Italy was united by the heart of Mazzini, the sword of Garibaldi and the brain of Cavour. Elucidate. (15 Marks)

Mentors COmments:

  • World history by Norman Lowe
  • Introduce with the how Italy was fragment across various principalities and the need for unification.
  • The first part of the main body should elaborate on Mazzini and his contribution in kindling Italian Nationalism. Young Italy as an organization and spread of nationalism must be explored.
  • Cavour as Brain. His works a PM of Piedmont-Sardinia, his politics, Plombeirs pact, agreement with Bismarck must be touched upon.
  • The contributions of Garibaldi and his red shirts must also be added and also the disagreement between Cavour and Garibaldi.
  • The conclusion touch upon how others such as King Victor Emmanuel also played a part in the Unification process but the above mentioned three were its heart, brain and sword.



In March 1861 Emmanuel II proclaimed the Italian nation with himself as king and Camillo Cavour as prime minister. Three of the key figures in the unification of Italy were Mazzini, Garibaldi and Cavour, who although all having different aims, ultimately contributed to the unification of Italy. In 1815, after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo, the great powers of Europe; Russia, Prussia, Austria and Great Britain met in Vienna and regarded the changes that had been made to the Italian peninsula during French rule.

The Contributions of Mazzini, Garibaldi and Cavour in the Unification of Italy were as follows:


  • At a young age of 24 in 1831, he was exiled for attempting a revolution in Liguria.
  • To further spread the revolutionary ideas, he founded two more underground societies- ‘Young Italy’ in Marseilles and ‘Young Europe’ in Berne, whose members were like-minded young men from Poland, France, Italy and the German states.
  • Following his example, secret societies were set up in Germany, France, Switzerland and Poland. Mazzini’s opposition to monarchy and his vision of democratic republics scared the conservatives. Metternich described him as ‘the most dangerous enemy of our social order’.
  • He wanted unification through a democratic revolution but his lofty ideals were not supported by the peasants and middle classes. As a result, he failed in his efforts but prepared the ground for others.
  • Mazzini believed that God had created nations to be the natural units of mankind. Thus, Italy cannot remain divided into various kingdoms. It has to be a single unified republic.
  • Many of his writings became classics in the literature of nationalism. Mazzini made two proposals: Without international support unification of Italy is difficult and Austria is a big hurdle in Italian unification.
  • In 1848, revolts were breaking out all over North Italy. Mazzini took advantage of the circumstances. So, he came to Rome and drove out the Pope. And established Republic in Rome.
  • Then he formed a committee of three- Triumvirs. Mazzini was one of these Triumvirs. But this young Republic was attacked on all sides: by the Austrians, Neapolitans and the French.


  • He was a member of the Young Italy movement. He was skilled in guerrilla warfare and deserves credit for uniting Southern Italian states under the leadership of Piedmont.
  • He organized a revolutionary force called Red Shirts and succeeded in liberating Sicily and Naples and uniting them under the control of the King of Sardinia.
  • All three major powers surrounded and attacked the Roman Republic.
  • He was the chief fighter on the side of the Roman Republic. He held the Austrians and defeated the Neapolitan armies. He even stopped the French. All this was done with the help of volunteers
  • Garibaldi’s leadership gave strength to the young volunteers. Volunteers poured in and they marched enthusiastically. They often marched singing Garibaldi’s hymn.
  • Garibaldi and Mazzini both were fiercely devoted to Italian unification. The third player in this game was Cavour.


  • Cavour was clear that Italy required international support.
  • He strongly believed that only through diplomacy and policy of war (simi­lar to Bismarck’s policy of ‘blood and iron’) could Italian unification be achieved.
  • He united Italy under the leadership of Sardinia. Lombardy, Tuscany, Parma and Papal States also united with Sardinia.
  • In this circumstances, the Crimean war of 1854 broke out. In this war, Cavour sent Italian forces to assist Britain and France against Russia. Due to the contribution of troops sent by Cavour Britain and France won. So Cavour got the reward of it. This was a diplomatic victory of Cavour.
  • Finally, in 1871, Rome was liberated from French control and Italy was united, with the King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel II, becoming the King of Italy with Rome as the Capital.

Mazzini’s efforts would have run to waste in a questionable insurrections and Garibaldi’s feat of arms must have added one chapter more to the history of unproductive patriotism.” In short, we can say with confidence that of all the political and national leaders of Italy, Cavour contributed most to the unification of Italy.


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