Sicilian revolution of 1848

The Sicilian revolution of independence of 1848 occurred in a year replete with revolutions and popular revolts. It commenced on 12 January 1848, and therefore was the very first of the numerous revolutions to occur that year. Three revolutions against Bourbon rule had previously occurred on the island of Sicily starting from 1800: this final one resulted in an independent state surviving for 16 months. The constitution that survived the 16 months was quite advanced for its time in liberal democratic terms, as was the proposal of an Italian confederation of states. It was in effect a curtain raiser to the end of the Bourbon kingdom of the Two Sicilies which was started by Giuseppe Garibaldi's Expedition of the Thousand in 1860 and culminated with the Siege of Gaeta of 1860–1861.

Sicilian revolution of 1848
Part of Revolutions of 1848 in the Italian states
Rivolta di Palermo 1848

The revolution in Palermo (12 January 1848).
Date12 January 1848 – 15 May 1849
Location
Result Revolution suppressed; more powers to the Sicilian local administration
Belligerents
Bandiera dello Stato della Sicilia (28.04.1848 - 15.05.1849).PNG Kingdom of Sicily Flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1816).svg Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Supported by:
 Kingdom of Spain
Commanders and leaders
Ruggero Settimo
Vincenzo Fardella di Torrearsa
Francesco Crispi
Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
Carlo Filangieri
Units involved
Sicilians rebels Army of the Two Sicilies
Strength
C. 20,000 Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown

The revolution

Background

Bandiera dello Stato della Sicilia (28.04.1848 - 15.05.1849)
Flag used by Sicilians during the revolution.

The former kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were formally reunited following the 1815 Congress of Vienna to become the Bourbon kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Both kingdoms had previously comprised the single Kingdom of Sicily (created by the Normans in the 11th century) during the 12th and 13th centuries, and were split in two following the revolt of the Sicilian Vespers in 1282.

The seeds of the revolution of 1848 were sown prior to the Congress of Vienna, in 1814. This was during the tumultuous Napoleonic period when the Bourbon court was forced to escape from Naples and set up its royal court in Palermo with the assistance of the English navy. The Sicilian nobles were able to take the opportunity to force on the Bourbons a new constitution for Sicily that was based on the Westminster system of parliamentary government, and was in fact quite a liberal constitution for the time. However, post Congress of Vienna, Ferdinand IV of Naples (and III of Sicily) immediately abolished the constitution upon returning the royal court to Naples.

Political events after the revolution

Ruggero Settimo
Ruggero Settimo.

The 1848 revolution was substantially organized from, and centered in, Palermo. The popular nature of the revolt is evident in the fact that posters and notices were being handed out a full three days before the substantive acts of the revolution occurred on 12 January, 1848. The timing was deliberately planned to coincide with the birthday of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, himself born in Palermo in 1810 (during the Napoleonic period mentioned above).

The Sicilian nobles were immediately able to resuscitate the constitution of 1812, which included the principles of representative democracy and the centrality of Parliament in the government of the state. Vincenzo Fardella was elected president of Sicilian Parliament. The idea was also put forward for a confederation of all the states of Italy. At this point it should be mentioned that the Sicilian Parliament was never able to control the well fortified city of Messina, which ultimately would be used to take back the island by force. Similarly, it was the city of Messina that held out the longest against Garibaldi’s attack on the island in 1860.

Thus Sicily survived as a quasi-independent state for sixteen months, with the Bourbon army taking back full control of the island on 15 May 1849 by force. The effective head of state during this period was Ruggero Settimo. On capitulating to the Bourbons, Settimo escaped to Malta where he was received with the full honours of a head of state. He remained exiled there for the rest of his life and died there in 1863. Upon the formation of the new Kingdom of Italy in 1861, Settimo was offered the position of first President of the Senate of the newly created national parliament, but he was forced to decline for health reasons. Nevertheless, this invitation provides more than a casual hint as to the nexus that existed between the events of 1848 and 1860-61 in the History of Italy.

The Revolution which began in Palermo was one of a series of such events in Italy, though perhaps more violent than others. It quickly spread across the island and throughout Italy, where it prompted Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, to follow the example of Ferdinand II and issue a hastily written constitution. In imitation of these events, riots and revolutions followed around Europe at the same time, and may be considered a taste of the socialist revolts to come.

See also

References

  • Correnti, Santo (2002) A Short History of Sicily, Les Editions Musae, Montreal.
  • Scianò, Giuseppe (2004) Sicilia, Sicilia, Sicilia!, Edizione Anteprima, Palermo (in Italian).

External links

Age of Revolution

The Age of Revolution is the period from approximately 1774 to 1849 in which a number of significant revolutionary movements occurred in many parts of Europe and the Americas. The period is noted for the change in government from absolutist monarchies to constitutionalist states and republics. The Age of Revolution includes the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the Haitian Revolution, the revolt of slaves in Latin America, the Revolutions of 1848, the French Revolution of 1848, the First Italian War of Independence, Sicilian revolution of 1848, and the 1848 revolutions in Italy; and the independence movements of Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Latin America. In a way, it includes the Industrial Revolution. The period would generally weaken the imperialist European states, who would lose major assets throughout the New World. For the British, the loss of the Thirteen Colonies would bring a change in direction for the British Empire, with Asia and the Pacific becoming new targets for expansion. In France, the House of Bourbon was dethroned after nearly 8 centuries on the throne. The French Revolution culminated in the crowning of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and partially inspired the Russian Revolution and the rise of communism.

The expression was popularised by the British historian Eric Hobsbawm in his book The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789–1848.

Bernard Smith (abbot)

Dom Bernard Smith, O.S.B. (September 12, 1812 – December 11, 1892) was an Irish Benedictine monk, and later a titular abbot. He served as professor at the Urban College, curial official, and guide to prominent English-speaking visitors to Rome in the mid to late nineteenth century. Dom Smith was also the first pro-rector of the Pontifical North American College, the national college for American seminarians in Rome. He served as pro-rector before the arrival of the first rector, William McCloskey, in March 1860.

Cinquecento

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Forte Gonzaga

Forte Gonzaga, also known as Castel Gonzaga, is a bastioned fort in Messina, Sicily. It was built in the mid-16th century, and it remained in use by the military until 1973. Today, the fort is in good condition.

Forte del Santissimo Salvatore

Forte del Santissimo Salvatore, also known as Castello del Santissimo Salvatore, is a fort in Messina, Sicily. It was built in the mid-16th century, and it is still military property. Some of its walls were demolished after the earthquake of 1908, but the rest of the fort is still intact.

Fortifications of Messina

The fortifications of Messina were a series of defensive walls and other fortifications which surrounded the city of Messina, Sicily. The first walls were built during the Middle Ages in around 1200. A system of bastioned fortifications was constructed around the city in the 1530s and 1540s. The fortifications were modified over the years, with the last major addition being the Real Cittadella, which was built in the 1680s. Most of the walls were demolished in the 19th and 20th centuries, but some parts of the walls still survive today.

Giuseppe Natoli

Giuseppe Natoli Gongora di Scaliti (9 June 1815 – 25 September 1867) was an Italian lawyer and politician from the Mediterranean island of Sicily. He was Minister of Agriculture under Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, in the first government of the Kingdom of Italy after unification in 1861.

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Other Italian towns with other than four official neighbourhoods are frequently divided into analogous terzieri (3) or sestieri (6); some towns merely refer to these neighborhoods by the non-number-specific rioni. Quartieri, terzieri, sestieri, rioni, and their analogues are usually no longer administrative divisions of these towns, but historical and traditional communities, most often seen in their sharpest relief in the town's annual palio. Only in a few Italian cities, like in Florence and Bologna, a quartiere is also an administrative subdivision.

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Sicilian Constitution of 1848

The Sicilian Constitution of 1848 was the constitution adopted during the Sicilian revolution of 1848 by the newly proclaimed Kingdom of Sicily.

Inspired by the English constitution, it was considered a very liberal constitution for its time, however its duration was short. The constitution's effect ended with the reconquering of Sicily by the army of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies in May 1849.

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Sicilian nationalism is a movement in the autonomous Italian region of Sicily, as well as the Sicilian diaspora, which seeks greater autonomy or outright independence from Italy, and/or promotes further inclusion of the Sicilian identity, culture, history, and linguistic variety.Various separatist and autonomist movements in Sicily have received support from the political left, right, and centre. Historically, the most notable party with a Sicilian nationalist platform was the separatist Sicilian Independence Movement, which had four seats in the Italian Senate and nine seats in the Italian Chamber of Deputies at their peak in the mid-1940s.In contemporary Sicily, the largest regionalist party has been the autonomist Party of the Sicilians, part of the greater Movement for the Autonomies, which governed Sicily under the presidency of Raffaele Lombardo from 2008-2012. The left-wing sicilianism, once active through some Sicilian socialists, Antonino Varvaro's Movimento Indipendentista Democratico Repubblicano ("Republican Democratic Sicilian Independence Movement", MISDR) and the Communist Party of Sicily, is now represented only by the Sicilian Socialist Party, a regional section of the Italian Socialist Party.

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Vincenzo Fardella di Torrearsa

Vincenzo Fardella di Torrearsa (16 July 1808 – 12 January 1889) was an Italian statesman who become President of the Senate after Italian unification.

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