Giuseppe Mazzini 1805 – 1872 was an Italian patriot, philosopher and politician. His efforts helped bring about the modern Italian state in place of the several separate states, many dominated by foreign powers, that existed until the 19th century. He also helped define the modern European movement for popular democracy in a republican state.
Guiseppe Mazzini introduced homeopath John Epps and his wife Ellen Epps to the Rossetti’s… Guiseppe Mazzini, another important Italian patriot who ‘found refuge in London in 1837’. No doubt at John Epps’s house.
European exiles, too, gravitated towards 142 Strand on their arrival in England from repressive regimes. Refugees of many nationalities fled to London, especially after the failed uprisings in European capitals, from Paris to Vienna, in 1848.
A number of them, including the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini, who had found refuge in London several years before, and Karl Marx, who arrived in 1849, became acquainted with John Chapman, attending his soirées at number 142 and in some cases publishing their books and articles with him.
Giuseppe Mazzini was appointed head of the Illuminati in 1834:
While attending Genoa University, Giuseppe Mazzini became a 33rd degree Mason, and joined a secret organization known as the Carbonari – their stated goal in 1818: “Our final aim is that of Voltaire and of the French Revolution – the complete annihilation of Catholicism, and ultimately all Christianity”, where he became committed to the cause of Italian unity.
In 1831 he was exiled to France where he founded the ‘Young Societies’ movement which included Giovane Italia (Young Italy), Young England, etc. This group united those who wanted to achieve unification through force.
Mazzini moved to England in 1837 then returned to Italy in 1848 to lead the revolution against the Austrians. Again he was exiled.
In the 1850’s he led more revolutionary activities, and through his actions Italy became united in 1861 as a single kingdom rather than the republic envisioned by Mazzini.
Mazzini, who became known as the ‘Evil Genius of Italy,’ tried to carry on the activities of the Illuminati through the Alta Vendita Lodge, the highest lodge of the Carbonari.
From 1814-48, the group known as the Haute Vente Romaine led the activities of most of Europe’s secret societies. In April, 1836 the head of the Haute Vente Romaine, whose pseudonym was ‘Nubius,’ wrote to ‘Beppo’: “Mazzini behaves too much like a conspirator of melodrama to suit the obscure role we resign ourselves to play until our triumph. Mazzini likes to talk about a great many things, about himself above all. He never ceases writing that he is overthrowing thrones and altars, that he fertilizes the peoples, that he is the prophet of humanitarianism…”
In 1860, Giuseppe Mazzini had formed an organization called the ‘Oblonica,’ a name derived from the Latin ‘obelus’, which means: “I beckon with a spit (dagger).” Within this group, he established an inner circle called the Mafia.
Giuseppe Mazzini was born in Genoa, then part of the Ligurian Republic, under the rule of the French Empire. His father, Giacomo, was a university professor who had adhered to Jacobin ideology; his mother, Maria Drago, was renowned for her beauty and religious fervour.
Since a very early age, Mazzini showed good learning qualities (as well as a precocious interest towards politics and literature), and was admitted to the University at only 15, graduating in law in 1826, initially practicing as a “poor man’s lawyer”. He also hoped to become a historical novelist or a dramatist, and in the same year he wrote his first essay, Dell’amor patrio di Dante (“On Dante’s Patriotic Love”), which was published in 1837. In 1828-1829 he collaborated with a Genoese newspaper, L’indicatore genovese, which was however soon closed by the Piedmontese authorities.
In 1830 Mazzini travelled to Tuscany, where he became a member of the Carbonari, a secret association with political purposes. On October 31 of that year he was arrested at Genoa and interned at Savona. During his imprisonment he devised the outlines of a new patriotic movement aiming to replace the unsuccessful Carbonari.
Although freed in the early 1831, he chose exile to the life confined into some small hamlet which was requested him by the police, moving to Geneva in Switzerland.
In 1831 he went to Marseille, where he become a popular figure to the other Italian exiles. He lived in the apartment of Giuditta Bellerio Sidoli, a beautiful Modenese widow who would become his lover, and organized a new political society called La giovine Italia (Young Italy). The group’s motto was God and the People, and its basic principle was the union of the several states and kingdoms of the peninsula into a single republic as the only true foundation of Italian liberty. The new nation had to be: “One, Independent, Free Republic”.
The Mazzinian propaganda met some success in Tuscany, Abruzzi, Sicily, Piedmont and his native Liguria, especially among several military officers. It counted c. 60,000 adherents in 1833, with branches in Genoa and other cities. In that year Mazzini launched a first attempt of insurrection, which would spread from Chambéry (then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia), Alessandria, Turin and Genoa. However, the Savoy government discovered the plot before it could begin and many revolutionaries (including Vincenzo Gioberti) were arrested. The repression was ruthless: 12 participants were executed, while Mazzini’s best friend and director of the Genoese section of the Giovine Italia, Jacopo Ruffini, killed himself. Mazzini was tried in absence and sentenced to death.
Despite this setback (whose victims later created numerous doubts and psychological strife in Mazzini), he organized another uprising for the following year. A group of Italian exiles was to enter Piedmont from Switzerland and spread the revolution there, while Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had recently joined the Giovine Italia, was to do the same from Genoa. However, the Piedmontese troops easily crushed the new attempt.
On May 28, 1834 Mazzini was arrested at Soletta, and exiled from Switzerland. He moved to Paris, where he was again imprisoned on July 5. He was released only after promising he would move to England.
Mazzini, together with a few Italian friends, moved in January 1837 to live in London in very poor economic conditions.
On April 30, 1837 Mazzini reformed the Giovine Italia in London, and on November 10 of the same year he began issuing the Apostolato popolare (“Apostleship of the People”).
A succession of failed attempts at promoting further uprising in Sicily, Abruzzi, Tuscany and Lombardy-Venetia discouraged Mazzini for a long period, which dragged on until 1840. He was also abandoned by Giuditta Bellerio Sidoli, who had returned to Italy to rejoin her children. The help of his mother pushed Mazzini to found several organizations aimed at the unification or liberation of other nations, in the wake of Giovine Italia: Young Germany, Young Poland, Young Switzerland, which were under the aegis of Young Europe (Giovine Europa). He also created an Italian school for poor people.
From London he also wrote an endless series of letters to his agents in Europe and South America, and made friends with Thomas Carlyle. The “Young Europe” movement also inspired a group of young Turkish army cadets and students who, later in history, will name themselves the “Young Turks“.
In 1843 he organized another riot in Bologna, which attracted the attention of two young officers of the Austrian Navy, Attilio and Emilio Bandiera. With Mazzini’s support, they landed near Cosenza (Kingdom of Naples), but were arrested and executed. Mazzini accused the British government of having passed information about the expeditions to the Neapolitans, and question was raised in the British Parliament. When it was admitted that his private letters had indeed been opened, and its contents revealed by the Foreign Office to the Neapolitan government, Mazzini gained popularity and support among the British liberals, who were outraged by such a blatant intrusion of the government into his private correspondence.
In 1847 he moved again to London, where he wrote a long “open letter” to Pope Pius IX, whose apparently liberal reforms had gained him a momentary status as possible paladin of the unification of Italy. The Pope, however, did not reply.
Mazzini also founded the People’s International League. By March 8, 1848 Mazzini was in Paris, where he launched a new political association, the Associazione Nazionale Italiana.
On April 7, 1848 Mazzini reached Milan, whose population had rebelled against the Austrian garrison and established a provisional government. The First Italian War of Independence, started by the Piedmontese King Charles Albert to exploit the favourable circumstances in Milan, turned into a total failure. Mazzini, who had never been popular in the city because he wanted Lombardy to become a republic instead to join Piedmont, abandoned Milan. He joined Giuseppe Garibaldi‘s irregular force at Bergamo, moving to Switzerland with him.
On February 9, 1849 a Republic was declared in Rome, with Pope Pius IX forced to flee to Gaeta. On February 9 of that year Mazzini reached the city, and was appointed as “triumvir” of the new republic on March 29, becoming soon the true leader of the government and showing good administrative capabilities in social reforms. However, when the French troops called by the Pope made clear that the resistance of the Republican troops, led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, was in vain, on July 12, 1849 Mazzini set out for Marseille, from where he moved again to Switzerland.
Mazzini spent all of 1850 hiding from the Swiss police. In July he founded the association Amici di Italia in London, to attract consensus towards the Italian liberation cause. Two failed riots in Mantua (1852) and Milan (1853) were a crippling blow for the Mazzinian organization, whose prestige never recovered. He later opposed the alliance signed by Savoy with Austria for the Crimean War. Also vain was the expeditions of Felice Orsini in Carrara of 1853-1854.
In 1856 he returned to Genoa to organize a series of uprisings: the only serious attempt was that of Carlo Pisacane in Calabria, which again met a dismaying end. Mazzini managed to escape the police, but was condemned to death by default. From this moment on, Mazzini was more of a spectator than a protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento, whose reins were now strongly in the hands of the Savoyard monarch Victor Emmanuel II and his skilled prime minister, Camillo Benso, Conte di Cavour. The latter defined him as “Chief of the assassins”.
In 1858 he founded another journal in London, Pensiero e azione (“Thought and Action”. Also there, on February 21, 1859, together with 151 republicans he signed a manifesto against the alliance between Piedmont and the King of France which resulted in the Second War of Italian Independence and the conquest of Lombardy.
On May 2, 1860 he tried to reach Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was going to launch his famous Expedition of the Thousand in southern Italy. In the same year he released Doveri dell’uomo (“Duties of Men”), a synthesis of his moral, political and social thoughts. In mid September he was in Naples, then under Giuseppe Garibaldi‘s dictatorship, but was invited by the local vice dictator Giorgio Pallavicino to move away.
In 1862 he again joined Giuseppe Garibaldi during his failed attempt to free Rome. In 1866 Venetia was ceded by France, who obtained it from Austria at the end of the Austro Prussian War, to the new Kingdom of Italy, which had been created in 1861 under the Savoy monarchy. At this time Mazzini was frequently in polemics with the course followed by the unification of his country, and in 1867 he refused a seat in the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
In 1870, during an attempt to free Sicily, he was arrested and imprisoned in Gaeta. He was freed in October due to the amnesty conceded after the successful capture of Rome, and returned to London in mid-December. Giuseppe Mazzini died in Pisa in 1872. His funeral was held in Genoa, with 100,000 people taking part in them.
Mazzini was a personal friend of Emily, daughter of Thomas Southwood Smith.