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"Our Myth Is the Nation" : The Roots of Italian Unification in the Period from 1748-1821

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Title: "Our Myth Is the Nation" : The Roots of Italian Unification in the Period from 1748-1821
Author: Rice, Christian
Advisor: Kitroeff, Alexander; Gerstein, Linda
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of History
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2010
Abstract: This study examines the social, political, and cultural conditions of the Italian peninsula from 1748 to 1821 in order to explain how Italy's history of regionalism and foreign domination contributed to the multifaceted national rhetoric of the Risorgimento. It is important to recognize that Italian unification resulted from divergent forces and that the celebrated heroes of the Risorgimento — Giuseppe Garibaldi, Camillo Cavour, and Giuseppe Mazzini — fought for unique reasons and held contrasting visions of Italian unity. Despite their differences, however, these figures managed to create a unified nation state out of a divided peninsula and a provincial populace. To explain unification, then, it is necessary to explore the roots of the peninsula's division and understand how a basis for national unity emerged out of this diversity. Historians have traditionally examined the period from 1815 to 1871 in Italian history to explain unification, yet this approach fails to resolve how the diversity of nationalist discourse that existed in the nineteenth century resulted in a relatively peaceful national unification movement composed of distinct, and sometimes oppositional, parts. The goal of this study is to explain the origins of this diversity of opinion and the foundation for eventual unification through an examination of the Italian states prior to Napoleonic rule, Italy's experience of unity under Napoleon, and the peninsula's return to a divided political landscape after the Congress of Vienna. This study employs a variety of texts from leading political and cultural figures in Italy in order to illustrate the diversity of opinion in Italy and contrasts these views with the political, social, and cultural developments that occurred both organically within the peninsula and as mandated change from external powers. The study concludes that Italy's history of regionalization and continued domination by foreign powers accommodated disparate nationalist views and allowed this diversity of thought to serve as the basis for unification in opposition to foreign influence.
Subject: Italy -- History -- 1559-1789
Subject: Italy -- History -- 1789-1815
Subject: Italy -- Politics and government -- 1559-1789
Subject: Italy -- Politics and government -- 1789-1815
Subject: Italy -- Administrative and political divisions -- History
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Rice, Christian. ""Our Myth Is the Nation" : The Roots of Italian Unification in the Period from 1748-1821". 2010. Available electronically from

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