Notes on Contributions of Mazzini to Italian Unification


Mazzini is often described as the prophet of 19th century nationalism and was one of the three great architects of Italian Unification (the other two being Garibaldi and Cavour). He developed a nationalist feeling from (he very childhood and began to grasp a vision of united Italy.

He im­pressed on the people that the whole of the Peninsula, though divided by artificial political barriers, was a living unity with a common heritage of traditions and historic memories. As a youth he joined Carbonari’s revolutionary organization with a view to work for Italy’s unification. He Mivcly participated in a revolt in 1830, which was inspired by the French Revolution of 1830 and was imprisoned.

While in prison Mazzini realized that the country could not be liberated by following principles of Carbomri and it was vital to charge the Italian youth with sentiments of patriotism, sacrifice, moral character etc. to attain Italy’s national emancipation. In 183! he founded the society known as Young Italy, with its branches all over Italy.


This society propagated Republican and nationalist ideas though education and insurrection and tried to cultivate a spirit of self-sacrifice among the Italian youth. It may be noted that Mazzini did not favour foreign help for emancipation of Italy.

Mazzini organized a number of risings in different parts of Italy, espe­cially Milan and Lombardy, and succeeded in expelling the Austrians. He also organized successful revolt against the people who took to flight and Mazzini set up a Republic with himself as its President.

However, the Roman Republic did not last long because after sometime Napoleon III sent an army which defeated Mazzini and destroyed the Roman Republic. Mazzini was forced to fly to America and ultimately died in foreign land in 1872.

The main contribution of Mazzini to the cause of Italian Unification was that he succeeded in impressing on the Italian people that liberation and unification of Italy was not an impossible dream but a practical ideal capable of realization.


He converted a large number of Italian people to his way of thinking and fired them with a missionary spirit to die for the cause of Italian independence and unification. It is true that though most of the attempts made by Mazzini to attain independence for Italy ended in failure, but this does not undermine his contributions to the cause of Italy’s independence. His services were in the realm of ideas and inspira­tion which he injected in the body and brain of the Italian youth. His chief contribution was that he gave a definite shape to the idea of Italian nation­ality and converted it into a popular cause. This greatly contributed to the struggle for Italian independence and unity.

According to Lipson, “Mazzini deserves all the honour due to a pioneer whose life was devoted to the pursuit of a great ideal. His propaganda broadened the political horizon of Italians and created a vigorous public opinion in favour of national independence. Mazzini, therefore, holds an imperishable place amongst the makers of modern Italy.”

Again, in both the countries the display of high degree of diplomacy by the leadership was a contributory factor in this unification. Finally, in both the countries the unification was achieved through a series of successful wars.

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