Italy in the Nineteenth Century: 1796-1900

Italy in the Nineteenth Century: 1796-1900

Italy in the Nineteenth Century: 1796-1900

Italy in the Nineteenth Century: 1796-1900

Synopsis

'... An extremely strong collection of essays.' HistoryCovering the period from the French Revolution to the end of the 19th Century, this volume sets the events leading to Italian Unification and the creation of an independent Italian state in the broader context of 19th Century European history. Challenging the view that the political failings of the Risorgimento and Italy's economic and social backwardness paved the way for fascism in the 20th century, it emphasises how similar Italy's social and political development was to that of other modernising European states in the same period, while explaining why Italy's experience of modernisation in the nineteenth century also proved particularly difficult. Italy in the Nineteenth Century provides both the general and specialist reader with a critical but concise introduction to the most recent historical debates and perspectives.

Excerpt

Few political events caught the imagination of the nineteenth century more dramatically than the creation of an independent and unified state in Italy between 1859 and 1870. Yet in many respects Italy's unification was just another example of the emergence of new, and of the realignment of older, European states in the same period. Bismarck was forging the new German Reich in the same decades that Italy became a unified nation. Earlier in 1831 a new Kingdom of the Belgians had been created across the cultural and linguistic differences that divided Walloons, Flemings, and Germans, and in 1833 the Greeks had obtained independence from the Ottoman Empire. In the north, the Scandinavian rulers were inventing new national identities for their dynastic states, but so were older states like Britain and France.

Nonetheless, Italy's unification had special significance. The struggles for independence had forced an 'Italian Problem' on the reluctant attention of European statesmen from much earlier in the century, but few could have anticipated that these would result in both independence and unification. Yet Italy did not become unified because European statesmen decided to redraw political boundaries that had become anachronistic, nor had unification been imposed by one powerful state over others, as in the case of Germany. The role of the Piedmontese monarchy had been quite different from that of . . .

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