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Garibaldi, Giuseppe (1807-1882)

Garibaldi, Giuseppe (1807-1882) The foremost military figure and popular hero of the age of Italian unification known as the Risorgimento with Cavour and Mazzini he is deemed one of the makers of Modern Italy. Cavour is considered the "brain of unification," Mazzini the "soul," and Garibaldi the "sword." For his battles on behalf of freedom in Latin America, Italy, and later France, he has been dubbed the "Hero of Two Worlds." Born in Nice, when the city was controlled by France, to Domenico Garibaldi and Rosa Raimondi, his family was involved in the coastal trade. A sailor in the Mediterranean Sea, he was certified a merchant captain in 1832. During a journey to Taganrog in the Black Sea, he was initiated into the Italian national movement by a fellow Ligurian, Giovanni Battista Cuneo. In 1833 he ventured to Marseilles where he met Mazzini and enrolled in his Giovane Italia or Young Italy. Mazzini had a profound impact on Garibaldi, who would always acknowledge this patriot as "the master."

In February 1834 he participated in an abortive Mazzinian insurrection in Piedmont, was sentenced to death in absentia by a Genoese court, and fled to Marseilles. The exile sailed first to Tunisia eventually finding his way to Brazil, where he encountered Anna Maria Ribeiro da Silva, "Anita," a woman of Portuguese and Indian descent, who became his lover, companion in arms, and wife. With other Italian exiles and republicans he fought on behalf of the separatists of the Rio Grande do Sul and the Uruguayans who opposed the Argentinean dictator Jan Manuel do Rosas. Calling on the Italians of Montevideo, Garibaldi formed the Italian Legion in 1843, whose black flag represented Italy in mourning while the volcano at its center symbolized the dormant power in their homeland. It was in Uruguay that the legion first sported the red shirts, obtained from a factory in Montevideo which had intended to export them to the slaughter houses of Argentina. It was to become the symbol of Garibaldi and his followers. The formation of his force of volunteers, his mastery of the techniques of guerilla warfare, his opposition to Brazilian and Argentinean imperialism, and his victories in the battles of Cerro and Sant'Antonio in 1846 not only assured the freedom of Uruguay but made him and his followers heroes in Italy and Europe. The fate of his patria continued to preoccupy Garibaldi.

The election of Giovanni Mastai-Ferretti as Pope Pius IX in 1846 led many to believe he was the liberal pope prophesied by Gioberti, who would provide the leadership for the unification of Italy. From his exile Mazzini applauded the first reforms of Pio Nono. In 1847 Garibaldi offered the apostolic nuncio at Rio de Janeiro Bedini, the service of his Italian Legion for the liberation of the peninsula. News of the outbreak of revolution in Palermo in January 1848, and revolutionary agitation elsewhere in Italy, encouraged Garibaldi to lead some sixty members of his legion home. He offered his services to Charles Albert and the Piedmontese who initiated the first war for the liberation of Italy, but found his effort spurned. Rebuffed by the Piedmonese, he and his followers crossed into Lombardy where they offered assistance to the provisional government of Milan.

Frank J. Coppa


Cecchini, Ezio. "Le Campagne di Garibaldi. 1849." Rivista Militare 105 (1982, n.2), 197-205.

Coppa, Frank J. The Origins of the Italian Wars of Independence. London and New York: Longman, 1992.

Gariba ldi, Giuseppe. Autobiography, trans. A Werner. New York: Howard Fertig, 1971.

Garibaldi, Giuseppe. Memoire, ed. Ugoberto Alfessio Grimaldi. Verona: Bertani editore, 1972.

Ridley, Joseph. Garibaldi. New York: Viking, 1976.

Trevelyan, George Macaulay. Garibaldi and the Thousand. New York: Longman, 1948.

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

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