It pains me to contradict Daniel Hannan, whose relentless bombardment of the Evil Empire based in Brussels is an inspiration and a joy to read, but in praising Garibaldi and the Risorgimento he has got hold of the wrong end of the stick. The forcible unification of the geographical expression called Italy was a dress rehearsal for the European Union.
The Italian preunitary states were nations which Piedmont – the Prussia of the Italian peninsula – incorporated by conquest into an artificial, bureaucratic and despotic entity called the “Kingdom of Italy”. The much-abused Bourbons of the Two Sicilies were popular monarchs who spoke the local dialect, kept the national debt and taxes down, and ensured their subjects had cheap food.
They were demonised by that sanctimonious old windbag Gladstone (and no, Daniel, an “Italian Gladstone” is an oxymoron) who took time off from saving fallen women to denounce the Bourbon monarchy as “the negation of God erected into a system of government”. That phrase would accurately describe the European Union. The true negation of God was the extravagant cynicism with which Cavour and Napoleon III, at Plombieres in 1858, plotted a war in which thousands would die: “a plausible excuse presented our main problem”, wrote Cavour.
The plebiscite held by the conquerors showed a Stalin/Ceausescu-style 99 per cent voting for incorporation into the Piedmontese state. The remaining 1 per cent must have been formidable since it held the Italian army at bay for five years in a bloody civil war in which more people were killed than in all the other Risorgimento wars combined.
The Grand Duchy of Tuscany, conquered and subjected to another rigged plebiscite, when under Habsburg rule was called by liberals such as Pietro Giordani “The Earthly Paradise”. Its economy was so dedicated to Free Trade (long before Britain) that cab drivers at the station in Florence were even forbidden to advertise their fares. The brutal invasion of the Papal States caused thousands of Catholics to enlist in a romantic international army of crusaders fighting for the rights of Pius IX, of whom 476 gave their lives in the Papal Zouaves unit, which included Englishmen.
The Sicilian mayor who denounced Garibaldi as “a ferocious murderer in the service of Freemasonry and the British” spoke the truth. The craft’s International Bulletin, in 1907, described Garibaldi as “the greatest freemason of Italy” and Mazzini was not far behind. The regime he imposed was a prefiguration of Fascism, with which it later comfortably cohabited. Today, freemasonry is a powerful element within the Brussels elites.
In recent years there has been a welcome resurgence of legitimism, with annual commemoration of the Bourbon cause at Civitella del Tronto, the last fortress to surrender to the usurpers. The Grand Duke Sigismondo of Tuscany was made a freeman of the city of Grosseto where he received a rapturous welcome and drove in the historic state coach.
These are real patriotisms in revolt against rule from both Rome and Brussels. Italian legitimism is subsidiarity in action. It is a common cause with all of us who detest the atheistic Brussels bureaucracy.