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Giuseppe Garibaldi


Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian patriot, was the son of a sailor, and himself went early to sea, becoming a merchant captain in 1832. Between 1833 and 1834 he served in the navy of the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. In 1834 he became involved in the 'Young Italy' movement of Mazzini, and was condemned to death for taking part in an attempt to seize Genoa. He fled to France, and in 1836 he was living in South America, where in the rebellion of Rio Grande against Brazil he distinguished himself as a guerrilla fighter and privateer. He was taken prisoner, and eloped with and married the beautiful Creole Anita Riveira de Silva, the mother of his children Menotti, Ricciotti and Teresa. After some experiences as drover, shipbroker, and teacher of mathematics, he in 1842 joined the Montevideans, then at war with Buenos Aires, and gained renown as naval commander and as organiser of the Italian legion. In 1847 he offered his services to the reforming Pope Pius IX, but received an ambiguous reply; and Charles Albert of Sardinia, besieging the Austrians in Mantua in 1848, coldly referred him to his ministers. But after the collapse of the Sardinian army, Garibaldi and his volunteers performed notable feats against the Austrians. In 1849 he joined the revolutionary government of Rome, voted for a republic, drove back the French force, and routed the Neapolitans. Mazzini had meanwhile been inveigled into an armistice; the French, reinforced, laid siege to Rome; and Garibaldi, recalled, made a brilliant defence, but was forced to retreat, pursued by the Austrians, to the Adriatic; in this flight Anita died. Arrested by the Sardinian government and requested to leave Italy, he betook himself to New York, where he worked eighteen months as a candle maker, and then became captain of a Pacific merchantman.

Garibaldi returned to Italy in 1854, and had settled down as a farmer on the island of Caprera, when in 1859 the war of Italian liberation enabled him to render valuable service to Victor Emmanuel and the French. After the peace of Villafranca he helped to annex various territories to Sardinia, but was not allowed to march on Rome. Meanwhile the Mazzinists had been conspiring against the Bourbon tyranny in the Two Sicilies, and Garibaldi, in spite of Cavour, came to their aid. 'The thousand heroes' landed at Marsala on 11 May 1860; within three months Sicily was free; and crossing the straits (August 29) Garibaldi entered Naples (September 7) amid the cheers of King Francis’ troops. When Victor Emmanuel, elected sovereign by a plebiscite, arrived at Naples, Garibaldi, refusing all reward, retired to Caprera. Rome was still the centre of his thoughts, and in 1862 he embarked on a rash expedition against the capital; but the Italian government sent troops against him, and he was taken prisoner at Aspromonte (August 28). He paid a visit to England to support the cause of Denmark, and was received by the public with wild enthusiasm, but requested to return home by the government. In the war of 1866 he once more commanded the 'Red Shirts' in Tyrol. Venice was now ceded to Italy; and next year Garibaldi made his last attempt on the Holy City. Arrested by the Italian government, he escaped from Caprera, and with his volunteers defeated the papal troops at Monterotondo, but was a few days after (November 3) utterly routed at Mentana by the Zouaves and French.

Garibaldi again retired to Caprera, where in 1870 he published two poor novels. A third, in 1872, was based on the Sicilian expedition. In 1870 he came to the assistance of the French Republic, and was placed in command of the volunteers of the Vosges; but, crippled by rheumatism and hopelessly outnumbered, he had no considerable success, and, elected to the Bordeaux assembly, was so insulted as to resign at once. Henceforth he remained a helpless invalid at Caprera, except on occasions like that in 1874, when he took his seat in the Chamber of Deputies at Rome; and through the generosity of English friends he became proprietor of the island. An unlucky marriage of 1860 was annulled in 1879, and he married in 1880 the nurse of his grandchildren. Garibaldi was a good commander of irregulars but his ignorance of politics sometimes did harm to his cause, yet he remains the central figure in the story of Italian independence.

Place of birth: Nice
Place of first marriage: Montevideo
Place of death: Caprera, Sardinia

Place of burial: Caprera, Sardinia

Son of Domenico Garibaldi and Rosa Raimondi. He was married firstly to Anita Ribeiro da Silva in 1842, and had issue; secondly to Giuseppina Raimondi in 1860 (annulled 1880), with no issue; thirdly to Francesca Armosino in 1880, and had issue.



1. J.O. Thorne. Chambers Biographical Dictionary, 2nd rev. edn. London: W. & R. Chambers Harrap, 1923.
2. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018.

Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 52. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 1999.

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