Young Italy


Young Italy
(1831)
   A secretive revolutionary, religious-nationalist movement founded and led by Giuseppe Mazzini (1805–1872). While exiled in Marseilles in 1831, Mazzini formed Young Italy, an energetic, national revolutionary organization as an alternative to the Carbonari secret society that had failed to either drive the Austrians from Italy or end monarchial rule. Mazzini recruited men under the age of 40 to his movement, believing that only the youth were passionate enough and willing to risk martyrdom for the cause of national liberation. Young Italy believed that the Italian nation had a divine mission to lead all of humanity into a new democratic age, which was reflected in its motto, “God and the People.” Foreign occupation, authoritarianism, and social inequality prevented Italy from achieving this destiny, and so were all to be opposed. Young Italy pursued goals of national liberation and revolution through propaganda, insurrection, assassination, and other acts of political violence in the name of a republican Italy.
   Headed by a central office, which convened outside of the country, the leadership of Mazzini and his advisers handled propaganda and coordinated insurrections. A provincial office handled similar functions in every Italian province. Initiators recruited and trained new members, who were armed with a knife, a gun, and 30 rounds of ammunition, and were expected to take part in any insurrection or act directed from the central or provincial offices. Young Italy launched several failed plots against King Charles Albert of Piedmont-Sardinia and insurrections in 1831 and 1833, but lost much of its prestige through its use of violence and unwillingness to compromise. Moderate nationalists displaced Young Italy until the outbreak of revolutions of 1848 when the group made another appearance in the short-lived Roman Republic (1848–1849).
   FURTHER READING:
    Berkeley, G.F.H. Italy in the Making 1815 to 1846. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1932.
   FREDERICK H. DOTOLO

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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