What were the Causes of the Failure of Revolution in Italy?


Owing to the following reasons, the Revolution of 1848 failed in the Italian provinces:

(i) There were different aims and objects of the patriots of Italy. The supporters of Charles Albert wanted to make Italy a nation under the leadership of their king and then to establish the constitutional monarchy in the country.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholics and supporters of the Pope wanted to make Italy a federal state under the leadership of the Pope. Besides, there was a third group which wanted to establish a republic in Italy. This party was led by Mazzini.


In this way, the patriots of Italy could not be united due to the lack of coherence of aims. The reactionary government of Austria took advantage of this disunity and the revolution failed.

(ii) Charles Albert, the king of Piedmont-Sardinia, was not extended full cooperation by the rulers of other states of Italy. The Pope of Rome withdrew his army in the middle of the war.

The rulers of Naples and Tuscany, who had first promised Charles Albert full cooperation, backed out and followed the policy of the Pope. The result was that Charles Albert was sadly isolated in the war and the Austrian army defeated him at two places, Custozza and Novara.

(iii) The Pope of Rome was worshipped by the Roman Catholics of Europe as a representative of Christ. They could not tolerate any action of the revolutionaries which insulted the Pope.


When the people of Rome revolted against the Pope and the republic was proclaimed under the leadership of Mazzini, the entire Roman Catholic population opposed the act of the republicans.

The Pope was helped by Louis Napoleon and the public of France. In this way, the action of the patriots against the Pope lost the sympathy of the Roman Catholics.

As regards the failure of the Revolution of 1848 in Italy, Grant and Temperley observe:

“So ended in entire failure the first attempt of Italy to win unity and liberty. What enthusiasm and a few great leaders could do had been nobly done.


But discipline and unity in leadership and in organisation had been notably and fatally absent. Italy, moreover, had found no help from any outside power.”

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