The Risorgimento

The repressive and reactionary policies imposed on Italy by the Austrian leader Klemens, Fürst von Metternich, and the Congress of Vienna aggravated popular discontent, and the expansion of Austrian control in Italy stimulated intense anti-foreign sentiment. These conditions gave rise to the Italian unification movement known as the Risorgimento. Revolutionaries and patriots, especially Giuseppe Mazzini, began to work actively for unity and independence. A series of unsuccessful revolts led in the 1820s by the Carbonari, a conspiratorial nationalist organization, and in the 1830s by Mazzini's Young Italy group, provided the background for the Revolution of 1848, felt in every major Italian city and throughout Europe. Charles Albert, king of Sardinia (1831-49), declared war on Austria and, along with some other Italian rulers, gave his people a constitution. However, both the war of liberation and the revolutionary republics set up in Rome, Venice, and Tuscany were crushed by Austria in 1849. Charles Albert abdicated in favor of his son, Victor Emmanuel II, who retained the Sardinian constitution.

Created: November 1996
Updated: 04/07/01
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