Using the evidence of this chapter
Plan 1- Intro. What is nationalism? Who was interested and involved in the movements? Who were not? Many powers working for and against and Italian unification. Models for Italian unity, some failed, others succeeded in playing an important part in the unification. 2- Political apathy and superstition of Italian society- did not interest majority of Italy. 3- BUT in 1940 economic and social developments were changing- Agricultural crisis, encouraging peasants to partake in revolutionary action. 4- Language differences and lack of communication.
Piedmont Sardinia and Kingdom of the two Sicilies – French, Papal States- Latin, Austrian governed areas- German. 5- BUT Secret societies- spreading ideas 6- Influence of Austria. 7- BUT New rulers, influencing society, replacing the previous autocratic rulers. 8- Conclusion. Nationalism is patriotic feelings, principles, or efforts. In Italy, it was a loyalty to a state, and a belief that only in a united country could its citizen’s flourish. As the governments in the separate States of Italy, especially the Austrian rulers, became more oppressive, the Italian society became more discontented.
Some of the Upper Class Italian citizens were aware of the need for reform, as they were educated and wealthy yet had no political status, and no influence to their governors, so they started to lead the political movement. There were also many leaders up to 1848 influencing the Italian society with different ideas and beliefs, and caused revolts. Some leaders failed, holding back nationalism, others played an important part in the spreading nationalism throughout Italy. Nationalism was held back mainly due to apathy. 90% of the Italian Population was illiterate and dependant on a particular type of farming.
Nationalism therefore was not a key issue in their day-to-day lives as priorities were food and survival. Also, being illiterate, nationalist ideas could not spread to these people, as they were not able to read any ideas, nor interpret the nationalist messages in the literature, music and art. However, in the beginning of the 1840’s there was an economic crisis. The Italian economy was based on agriculture, yet Italian farming was inefficient. Foreign countries began to use more advanced farming methods, so there was overseas competition.
The peasantry were affected and this led to them being attracted to the Liberal reformers, and participating in riots. This sudden participation and interest in the reforms was because it affected the peasants’ lives: the quality, and chance of survival. This meant now most of the 90% of the Italian population who were peasants were now interested in nationalism, showing a dramatic increase in coverage over Italy of nationalism. Although Italy was geographically suited to unification (there are no mountains separating different parts of Italy), there was a lack of communication.
Firstly there were no existing roads between different states, which isolated them and prevented and ideas spreading from state to state. This meant that nationalist ideas stayed within the regions they originated from, only reaching the Italians living in that state. Language also differed from state to state – in Piedmont-Sardinia and the “Kingdom of the two Sicilies” French was spoken, Latin was spoken in the Papal States and the states under Austrian rule spoke German. This meant that outside their region, nationalist ideas were incomprehensible and therefore could not spread beyond their state.
However, secret societies helped to spread the idea of nationalism. Although, the ideas between states were not collaborated, the groups were quite strong, especially the Carbonari, which represented around 5% of the male population in Naples and spread to the Papal States and Piedmont-Sardinia. However, the members were mainly middle class and therefore although were strong in the wealthy part of the Italian society, as a whole, did not represent Italy as there were no working class peasants as members. Even though Austria only directly controlled Lombardy and Venetia, the Austrian influence was throughout Italy.
Family Alliances and military dependence increased the Austrian control: The Dukes of Tuscany (entering direct alliance with Austria) and Modena, the Duchess of Parma, the Queen of Naples (also entered direct alliance with Austria) and the King if Piedmont-Sardinia were all relatives of the Austrian Emperor. This meant that the Austrian influence was increased to the majority of the Italian states. To all the states refusing to enter a direct alliance with Austria, Metternich- the chancellor of Austria, set up a “postal convention” so foreign correspondence of each state was passed through Austria.
This censorship along with a highly organised police force ensured widespread surveillance, therefore preventing any development of a reform, and crushed revolutions with the Austrian police’s strong force. The Church also had a strong alliance with Austria- it looked to the country for support, as Austria was the most important of the Catholic states in Europe, and it has such a high quantity of Catholic people there. In the Papal States, the church law was the state law; so Austrian law because of the alliance was an enormous influence on the Papal States and the rest of the Catholic community in Italy.
Messages of conservatism were preached inside the church, and because the preaching’s were verbal, it reached more people than the reforms, as many reformers, for example the Liberal reformers, wrote their aims, so were inaccessible to the illiterate (90% of Italians). However, by 1831 there were new rulers. In the Kingdom of Piedmont Charles Albert, who in 1821 had given hope to rebels, came to rule. In Naples Ferdinand II started his reign and there was a new Pope: Gregory XVI. All of these rulers were less conservative than previous rulers and more open to ideas of change.
They also influence the Italian society, allowing them to want change. Moreover, the new rulers altered autocracy, and many people who challenged the autocracy were heard instead of being sent to prison or exile. Charles Albert encouraged democracy and commerce, and set up extensive legal, administrative, financial and military reforms. This meant he weakened his autocratic position, and started a democratic, less oppressive government, open to reform. He also drew up plans for developments of railways. This would mean increased communication between states, allowing the spread of nationalist ideas.
In conclusion, nationalism went through stages between 1815-1848. At first, nationalism had only taken a hold of a small percentage of Italy- some of the Upper class. Through circumstances such as economic failure, it became more of an issue, however was repressed by the Austrian government, although there were messages of nationalism hidden in literature, art and music. It was not until the early 1840’s that the power of the Austrian government was reduced, allowing the first true movement of widespread nationalism.