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The Italian revolutions due to poor leadership in the period of 1815-1831 Essay

Compare and access the main reasons for the failure of the revolutions due to poor leadership in the period of 1815 – 1831

The revolutions between 1815 and 1831 had a variety of factors that caused them to fail instead of succeed in this period of time. These revolts that took place in various states were mainly organised and founded by the middle class, they believed that revolts would ensure a change in government and the way in which these states were ruled. These secret societies formed in Italy to enhance the Italian way of life, they even schemed abroad in places such as London and Paris.

However the main reasons for the failure of these results is due to the large proportion of people such as peasants and workers not supporting them well enough to have a large affect. The revolution could not be a social one due to the fact the middle class was such narrow part of the population and did not involve others. The lack of communication was a key issue due to the revolutions were all localised, the French revolt of 1830 gave the Italian societies a sense of hope that the French would support their needs in Italy. They did not manage to obtain any foreign support to counter the Austrian influence in Italy. No outside power was prepared to help the revolutionaries the Austrian power was simply too overruling.

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The first revolution begun in Naples in 1818, the middle classes in this area displayed a feeling of anger towards King Ferdinand’s rule. Not only did Ferdinand give the Church a strong influence as to what happened in the state but also things such as newspaper and magazines were being censored to the public. This had a negative affect on the middle class who felt freedom of speech and expression was become more and more limited. The King was having economic problems with his lack of money; he decided to cut public spending with things such as improving the harbours, halting projects such as new roads and limiting what little education the public had in the first place. This lack of freedom was a main cause of revolution amongst the middle class. The King decided to meet the rebel’s demands in July allowing adults to vote and in turn limiting the Kings power and even the power of the nobles.

Another revolt occurred in Sicily; this revolt took place in the other half of Ferdinand’s kingdom and was influenced by the Naples revolt. Sicily and Naples had united in 1815. Sicilians felt neglected, they believed Ferdinand had met the demands of people in Naples but that he had forgotten about Sicily. Agricultural prices had fallen which was had a big affect on the poor people living in Sicily; this caused riots in Palermo led by the trade guilds. The riots involved a demand for a new constitution and a new form of government.

This led to government offices being burnt down and the revolutionaries ultimately taking over the city and realising all the prisoners. The Austrian response was furious; the chancellor was outraged at the revolts taking place. He thought they were unsettling the balance of power in Austria and in turn this might influence other nationalists to take action. The Austrian chancellor suggested all the great powers such as Austria. Prussia and Russia should take action and quell the rebellions before it became a large scale issue all over Italy. Britain did not what to get involved with foreign affairs and pulled out of congress.

In 1821 the King of Naples was invited to attend a meeting at Laibach to discuss the future of Naples, he explained that he had granted the new constitutions out of fear of the revolts being a more consistent occurrence. He asked Austria for help to restore him to absolute power again. The chancellor was more than pleased to help the King, in March 1821 the Austrians defeated the rebels at Rieti, they entered the city of Naples, the army sent an enforcing message that revolutions were not allowed and there would be consequences as the rebels were imprisoned and executed. The leader of the revolution in Naples General Pepe fled the city and spent several years in England, France and other countries. He kept his connection with the Carbonari by publishing books and pamphlets. Despite the efforts of the revolutions in Naples and Sicily, ultimately power was restored and the trade guilds were abolished as many revolutionaries were associated with being craftsmen. This prevented any future attempts of a revolt.

It was relatively difficult for secret societies to get in contact in Italy after the revolts that occurred in Naples and Sicily. However many secret societies did manage to scheme revolutionary thoughts abroad particularly in London and Paris. The French revolution in 1830 raised the hopes of many Italian nationalists as they expected the French to assist them in their quest for unification. All these small rebellions did have a large affect on why the revolutions failed because they didn’t get enough backing from other people in their state to have a large scale influence amongst the state.

The revolt in Piedmont was influenced by secret societies such as the Carbonari, they pushed forward different demands. Victor Emmanuel had seen a return to power as King and the Carbonari wanted a constitutional monarchy which seemed to be their ultimate aim overall meaning the destruction of Austrian influence in Italy but this would require a revolution. They looked to Charles Albert for a constitutional monarchy. The Piedmontese uprising was inspired by the revolutions in Naples.

They took over a fortress and declared a provisional government. This revolution spread and in Turin the army revolted and Victor Emmanuel gave up the throne for his brother Charles Felix. Ultimately what the Piedmontese wanted was that Charles Albert should be declared the King of Italy. They also wanted to expel the Austrians from Italy. Charles Felix on his return to Italy rejected the new provisional government and took a revengeful stance upon the revolutionaries. The main reasons why it failed in Piedmont was that secret societies didn’t have enough support this links with the Naples and Sicilian revolutions by demonstrating a lack of general support was a common theme.

In Modena and Parma disturbances led by the middle classes occurred. Enrico Misley a middle class law led the rebellion. Many students rioted aiming for a constitutional reform. Although the riots obtained a brief success in areas it was soon brought to an end by the Austrian power. Misley tried to enlist support from the Duke of Modena, Francesco IV by promising him support in becoming King of Italy. Francesco was interested but at the same time cautious of the sheer Austrian power he would be up against. Francesco had Ciro Menotti arrested who was one of the leaders of the conspiracy. Francesco fled to Vienna to plead support from the Austrian chancellor Metternich. The revolutionaries’ excitement did not seem to last long; In March 1831 Francesco returned to the Central Duchies with an Austrian army and crushed the revolutionaries. Many revolutionaries including Menotti were executed. The failure of these revolutions in Modena and Parma were due to the fact Misley could not organise his society strongly enough, also the fact he could not get Francesco support his cause affected the overall outcome.

Middle class rebellions took place in the Papal States, people wanted freedom from the Catholic Church, people estimated that the French would support them in their quest for freedom from the church however the disturbances proved them wrong. In 1825 Leo XII was elected Pope, he immediately imposed strict laws. However his reign did not last long, he died in 1829 and was replaced by Pius VIII. Pius’s reign was short lived to as he died in 1830. The revolutions raged in the Grand Duchies, its leader Menotti urged uprising in the Papal State. Napoleon Bonaparte’s revolution in Rome did not challenge for the unification of Italy but instead it challenged the clerical state, Napoleon attempted to restore Rome to its Napoleonic rule and failed to do so. The aims of revolutionaries in the Papal States were to drive for liberal reforms in contrast to the other revolutions of this time it showed the weaknesses of the Italian Nationalism.

In conclusion the revolutions taking place in Italy at this time all failed for numerous reasons, the revolts were all separate, there was no dominating revolt taking place only regionally based revolts. Communication was minimal between states and different variations of rebellions didn’t aid the unification cause. Different revolts had different ambitions and different demands. Broad support for these revolutions did not exist. Secret societies were the main reasons for the revolts in the first place such as the Carbonari. Socially, the revolutions appeared narrow to the general public as only accounting for the middle classes dominantly such as in Naples the Carbonari made 5% of the male population which is a low amount. The secret societies aims were not social aims, but more constitutional and driving for a new power of government and extend their own classes power.

I believe a main reason for the failure of the revolt was that it failed to attract foreign support for example the French revolutionaries did not aid the Italian cause due to the overwhelming Austrian control. In 1831 Louis Philippe, the French King, stated “We do not recognise the right of any people to force us to fight in its cause, the blood of Frenchmen belongs to France alone.” This quote crushes the Italians hopes for unification. Comparing this lack of support to the fact the revolutions were all separate causes shows why the French failed to assist, Italians identifying themselves through their states rather than as their country as a whole only furthered the failure and showed Austria that they were weak when divided. The revolutions were unable to contend with the overwhelming forces of the Austrians.

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