colonel in (christened "King Bomba" for the Roman army, but with his attack on Messina), was authority only to defend ripe. A stop at Livorno inter- Porto San Gregorio on the rupted his plans when patri- Adriatic. Like Charles ots there asked that he lead Albert, Rome's leaders a revolution in Tuscany. clearly wanted to keep him Though this, too, failed for at a distance. lack of recruits, Garibaldi Still, Garibaldi remained then thought to aid Daniele ready -- recruiting, more Manin in Venice, but was troops ms well as outfitting once again detained, this his legion -- as Rome's gov- time by Liberals in Bologna emment, on February 9, de- begging him to lead their re- clared itself a Republic. Its volt against Papal rule. Fundamental Statute of Four Just as matters were com- Articles announced that: the ing to a head, stunning news Papacy was deposed from arrived from Rome: On No- temporal authority, though vember 15, the Pope's min- the Pontiff was granted full French -- it is too infamous; it cannot be borne;" and they all ran to arms and fought nobly. (May 6, 1849) Nonetheless, the French President Louis Napoleon saw an opportunity to regain some of the influence France had lost when the Pope chose Naples as a ref- uge, and to curry favor with French Catholic voters in the future. And when the Austrians won a total victory in the battle of Novara (.Charles Albert had decided to try war wittI Austria again; even more soundly defeated on March 22-23, 1849 at Novara, he resigned his throne to his son, Vittorio Emanuele) the French president ignored his republicanism and joined in the race to be the first to "liberate" Rome. As justification, he used words in the city on April 27, Garibaldi was met by the citizens of Rome in a man- ner befitting a god, or, at least, one of the Caesars: "He has come, he has cornel" they cried all down the Corso. (Trevelyan, i 11) In the next two days, he supervised the preparations for the coming siege, mainly .digging trenches and fortify- ing villas near the expected point of attack. Never stand- ing on ceremony, he rode round the city encouraging the diggers -- which even in- cluded elegantly-dressed women -- himself. Later, one Italian artist related their first encounter: I had no idea of enlisting. I was a young artist; I only went out of curiosity -- but ohI I shall never forget that day when I saw him on his beautiful white horse ... He reminded us of nothing so much as of our Saviour's head in the galleries. I could not resist him. I left my studio. the Papal States by initiat- ister. Pellegrino Rossi, was independence regarding his similar to these used by ing reforms and granting a murdered. Luigi Brunetti, spiritual power; the form of the Pope in his April 20 I went after him; thousands constitution there as well. son of Rome's populist government was to be -a Allocution: did likewise. He only had to Despite the concessions, 'leader" Cieeruacehio, had popular aemoeraey: ano the who (lot not l(now [hat how himself. We all wor- however, tensions grew. An stabbed the minister on his resulting Roman Republic the city of Rome, the princi- shipped him; we could not ] insurrection in Milan start- way toParliament. Rome, was to join the rest of Italy pal seat of the Church, has help it. (Trevelyan, 119)i ing on March 18 resulted in and most of Italy, had been towards a common Italian now become, alas, a forest of Nor was it only the great the famous five days (cinque giornate) of street fighting that expelled the Austrian garrison and Marshal Rad- etzky's army. With Daniele Manin leading a similar re- volt in Venice, King Charles Albert of Sardinia/Piedmont concluded that Italy's struggle for unification was at hand, and declared war on Austria. All Italy seemed to be in revolt against her for- eign rulers. It was at this point that the two revolutionary exiles, Mazzini in London and Garibaldi in Uruguay, re- turned to their homeland to join the struggle. They met in Milan sometime in the summer of 1848. Mazzini had gone there in April hop- ing to inspire the Milanesi to form a Republic, but after offering Charles Albert his services, became increas- ingly disenchanted with the King's timidity. Garibaldi, too, had offered his services simmering with resentment against Pio Nono- once hailed, not least by Mazzini and Garibaldi himself, as Italy's potential savior, the one whose troops could put an end to all foreign rule. Just as his 12,000 soldiers were joining Charles Albert in Lombardy, however, the Pope recalled them with his infamous "Allocution" of April 29, 1848. It declared, among other things, that the Pontiff was not the least in- clined to wage war against Austria {a Catholic power). The Romans who had placed their hopes in Plus IX were beside themselves with rage, venting it by attacking the Quirinal Palace and fir- ing on the Swiss Guards. So petrified was the Pope by these demonstrations that on November 24, he dis- guised himself as a humble priest and fled south to the protection of King Ferdinand. Then, from his safe fortress to Charles Albert on July 5, in Gaeta, the Pope refused but the King wanted to get all overtures for negotiations rid of this uncontrollable firebrand and passed him on to Turin. En route, Garibaldi was offered a Generalship and asked to defend Ber- gamo. Mazzini took up a rifle and joined Garibaldi's troops at Bergamo, but both were so disgusted with King Charles Albert's easy defeat by the Austrians (at Custoza July 25, 1848) and the subse- quent armistice that Gari- baldi issued a proclamation: and demanded uncondi- tional surrender to his tem- poral rule over Rome and all Seeing his opportunity, Garibaldi set out for Rome with his Italian Legion, now 500 in number -- including the cavalry of Angelo Masina. Passing through the Papal States, they settled in the village of Rieti to await developments, which were not long in com- ing. Republican leaders 'put nationality. The new repub- lic had put Italy's foreign rul- ers on notice: their days were numbered. As the revolutionary priest, Ugo Bassi, had demanded weeks earlier, "Choose now 7- Garibaldi or Plus IX! Italy or continued slaveryl" Romans had now chosen Italy (though not Garibaldi as yet). They had also chosen Mazzini, one of their first acts being to make him a Roman citizen (he'd never been in the city). When he did arrive on March 5, Giuseppe Mazzini was not only welcomed as Rome's lat- est and greatest citizen, he was named a triumvir -- one of three men to rule the city. Mazzini then set out orga- nizing the government, and marginalizing the criminal elements that had been threatening to pervert democratic rule. As Trevelyan notes, Mazzini replaced the unruly ele- ments with "a spirit of toler- ance and liberty almost un- exampled in time of national danger." Mazzini put it thus to the Assembly: "We must act like men who hav the enemy at t eir gates, and at the same time like men who are working for eternity." It was the first of these two objectives that induced the Roman government to fi- nally turn to Garibaldi. The enemy was indeed at the gates. Plus IX, faced with the end of his temporal rule, had called for help not only from roaring beasts, overflowing with men of every nation, apostates, or heretics, or lead- ers of communism and social- tsm? [Trevelyan, 107) Rome's Republic was por- trayed not as a movement for liberation, but as a plot hatched by foreign agitators and terrorists. By getting there first, the French would be the liberators. Accordingly, the French Army, consisting of some 10,000 troops under General Oudinot, landed at Rome's seaport, Civitavecchia, on April 25. Within days, they would be at t@'gates of Rome, expectin an easy warrior who elicited such sentiments. Margaret Fuller, in describing Mazzini's March 8 visit to her Rome apartment, used similar lan- guage in her letters, one to her friend Marcus Spring: I heard a ring; then some- body speaks my name; the voice struck me at once. He looks more divine than ever, after all his new, strange suf- ferings. Freely would I give my life for him ... With two such leaders and an aroused citizenry facing thousands of battle-sea- soned French troops, the battle for Rome could not help being legendary. Lawrence DiStasi is the author of Mal Occhio: The Under- side of Vision, The Big Book of Italian American Culture, and Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of ltalian American Evacu- ation and Internment During World War II. 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