Garibaldi enters Naples in triumph
The general becomes master of southern Italy – an important step towards unification
Summer 1860 found radical lawyer Edwin James in Italy, awaiting one of the greatest spectacles of the age. After conquering Sicily, Italian nationalist leader Giuseppe Garibaldi had landed on the mainland on 19 August and was marching his troops north towards Naples. As the redshirts came closer, the city’s Bourbon ruler, Francis II, began to panic and on the night of 6 September he fled. Garibaldi’s entry into the city was a triumph of public relations. The self-styled liberator arrived by train from Salerno, a sign of his modernity. “The joy and enthusiasm of the people,” wrote James, who had a seat on board, “exceed the powers of description.” And as Garibaldi made his way through the city by carriage, the crowds became ever more enthusiastic.
James wrote the next day: “No pen can describe the scene – the whole population thronged the station – bands, banners, bandieri, National Guards, carriages, ladies of rank and station attired in their white dresses trimmed with Garibaldian colours… every human being in the city almost, formed the procession to the Palazzo d’Angri, and there he is installed, and shows himself at the windows. The shouts of ‘Viva Garibaldi!’ and ‘Viva Italia una!’ are deafening, and thousands crowd the staircases and saloons of this palace.”
Now, wrote another observer, “by the will of the Almighty and of a people now stammering the first accents of freedom”, Giuseppe Garibaldi was the master of southern Italy.