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‘More Divided than United.’ To what extent is this an accurate judgment of Italy 1861 – 70? In 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was established under the rule of King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont. Although united geographically, Italy was still faced with a multitude of problems. The Kingdom had been created but the nation still needed to be built. As D’Azzeglio told the King, “ Sir, we have made Italy, now we must make Italians.” The extent to which Italy was united in this period has been at the heart of much historical debate. In the late Nineteenth Century Italian historians romanticised the Risorgimento as the national rebirth of Italy. They presented the events of 1860 – 70 as the great climax to a long process of national development by which Italy found her national soul. During the Twentieth Century revisionist historians have challenged much of their writing. Gramsci dubbed united Italy a political catastrophe that was imposed on the people, which did not ‘integrate the people into the framework of the new state’ or involve them in the creation of ‘Italy’. The extent to which Italy was unified has increasingly been questioned. Cavour died in June 1861 aged 51. Arguably this deprived Italy of the one man capable of leading the new country successfully. As Napoleon III commented, “The driver has fallen from the box. Now we must see if the horses bolt or go back to the stable.” Throughout the period 1861 – 1870 the Italian government was continually changing. In fact during this period there were 9 changes of Prime Minister. With such a diverse spectrum of leaders, each in office for such a short space of time, it is easy to see how it might have been difficult to effectively deal with Italy’s problems. The political system in the new Kingdom was based on the Piedmontese Statuto. Voting was restricted to males who were over 25, literate and tax paying. About 2% of the people had the right to vote, to participate in the government of Italy. Collier and Morris have described the split between ‘real’ and ‘legal’ Italy, between the mass of ordinary people and the privileged elites. The franchise was basically kept at just 500,000 people so that the government was able to simply bribe all those among it in order to stay in power. They were then able to govern as they saw fit. There were no political parties. Prime Ministers depended upon bribery and corruption to manage the Chamber of Deputies. This process which became known as ‘trasformismo’ was little more than a corrupt system of shady deals. Prefects and Mayors, who were royal appointees, governed the localities and towns. The new Kingdom was undemocratic. Mazzini described Italy in 1871 as ‘a living lie’, ‘the dead corpse of Italy’ and ‘the ghost of Italy’. The founding father of the Risorgimento was profoundly unhappy with the state of the nation. Piedmont imposed Piedmontese government and laws throughout the peninsula. Mack Smith stated that the speed of unification ‘compelled ministers to treat the nation as an extension of Piedmont’. It is a telling point that Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont became Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. Duggan has described the Italian peninsula in the early Nineteenth Century with the phrase ‘the geography of disunity’. Italy was divided by physical barriers such as the Apennine Mountains, but was more profoundly divided by regionalism and localism. Very few Italians spoke Italian, and most considered themselves Piedmontese, Tuscan or Neapolitan. Italian was spoken by 2.5% of the 26 million Italians. The formation of an Italian Army would ultimately help spread the speaking of Italian as orders were issued in Italian; this had had little effect by 1870. Despite the government taking central control of education 70% of the people were also still illiterate by 1871. Localism remained; in 1863 d’Azzeglio wrote, ‘Never was Italy as divided as she is now’. One major problem faced by the Italian Kingdom was the division that existed between the North and the South of Italy. In the south the majority of the population was illiterate, lived in poverty and was near starvation. Cavour saw unity as the expansion of his own state, Piedmont. Because Naples and Sicily were far more rural and backward with regard to economy, social structure and legal matters, Piedmontese-style government was not appropriate for their people. A graphic illustration of this was seen with a law passed in 1859, and applied to the South once it had been brought into the Kingdom of Italy, demanding that all children have at least two years’ compulsory education when the vast majority of the ADULT population in the South were illiterate. The people of the South had little or no say in how Italy was run, they simply had Piedmontese codes and laws thrust upon them. The immediate results of unification for southern Italians were conscription, a higher cost of living and higher taxes. The introduction of free trade within Italy led to the overnight collapse of the few backward industries the south possessed. This provided enormous resentment amongst the Southern Italians who resorted to riots and violent demonstrations. This confirmed in the minds of the Northerners the prejudices they held that the South was ‘rotten’. Neapolitans were regarded as ‘barbaric and lazy’. D’Azzeglio compared union with the south as being like ‘going to bed with someone with smallpox’! In 1860 Cavour commented that if riots broke out in the south, ‘we must impose unification on the weakest and most corrupt part of Italy’. A savage civil war, known as the Brigands’ War broke out in Sicily and Naples. It lasted until 1866 by which time some 16 000 people had died. It is estimated that more people died as Italy imposed her authority on the south than in all the fighting in 1848/49 and 1859/60 combined. As the northern Italians held such images of a ‘rotten South’ they were reluctant to do anything about the problem of southern poverty. The result was an ever-widening gap between the more affluent north and the poverty stricken agricultural regions in the south. The Kingdom of Italy established in 1861 only united the majority of the peninsula. Venetia was still part of the Austrian Empire. Rome was still ruled by Pope Pius IX, with the support of French troops, and Cavour had sacrificed Nice and Savoy as ‘diplomatic pawns’. Over the next ten years Italy became more geographically united by gaining Venetia in 1866 and Rome in 1870. In both cases, Prussia played an important role. Alliance with Prussia during the Seven Weeks War of 1866 led to the acquisition of Venetia, despite the poor military performance of the Italian Army. In 1870 the defeat of France at Sedan in the Franco-Prussian War gave Italy the opportunity to occupy an undefended Rome. Although its roots stemmed deeper, the division between Church and State came to a head in this period. In 1864 Pope Pius IX issued the Syllabus of Errors denying the new state’s right to rule the peninsula. In 1865 a new Civil Code separated the Church and State. In 1868 the Pope retaliated by issuing a decree banning catholics from participating in the political life of Italy. In 1870 when, during the final stages of unification the state invaded Rome, the Pope declared himself 'a prisoner in the Vatican'. The Pope implored all Catholics to disassociate themselves from the state through his doctrine of ‘ Non Expedit’, increasing tensions and further angering the state. This deep division was to remain until 1929 when Mussolini negotiated the Lateran Pact with the Pope. In conclusion then it is clear that Italy was more divided than united during this period. For many ordinary people there only contact with the new state was through being forced to pay the macinato, the grist tax. In a country with strong local and religious loyalties people did not automatically become Italians in 1861 or 1866 or 1870 simply because they now lived in Italy. Italy was united, Italians were not. Integration would prove to be a slow process. D’Azzeglio remarked that ‘to make Italians one must not be in a hurry’. In the chaos of 1861 the breathtaking speed of unification had led to the peninsula being ‘Piedmontised’. Italy may have both faced and created more problems in these ten years than early historians of the Risorgimento would have cared to admit, but the Italian nation now controlled its own destiny free from interference from Austria or France.