The revolutionary fire that broke out in Paris and Vienna in 1848 also reached the Italian peninsula. Unlike their Austrian neighbors, the Italians had already had several liberal and nationalist movements in 1820 and 1830, so it was a much more mature revolution. There were lingering feelings of unity and leaders from previous conflicts that led the Italians to a partial victory, which nonetheless ended in a bitter defeat.
The situation on the Italian peninsula was quite peculiar. There were seven different states and all of them had an absolutist regime. In the north, there was the independent kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia that included Savoy and Nice. The duchies of Parma, Tuscany and Modena were under Austrian influence and the Lombard-Veneto kingdom belonged directly to the Austrian Empire. In the south the kingdom of Naples and the Papal States extended.
All of these states had no political connection whatsoever, not even a confederation like the german kingdoms. But what they did have was an important trend towards unification, which had a twofold aspect. On the one hand, the republican with Mazzini at the head and, on the other, a more moderate and monarchical.
When riots broke out in Paris and Vienna, the Italian peninsula was widely affected. Demonstrations, protests and barricades began to take place throughout the territory. The common goal of all of them was achieve political freedom against absolutist sovereigns who governed them, as well as free themselves from the Austrian yoke that had been subjecting them since the beginning of the century.
The north rose up against the Austrian Empire and created a provisional government with Daniele Manin and Tommasco at the head, who proclaimed the Republic of San Marcos on March 24, 1848. The same did Milan and Sardinia, where the movements were supported and led by the King of Piedmont, Carlos Alberto. The Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies had the most important revolts. They managed to end absolutism and form the so-called "Roman Republic" in 1849.
Although it seemed that all the revolutionary causes were in a great moment, the truth is that Austria was not only able to prevail over internal revolutions, but also harshly repressed the uprisings on the Italian peninsula. The Italians were unable to maintain a unity of action against the Austrians, since neither the King of Naples nor Pope Pius IX opposed the foreign invasion. The imperial troops easily defeated Carlos Alberto and, in addition, the intervention of the French leader Luis Napoleón to restore Pius IX in his absolute power was unstoppable for Garibaldi's troops.
It was the first attempt that almost came to fruition of Italian unification and the liberal movements that swept across the Italian peninsula in the 19th century. But one thing was clear: there was a tremendous unitary feeling and there were people willing to die for the cause. However, the supporters of liberation and the Italian nation had to wait for the coming to power of the Earl of Cavour in order to have a unified and real country.
Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.