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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Pio Nono turned his back on these reforms


style="text-align: justify;"> 1848

[Sidenote: Revolution in Palermo]

[Sidenote: Neapolitan constitution granted]

[Sidenote: Anti-Austrian riots at Milan]

[Sidenote: Northern Italy aflame]

[Sidenote: Revolt at Rome]

[Sidenote: Rome bombarded]

The long seething discontent of the lower classes in Italy, fomented by the national aspirations of such radical leaders as Mazzini and Manin, had reached its culmination by this time. The centenary of the expulsion of the Austrians from Genoa had just been celebrated with such enthusiasm throughout central Italy that Austria was forewarned of the storm that was about to burst. Metternich wrote to Apponyi, "The world is very sick. The general condition of Europe is dangerous." Communications passed between the patriots in northern Italy and the opponents of the Bourbon government in Sicily. On January 12, the people of Palermo rose in revolt. The government troops were driven from the city. Palermo was bombarded and fighting continued for a full fortnight. In the end the insurgents were victorious, and a provisional government was established. Other towns in Sicily followed suit. On January 27, revolutionary riots broke out in Naples. Threatened by revolution throughout his dominions, King Ferdinand

II. of Naples and Sicily, like his grandfather, made haste to proclaim a popular constitution. A Liberal Ministry was called in on January 29. The city of Messina was still in full insurrection when the standard of revolt was raised in northern Italy. In order to deprive the Austrian Government of one of its chief financial supports, the patriotic societies of Italy formed a resolution to abstain from the use of tobacco, on which the government had a monopoly. On the following Sunday, Austrian officers, smoking in the streets of Milan, were attacked by the populace. The troops had to be called to arms, and blood was shed on both sides. Similar outbreaks followed in Padua and elsewhere. Radetzky, the Austrian commander-in-chief, proclaimed martial law. On February 15, the people rose in Tuscany, and compelled their grandduke to proclaim a constitution. In March the insurrectionary movement spread from Lombardy to Piedmont. The republic of Venice was proclaimed. The King of Sardinia declared himself in sympathy with the liberation of Venice from Austrian rule. For a while Pope Pio Nono showed similar leanings. On March 15, the Nationalists of Rome declared against the Pope. The National Guards joined in the movement. The Papal troops had to be called out to put down the revolt by force of arms. The hordes of Roman lazzaroni or beggars profited by the confusion to commit hideous crimes. The Pope created a high council and Chamber of Deputies with privileges of limited legislation, the Pope retaining his full veto power on whatever they might decree. But on April 29, after the Jesuits had been expelled from Sardinia, Pio Nono turned his back on these reforms, and returned to the conservative policy of his immediate predecessors in the chair of St. Peter. His definite refusal to declare against Austria provoked another insurrection at Rome. This time the revolt grew to such proportions that the city had to be subjected to bombardment by artillery.


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