Making Italy: How the Disparate North and South tried giving “Italy” a try

by Don H. DOYLE

Italy began its modern national existence as the newly united Kingdom of Italy in the same troubled spring of 1861 that witnessed the break up of what some Europeans began calling the “dis- United States.” The Italians called their struggle for national independence and unification the Risorgimento, implying that modern Italy was to be a “resurgence” of something that came before, something destined to live again once foreign intruders were cast off. America won independence from British rule, and then, by way of treaties, wars, and expulsion, between the 1780s and 1840s the new nation wrested control of the hinterland from Spain, France, Britain, Native Americans, and Mexicans. The Italians had to dislodge several different “foreign” rulers between 1859 and 1870: Austrians in the North, Spanish Bourbons in the South, and finally the French troops defending Rome and the Papal States in central Italy.