Italy during the Revolution and the Empire Part 2

A man of ingenuity, valor and energy, Cardinal Ruffo had conducted them in the name of the king and of faith (June 1799); and with them he restored the Bourbon monarchy in Naples. Nor is he guilty of the ferocious revenge of the Bourbons against the patriots; which, aided by the perfidious action of Nelson and the bestial ferocity of the plebs, destroyed with death sentences a large part of the best forces of intellectual talent and patriotism in the country. That was the first and glorious page of the martyrology of the Italian Risorgimento; and the Neapolitans have the pride of having almost called all Italians to the rescue. At the end of 1799, therefore, the victories of the Austro-Russian and the English fleet put things back in Italy to the same state as before; but Italy had changed in that turbulent republican triennium. When the French came to Italy, what had been a moral unity, albeit of a sleepy Italy compared to revolutionary France, was broken: on the one hand groups, rather than true and distinct social classes, exalted, acclaim the French liberators, on the other a hostile mass to the French.

According to LAWSCHOOLSINUSA, the split is not only spiritual. When soldiers and subjects of the Savoy with their princes fight the war of the Alps, and then oppose, albeit unhappily, but gloriously, the advance of Bonaparte, the country rushes towards the civil struggle: some acclaim the foreign liberator and humiliate themselves now; the others confuse local and foreign Jacobins in the same hatred and fiercely fight them. When the rulers of the republic of San Marco, trembling with fear at French threats, pleaded for peace and democratized the old republic, the Veronese peasants shouted “Viva S. Marco”, and fought for it in those “Veronese Easters” which they renewed in some way the Vespers. When Charles Emmanuel IV, disheartened by humiliations, from the bullying of foreign Jacobins and villagers, he left Turin, the mountain dwellers of the Alps, the Piedmontese and Monferrato peasants, desperately continued the resistance to the foreigner. When the Austrians withdrew in Lombardy, pursued by the French, the peasants and commoners of Como, Varese, Binasco, Pavia dared to rebel against the victorious army of Bonaparte, challenging the ferocity of his revenge. When the meek Ferdinand III of Tuscany was sent away by the French, and the nobles fled, and improvised democrats came out with the tricolor cockade, the Tuscan peasants rose up shouting “Viva Maria”. When papal generals and soldiers escaped to the Marches, and the old pontiff under arrest was led away from Rome, not papal Rome rose up, but the peasants, from the Sabina mountains to the Marche marinas, thousands fell for their faith and their country. When cowardly the king of Naples fled to Sicily in advancing the Championnet, only the Abruzzi mountaineers, the peasants of Terra di Lavoro, the lazzaroni of Naples opposed the invader in a desperate and bloody struggle. These pages of people’s pride, of blood shed in the struggle against foreigners and oppressors cannot, nor must they be torn from the history of the Italian Risorgimento. The Italian Risorgimento from those beginnings had indicated a double distant goal to be reached: then the patriots saw the political unity of the nation, and they were confessors and martyrs of that idea; they did not see, nor for a long time after them the Italian patriots, the other goal: the moral unity of the nation, a unity that would never have been achieved without the help of the people,

After the coup d’état of November 1799, Bonaparte, first consul, given internal order and peace to France, returned to it with the victory of Marengo (June 14, 1800) the dominance in Italy.

The Cisalpine Republic was then reconstituted, and took the name of the Italian Republic; Piedmont was annexed to France; Parma and Piacenza were placed under French administration; the Grand Duchy of Tuscany taken from the Lorraine was assigned with the title of kingdom of Etruria to Lodovico di Borbone di Parma under a French protectorate; the provinces of Emilia and Romagna, already annexed to the Cisalpina, were removed from the Papal State; the king of Naples had to cede to France the part that he owned on the island of Elba and the principality of Piombino, and to the kingdom of Etruria he had to cede the status of the Presidî.

Despite this French dominance, the Italian Republic, of which Count Francesco Melzi d’Eril was vice-president, seemed to become a center, capable of development, of national life. The aspirations of the patriots of the Republic, of which Melzi was the interpreter, were aimed at the annexation of Piedmont and Liguria (and the press of the time insists on this point), to reach the Italian Tyrrhenian. But not a large and independent Italian Republic wanted France in Italy, but rather a small one and under her tutelage; not a Piedmont and a Liguria forming part of that Republic, but annexed to the French territory, corridor to the French armies destined for Italy.

Italy during the Revolution and the Empire 2

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