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Episode
119

Giuseppe Garibaldi

First published on
December 29, 2020
History
-
26
minutes
Italy
South America
European history
Revolution
France
Napoleon

He was the charismatic, guerilla fighter who will forever be associated with pro-independence movements, and is an Italian national hero.

In this episode you'll learn about his fascinating life, and the unlikely story of how he managed to unify Italy.

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Giuseppe Garibaldi, the guerilla fighter and revolutionary hero who played a vital part in the unification of Italy.

[00:00:36] We’ll learn about his wild journey, which took him from Nice to South America, Italy, Austria, Asia, the UK, almost to the United States, and of course, ending in a united Italy.

[00:00:49] The tale of Italian independence is long and complex, and this is by no means going to be a conclusive account

[00:00:59] But it will give you an overview of the man at the forefront of it all, Garibaldi, the romantic, revolutionary hero.

[00:01:10] It is quite the story, and today’s episode is a little longer than normal, so without further ado, let’s get started.

[00:01:21] His name, in Italian, is Giuseppe Garibaldi, but this is a podcast in English, so I will use the English pronunciation, Garibaldi. 

[00:01:31] For the Italians listening, I hope you’ll excuse me.

[00:01:36] It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of Garibaldi in Italy. 

[00:01:40] In almost every Italian town you’ll find roads and squares named after him. After 

[00:01:48] Roma, Rome, Garibaldi is the second most popular name for a street or square in Italy.

[00:01:55] Every Italian learns about him in school, and there are few that consider him to be anything other than a hero. 

[00:02:05] And it’s not just in Italy. 

[00:02:07] He was hugely popular in the UK too - we even have a biscuit named after him. 

[00:02:13] Don’t worry, we’ll tell that story shortly.

[00:02:17] Garibaldi was born in 1802 in Nice. His parents were Ligurian, from the region just to the east of Nice which is now part of Italy.

[00:02:28] And to remind you, in 1802, when Garibaldi was born, there was no Italy, and there had never been a unified country called Italy.

[00:02:39] It was a collection of different states, all ruled by different kingdoms, with parts of modern day Italy being under the control of foreign powers.

[00:02:51] The Austrian Empire lurked to the north and east of modern day Italy, and places like Lombardy, Venice and Trieste were all part of the Austrian empire, ruled by the Habsburgs.

[00:03:04] The north western part of Italy contained the Kingdom of Sardinia, which will go on to play an important part in our story.

[00:03:13] The central part, around Rome, was controlled by the Vatican, it was called the Papal States. 

[00:03:21] And below that was the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily, which officially united in 1815 to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

[00:03:32] We’ve skipped over a few, but these are the ones that will play the most important part in the story of Garibaldi. 

[00:03:40] The important thing to remember is that these were independent kingdoms, and the probability that they would all come together and form one country was very unlikely.

[00:03:53] Nice, when Garibaldi was born, was part of the French empire, and of course now, Nice is part of France, although it's only 40 kilometers from the Italian border. 

[00:04:06] Garibaldi’s father was a sea captain, and Garibaldi spent many of his early years at sea. 

[00:04:14] When he was in his late 20s he met another Giuseppe, Giuseppe Mazzini, who was an early proponent of Italian unification. 

[00:04:23] Garibaldi joined a society called Young Italy, and swore an oath to unify Italy, which was to be a goal he would spend the next 30 years of his life pursuing.

[00:04:37] It almost came to a sudden end though, as in 1834, a year after joining Young Italy, he played a part in an attempted coup in Piedmont against the kingdom’s rulers. 

[00:04:52] The coup failed, Garibaldi managed to flee over the border to France, but he was sentenced to death in absentia, meaning if he was captured he would be executed.

[00:05:06] After fleeing to France, he then sailed all the way to South America, where he spent the next 12 years. 

[00:05:14] He became involved in liberation movements in Brazil and Uruguay, where he honed his military skills and developed a reputation not only as a formidable military commander, but as an expert in guerilla warfare.

[00:05:32] His reputation led him to command the Uruguayan navy in the war against Argentina in 1842, and then a year later he was put in charge of a new Italian unit, the Italian Legion.

[00:05:47] This legion, nicknamed the Redshirts, because they were always dressed in red, comprised of Italians who were living in Uruguay.

[00:05:57] Red was to be a colour forever associated with Garibaldi - if you see a painting of a man in a red shirt and a beard, with a sword and an Italian flag, it is almost certainly Giuseppe Garibaldi.

[00:06:12] Although he had a new life in South America, the fate of his homeland never left his thoughts, and he was given renewed hope in the unification of Italy after the election of a new, pro-reform pope, pope Pius IX.

[00:06:28] Garibaldi wrote to the pope, offering his services, proposing to come back to Italy to help unite the country.  

[00:06:36] But the pope didn’t take up his offer.

[00:06:39] Nevertheless, Garibaldi was encouraged by an increasing amount of revolutionary activity around Italy, and decided to come home, returning with 60 men from his Italian Legion in April 1848.

[00:06:56] Garibaldi and his men were skilled soldiers, but more than that they were adept in guerilla warfare, tactics they had honed in South America.

[00:07:08] At the time that Garibaldi returned, the first Italian War of Independence was going on. 

[00:07:15] This was led by Charles Albert, the King of Sardinia, which was a kingdom of Italy that ruled Sardinia, of course, but also Piedmont, the region in North West Italy.

[00:07:28] Garibaldi offered his services also to King Charles, but he was rejected.

[00:07:33] He was viewed as an outsider, a guerilla leader who didn’t play by the rules, and reportedly wasn’t initially liked by the soldiers of the regular army. 

[00:07:45] They also hadn’t forgotten the fact that he had tried to lead an uprising 5 years before.

[00:07:52] Garibaldi wasn’t one to give up though.

[00:07:55] He headed first to Milan, where he offered his help to the government of Milan in the fight against the Austrians, and he won a couple of early victories. 

[00:08:06] But these victories tended to be short-lived

[00:08:09] Not only were the rebel forces split across multiple different groups, but they were fighting against the powerful forces of the French and the Austrian empire. 

[00:08:21] And of course, not everyone wanted a united Italy, and there were very few people who believed it was actually possible.

[00:08:30] This didn’t deter Garibaldi though.

[00:08:33] After a loss in Piedmont, he took his troops to Rome, and proposed that Rome should become an independent republic, independent of the Papal States.

[00:08:44] The French didn’t like the idea of an independent republic of Rome, nor did the King of Naples.

[00:08:52] Garibaldi found himself defending Rome against the French and the Neapolitans. Despite some heroic fighting, his men stood no chance, and he was forced to flee, heading north.

[00:09:07] He was pursued by French, Neapolitan, Austrian and Spanish troops, who were all anti-Italian unification.

[00:09:17] Miraculously he managed to evade capture, and arrived in San Marino, the mountainous microstate in north-central Italy.

[00:09:27] This was in July of 1849, just a year after Garibaldi had returned from South America. 

[00:09:36] Although the experience of the past year had given him hope of what might be achieved, actually achieving it seemed to be a near impossible task. 

[00:09:47] The revolutionary forces were hugely outnumbered, and there were some very powerful, vested interests in keeping the system of individual kingdoms. 

[00:09:59] The rulers of the kingdoms, for one, were not keen on a united, republican Italy. This would mean all their power would be gone, so naturally they would do everything they could to stop it.

[00:10:13] Given all of this, he decided to disband his men, to let his army go, and consider his options. 

[00:10:23] He couldn’t return to his homeland of Piedmont; he was still wanted there. 

[00:10:28] So he went away on his second exile, first to Tangier in Morocco , where he met a rich Italian merchant who suggested that Garibaldi command a merchant ship, that Garibaldi become a sailor again.

[00:10:45] With his revolutionary options exhausted, Garibaldi accepted, and first sailed to New York, then to Central America, Peru, crossing the Pacific and going to the Philippines and then eastern China, then back to South America, stopping off in Chile, passing through New York and then returning to Newcastle, on the north east coast of England.

[00:11:11] Garibaldi’s reputation by this time had spread throughout Europe, and he was viewed as a visionary, guerilla fighter, and revolutionary hero. He had displayed exceptional bravery and leadership, and was a symbol of rebellion.

[00:11:30] When he got to Newcastle, much to his surprise, he was given a hero’s welcome. 

[00:11:37] There was a campaign to buy him a gift when he arrived, and they raised enough money to not only buy him a gold sword, but to have a pile left over that was donated to Italian Independence. 

[00:11:52] They raised £30,000 which would be the equivalent of around £2 million in today’s money, which all went towards Italian unification.

[00:12:03] When he got off his ship he was completely mobbed, and he was given the reception of a celebrity for the duration of his 3 week visit in Newcastle.

[00:12:15] He’s still remembered as the most famous Italian to have ever visited the north east of England, and if you go to Newcastle now there there is a plaque, a blue sign commemorating, a place that he stayed. 

[00:12:30] He returned to Italy in 1854, and bought part of a small island to the north of Sardinia, called Caprera. 

[00:12:40] Garibaldi wasn’t a rich man by any means, but he had been given an inheritance by his brother, and was able to buy a part of the island.

[00:12:51] He stayed there for 5 years or so, living a simple life, no doubt contemplating his next revolutionary moves.

[00:12:59] In 1854 he was only 46, so he still had a lot of time left for revolution.

[00:13:07] 1859 saw the start of the second Italian War of Independence, and this time Garibaldi was finally called upon by Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia, to prepare for war against the Austrians. 

[00:13:24] Garibaldi led the Sardinian forces to victory against the Austrians, but as part of the armistice, it was agreed that Garibaldi’s hometown of Nice would be given back to the French. 

[00:13:38] The French had been fighting alongside the Piedmont-Sardinian forces, and it was agreed that Nice should be given to them as a reward for their assistance.

[00:13:50] This incensed Garibaldi; it made him incredibly angry, and he attacked Cavour while he was speaking in parliament.

[00:13:59] But everything Garibaldi had done up to this point, all of the heroic activity and guerilla fighting, was just a prelude to what was coming next.

[00:14:10] There had been uprisings in Sicily against the Bourbon rulers, and Garibaldi sensed an opportunity.

[00:14:18] He rounded up a thousand soldiers, called ‘I mille’, the thousand, and set sail from Genoa, in Northern Italy, to Sicily.

[00:14:28] This time, he was effectively on his own. 

[00:14:31] He had no official government support, no wealthy financiers, nobody. 

[00:14:38] It was to be a huge gamble, but what he did have was his reputation as a fierce fighter and charismatic leader.

[00:14:48] He arrived in Sicily 5 days later, was given a hero’s welcome from the rebel Sicilian forces, many of whom joined his group of soldiers, and he won a series of quick battles against the Bourbon army.

[00:15:04] He declared himself to be the dictator of Sicily, on behalf of Vittorio Emanuele, the king of Sardinia. 

[00:15:12] Garibaldi wasn’t interested in ruling for himself, and knew that the movement had a better chance with a powerful figurehead like Vittorio Emanuele.

[00:15:24] Vittorio Emanuele had been aware of Garibaldi’s plan, but hadn’t officially backed it; he hadn’t officially supported it. 

[00:15:33] He was ready to support if it worked, but if it didn’t, he would have completely disowned Garibaldi. 

[00:15:40] So it was a super risky mission.

[00:15:44] Garibaldi attacked Palermo, the capital of Sicily, and by the 28th of May 1860 he had captured the city.

[00:15:54] He was viewed as a liberator by many of the local Sicilians. They had been living under an oppressive, feudal regime, and life was not much fun. 

[00:16:06] Garibaldi was someone who was going to bring about change, free them from their evil overlords, and give them a better life.

[00:16:15] After a ferocious battle in the east of the island, Sicily was liberated, and Garibaldi proceeded to sail north.

[00:16:25] At the same time, Vittorio Emanuele, the King of Sardinia, had secured most of the north of the country, having liberated it from the Austrians. 

[00:16:36] But everything from Rome down to the bottom of Italy was still under ‘enemy control’, or rather it wasn’t yet under Garibaldi or Vittorio Emanuele’s control.

[00:16:49] As Garibaldi crossed over from Sicily to mainland Italy, in Calabria, he proceeded with lightning speed up the country, defeating the Neapolitian king’s forces and again being given a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Naples.

[00:17:07] Garibaldi’s dream was for a united, republican, Italy, but he started to believe that the best way of achieving this was by first essentially enlarging the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont so that it encompassed the entire of Italy, and that would become the united Italy.

[00:17:29] So Garibaldi, after capturing the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which is everything from Naples down, handed over control of them to the king of Sardinia-Piedmont, Vittorio Emanuele. 

[00:17:42] This was pretty controversial - Garibaldi was a revolutionary fighter, a guerilla, a rebel fighting for a united, republican Italy, but there he was, handing over control to a northern king.

[00:17:57] And on March 17, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was declared, with Vittorio Emanuele as its king. 

[00:18:07] After this, Garibaldi retreated to his island of Caprera, essentially retiring from active military service, and refusing any reward for the work that he had done.

[00:18:20] By this time he wasn’t just a national hero; his reputation had spread all over the world. 

[00:18:29] He was even offered a position by Abraham Lincoln in the American Civil War, as a major general in the union forces. 

[00:18:38] He rejected it, because he demanded that he was to be in control of the entire army and that Lincoln commit to the abolition of slavery, which were two conditions that Lincoln wasn’t prepared to meet.

[00:18:54] But coming back to Italy, crucially, there were two missing parts from modern Italy. Rome; which still belonged to the papal states, and Venice; which was part of the Austrian empire.

[00:19:08] The problem with Rome was that the French had promised the Pope to guard Rome’s independence from Italy, and had stationed troops there. There were French soldiers in Rome. 

[00:19:22] Any attack on these troops would be considered an attack on France.

[00:19:28] Nevertheless, Garibaldi, no doubt itching to be back in action, decided to do something about this.

[00:19:36] In 1862 he sailed to Palermo, in Sicily, and raised a small army to liberate Rome, but when he got to Rome he found that the regular Italian army stood there, ready to stop them, in order to not damage relations with the French. 

[00:19:56] This was a pretty strange situation, and Garibaldi instructed his troops not to fire on the Italian army. 

[00:20:05] An accidental shot was fired, more shots were fired in retaliation, and several men were killed. It was not a battle by any means, but several of the rebel forces were taken prisoner, including Garibaldi, who had been shot in the foot.

[00:20:25] Garibaldi was fine in the end, but it was an embarrassment for all concerned, and far from the glorious expedition he had led just a few years before through Sicily.

[00:20:39] Rome was to remain part of the Papal States until 1871, 9 years later, when the Franco-Prussia war meant that the French troops were sent away from Rome, which made capturing it a little easier. 

[00:20:54] But Garibaldi had nothing to do with that.

[00:20:58] So, if you are looking for some Italian dates for your diary, 1861 is the unification of Italy, 1870 is the unification of Italy plus Rome, and when the capital gets moved from Florence to Rome.

[00:21:15] By this time, though, Garibaldi had in effect retired to Caprera. 

[00:21:20] He had fallen out with Italy’s new political leaders, describing himself as an orange from which his political masters had sucked out the juice and thrown away the peel.

[00:21:34] But he was still immensely popular. Tourists traveled to nearby islands to try to catch a glimpse of him.

[00:21:44] On one of his rare trips outside Italy in his ‘semi retirement’, he went to England in 1864. 

[00:21:53] When he arrived in London the crowds waiting to see him were so large that it took him 6 hours to travel 5 kilometres. And reportedly servants in the houses that he stayed in would take his used bathwater, water from baths that he had had, they would put it in little bottles and make small fortunes selling it to obsessed fans.

[00:22:23] With Italy united, Garibaldi felt his mission in life was complete. Apart from a few trips abroad, he remained in Caprera until his death in 1882, at the ripe old age of 75.

[00:22:40] To say that Garibaldi had an eventful and remarkable life would be an understatement

[00:22:47] We’ve obviously only covered the highlights here, but he was a man who was for many the symbol of revolution, a 19th century Che Guevara but one who actually had a huge impact, fought for pro-independence movements in multiple different countries, and will be forever associated with the unification of an entire country against all the odds.

[00:23:14] He was nicknamed a hero of two worlds, because he wasn’t just a hero in Europe, but also in South America.

[00:23:23] There are thousands of statues of Garibaldi all over Italy, military units are named after him, an English football team, Nottingham Forest, chose its red colour of shirt after Garibaldi, he gave his name to a type of beard, there are a handful of pubs named after him in England, and most importantly, there is an English biscuit named after him.

[00:23:51] Now, the biscuit, if you are asking me, isn’t very nice, it’s a sort of flat biscuit with raisins in the middle, but it is just another example of the enduring legacy of Garibaldi. 

[00:24:06] One of the most amazing things about the legacy of Garibaldi is that it seems that he was universally praised, almost nobody had anything bad to say about him.

[00:24:19] The English historian A. J. P. Taylor even said that "Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history."

[00:24:29] The Italian author Francesco De Sanctis said “Garibaldi must win by force: he is not a man; it is a symbol, a form; he is the Italian soul. Between the beats of his heart, everyone hears the beats of his one”

[00:24:47] Che Guevara later said “The only hero the world has ever needed is called Giuseppe Garibaldi”

[00:24:55] And perhaps my favourite description of Garibaldi comes from an Argentine Admiral, a man called William Brown, who called Garibaldi "the most generous of the pirates I have ever encountered".

[00:25:11] OK then, that is it for the fantastic life of Giuseppe Garibaldi, statesman, guerilla, and revolutionary hero. 

[00:25:19] It was a little longer than usual, but he did have quite a life.

[00:25:25] At least now, if you are in Italy and see a statue of a man with a large beard, on a horse, then you’ll know a little bit more about who he was.

[00:25:36] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:40] For the Italians listening, no doubt there are some great stories about Garibaldi that I haven’t included, and I'm sure that other curious minds would love to know about.

[00:25:50] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away - I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

[00:26:00] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:06] I’m Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I’ll catch you in the next episode.


[END OF PODCAST]


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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Giuseppe Garibaldi, the guerilla fighter and revolutionary hero who played a vital part in the unification of Italy.

[00:00:36] We’ll learn about his wild journey, which took him from Nice to South America, Italy, Austria, Asia, the UK, almost to the United States, and of course, ending in a united Italy.

[00:00:49] The tale of Italian independence is long and complex, and this is by no means going to be a conclusive account

[00:00:59] But it will give you an overview of the man at the forefront of it all, Garibaldi, the romantic, revolutionary hero.

[00:01:10] It is quite the story, and today’s episode is a little longer than normal, so without further ado, let’s get started.

[00:01:21] His name, in Italian, is Giuseppe Garibaldi, but this is a podcast in English, so I will use the English pronunciation, Garibaldi. 

[00:01:31] For the Italians listening, I hope you’ll excuse me.

[00:01:36] It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of Garibaldi in Italy. 

[00:01:40] In almost every Italian town you’ll find roads and squares named after him. After 

[00:01:48] Roma, Rome, Garibaldi is the second most popular name for a street or square in Italy.

[00:01:55] Every Italian learns about him in school, and there are few that consider him to be anything other than a hero. 

[00:02:05] And it’s not just in Italy. 

[00:02:07] He was hugely popular in the UK too - we even have a biscuit named after him. 

[00:02:13] Don’t worry, we’ll tell that story shortly.

[00:02:17] Garibaldi was born in 1802 in Nice. His parents were Ligurian, from the region just to the east of Nice which is now part of Italy.

[00:02:28] And to remind you, in 1802, when Garibaldi was born, there was no Italy, and there had never been a unified country called Italy.

[00:02:39] It was a collection of different states, all ruled by different kingdoms, with parts of modern day Italy being under the control of foreign powers.

[00:02:51] The Austrian Empire lurked to the north and east of modern day Italy, and places like Lombardy, Venice and Trieste were all part of the Austrian empire, ruled by the Habsburgs.

[00:03:04] The north western part of Italy contained the Kingdom of Sardinia, which will go on to play an important part in our story.

[00:03:13] The central part, around Rome, was controlled by the Vatican, it was called the Papal States. 

[00:03:21] And below that was the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily, which officially united in 1815 to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

[00:03:32] We’ve skipped over a few, but these are the ones that will play the most important part in the story of Garibaldi. 

[00:03:40] The important thing to remember is that these were independent kingdoms, and the probability that they would all come together and form one country was very unlikely.

[00:03:53] Nice, when Garibaldi was born, was part of the French empire, and of course now, Nice is part of France, although it's only 40 kilometers from the Italian border. 

[00:04:06] Garibaldi’s father was a sea captain, and Garibaldi spent many of his early years at sea. 

[00:04:14] When he was in his late 20s he met another Giuseppe, Giuseppe Mazzini, who was an early proponent of Italian unification. 

[00:04:23] Garibaldi joined a society called Young Italy, and swore an oath to unify Italy, which was to be a goal he would spend the next 30 years of his life pursuing.

[00:04:37] It almost came to a sudden end though, as in 1834, a year after joining Young Italy, he played a part in an attempted coup in Piedmont against the kingdom’s rulers. 

[00:04:52] The coup failed, Garibaldi managed to flee over the border to France, but he was sentenced to death in absentia, meaning if he was captured he would be executed.

[00:05:06] After fleeing to France, he then sailed all the way to South America, where he spent the next 12 years. 

[00:05:14] He became involved in liberation movements in Brazil and Uruguay, where he honed his military skills and developed a reputation not only as a formidable military commander, but as an expert in guerilla warfare.

[00:05:32] His reputation led him to command the Uruguayan navy in the war against Argentina in 1842, and then a year later he was put in charge of a new Italian unit, the Italian Legion.

[00:05:47] This legion, nicknamed the Redshirts, because they were always dressed in red, comprised of Italians who were living in Uruguay.

[00:05:57] Red was to be a colour forever associated with Garibaldi - if you see a painting of a man in a red shirt and a beard, with a sword and an Italian flag, it is almost certainly Giuseppe Garibaldi.

[00:06:12] Although he had a new life in South America, the fate of his homeland never left his thoughts, and he was given renewed hope in the unification of Italy after the election of a new, pro-reform pope, pope Pius IX.

[00:06:28] Garibaldi wrote to the pope, offering his services, proposing to come back to Italy to help unite the country.  

[00:06:36] But the pope didn’t take up his offer.

[00:06:39] Nevertheless, Garibaldi was encouraged by an increasing amount of revolutionary activity around Italy, and decided to come home, returning with 60 men from his Italian Legion in April 1848.

[00:06:56] Garibaldi and his men were skilled soldiers, but more than that they were adept in guerilla warfare, tactics they had honed in South America.

[00:07:08] At the time that Garibaldi returned, the first Italian War of Independence was going on. 

[00:07:15] This was led by Charles Albert, the King of Sardinia, which was a kingdom of Italy that ruled Sardinia, of course, but also Piedmont, the region in North West Italy.

[00:07:28] Garibaldi offered his services also to King Charles, but he was rejected.

[00:07:33] He was viewed as an outsider, a guerilla leader who didn’t play by the rules, and reportedly wasn’t initially liked by the soldiers of the regular army. 

[00:07:45] They also hadn’t forgotten the fact that he had tried to lead an uprising 5 years before.

[00:07:52] Garibaldi wasn’t one to give up though.

[00:07:55] He headed first to Milan, where he offered his help to the government of Milan in the fight against the Austrians, and he won a couple of early victories. 

[00:08:06] But these victories tended to be short-lived

[00:08:09] Not only were the rebel forces split across multiple different groups, but they were fighting against the powerful forces of the French and the Austrian empire. 

[00:08:21] And of course, not everyone wanted a united Italy, and there were very few people who believed it was actually possible.

[00:08:30] This didn’t deter Garibaldi though.

[00:08:33] After a loss in Piedmont, he took his troops to Rome, and proposed that Rome should become an independent republic, independent of the Papal States.

[00:08:44] The French didn’t like the idea of an independent republic of Rome, nor did the King of Naples.

[00:08:52] Garibaldi found himself defending Rome against the French and the Neapolitans. Despite some heroic fighting, his men stood no chance, and he was forced to flee, heading north.

[00:09:07] He was pursued by French, Neapolitan, Austrian and Spanish troops, who were all anti-Italian unification.

[00:09:17] Miraculously he managed to evade capture, and arrived in San Marino, the mountainous microstate in north-central Italy.

[00:09:27] This was in July of 1849, just a year after Garibaldi had returned from South America. 

[00:09:36] Although the experience of the past year had given him hope of what might be achieved, actually achieving it seemed to be a near impossible task. 

[00:09:47] The revolutionary forces were hugely outnumbered, and there were some very powerful, vested interests in keeping the system of individual kingdoms. 

[00:09:59] The rulers of the kingdoms, for one, were not keen on a united, republican Italy. This would mean all their power would be gone, so naturally they would do everything they could to stop it.

[00:10:13] Given all of this, he decided to disband his men, to let his army go, and consider his options. 

[00:10:23] He couldn’t return to his homeland of Piedmont; he was still wanted there. 

[00:10:28] So he went away on his second exile, first to Tangier in Morocco , where he met a rich Italian merchant who suggested that Garibaldi command a merchant ship, that Garibaldi become a sailor again.

[00:10:45] With his revolutionary options exhausted, Garibaldi accepted, and first sailed to New York, then to Central America, Peru, crossing the Pacific and going to the Philippines and then eastern China, then back to South America, stopping off in Chile, passing through New York and then returning to Newcastle, on the north east coast of England.

[00:11:11] Garibaldi’s reputation by this time had spread throughout Europe, and he was viewed as a visionary, guerilla fighter, and revolutionary hero. He had displayed exceptional bravery and leadership, and was a symbol of rebellion.

[00:11:30] When he got to Newcastle, much to his surprise, he was given a hero’s welcome. 

[00:11:37] There was a campaign to buy him a gift when he arrived, and they raised enough money to not only buy him a gold sword, but to have a pile left over that was donated to Italian Independence. 

[00:11:52] They raised £30,000 which would be the equivalent of around £2 million in today’s money, which all went towards Italian unification.

[00:12:03] When he got off his ship he was completely mobbed, and he was given the reception of a celebrity for the duration of his 3 week visit in Newcastle.

[00:12:15] He’s still remembered as the most famous Italian to have ever visited the north east of England, and if you go to Newcastle now there there is a plaque, a blue sign commemorating, a place that he stayed. 

[00:12:30] He returned to Italy in 1854, and bought part of a small island to the north of Sardinia, called Caprera. 

[00:12:40] Garibaldi wasn’t a rich man by any means, but he had been given an inheritance by his brother, and was able to buy a part of the island.

[00:12:51] He stayed there for 5 years or so, living a simple life, no doubt contemplating his next revolutionary moves.

[00:12:59] In 1854 he was only 46, so he still had a lot of time left for revolution.

[00:13:07] 1859 saw the start of the second Italian War of Independence, and this time Garibaldi was finally called upon by Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia, to prepare for war against the Austrians. 

[00:13:24] Garibaldi led the Sardinian forces to victory against the Austrians, but as part of the armistice, it was agreed that Garibaldi’s hometown of Nice would be given back to the French. 

[00:13:38] The French had been fighting alongside the Piedmont-Sardinian forces, and it was agreed that Nice should be given to them as a reward for their assistance.

[00:13:50] This incensed Garibaldi; it made him incredibly angry, and he attacked Cavour while he was speaking in parliament.

[00:13:59] But everything Garibaldi had done up to this point, all of the heroic activity and guerilla fighting, was just a prelude to what was coming next.

[00:14:10] There had been uprisings in Sicily against the Bourbon rulers, and Garibaldi sensed an opportunity.

[00:14:18] He rounded up a thousand soldiers, called ‘I mille’, the thousand, and set sail from Genoa, in Northern Italy, to Sicily.

[00:14:28] This time, he was effectively on his own. 

[00:14:31] He had no official government support, no wealthy financiers, nobody. 

[00:14:38] It was to be a huge gamble, but what he did have was his reputation as a fierce fighter and charismatic leader.

[00:14:48] He arrived in Sicily 5 days later, was given a hero’s welcome from the rebel Sicilian forces, many of whom joined his group of soldiers, and he won a series of quick battles against the Bourbon army.

[00:15:04] He declared himself to be the dictator of Sicily, on behalf of Vittorio Emanuele, the king of Sardinia. 

[00:15:12] Garibaldi wasn’t interested in ruling for himself, and knew that the movement had a better chance with a powerful figurehead like Vittorio Emanuele.

[00:15:24] Vittorio Emanuele had been aware of Garibaldi’s plan, but hadn’t officially backed it; he hadn’t officially supported it. 

[00:15:33] He was ready to support if it worked, but if it didn’t, he would have completely disowned Garibaldi. 

[00:15:40] So it was a super risky mission.

[00:15:44] Garibaldi attacked Palermo, the capital of Sicily, and by the 28th of May 1860 he had captured the city.

[00:15:54] He was viewed as a liberator by many of the local Sicilians. They had been living under an oppressive, feudal regime, and life was not much fun. 

[00:16:06] Garibaldi was someone who was going to bring about change, free them from their evil overlords, and give them a better life.

[00:16:15] After a ferocious battle in the east of the island, Sicily was liberated, and Garibaldi proceeded to sail north.

[00:16:25] At the same time, Vittorio Emanuele, the King of Sardinia, had secured most of the north of the country, having liberated it from the Austrians. 

[00:16:36] But everything from Rome down to the bottom of Italy was still under ‘enemy control’, or rather it wasn’t yet under Garibaldi or Vittorio Emanuele’s control.

[00:16:49] As Garibaldi crossed over from Sicily to mainland Italy, in Calabria, he proceeded with lightning speed up the country, defeating the Neapolitian king’s forces and again being given a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Naples.

[00:17:07] Garibaldi’s dream was for a united, republican, Italy, but he started to believe that the best way of achieving this was by first essentially enlarging the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont so that it encompassed the entire of Italy, and that would become the united Italy.

[00:17:29] So Garibaldi, after capturing the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which is everything from Naples down, handed over control of them to the king of Sardinia-Piedmont, Vittorio Emanuele. 

[00:17:42] This was pretty controversial - Garibaldi was a revolutionary fighter, a guerilla, a rebel fighting for a united, republican Italy, but there he was, handing over control to a northern king.

[00:17:57] And on March 17, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was declared, with Vittorio Emanuele as its king. 

[00:18:07] After this, Garibaldi retreated to his island of Caprera, essentially retiring from active military service, and refusing any reward for the work that he had done.

[00:18:20] By this time he wasn’t just a national hero; his reputation had spread all over the world. 

[00:18:29] He was even offered a position by Abraham Lincoln in the American Civil War, as a major general in the union forces. 

[00:18:38] He rejected it, because he demanded that he was to be in control of the entire army and that Lincoln commit to the abolition of slavery, which were two conditions that Lincoln wasn’t prepared to meet.

[00:18:54] But coming back to Italy, crucially, there were two missing parts from modern Italy. Rome; which still belonged to the papal states, and Venice; which was part of the Austrian empire.

[00:19:08] The problem with Rome was that the French had promised the Pope to guard Rome’s independence from Italy, and had stationed troops there. There were French soldiers in Rome. 

[00:19:22] Any attack on these troops would be considered an attack on France.

[00:19:28] Nevertheless, Garibaldi, no doubt itching to be back in action, decided to do something about this.

[00:19:36] In 1862 he sailed to Palermo, in Sicily, and raised a small army to liberate Rome, but when he got to Rome he found that the regular Italian army stood there, ready to stop them, in order to not damage relations with the French. 

[00:19:56] This was a pretty strange situation, and Garibaldi instructed his troops not to fire on the Italian army. 

[00:20:05] An accidental shot was fired, more shots were fired in retaliation, and several men were killed. It was not a battle by any means, but several of the rebel forces were taken prisoner, including Garibaldi, who had been shot in the foot.

[00:20:25] Garibaldi was fine in the end, but it was an embarrassment for all concerned, and far from the glorious expedition he had led just a few years before through Sicily.

[00:20:39] Rome was to remain part of the Papal States until 1871, 9 years later, when the Franco-Prussia war meant that the French troops were sent away from Rome, which made capturing it a little easier. 

[00:20:54] But Garibaldi had nothing to do with that.

[00:20:58] So, if you are looking for some Italian dates for your diary, 1861 is the unification of Italy, 1870 is the unification of Italy plus Rome, and when the capital gets moved from Florence to Rome.

[00:21:15] By this time, though, Garibaldi had in effect retired to Caprera. 

[00:21:20] He had fallen out with Italy’s new political leaders, describing himself as an orange from which his political masters had sucked out the juice and thrown away the peel.

[00:21:34] But he was still immensely popular. Tourists traveled to nearby islands to try to catch a glimpse of him.

[00:21:44] On one of his rare trips outside Italy in his ‘semi retirement’, he went to England in 1864. 

[00:21:53] When he arrived in London the crowds waiting to see him were so large that it took him 6 hours to travel 5 kilometres. And reportedly servants in the houses that he stayed in would take his used bathwater, water from baths that he had had, they would put it in little bottles and make small fortunes selling it to obsessed fans.

[00:22:23] With Italy united, Garibaldi felt his mission in life was complete. Apart from a few trips abroad, he remained in Caprera until his death in 1882, at the ripe old age of 75.

[00:22:40] To say that Garibaldi had an eventful and remarkable life would be an understatement

[00:22:47] We’ve obviously only covered the highlights here, but he was a man who was for many the symbol of revolution, a 19th century Che Guevara but one who actually had a huge impact, fought for pro-independence movements in multiple different countries, and will be forever associated with the unification of an entire country against all the odds.

[00:23:14] He was nicknamed a hero of two worlds, because he wasn’t just a hero in Europe, but also in South America.

[00:23:23] There are thousands of statues of Garibaldi all over Italy, military units are named after him, an English football team, Nottingham Forest, chose its red colour of shirt after Garibaldi, he gave his name to a type of beard, there are a handful of pubs named after him in England, and most importantly, there is an English biscuit named after him.

[00:23:51] Now, the biscuit, if you are asking me, isn’t very nice, it’s a sort of flat biscuit with raisins in the middle, but it is just another example of the enduring legacy of Garibaldi. 

[00:24:06] One of the most amazing things about the legacy of Garibaldi is that it seems that he was universally praised, almost nobody had anything bad to say about him.

[00:24:19] The English historian A. J. P. Taylor even said that "Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history."

[00:24:29] The Italian author Francesco De Sanctis said “Garibaldi must win by force: he is not a man; it is a symbol, a form; he is the Italian soul. Between the beats of his heart, everyone hears the beats of his one”

[00:24:47] Che Guevara later said “The only hero the world has ever needed is called Giuseppe Garibaldi”

[00:24:55] And perhaps my favourite description of Garibaldi comes from an Argentine Admiral, a man called William Brown, who called Garibaldi "the most generous of the pirates I have ever encountered".

[00:25:11] OK then, that is it for the fantastic life of Giuseppe Garibaldi, statesman, guerilla, and revolutionary hero. 

[00:25:19] It was a little longer than usual, but he did have quite a life.

[00:25:25] At least now, if you are in Italy and see a statue of a man with a large beard, on a horse, then you’ll know a little bit more about who he was.

[00:25:36] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:40] For the Italians listening, no doubt there are some great stories about Garibaldi that I haven’t included, and I'm sure that other curious minds would love to know about.

[00:25:50] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away - I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

[00:26:00] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:06] I’m Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I’ll catch you in the next episode.


[END OF PODCAST]


[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Giuseppe Garibaldi, the guerilla fighter and revolutionary hero who played a vital part in the unification of Italy.

[00:00:36] We’ll learn about his wild journey, which took him from Nice to South America, Italy, Austria, Asia, the UK, almost to the United States, and of course, ending in a united Italy.

[00:00:49] The tale of Italian independence is long and complex, and this is by no means going to be a conclusive account

[00:00:59] But it will give you an overview of the man at the forefront of it all, Garibaldi, the romantic, revolutionary hero.

[00:01:10] It is quite the story, and today’s episode is a little longer than normal, so without further ado, let’s get started.

[00:01:21] His name, in Italian, is Giuseppe Garibaldi, but this is a podcast in English, so I will use the English pronunciation, Garibaldi. 

[00:01:31] For the Italians listening, I hope you’ll excuse me.

[00:01:36] It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of Garibaldi in Italy. 

[00:01:40] In almost every Italian town you’ll find roads and squares named after him. After 

[00:01:48] Roma, Rome, Garibaldi is the second most popular name for a street or square in Italy.

[00:01:55] Every Italian learns about him in school, and there are few that consider him to be anything other than a hero. 

[00:02:05] And it’s not just in Italy. 

[00:02:07] He was hugely popular in the UK too - we even have a biscuit named after him. 

[00:02:13] Don’t worry, we’ll tell that story shortly.

[00:02:17] Garibaldi was born in 1802 in Nice. His parents were Ligurian, from the region just to the east of Nice which is now part of Italy.

[00:02:28] And to remind you, in 1802, when Garibaldi was born, there was no Italy, and there had never been a unified country called Italy.

[00:02:39] It was a collection of different states, all ruled by different kingdoms, with parts of modern day Italy being under the control of foreign powers.

[00:02:51] The Austrian Empire lurked to the north and east of modern day Italy, and places like Lombardy, Venice and Trieste were all part of the Austrian empire, ruled by the Habsburgs.

[00:03:04] The north western part of Italy contained the Kingdom of Sardinia, which will go on to play an important part in our story.

[00:03:13] The central part, around Rome, was controlled by the Vatican, it was called the Papal States. 

[00:03:21] And below that was the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily, which officially united in 1815 to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

[00:03:32] We’ve skipped over a few, but these are the ones that will play the most important part in the story of Garibaldi. 

[00:03:40] The important thing to remember is that these were independent kingdoms, and the probability that they would all come together and form one country was very unlikely.

[00:03:53] Nice, when Garibaldi was born, was part of the French empire, and of course now, Nice is part of France, although it's only 40 kilometers from the Italian border. 

[00:04:06] Garibaldi’s father was a sea captain, and Garibaldi spent many of his early years at sea. 

[00:04:14] When he was in his late 20s he met another Giuseppe, Giuseppe Mazzini, who was an early proponent of Italian unification. 

[00:04:23] Garibaldi joined a society called Young Italy, and swore an oath to unify Italy, which was to be a goal he would spend the next 30 years of his life pursuing.

[00:04:37] It almost came to a sudden end though, as in 1834, a year after joining Young Italy, he played a part in an attempted coup in Piedmont against the kingdom’s rulers. 

[00:04:52] The coup failed, Garibaldi managed to flee over the border to France, but he was sentenced to death in absentia, meaning if he was captured he would be executed.

[00:05:06] After fleeing to France, he then sailed all the way to South America, where he spent the next 12 years. 

[00:05:14] He became involved in liberation movements in Brazil and Uruguay, where he honed his military skills and developed a reputation not only as a formidable military commander, but as an expert in guerilla warfare.

[00:05:32] His reputation led him to command the Uruguayan navy in the war against Argentina in 1842, and then a year later he was put in charge of a new Italian unit, the Italian Legion.

[00:05:47] This legion, nicknamed the Redshirts, because they were always dressed in red, comprised of Italians who were living in Uruguay.

[00:05:57] Red was to be a colour forever associated with Garibaldi - if you see a painting of a man in a red shirt and a beard, with a sword and an Italian flag, it is almost certainly Giuseppe Garibaldi.

[00:06:12] Although he had a new life in South America, the fate of his homeland never left his thoughts, and he was given renewed hope in the unification of Italy after the election of a new, pro-reform pope, pope Pius IX.

[00:06:28] Garibaldi wrote to the pope, offering his services, proposing to come back to Italy to help unite the country.  

[00:06:36] But the pope didn’t take up his offer.

[00:06:39] Nevertheless, Garibaldi was encouraged by an increasing amount of revolutionary activity around Italy, and decided to come home, returning with 60 men from his Italian Legion in April 1848.

[00:06:56] Garibaldi and his men were skilled soldiers, but more than that they were adept in guerilla warfare, tactics they had honed in South America.

[00:07:08] At the time that Garibaldi returned, the first Italian War of Independence was going on. 

[00:07:15] This was led by Charles Albert, the King of Sardinia, which was a kingdom of Italy that ruled Sardinia, of course, but also Piedmont, the region in North West Italy.

[00:07:28] Garibaldi offered his services also to King Charles, but he was rejected.

[00:07:33] He was viewed as an outsider, a guerilla leader who didn’t play by the rules, and reportedly wasn’t initially liked by the soldiers of the regular army. 

[00:07:45] They also hadn’t forgotten the fact that he had tried to lead an uprising 5 years before.

[00:07:52] Garibaldi wasn’t one to give up though.

[00:07:55] He headed first to Milan, where he offered his help to the government of Milan in the fight against the Austrians, and he won a couple of early victories. 

[00:08:06] But these victories tended to be short-lived

[00:08:09] Not only were the rebel forces split across multiple different groups, but they were fighting against the powerful forces of the French and the Austrian empire. 

[00:08:21] And of course, not everyone wanted a united Italy, and there were very few people who believed it was actually possible.

[00:08:30] This didn’t deter Garibaldi though.

[00:08:33] After a loss in Piedmont, he took his troops to Rome, and proposed that Rome should become an independent republic, independent of the Papal States.

[00:08:44] The French didn’t like the idea of an independent republic of Rome, nor did the King of Naples.

[00:08:52] Garibaldi found himself defending Rome against the French and the Neapolitans. Despite some heroic fighting, his men stood no chance, and he was forced to flee, heading north.

[00:09:07] He was pursued by French, Neapolitan, Austrian and Spanish troops, who were all anti-Italian unification.

[00:09:17] Miraculously he managed to evade capture, and arrived in San Marino, the mountainous microstate in north-central Italy.

[00:09:27] This was in July of 1849, just a year after Garibaldi had returned from South America. 

[00:09:36] Although the experience of the past year had given him hope of what might be achieved, actually achieving it seemed to be a near impossible task. 

[00:09:47] The revolutionary forces were hugely outnumbered, and there were some very powerful, vested interests in keeping the system of individual kingdoms. 

[00:09:59] The rulers of the kingdoms, for one, were not keen on a united, republican Italy. This would mean all their power would be gone, so naturally they would do everything they could to stop it.

[00:10:13] Given all of this, he decided to disband his men, to let his army go, and consider his options. 

[00:10:23] He couldn’t return to his homeland of Piedmont; he was still wanted there. 

[00:10:28] So he went away on his second exile, first to Tangier in Morocco , where he met a rich Italian merchant who suggested that Garibaldi command a merchant ship, that Garibaldi become a sailor again.

[00:10:45] With his revolutionary options exhausted, Garibaldi accepted, and first sailed to New York, then to Central America, Peru, crossing the Pacific and going to the Philippines and then eastern China, then back to South America, stopping off in Chile, passing through New York and then returning to Newcastle, on the north east coast of England.

[00:11:11] Garibaldi’s reputation by this time had spread throughout Europe, and he was viewed as a visionary, guerilla fighter, and revolutionary hero. He had displayed exceptional bravery and leadership, and was a symbol of rebellion.

[00:11:30] When he got to Newcastle, much to his surprise, he was given a hero’s welcome. 

[00:11:37] There was a campaign to buy him a gift when he arrived, and they raised enough money to not only buy him a gold sword, but to have a pile left over that was donated to Italian Independence. 

[00:11:52] They raised £30,000 which would be the equivalent of around £2 million in today’s money, which all went towards Italian unification.

[00:12:03] When he got off his ship he was completely mobbed, and he was given the reception of a celebrity for the duration of his 3 week visit in Newcastle.

[00:12:15] He’s still remembered as the most famous Italian to have ever visited the north east of England, and if you go to Newcastle now there there is a plaque, a blue sign commemorating, a place that he stayed. 

[00:12:30] He returned to Italy in 1854, and bought part of a small island to the north of Sardinia, called Caprera. 

[00:12:40] Garibaldi wasn’t a rich man by any means, but he had been given an inheritance by his brother, and was able to buy a part of the island.

[00:12:51] He stayed there for 5 years or so, living a simple life, no doubt contemplating his next revolutionary moves.

[00:12:59] In 1854 he was only 46, so he still had a lot of time left for revolution.

[00:13:07] 1859 saw the start of the second Italian War of Independence, and this time Garibaldi was finally called upon by Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia, to prepare for war against the Austrians. 

[00:13:24] Garibaldi led the Sardinian forces to victory against the Austrians, but as part of the armistice, it was agreed that Garibaldi’s hometown of Nice would be given back to the French. 

[00:13:38] The French had been fighting alongside the Piedmont-Sardinian forces, and it was agreed that Nice should be given to them as a reward for their assistance.

[00:13:50] This incensed Garibaldi; it made him incredibly angry, and he attacked Cavour while he was speaking in parliament.

[00:13:59] But everything Garibaldi had done up to this point, all of the heroic activity and guerilla fighting, was just a prelude to what was coming next.

[00:14:10] There had been uprisings in Sicily against the Bourbon rulers, and Garibaldi sensed an opportunity.

[00:14:18] He rounded up a thousand soldiers, called ‘I mille’, the thousand, and set sail from Genoa, in Northern Italy, to Sicily.

[00:14:28] This time, he was effectively on his own. 

[00:14:31] He had no official government support, no wealthy financiers, nobody. 

[00:14:38] It was to be a huge gamble, but what he did have was his reputation as a fierce fighter and charismatic leader.

[00:14:48] He arrived in Sicily 5 days later, was given a hero’s welcome from the rebel Sicilian forces, many of whom joined his group of soldiers, and he won a series of quick battles against the Bourbon army.

[00:15:04] He declared himself to be the dictator of Sicily, on behalf of Vittorio Emanuele, the king of Sardinia. 

[00:15:12] Garibaldi wasn’t interested in ruling for himself, and knew that the movement had a better chance with a powerful figurehead like Vittorio Emanuele.

[00:15:24] Vittorio Emanuele had been aware of Garibaldi’s plan, but hadn’t officially backed it; he hadn’t officially supported it. 

[00:15:33] He was ready to support if it worked, but if it didn’t, he would have completely disowned Garibaldi. 

[00:15:40] So it was a super risky mission.

[00:15:44] Garibaldi attacked Palermo, the capital of Sicily, and by the 28th of May 1860 he had captured the city.

[00:15:54] He was viewed as a liberator by many of the local Sicilians. They had been living under an oppressive, feudal regime, and life was not much fun. 

[00:16:06] Garibaldi was someone who was going to bring about change, free them from their evil overlords, and give them a better life.

[00:16:15] After a ferocious battle in the east of the island, Sicily was liberated, and Garibaldi proceeded to sail north.

[00:16:25] At the same time, Vittorio Emanuele, the King of Sardinia, had secured most of the north of the country, having liberated it from the Austrians. 

[00:16:36] But everything from Rome down to the bottom of Italy was still under ‘enemy control’, or rather it wasn’t yet under Garibaldi or Vittorio Emanuele’s control.

[00:16:49] As Garibaldi crossed over from Sicily to mainland Italy, in Calabria, he proceeded with lightning speed up the country, defeating the Neapolitian king’s forces and again being given a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Naples.

[00:17:07] Garibaldi’s dream was for a united, republican, Italy, but he started to believe that the best way of achieving this was by first essentially enlarging the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont so that it encompassed the entire of Italy, and that would become the united Italy.

[00:17:29] So Garibaldi, after capturing the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which is everything from Naples down, handed over control of them to the king of Sardinia-Piedmont, Vittorio Emanuele. 

[00:17:42] This was pretty controversial - Garibaldi was a revolutionary fighter, a guerilla, a rebel fighting for a united, republican Italy, but there he was, handing over control to a northern king.

[00:17:57] And on March 17, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was declared, with Vittorio Emanuele as its king. 

[00:18:07] After this, Garibaldi retreated to his island of Caprera, essentially retiring from active military service, and refusing any reward for the work that he had done.

[00:18:20] By this time he wasn’t just a national hero; his reputation had spread all over the world. 

[00:18:29] He was even offered a position by Abraham Lincoln in the American Civil War, as a major general in the union forces. 

[00:18:38] He rejected it, because he demanded that he was to be in control of the entire army and that Lincoln commit to the abolition of slavery, which were two conditions that Lincoln wasn’t prepared to meet.

[00:18:54] But coming back to Italy, crucially, there were two missing parts from modern Italy. Rome; which still belonged to the papal states, and Venice; which was part of the Austrian empire.

[00:19:08] The problem with Rome was that the French had promised the Pope to guard Rome’s independence from Italy, and had stationed troops there. There were French soldiers in Rome. 

[00:19:22] Any attack on these troops would be considered an attack on France.

[00:19:28] Nevertheless, Garibaldi, no doubt itching to be back in action, decided to do something about this.

[00:19:36] In 1862 he sailed to Palermo, in Sicily, and raised a small army to liberate Rome, but when he got to Rome he found that the regular Italian army stood there, ready to stop them, in order to not damage relations with the French. 

[00:19:56] This was a pretty strange situation, and Garibaldi instructed his troops not to fire on the Italian army. 

[00:20:05] An accidental shot was fired, more shots were fired in retaliation, and several men were killed. It was not a battle by any means, but several of the rebel forces were taken prisoner, including Garibaldi, who had been shot in the foot.

[00:20:25] Garibaldi was fine in the end, but it was an embarrassment for all concerned, and far from the glorious expedition he had led just a few years before through Sicily.

[00:20:39] Rome was to remain part of the Papal States until 1871, 9 years later, when the Franco-Prussia war meant that the French troops were sent away from Rome, which made capturing it a little easier. 

[00:20:54] But Garibaldi had nothing to do with that.

[00:20:58] So, if you are looking for some Italian dates for your diary, 1861 is the unification of Italy, 1870 is the unification of Italy plus Rome, and when the capital gets moved from Florence to Rome.

[00:21:15] By this time, though, Garibaldi had in effect retired to Caprera. 

[00:21:20] He had fallen out with Italy’s new political leaders, describing himself as an orange from which his political masters had sucked out the juice and thrown away the peel.

[00:21:34] But he was still immensely popular. Tourists traveled to nearby islands to try to catch a glimpse of him.

[00:21:44] On one of his rare trips outside Italy in his ‘semi retirement’, he went to England in 1864. 

[00:21:53] When he arrived in London the crowds waiting to see him were so large that it took him 6 hours to travel 5 kilometres. And reportedly servants in the houses that he stayed in would take his used bathwater, water from baths that he had had, they would put it in little bottles and make small fortunes selling it to obsessed fans.

[00:22:23] With Italy united, Garibaldi felt his mission in life was complete. Apart from a few trips abroad, he remained in Caprera until his death in 1882, at the ripe old age of 75.

[00:22:40] To say that Garibaldi had an eventful and remarkable life would be an understatement

[00:22:47] We’ve obviously only covered the highlights here, but he was a man who was for many the symbol of revolution, a 19th century Che Guevara but one who actually had a huge impact, fought for pro-independence movements in multiple different countries, and will be forever associated with the unification of an entire country against all the odds.

[00:23:14] He was nicknamed a hero of two worlds, because he wasn’t just a hero in Europe, but also in South America.

[00:23:23] There are thousands of statues of Garibaldi all over Italy, military units are named after him, an English football team, Nottingham Forest, chose its red colour of shirt after Garibaldi, he gave his name to a type of beard, there are a handful of pubs named after him in England, and most importantly, there is an English biscuit named after him.

[00:23:51] Now, the biscuit, if you are asking me, isn’t very nice, it’s a sort of flat biscuit with raisins in the middle, but it is just another example of the enduring legacy of Garibaldi. 

[00:24:06] One of the most amazing things about the legacy of Garibaldi is that it seems that he was universally praised, almost nobody had anything bad to say about him.

[00:24:19] The English historian A. J. P. Taylor even said that "Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history."

[00:24:29] The Italian author Francesco De Sanctis said “Garibaldi must win by force: he is not a man; it is a symbol, a form; he is the Italian soul. Between the beats of his heart, everyone hears the beats of his one”

[00:24:47] Che Guevara later said “The only hero the world has ever needed is called Giuseppe Garibaldi”

[00:24:55] And perhaps my favourite description of Garibaldi comes from an Argentine Admiral, a man called William Brown, who called Garibaldi "the most generous of the pirates I have ever encountered".

[00:25:11] OK then, that is it for the fantastic life of Giuseppe Garibaldi, statesman, guerilla, and revolutionary hero. 

[00:25:19] It was a little longer than usual, but he did have quite a life.

[00:25:25] At least now, if you are in Italy and see a statue of a man with a large beard, on a horse, then you’ll know a little bit more about who he was.

[00:25:36] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. 

[00:25:40] For the Italians listening, no doubt there are some great stories about Garibaldi that I haven’t included, and I'm sure that other curious minds would love to know about.

[00:25:50] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away - I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

[00:26:00] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:06] I’m Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I’ll catch you in the next episode.


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