Bri­tain fetes Garibaldi

The Ital­ian na­tion­al­ist’s con­quest of Si­cily made him the toast of po­lite so­ci­ety

BBC History Magazine - - Sicily And Britain -

On 11 May 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi landed at the Si­cil­ian port of Marsala with 1,000 troops. His aim was to lib­er­ate Si­cily from its Span­ish Bour­bon rulers in the name of the Sar­dinian king Vic­tor Em­manuel II, and to kick-start the uni­fi­ca­tion of Italy. Garibaldi was no stranger to guer­rilla war­fare: he had fought in Brazil and Uruguay, as well as in Italy, and was used to hav­ing huge odds stacked against him. Within a month he had taken Palermo and in lit­tle over a year he had driven the Bour­bons out of Si­cily. Not for noth­ing is he known as one of the fa­thers of Italy.

The story of Garibaldi’s great cru­sade made head­lines in the US, in Rus­sia and, per­haps most notably, in Bri­tain. The idea of free­ing Si­cily from the Span­ish Bour­bons in­spired Bri­tons not only to fol­low the news of Garibaldi’s in­va­sion, but to ac­tively sup­port it, rais­ing money for his cause. We know that fig­ures as il­lus­tri­ous as Charles Dick­ens and Florence Nightin­gale do­nated.

His con­quest of Si­cily com­plete, next Garibaldi launched an at­tack on the other great Bour­bon king­dom of south­ern Italy, Naples, hav­ing hitched a lift across the straits of Messina with the sup­port of the Bri­tish Royal Navy. And as he en­tered the fray, Bri­tain hon­oured him with per­haps the ultimate ac­co­lade: the in­ven­tion of a bis­cuit. The cre­ation of the ‘Garibaldi’ launched the ultimate teatime show­down: Bour­bons v Garibaldis.

Bri­tish troops are wel­comed by Si­cil­ian chil­dren af­ter driv­ing Ger­man and Ital­ian forces from the is­land

Bri­tons helped fund Garibaldi’s push to end the Bour­bons’ cen­turies-long rule of Si­cily

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.