Garibaldi, Giuseppe

views updated Jun 27 2018


early life and exile
italian campaigns
final years and legacy

GARIBALDI, GIUSEPPE (1807–1882), Italian military and nationalist leader.

The life of Giuseppe Garibaldi is fascinating, the English historian George Macaulay Trevelyan noted in 1909, because it contains all the ingredients of a novel. This observation is prescient. What is perhaps the most diffuse political myth of nineteenth-century Europe was indeed constructed by means of a biographical account strikingly similar to a fictional work, which Garibaldi himself, at little more than fifty years of age, had set out to make known to a vast public. This was in 1859, when his precocious Memoirs (Memorie) were published in New York by A. S. Barnes & Burr, and then in London, Paris (translated and tinkered with by Alexandre Dumas), Brussels, Hamburg, and elsewhere. Great public acclaim came immediately, because the story unfolded amid romantic passions and gallant adventures and exuded the exoticism of the wild lands of Latin America and the ancient fascination of the Mediterranean. It was a winning plot, breathtaking, sometimes incredible, and always played out along the lines of a fiction. The myth, moreover, called out to be separated from reality; the hero had to be distinct from the common man, and the story had to become a place where fantasies were fulfilled.

In Italy the situation was different. Already sensitive to the Romantic vein of Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, and Victor Hugo, the youthful Italian nationalist movement had attracted a group of writers, such as Silvio Pellico, the marchese d'Azeglio, Francesco Guerrazzi, and Alessandro Manzoni, who in their works took up remote themes in Italian history and used them as parables of the battle in progress for the independence of the country. These works included examples of physical courage, martial virtue, and national pride. Yet by their very nature, they were sunk in a remote past, and by the early nineteenth century, one needed a good dose of optimism to believe that times were ripe for the country to erase a centuries-long tradition of political fragmentation, military defeats, and foreign domination. It is for this reason that the myth of Garibaldi was so effective among the cultured elites, students, soldiers, and politicians, and could become a sort of popular faith—centered around the icon of a Christ with red shirt, long flowing hair, blond beard, and flashing eyes. At the moment in which it sought to enter into the club of European powers, Italy needed military glory. And Garibaldi was a warrior. "War is the true life of a man!" he would write in the preface to the 1872 edition of his Memoirs.

early life and exile

That life, which would enter precociously into legend, began on 4 July 1807 in Nice. The son of a sea captain who had intended for him a career as a professional, Garibaldi very early betrayed his father's aspirations and, at the age of sixteen, began to traverse the length and breadth of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, as far as Smyrna, Istanbul, Odessa, and Taganrog. In 1832, far from Italy, the young sailor first heard of Henri de Saint-Simon and Giuseppe Mazzini, of socialism and nationalism, and he was smitten. Two years later, when the partisans of Mazzini organized an insurrection at Genoa, Garibaldi, who was serving on a ship anchored in the harbor, debarked and attempted to participate in the escapade. The revolt, however, came to naught, and Garibaldi, never having returned to his ship, ended up being accused, tried in absentia, and condemned to death. He thus became an exile and a martyr in the cause of liberty, and the following year, after joining Giovine Italia (Young Italy, a revolutionary organization founded by Mazzini in 1831), he departed for Latin America.

He arrived at Rio de Janeiro at the end of 1835, welcomed by Mazzini's supporters as the "hero of Genoa," and two years later joined the republicans of the Rio Grande do Sul, a province of the empire of Brazil that was struggling for its independence. Employed by the rebels to command the small separatist fleet, at the head of a crew of adventurers and buccaneers, Garibaldi conducted forays against Brazilian ships, laid daring ambushes, suffered reprisals, conquered cities, endured arduous retreats, and was wounded, imprisoned,

and tortured. And he met the eighteen-year-old Creole Anita, who became his companion and whom he later married. In 1840, when the Brazilians looked to have bested the rebels, he left the Rio Grande province and arrived at Montevideo in the following year, after an adventure-filled march of five months. There, he promptly threw himself into the bitter civil war that had broken out in Uruguay in the wake of independence, a war intertwined with the conflict between Argentina and the liberal powers of Europe. In Montevideo, the adventure recommenced. Having taken command of the naval squadron of the progressives of José Fructuosa Rivera, Garibaldi took up the fight against the Argentine fleet, together with English and French contingents. He was brash, daring, and capable. He attacked the enemy and quickly retreated, requisitioned civil and military vessels, hid in the great fluvial network of the Paraná, organized impossible forced marches through the forest, occupied cities and villages, and was accused by the Argentine press of theft and violence against the civil population. Hero or brigand, his fame in Montevideo grew by the day, and his name appeared ever more frequently in the European and North American press.

italian campaigns

Finally, in 1848, Garibaldi left South America, attracted by events in Italy and strengthened by an experience that had taught him the art of war and guerilla tactics; tempered him in the command of men; accustomed him to dangerous situations, unequal contests of force, and public violence; and, not least, made him suspicious of the complex games of the political arena. He returned from South America with a concept of military dictatorship that he hoped would provide an antidote to those games but that, even though ennobled by appeals to classicism, would be difficult to transplant from its Latin American context to a European milieu.

In Italy, in 1849, Garibaldi was a protagonist in the desperate struggle of the Roman Republic against the French, Neapolitans, and Austrians. His deeds were on the lips of all, and even his flight from Rome became legendary: the perilous journey north, the death of his wife, Anita, along the way, and his long wandering through Tuscany, Liguria, and the North African coast. As always, there was no repose for Garibaldi. In 1850 he went to New York, then to Peru, and from there to China. Yet in 1854 he was again in Europe, and in the following year he bought part of the island of Caprera, a refuge from the delusions of public activity and, obviously, a classic site of pilgrimage for the devout of the whole globe, aiming to see and meet their hero. Meanwhile, giving testament to his realism and entering on a collision course with Mazzini, he decided to support the nationalist project of the Savoyard monarchy. In 1859, having been named a general, he led his Cacciatori delle Alpi (Alpine Hunters) to war against the Austrians. Shortly thereafter, on 11 May 1860, Garibaldi landed with a thousand volunteers (the Redshirts) on a Sicily in

the throes of revolution. In the span of two months, thanks to a rapid series of military successes that laid low the far more numerous Bourbon army, Garibaldi conquered Palermo and the entire island. He then went to Calabria, rapidly traversed the south of Italy, and on 7 September entered triumphantly into Naples, capital of the Bourbon king, Francis II.

The conquest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was stunning, on a military level, because of the disparity of the forces in the field and the blinding speed of events. On a political level, the situation was more complex because Garibaldi was operating on a razor's edge. Though he was a democrat, Mazzini was deeply suspicious of him. Garibaldi was supported by the newly proclaimed king of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II, but failed to prevail over the subtle political and diplomatic maneuverings of Count Cavour, who while interested in the success of the undertaking had to repudiate it officially in front of his French allies, and who had no intention of granting any leeway to the democrats. Little wonder, then, that after 1861—the year of Italian unification—Garibaldi became both a national hero and a source of grave embarrassment for Italy's right-wing government. His priority was to liberate Rome from papal rule, an unrealistic objective in light of existing Italian alliances. Yet the general moved of his own accord, and in the summer of 1862 he assembled a small army of volunteers and attempted a surprise attack. He landed in Sicily and then moved to Calabria, where he prepared to set out for the north, but was intercepted by regular Italian troops in Aspromonte, who opened fire, wounded him, and arrested him. Five years later, in 1867, he again planned to use force to regain Rome. To prevent this he was arrested, but made a theatrical escape only to flee in improbable fashion and be defeated by the French at Mentana.

final years and legacy

The military undertaking of 1867 was Garibaldi's last, other than his participation on the French side in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871). But the last twenty years of his life, from 1862 to 1882, took an increasingly schizophrenic form, between the already worldwide scale of his myth and the great difficulties of integrating a charismatic leader of his ilk into Italian political life. In the words of the American ambassador in Turin, he had become "a great power." London welcomed him in 1864 with the largest crowd ever seen in the British capital; Abraham Lincoln sought, unsuccessfully, Garibaldi's participation in the battle against slavery; Poles fighting for independence sought his aid. And his Memoirs were translated into eleven languages. Meanwhile in Italy, everyone adopted his iconic image, but neither democrats nor moderates were disposed to follow him in his initiatives or in his strident denunciations of parliamentary government. To make matter worse he described Cavour in exceptionally harsh terms after 1860 and called Mazzini a "coward" and a "rogue" after 1867. The truth is that the life of this pirate who became a general, the republican who supported the Savoyard monarchy, the Freemason and populist, internationalist and individualist, does not fit any neat categories of party politics or even class struggle.

Even after his death on Caprera on 2 June 1882, the icon of Garibaldi continued to be invoked in very different political contexts. It was the banner of those who pressed for Italy's intervention in World War I in 1915, of Fascists preaching dictatorship, and of the Socialists and Communists who in 1948 vied for control of the government with the Christian Democrats of Alcide De Gasperi. In the late twentieth century, the story of the general would be reprised by Bettino Craxi, another controversial and innovative leader. Yet the changing and often contradictory uses to which his image has been put illustrates, if not the ambiguity, then certainly the political fragility of Garibaldi.

See alsoCavour, Count (Camillo Benso); Italy; Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; Mazzini, Giuseppe; Nationalism; Risorgimento (Italian Unification); Rome; Victor Emmanuel II; Young Italy.


Primary Sources

Garibaldi, Giuseppe. Autobiography of Giuseppe Garibaldi. 3 vols. Translated by A. Werner. London, 1889. Reprint, with a new introduction, New York, 1971.

Secondary Sources

Banti, Alberto Mario. La nazione del Risorgimento: Parentela, santità e onore alle origini dell'Italia unita. Turin, 2000.

Calabrese, Omar. Garibaldi: Tra Ivanhoe e Sandokan. Milan, 1982.

Ridley, Jasper. Garibaldi. London, 1974. Reprint, London, 1991.

Scirocco, Alfonso. Garibaldi: Battaglie, amori, ideali di un cittadino del mondo. Rome, 2001.

Smith, Denis Mack. Garibaldi: A Great Life in Brief. New York, 1956. Reprint, Westport, Conn., 1982.

Trevelyan, George Macaulay. Garibaldi and the Thousand. London, 1909. Reprint, New York, 1979.

Ugolini, Romano. Garibaldi: Genesi di un mito. Rome, 1982.

Paolo Macry

Giuseppe Garibaldi

views updated May 23 2018

Giuseppe Garibaldi

The Italian soldier Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) was the key military figure in the creation of the kingdom of Italy. An unflagging foe of all tyranny, he devoted his life to fighting oppression.

For the greater part of his life most of the native land of Giuseppe Garibaldi was under the control of foreigners. In the north Lombardy was held by Austria, and to the south of the States of the Church the kingdom of Naples was in the hands of the stagnant feudal regime of the Bourbons. Garibaldi was the embodiment of the Italian brand of 19th-century nationalism, which was impelled by the twin desires for unity and freedom.

Giuseppe Garibaldi was born on July 4, 1807, at Nice, which was at that time a French town. His father, Domenico, was a fisherman and modest tradesman, a fact that helped determine Giuseppe's early choice for a life at sea. At 17 he was already a sailor, journeying in the Mediterranean and Black seas, and in 1832 he earned certification as a merchant captain.

Garibaldi entered the Piedmontese navy and in 1833 joined Young Italy, the revolutionary organization of Giuseppe Mazzini, another Italian irredentist and patriot. As part of a larger republican plot of Mazzini, he became involved in a mutiny, attempting to seize his ship and take over the arsenal of Genoa. The plan failed and Garibaldi fled, taking refuge in France. He was condemned to death by default on June 3, 1834.

In 1836 Garibaldi sailed for Rio de Janeiro from Marseilles. For the next 4 years he fought as a soldier and naval officer and sometimes as a pirate for the province of Rio Grande in its attempt to free itself from Brazil. He then entered the service of Uruguay, becoming commander of the new Italian Legion at Montevideo in 1843. His victories at Cerro and Sant'Antonio in 1846 did much to ensure the liberty of Uruguay. Garibaldi's years in South America taught him the skills of war and steeled him for the Herculean tasks to come.

Revolt of 1848

His heart quickened by news of the uprising against Austria, Garibaldi returned to Italy with 80 men of his legion, landing at Nice on June 24, 1848. He offered his services in July to Charles Albert, King of the Piedmont, and in August was in command of a volunteer army at Milan. The following year, when the war was going badly for the revolutionaries and the Pope was away from Rome, Garibaldi was elected deputy of the Roman Assembly and worked for the creation of a Roman republic. Thus, against a French army aiding in the suppression of the general revolt, he defended the ephemeral republic, winning a brilliant victory at the San Pancrazio gate on April 30, 1849.

Garibaldi labored mightily during the next few months, inflicting defeats on Neapolitan and French armies. Only when it became clear that no power on earth could preserve the revolutionary movement from the superior forces of reaction did Garibaldi lead a handful of men on a retreat through central Italy. This movement was itself a masterpiece of military skill. He escaped to the Piedmont and in 1850 turned up in America, where he took a job making candles. He never intended to reside there permanently, and within the year he traveled to Peru, where he captained a ship under the flag of that country. In 1855 he returned to Italy and bought part of the island of Caprera, north of Sardinia, where he built a home.

War of Liberation

In 1858 a fateful meeting took place at Turin between Garibaldi and Camillo di Cavour, the prime minister of the Piedmontese kingdom. The count, looking forward eagerly to another war with Austria, asked the now-renowned soldier to form an army of volunteers. Cavour believed that this time, with boldness and planning, Austrian control could be broken. Garibaldi set himself to the task and was made a general in the Piedmontese army. In April 1859 he formed his corps, the Cacciatori delle Alpi, and in the same month war broke out. A rapid series of victories in May drove the Austrians out of northern Italy, all the way to the Tirol.

Dazzling as these accomplishments were, his greatest military feat lay yet before him. When the French, this time allies of the Piedmont, pulled out of the war in July 1859, Garibaldi shared Cavour's disappointment. But soldier and statesman were soon at odds with each other. Garibaldi was not permitted to attack the papal states in November and bitterly returned to civil life. He was quickly elected to the Piedmontese Parliament, and in April 1860, he publicly attacked Cavour for ceding Nice to France. Meanwhile he was planning, with British encouragement, the invasion of Sicily. Neither he nor Cavour had given up on the national movement, even though the Piedmont had felt compelled to follow the lead of France and sign an armistice with Austria.

On May 11, 1860, Garibaldi landed at Marsala with a thousand men and on May 15, crushed an undisciplined Neapolitan army at Calatafimi. By May 25, Palermo, the capital of Sicily, was in his hands. Then, moving with remarkable speed and agility, his forces crossed the Straits of Messina, slipping past a formidable Neapolitan navy. On September 7, Garibaldi triumphantly entered Naples and proclaimed himself dictator of the Two Sicilies. A last major battle was fought a month later on the Volturno, a struggle that put an end to the Bourbon capacity for resistance. Garibaldi then punctuated these victories by holding plebiscites in Sicily and Naples.

These months of fevered and brilliant activity by Garibaldi in the south found their echo in the rest of Italy, as the foundations of tyranny were undermined. It was with jubilation that Italians greeted Victor Emmanuel, King of the Piedmont, as he traveled south through the country to meet Garibaldi near Naples. On Nov. 7, 1860, in one of the most generous acts in Western history, the soldier formally gave to Victor Emmanuel all of southern Italy and proclaimed him king of a united land.

All the problems had not been solved. Austria still possessed the Trentino, and the territory of the Church, protected by the French, still lay as an obstacle across central Italy. But Garibaldi withdrew to Caprera and once again entered politics. In April 1861, he castigated Cavour in Parliament because of the prime minister's failure to take his volunteers into the regular army. The bitterness between the two men was never fully assuaged, and it was only under Ricasoli, Cavour's successor, that Garibaldi's soldiers received satisfaction in the matter. By this time the fame of the great soldier had spread so far that Abraham Lincoln saw fit to offer him a command in the American Civil War. This he politely refused, preferring to remain as close as possible to events in Italy.

In the summer of 1862, at odds with the official position of the Italian government, Garibaldi began a march on Rome, only to be wounded in Calabria and taken prisoner. Moved by the general sympathy for the soldier and by the magnitude of his contribution to his country, the King granted him an amnesty. Garibaldi then returned to Caprera and in the following year resigned from Parliament over the issue of martial law in Sicily.

War of 1866

After traveling in 1864 to England, where he was given a hero's reception, Garibaldi formed another volunteer army with which to do battle once again with the Austrians. And again his army seemed invincible. He won battle after battle until, when about to attack the Trentino, he was ordered by his superior, Gen. Lamarmora, to withdraw. The order came on July 21, 1866, and Garibaldi's answer, "Ubbidisco" (I obey), has often been called a marvelous example of a soldier's subordination of his own wishes to the command of a superior, no matter how unpopular the command. This acquiescence should not be exaggerated since Garibaldi had already been told that Austria, because of Prussian pressure, could not under any circumstances yield the Trentino to Italy. Therefore no matter what his soldiers did, they would eventually be forced to withdraw for diplomacy's sake. The brief war ended with the cession of Venice to the new Italian kingdom.

Garibaldi returned to Caprera but not merely to savor the delights of victory. As the result of an agreement in 1864 between the French and Italian governments, French troops had been removed from Rome. Therefore he thought the time was right for another attack on the papal territory. Before he could put his plan into operation, he was once again arrested by the Italian government and brought back to Caprera. Almost at once he succeeded in escaping and went to Florence.

In spite of the government's official unwillingness to seize Rome by force, some members of the executive branch were fully in sympathy with Garibaldi's goals, and they furthered a second military effort. He was once again stopped, however, shortly after entering papal territory in October. It was ironic that when, in 1870, the Italian kingdom finally absorbed the remainder of the States of the Church, the great condottiere was not directly involved. He spent that year fighting for the French in the Franco-Prussian War.

Deputy for Rome

The last decade of Garibaldi's life was no less stormy than the earlier years. After the final humiliation of France by the Prussians he was elected to the Versailles Assembly; but he felt insulted by the French, mostly because they seemed unwilling to recognize the extent of his contribution to their war effort. He had, after all, won victories over the Germans at Châtillon and Dijon. He resigned his position in anger and returned to Caprera. In 1874 he was elected to Parliament as deputy for Rome. Garibaldi relished his position but was generally unhappy with the conservative cast of the government; when the ministry sought to confer upon him a large gift of money and an annual pension, he refused. It is revealing that when a government more oriented to the left took over and made the same offer, he accepted it gratefully. The generous gift was a recognition of the enormous debt owed by the new Italian kingdom to its greatest soldier.

Garibaldi, a handsome man with long hair, a full beard, and burning eyes, often disagreed violently with the government he had worked so hard to bring into existence. He was not an easy man to work with and his decisions were often rash, leading to the mercurial changes of his fortunes. But Giuseppe Garibaldi's contribution to Italy was of lasting significance, and when he died on June 2, 1882, his fellow citizens felt his passing deeply.

Further Reading

The two greatest authorities writing in English on Garibaldi are Denis Mack Smith and George M. Trevelyan. Smith's Cavourand Garibaldi, 1860: A Study in Political Conflict (1954) is an illuminating account of the character and historical significance of the two men and their strained relations with one another. A short biography by Smith is Garibaldi: A Great Life in Brief (1956). The three volumes by Trevelyan are very thorough: Garibaldi and the Thousand (1948); Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (1948); and Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic, 1848-9 (1949). The dates given for Trevelyan's books represent the latest of many editions. □

Giuseppe Garibaldi

views updated Jun 08 2018

Giuseppe Garibaldi


Italian nationalist


Wanted Man. Garibaldi was born in Nice, France, into a family of fishermen; he was largely self-educated and spent much of his youth as a sailor on Mediterranean merchant ships. Sometime before 1833 he joined the navy of Sardinia-Piedmont and gained his first military experiences. In 1833 he joined Giuseppe Mazzini’s Young Italy movement, which was dedicated to freeing the Italian people from foreign rule and to unifying the country as a self-governing republic. In 1834 Garibaldi participated in a mutiny aboard a Piedmontese warship in a plot designed to spark a republican revolution in Piedmont, but the plot was discovered and foiled by the local police. Garibaldi was condemned to death in absentia by a Genoese court, but he escaped to France and then to South America. In 1836-1848 he lived as an exile in South America. He volunteered for the navy of the republic of Rio Grande do Sul, which was attempting to break away from Brazil, and quickly displayed unusual qualities of military leadership. Despite his best efforts, the Brazilian military was too large for the tiny breakaway republic to defeat; Garibaldi left the service of the Rio Grande with his lover, a married woman named Anna Maria Ribeiro da Silva (known affectionately to Garibaldi as Anita). In 1842 he, Anita, and their son entered Uruguay, which was fighting for independence from Argentina. He volunteered for the Uruguayan navy and within a few months became its head. In 1848 he commanded a group of Italian expatriates in the defense of the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo; these men became the core of his famous “Red Shirts” brigade. After a series of victories Garibaldi, his family, and sixty of his Red Shirts returned to Italy in the hopes of fomenting a republican rebellion there.

Italian Unification. He joined the movement for Italian freedom and unification, thereafter known as the Risorgimento (revival). He offered his services to Pope Pius IX and King Charles Albert of Sardinia-Piedmont, but he was rebuffed in both cases. The army of Sardinia-Piedmont scoffed at his self-taught martial skills and advised the king to turn him away. Garibaldi went next to Milan, where he was warmly welcomed. Despite some successes against the Austrians, who held much of Lombardy, the Milanese were heavily outnumbered, and Garibaldi was forced to flee across the border to Switzerland. In 1849 Pope Pius IX fled Rome in the face of a republican uprising; Garibaldi led his volunteers to Rome to support the fledgling Roman Republic. Garibaldi heroically defended the city against attacks by superior French and Neapolitan forces but was finally compelled to withdraw. Although he was allowed to depart with about five thousand of his followers, their line of retreat lay through Austrian-controlled territory; most of his force was killed (including his beloved Anita), captured, or dispersed, and Garibaldi had to flee Italy to save his life. The defense of Rome and his spirited retreat across Italy made him a heroic figure to the people of Italy. He fled first to Tangiers, then to Staten Island, New York, where he worked as a candlemaker, and then to Peru.

Red Shirts. In 1854 Count Camillo di Cavour, the chief minister of Sardinia-Piedmont, invited Garibaldi to return to Italy, with the proviso that he eschew Mazzini’s radicalism. Garibaldi returned and bought a home on the island of Caprera, northeast of Sardinia. Garibaldi became convinced that the road to freedom and unity for Italy lay in alliance with the liberal ruler Victor Emmanuel II, king of Sardinia-Piedmont. Cavour enjoined Garibaldi to lead a volunteer force against the Austrians in Lombardy, and by mid 1859 Garibaldi and his men had captured Varese, Como, and much of the southern Tyrol. Thousands of other Italian patriots and revolutionaries were influenced by Garibaldi’s position, a fact that did much to enhance the fortunes of the Sardinian monarch and influence the course of Italian history. Garibaldi became deeply involved in the complicated military and political struggles that took place from 1860 to 1870. King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia-Piedmont and Cavour recognized Garibaldi’s value as a leader but were frightened that any further moves toward Italian unification would cause an Austro-French invasion. Garibaldi himself became frustrated with the king’s vacillation, especially after his hometown of Nice was returned to France (1860). Garibaldi set out on his own in 1860 on a campaign that would ultimately result in the unification of Italy. He sailed from Genoa on 6 May with approximately one thousand men clad in red shirts (their only uniform) and reached Marsala, Sicily, on 11 May. The people of Sicily, especially the peasants and tradesmen, swarmed to his banner and swelled his army’s ranks. He and his Red Shirts seized Palermo from the King of Naples and by 19 August had crossed the Straits of Messina into southern Italy. By September, Garibaldi and his men had deposed the King of Naples and had seized Naples itself. A tremendous victory on the Volturno River against the last remnants of the Neapolitan army delivered the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies into Garibaldi’s hands—he promptly surrendered the conquered state to King Victor Emmanuel II.

Jealousies. Despite Garibaldi’s unparalleled success, Victor Emmanuel II still feared him, perhaps even more after the conquest of southern Italy. Garibaldi had become popular and had spoken vigorously on his desire for a united Italian republic. Jealous and humiliated, the generals of the army of Sardinia-Piedmont convinced Victor Emmanuel II to refuse Garibaldi a role in the governing of the territories he had just conquered. Garibaldi criticized the king’s mismanagement of these areas and complained that his volunteers, who had risked their lives for the king, had gone unrewarded. His arguments were ignored. However, Garibaldi was held in high esteem abroad—Abraham Lincoln offered him a command in the Union Army, and during a visit to Britain he was feted wherever he went.

On to Rome. In 1862 Victor Emmanuel II and his advisers developed a plan to capture Venice from the Austrians and convinced Garibaldi to lead a volunteer force in the campaign. They planned to preoccupy the Austrians by attacking them in the Balkans and then to invade Venice. Garibaldi, however, led his forces toward Rome, which was garrisoned by French troops. To Garibaldi, Rome was the natural capital of a united Italy. Victor Emmanuel II was frightened of French intervention and sent an army to stop him; Garibaldi was wounded in the resulting clash at Aspromonte and was taken prisoner. Victor Emmanuel II, however, fully realized Garibaldi’s value—he was freed and in 1866 was given another independent command when war broke out in the Tyrol against Austria. The war ended when Victor Emmanuel II’s forces, including Garibaldi, captured Venice. Though the Italians fought well, they were victorious mainly because the Austrians were also engaged in a war with Prussia (the Austro-Prussian War of 1866) and could not deploy their full might in the Tyrol. Garibaldi attempted to seize Rome on his own again in 1867, but the attack was poorly coordinated and resulted in defeat. For the next two years Garibaldi lived the life of a farmer on Caprera. In 1870 he offered his services to the French government and fought in the Franco-Prussian War. Again he distinguished himself as an excellent leader with an amazing grasp of battlefield tactics. Even so, France lost the war, and Garibaldi returned to Italy. Rome was annexed to Italy in October 1870, and Garibaldi was elected a member of the Italian parliament in 1874. In his last years he sympathized with the developing socialist movement in Italy and other countries.


Autobiography of Giuseppe Garibaldi (London: W. Smith & lnnes, 1889).

Christopher Hibbert, Garibaldi and His Enemies: The Clash of Arms and Personalities in the Making of Italy (London: Longmans, 1965).

Peter de Polnay, Garibaldi: The Legend and the Man (London: Hollis … Carter, 1960).

Denis Mack Smith, Cavour and Garibaldi, 1860: A Study of Political Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).

Andrea Viotti, Garibaldi: The Revolutionary and His Men (Poole, U.K.: Blandford, 1979).

Garibaldi, Giuseppe

views updated May 21 2018


Italian military and nationalist leader; b. Nice, France, July 4, 1807; d. Caprera Island, near Sardinia, June 2, 1882. After receiving a Catholic upbringing, he went to sea as a youth and came into contact with exiles and conspirators. By 1832 he was certified as a ship's captain. While a member of the Young Italy movement of Mazzini, he joined the Sardinian navy (1833) and plotted to seize the frigate "Euridice" and occupy the arsenal in Genoa. For his involvement in this abortive conspiracy he was condemned to death. He escaped and went to South America, where he fought in behalf of Brazil's rebellious province of Rio Grande do Sul. From 1841 to 1847 he assisted Uruguay in its war against Argentina, organizing an Italian legion in Montevideo. This experience in guerrilla warfare proved very useful to him in Italy, to which he returned during the revolution of 1848 and led a volunteer army against Austria in the struggle to unify Italy. After the Italian defeat at Custozza, Garibaldi became the general for the forces of the short-lived Roman Republic against the Neapolitans at Palestrina and Velletri and against the French at San Pancrazio. When the republic collapsed he went into exile, landing in New York in 1850 and then following the sea as a sailor (185154).

Garibaldi returned to Piedmont in 1854 and purchased half of the barren island of Caprera, off the coast of Sardinia, and made his home there. During the Austro-Sardinian War (1859) he commanded a successful volunteer army (Cacciatori delle Alpi ) against the Austrians. Garibaldi's conquest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was his most famous exploit. Despite the strong disapproval of cavour, Garibaldi and his Red Shirts invaded Sicily and defeated General Landi at Calatafimi (May 15, 1860). Suppressing his animosity toward the Church, Garibaldi participated in religious exercises and impressed the Sicilians as a defender of Catholicism. He entered Naples in September, but upon the arrival of Victor Emmanuel II in November, he surrendered his dictatorial position and retired to Caprera. When the Civil War erupted in the U.S., Abraham Lincoln offered him the command of a corps in the Union army but Garibaldi refused to accept unless the President appoint him supreme commander and abolish slavery. In 1862 Garibaldi led a march on Rome that was halted by royal troops at Aspromonte. He defeated the Austrians in several engagements in northern Italy during the Austro-Prussian War (1866). A renewed attempt by Garibaldi to overthrow the states of the church met defeat at Mentana (Nov. 2, 1867). In the Franco-Prussian War he served with the French.

Garibaldi devoted his later years to revising his autobiography, composing irreligious novels, and engaging in other literary activities. His religion was a vague compound of deism, pantheism, and what he called the religion of humanity. Bitter anticlericalism was characteristic of his outlook to the close of his life. His political testament explicitly repudiated the priesthood. Although he was a member of every Italian parliament, except one, elected after 1860, he rarely occupied his seat because of his scorn for legislative assemblies, at least as they functioned in Italy. His own preference was for temporary dictatorship. He possessed a keen sense of justice and identified himself with the common man. As a military leader he was noted for his valor and ability. For his services in the risorgimento he is honored as a national hero of Italy.

Bibliography: g. garibaldi, Edizione nazionale degli scritti di Giuseppe Garibaldi, 6 v. (Bologna 193237); Autobiography, ed. a. werner, 3 v. (London 1889). g. sacerdote, La vita di Giuseppe Garibaldi (Milan 1933). d. mack smith, Garibaldi (New York 1956).

[e. a. carrillo]

Garibaldi, Giuseppe

views updated Jun 11 2018

Garibaldi, Giuseppe (1807–82) Italian patriot and guerrilla leader who helped to bring about Italian unification. Influenced by Mazzini, he participated in a republican rising in 1834, subsequently fleeing to South America. Garibaldi returned to fight against the Austrians in the Revolutions of 1848, and in the unsuccessful defence of Rome against the French. In 1860, he led his 1000-strong band of ‘Red Shirts’ against the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, a dramatic episode in the Risorgimento. He handed his conquests to King Victor Emmanuel II in order to be incorporated into the new kingdom of Italy.