By 1849 the supporters of the Risorgimento had achieved nothing towards creating a free, united and independent Italy. How far would you agree?

Essay by headawayHigh School, 11th grade March 2004

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The Risorgimento movement in the Italian states is usually defined as beginning in 1815 following the new territorial and political arrangements imposed by the Congress of Vienna 1815. The Congress was called to decide upon a new system to replace the system of French domination over large parts of Europe set up under the Napoleonic Empire and also aimed to try and create a system to keep the peace in Europe.

The Risorgimento, or rebirth, came about as a consequence of the widespread dissatisfaction, among the people living in the Italian states, with the arrangements made by the powers at Vienna. During the period 1815 to 1849 considerable changes came about in what Metternich had describes at Vienna as "a geographical expression" but the fundamental purpose of the Risorgimento, unification of the several Italian states into a single new nation, remained unachieved.

Opposition to the Vienna settlement, and the restoration of monarchy in the Italian states that resulted, was widespread.

French dominated republican states were replaced by Austrian dominated restored monarchies, with the exception of the Papal States, and much of the development and achievement made possible by and under the French, was reversed. The Italians has simply exchanged one oppressive foreign presence with another. The newly restored monarchies relied, for the most part, on Austrian troops to keep themselves in power.

Due to the Austrian oppression most of the opposition was driven underground but flourished in the secret societies, such as the Carbonari, that were devoted to creating an independent Italian state. These secret societies faced many difficulties including the fact that they were illegal. Thus they were viewed by the Austrians and the monarchs as terrorists. The fact that we refer to many secret societies also illustrates another fundamental problem for the Risorgimento. That is the lack of...