Giuseppe Garibaldi

Giuseppe Garibaldi (gărĬbôl´dē, Ital. jōōzĕp´pā gärēbäl´dē), 1807–82, Italian patriot and soldier, a leading figure in the Risorgimento. He remains perhaps the most popular of all Italian heroes of the Risorgimento, and a great revolutionary hero in the Western world.

In South America

Garibaldi was born at Nice and as a youth entered the Sardinian navy. Under the influence of Mazzini he became involved in an unsuccessful republican plot and fled (1835) to South America. There he gained his first experience in guerrilla warfare. He served (1836–42) the state of Rio Grande do Sul in its rebellion against Brazil and fought (1842–46) in the Uruguayan civil war, winning fame for his heroism. In Brazil he met Anita Ribeiro da Silva, whom he married in 1842.

European Campaigns

When revolution swept over Europe in 1848, Garibaldi found a new theater of action. Though a convinced republican, he joined the forces of King Charles Albert of Sardinia in the war against Austria. After the Sardinian defeat he went to Rome (1849) and, at the head of some improvised forces, fought brilliantly for Mazzini's short-lived Roman republic against the superior French forces intervening for Pope Pius IX. During his spectacular retreat across central Italy, his wife died. He was refused asylum by the king of Sardinia and went to the United States.

Garibaldi resumed his seafaring life, but in 1854 he returned to Italy and soon bought part of the island of Caprera, N of Sardinia. By then he had renounced the dream of an Italian republic and gave his support to Cavour, publicly declaring that the monarchy as represented by Victor Emmanuel II should be the basis of Italian unity. Garibaldi's popularity won many of Mazzini's republican followers to the monarchist cause. Garibaldi took part in the war of 1859 against Austria. After the Treaty of Villafranca di Verona he violently attacked Cavour and denounced the cession of Savoy and his native Nice to France.

In 1860, with Victor Emmanuel's connivance, Garibaldi embarked on the crowning enterprise of his life—the conquest of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. With 1,000 volunteers, the Red Shirts, he landed (May, 1860) in Sicily, which had rebelled against Francis II, king of the Two Sicilies, and conquered the island in a spectacularly daring campaign. He then crossed to the mainland, took Naples, and won a decisive battle on the Volturno River. Mazzini wanted to make liberated S Italy a republic, and the populace acclaimed Garibaldi as ruler, but Garibaldi himself remained loyal to Victor Emmanuel. After meeting the king at Teano, near Naples, he relinquished his conquests to Sardinia and retired to Caprera. Shortly afterward (1861) Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed king of a united Italy.

Only part of the Papal States, including Rome, remained outside the new kingdom. In 1862, Garibaldi led a volunteer corps against Rome, but the king, fearing international intervention, sent an Italian army that defeated Garibaldi at Aspromonte. Garibaldi was given a pardon.

In the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 he commanded a volunteer unit, and in 1867 he was defeated by French and papal forces at Mentana while attempting once again to capture Rome. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 he commanded a group of French and Italian volunteers and won a battle near Dijon (1871). Garibaldi was elected to the Italian parliament in 1874, but his political career was undistinguished.


See his autobiography (tr. 1889); biography by D. Mack Smith (1956, repr. 1969); biography by D. M. Smith (1956); G. M. Trevelyan, Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic (1907, repr. 1971), Garibaldi and the Thousand (1909, repr. 1948), and Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (1911, repr. 1948); D. M. Smith, Cavour and Garibaldi, 1860 (1954); L. Riall, Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero (2007).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Giuseppe Garibaldi: Selected full-text books and articles

FREE! Garibaldi and the Making of Italy By George Macaulay Trevelyan Longmans, Green, 1911
FREE! Garibaldi and the Thousand By George Macaulay Trevelyan Longmans, Green, 1912
The Diary of One of Garibaldi's Thousand By Giuseppe Cesare Abba; E. R. Vincent Oxford University Press, 1962
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Italy: From Revolution to Republic, 1700 to the Present By Spencer M. Di Scala Westview Press, 1998 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: "Garibaldi and the Thousand" begins on p. 110
Making and Remaking Italy: The Cultivation of National Identity around the Risorgimento By Albert Russell Ascoli; Krystyna Von Henneberg Berg, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "'To Make History': Garibaldianism and the Formation of a Fascist Historic Imaginary"
Sicily and the Unification of Italy: Liberal Policy and Local Power, 1859-1866 By Lucy Riall Clarendon Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "Garibaldi's Dictatorship: The Reality of Government, May-November 1860"
From Vienna to Versailles By L. C.B. Seaman Routledge, 1988
Librarian's tip: Chap. X "Cavour and Garibaldi"
The History of Italy By Charles L. Killinger Greenwood Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Giuseppe Garibaldi begins on p. 108
Government Leaders, Military Rulers, and Political Activists By David W. Del Testa Oryx Press, 2001
Librarian's tip: "Garibaldi, Giuseppe" begins on p. 67
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