Garibaldi en­ters Naples in tri­umph

The gen­eral be­comes mas­ter of south­ern Italy – an im­por­tant step to­wards uni­fi­ca­tion

BBC History Magazine - - Anniversaries -

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.

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