Mazzini, Giuseppe

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Mazzini, Giuseppe

Giuseppe Mazzini (jōōzĕp´pā mät-sē´nē), 1805–72, Italian patriot and revolutionist, an outstanding figure of the Risorgimento. His youth was spent in literary and philosophical studies. He early joined the Carbonari, was imprisoned briefly, and went into exile. In Marseilles he founded the secret society Giovine Italia [young Italy], which led a vigorous campaign for Italian unity under a republican government. Mazzini went to Switzerland, then to London (1837), working untiringly at revolutionary propaganda. His influence on Italian radicals, as well as on revolutionaries throughout Europe, was tremendous. During the revolutions of 1848, when uprisings occurred in Milan, the Papal States, and the Two Sicilies, Mazzini returned to Italy; in 1849 he was one of the leaders of the Roman republic. After its fall he resumed his propaganda from abroad. He organized unsuccessful uprisings in Milan (1853) and an ill-fated expedition in S Italy (1857). He often came secretly to Italy, although he had been condemned to death in absentia. Back in London in 1858 he founded the newspaper Pensiero ed azione [thought and action]. He supported Giuseppe Garibaldi's expedition to Sicily, but unlike Garibaldi, he remained a confirmed republican. His relations with Camillo Benso di Cavour, the Sardinian premier, were strained; although both strove for Italian unification, their ideas were opposite, Cavour relying for help on a foreign power (France), Mazzini believing in revolution and war based on direct popular action. He was briefly imprisoned (1870) in Italy for revolutionary activities. Mazzini's work was inspired by his great moral strength. His program was not only political, but deeply social, aiming at human redemption on a religious and moral basis, at liberty, and at justice. His literary style is remarkably fine. He wrote on politics, social science, philosophy, and literature. A selection of his works has appeared in English (6 vol., 1890–91).

See biographies by G. O. Griffith (1932, repr. 1970), S. Barr (1935), E. Holt (1967), and D. M. Smith (1994); study by G. Salvemini (tr. 1957).

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