Garibaldi and the south 1860-1

by Ben Alford

Cavour, Garibaldi and the South, 1860–1

Dramatis personae: Guiseppe Garibaldi

[From Stiles, p58]


  • Born July 1807 in Nice, a French citizen.
  • Parents were Italian. Father was a sailor.
  • Despite family pressure to enter the Church, he joined the merchant navy.

Pre-1848, early revolutionary activity:

  • 1831, a chance encounter in Marseilles with Mazzini altered the course of his life. Garibaldi was converted to the dream of a united Italy, joined Young Italy.
  • 1833, involved in Mazzini’s revolutionary plot in Piedmont, which went wrong. Garibaldi sentenced to death. However, he left the country before the trial.
  • Went to South America, and settled in Rio de Janeiro. He discovered and joined a branch of Young Italy there. Became involved in revolutionary plans.
  • Wanting action, he became a pirate, and then a member of a rebel army in Brazil.
  • Retired to Montevideo, Uruguay.
  • Became bored, joined the army defending Uruguay against Argentina. Raised an Italian legion of guerrillas. Refused the offer of the rank of General at the time.

Involvement in the 1848 revolutions in Italy.

Garibaldi’s invasion of Sicily

1860, revolt in Palermo, Sicily, against the King of Naples:

  • Probably organised by Mazzini and members of the Italian National Society (founded in 1857).
  • Garibaldi was diverted from North Italy. He collected a group of young men, `The Thousand’. The plan was to help the revolt in Sicily.

Garibaldi’s invasion of Sicily:

  • 4th April–5th May 1860, Garibaldi preparing expedition to Genoa.
  • 5th–11th May 1860, Garibaldi at sea with the Thousand. Cavour ordered Garibaldi’s arrest.
  • Garibaldi lands at Marsala, Sicily.
  • Advance on Palermo.
  • Wins Sicily against the odds; Neapolitan army defeated.
  • Garibaldi becomes Dictator of Sicily.

Cavour, before invasion [from sources]:

  • Did not think Garibaldi would succeed; a mad scheme. Probably did not believe Garibaldi would even set sail.
  • Cavour refused to help Garibaldi. eg. Did not allow Garibaldi the guns he had collected.
  • Cavour could not stop Garibaldi: too popular and strong, and imminent elections.

Cavour, while Garibaldi at sea [from sources]:

  • Tried to stop Garibaldi. Ordered Garibaldi’s arrest.

Garibaldi’s invasion of Naples

Garibaldi’s invasion of Naples (prepared and carried out, 7th June–3rd September 1860):

  • Invades Naples and forces the King to surrender.

Cavour [from sources]:

  • Wanted to prevent Garibaldi from crossing the straits and conquering Naples.
  • At the same time, wanted to excite a revolution in Naples (more legitimate).

Victor Emmanuel [from sources]:

  • Publicly (on Cavour’s instruction), he instructed Garibaldi not to cross the straits.
  • Privately, he encouraged Garibaldi, and wished to prevent revolution.

Invasion of the Papal States

1860, Cavour invades the Papal States. Reasons, either:

  • Traditional view: Helping Garibaldi unite Italy.
  • Worried about Garibaldi’s power. If Garibaldi takes Rome, France (being a Catholic power) might intervene. Evidence: Cavour does not invade Rome in 1860.

Kingdom of Italy founded

Garibaldi gives the South over to Piedmont and Victor Emmanuel II.

March 1861, the Kingdom of Italy is proclaimed:

  • Plebiscites for the Papal States.
  • However, no Rome (under Papal control and French influence) or Venetia (Austrian-occupied).
  • Victor Emmanuel is recognised as the King of Italy. He retained his Piedmont title.
  • The centre (capital) was in Turin (the capital of Piedmont).
  • Piedmontese administration was used throughout the country, with government centralised on Piedmont.
  • Limited constitutional monarchy.


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