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Italian Unification between 1815-1848 Essay

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To what extent is it true to say that there was absolutely no movement or prospect of Italian Unification between 1815-1848?

Between the years 1818 and 1848 there were many revolutions in Italy starting in the year 1821. The statement above states ‘absolutely no movement or prospect,’ therefore I strongly disagree with this due to the fact that there must have been some movement to achieve what Italy were finally able to. The following essay will give different points on the statement.

In my opinion, I do not agree with the statement, one main reason being there were enough people in Italy that wanted it to be unified and that fought for what they believed in. For example the secret societies. During the times Italy was under the ruling of Metternich, many secret societies were formed, with passwords, mutual protection and sometimes even semi-religious rituals. The Carbonari, the most well known society and so consequently the most important. There were approximately 60,000 members involved, and it was particularly active in South Italy, especially in Naples. There aims were relatively mild, in Piedmont and Naples for example they hoped to establish a constitutional monarchy. It is already possible to see that there was some movement in Italy from secret societies that were hoping for Italian Unification.

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Another reason I disagree with the statement is due to Italy being under the ruling of Metternich. Although it was difficult living under the Austrians, and they were clearly putting an obstacle in the way of unification, I believe that it was actually a large contribution to the happening of unification. For example, due to Metternich trying to belittle the country by separating it into small constituencies, it made the Italian public want to fight back, and therefore as a consequence start revolutions. Three major revolutions occurred in Italy in the years, 1820-21, 1831-32, 1848-49. I believe this proves that things were being done to help unification rather than there being ‘absolutely no movement’.

Additionally there is Giuseppe Mazzini, who is said to be a key figure in the history of Italian Unification. Mazzini was born in 1805, he had one overriding aim being ‘the brotherhood of people’. He believed in the equality of human beings and of races. In 1831, Mazzini founded ‘Young Italy’, this being Italy’s first real political party. Mazzini described the party as, ‘a brotherhood of Italians who believe in a law of…freemen and equals.’ Those in the party had to swear to commit themselves to make Italy ‘one free, independent, republican nation.’

Mazzini’s ideas were incredibly radical for that period of time, for example, his ideal was that the people should rise up agains their oppressors, there should be unification ‘from below.’ Eventually there was unification however it came more from above. Yet Mazzini proves once again that there was movement and prospect towards Italian unification, Young Italy being another example. Although Mazzini may not have been successful at that precise moment, we can now see that unification was actually reached.

Linking to my previous point, it has been proven that Mazzini was not only famous for his radical beliefs but also for converting people to the cause. This point firstly proves that some movement was being made in the form of attracting people to the challenge that was Italian unification, but furthermore, proves further movement in the fact that there must have been an incredible number of supporters that were in favour of unification, and therefore plans must have been made to try and succeed.

Finally, by seeing that Italian Unification was attained eventually, we can ultimately say that there must have been enough movement and enough prospect for the aim to be successful. For these reasons, i disagree with the statement ‘To what extent is it true to say that there was absolutely no movement or prospect of Italian Unification between 1815-1848?’

On the other hand, there are many events from this period of time that may agree with the statement previously specified. For example, after the French revolution, Metternich reinstated the previous monarchs of each constituency. Most of the monarchs were reactionary and therefore there was a large obstacle blocking the path to unification. Being such a large predicament, one can assume that there was ‘absolutely no movement.’

In addition, the lack of progress that went into uniting the country through language may have been seen as lacking and therefore lead ones opinions to believe once again no progress was being made.

Furthermore, even with the countless revolutions that were attempted not one succeeded permanently. So, although this particular example goes against there being absolutely no movement, due to the fact there was clearly movement in the form of revolutions, it does agree however with there being no prospect of unification, seeing as every individual revolution from each specific country failed inevitably. This was in consequence of the Austrians suppressing the revolutions and then re inviting the previous leaders to come and transform the constituence to the way it had previously been.

Following this, it is now possible to appreciate the separation between the North and South of Italy. The Northern half containing the wealthier half of the population, whilst the Southern half being populated with the poorer families. Due to this large partition, it is hard to see any prospect in Italian Unification and therefore one can easily agree with the statement above.

In relation to the previous point is the division of the Apennine Mountains. In those times, the Apennine Mountains were practically the back bone of Italy, until it was partitioned into North-East and South-West by Metternich. It is understood that without a back bone, a body would be unable to stand, hence the fact that without the Apennine Mountains it would be incredibly challenging for the population of Italy to achieve the prospect of unification.

Overall, one can see that there are many justifications for both sides of this argument. Although from this essay it seems the statement is in fact true, I strongly disagree. Understanding that there may be proof to support the statement, at the end of the day Italian Unification was achieved, and therefore it is impossible to say that there was ‘absolutely no movement’ because the aim was fulfilled and therefore some movement must have taken place.

In conclusion, I disagree with the statement ‘to what extent is it true to say that there was absolutely no movement or prospect of Italian Unification between 1815-1848’ because this declaration clearly states that there was ‘absolutely no movement’ towards Italian Unification between those years, yet unification was completed, thus whether there was a lot of movement, or in some case a little, there was undoubtedly more than none, and for this reason I forcefully disagree with the statement.

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