On September 19th the Italian troops, under General Raffaele Cadorna, arrived at the gates of Rome; on the 20th, after a short encounter at Porta Pia, they made a breach in the walls.
Continuing Final Italian Unification,
with a selection from Modern Italy, 1748 – 1898 by Pietro Orsi and our selection from A Short History of Italy by Henry Dwight Sedgwick published in 1905.
Previously in Final Italian Unification.
On August 24th Prince Napoleon, the King’s son-in-law, arrived in Florence to beg for the support of Italy, leaving the latter free to solve the Roman question as she would, but it was now too late.
When, after the disaster of Sedan, the Parisian population rose and proclaimed the Republic, the Italian Government felt itself absolved from the observance of the agreement made with the French Emperor in 1864; hence the question of intervention in the Papal States could now be debated. Victor Emmanuel wrote a letter to Pius IX in which he implored him, with filial affection, to consider the state of Italy and to renounce the temporal power; but the Pontiff replied that only violence would compel him to do the latter.
On September 19th the Italian troops, under General Raffaele Cadorna, arrived at the gates of Rome; on the 20th, after a short encounter at Porta Pia, they made a breach in the walls. Pius IX, who had wished merely to demonstrate the employment of armed force by the Government, then gave orders to his soldiers to withdraw. Thus was effected one of the most important facts in modern history — the abolition of that temporal power which, originally given by Pépin, had lasted for eleven centuries and had always hindered the unification of Italy.
On the occasion of the opening of the new Parliament in Florence, on December 5, 1870, Victor Emmanuel could with just pride exclaim: “With Rome as the capital of Italy, I have fulfilled my promise and crowned the enterprise that, twenty-three years ago, was initiated under the auspices of my magnanimous father. Both as a monarch and as a son, my heart thrills with a solemn joy as I salute all the representatives of our beloved coun try, gathered here together for the first time, and pronounce the words: ‘Italy is free and united; it only depends on us to make her great and happy.’ ”
The Italian Parliament, before transferring its sessions to Rome, passed a law — known as the “Law of Guarantees” — by which the Pope was insured the enjoyment of all his prerogatives and honors as a sovereign, was awarded the palaces of the Vatican and the Lateran, as well as the villa of Castel Gandolfo — all exempt from any tax or duty — and was assigned an annual income of three million two hundred twenty-five thousand Italian lire. The Pontiff refused to recognize this law or to accept the allowance, and still persisted in maintaining his un availing protest against the Italian Government.
On July 2, 1871, Victor Emmanuel entered Rome in state, and took up his abode in the palace of the Quirinal, uttering the famous words: “We are at Rome, and here we remain.” The Chamber of Deputies monopolized for its sittings the Montecitorio palace, while the Senate took possession of the Madama palace- — so called from Margaret of Austria, daughter of Charles V, who formerly lived there.
by Henry Dwight Sedgwick
After the uprisings of 1848-49, the old tyrannical system prevailed for eight years and seemed heavier than ever. Liberalism meant suspicion, disfavour, danger. The liberals were not very numerous and did not agree among themselves. Some looked for hope to Piedmont, some to England, some to France. Some were for a republic, some for a confederation, some for unity; some wished insurrection, others lawful agitation.
In Naples the king busied himself with putting the liberals in dungeons. According to the general belief the number of prisoners for political offences in the Two Sicilies was between fifteen and thirty thousand. Among them was Baron Carlo Poerio, “a refined and accomplished gentleman, a respected and blameless character,” at one time one of the ministers of the Crown. It happened that Mr. Gladstone, travelling for the benefit of a daughter’s health, passed several months in Naples at this time (1850-51). He attended trials of the liberal prisoners, listened to a “long tissue of palpable lies told by witnesses suborned by the government,” and visited the horrible and filthy prisons. After his return to England he published his “Letters to the Earl of Aberdeen.” He set forth before the [Pg 396]English people “the horrors—amidst which the government of that country (Naples) is now carried on.” He said that “the present practices of the Government of Naples in reference to real or supposed political offenders are an outrage upon religion, upon civilization, upon humanity, and upon decency.” He described the “incessant, systematic, deliberate violation of the law by the Power appointed to watch over and maintain it.” “It is the wholesale persecution of virtue,—it is the awful profanation of public religion,—it is the perfect prostitution of the judicial office,—this is ‘The negation of God erected into a system of government.'” He recounted Poerio’s trial at length, and told how Poerio and fifteen others were confined in a room about thirteen feet long and eight feet high, in which they slept, always chained two by two. These chains were never taken off, day or night. He ended by saying, “It is time that either the veil should be lifted from scenes fitter for hell than earth, or some considerable mitigation should be voluntarily adopted. I have undertaken this wearisome and painful task, in the hope of doing something to diminish a mass of human suffering as huge, I believe, as acute, to say the least, as any that the eye of Heaven beholds.”
These letters were sent by Lord Palmerston to every government in Europe, and helped to awaken general European sympathy for the oppressed liberals of Italy.
In the Papal States Pius IX put himself wholly in the hands of the reactionaries and the Jesuits. His government was practically imbecile. Brigands came and went at will. In Forlimpopoli, for instance, a city of the Romagna, a famous highwayman and his band appeared on the stage of a theatre, and made the spectators empty their pockets of their money and of their front-door keys. In Modena, Parma, and Tuscany the governments did whatever they deemed would be pleasing to Austria; and in Lombardy and Venice the Austrians repressed the slightest signs of patriotism.
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