The story

Giuseppe Garibaldi

Giuseppe Garibaldi

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Italian Revolutionary (1808-1882). He led the reunification of Italy, after being fragmented for centuries in various cities.

The Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi was the man whose leadership made possible the unification of Italy for the first time since the time of the Roman emperors. Born in Nice, which is today in France, he joined the nationalist movement led by the Genoese patriot Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872) at the time he was about twenty years old.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, Italy fragmented into a host of independent city-states. By the late Middle Ages, several city states, such as Venice and Genoa, became world trading powers. And during the Renaissance, Florence, the capital of Tuscany, became the center of art and culture. By the eighteenth century, however, the power of the great city-states had declined, and foreign powers such as Spain, France, and especially Austria, came to dominate Italy politically. In 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Italy and weakened Austrian control in the northern part of the region. He then incorporated Nice and Savoy into France - where they continue to this day - and several other parts, including Tuscany. Elsewhere in Italy, he reformulated city-states as republics on the French model.

By the 1830s, many groups, including Mazzini's Young Italian Society, had begun to claim a unified and independent Italy. Garibaldi, then soldier and guerrilla leader, was the typical young man who would join the cause of Italian freedom. Forced to leave the country in 1834, he spent some time in the United States and fought in the Rio Grande do Sul Rebellion in Brazil in 1836. In 1848, when the revolution broke out in France and Austria, and the people of Italy also rebelled, he returned home and joined the patriots operating in and around Rome. Forced to flee a second time, he went to the United States, but in 1859 returned to Italy.

On May 11, 1860, Garibaldi landed on the island of Sicily with a thousand men - known as "The Thousand" or "red shirts" because of the color of their clothing - to begin their military campaign. After conquering Sicily and establishing a provisional government, he joined forces with the king of Sardinia, Vittorio Emanuele II (1820-1878), who had annexed Lombardy to his kingdom in 1859. Together they liberated the Italian states, a to one. In 1861, Vitório Emanuele was crowned king of the new unified Italy.

In 1866, Italy allied with Prussia in its war against Austria, and as a result, Venice was annexed to Italy in the same year. The Pontifical States were also incorporated, but Rome continued to be protected by the French, who wanted the pope to be independent of the kingdom of Italy. After the defeat of the French by Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) and the collapse of the French empire, Rome was annexed to Italy and became the capital of a totally unified country. Garibaldi served in the Italian Parliament in 1874. He died on June 2, 1882, at his home on the island of Caprera.