Royal war and popular war

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Royal war and popular (or people's) war (Guerra regia e guerra di popolo) is a recurring concept in the historiography of the Italian Risorgimento, referring to the two possible forms in which the whole of Italy could be conquered and formed into a single independent state.

First Italian Independence War[edit]

In the First Independence War for italy, which ended unfavourably for the Risorgimento cause, there was a balance between two initiatives: people's war and royal war. The notable moments in the people's war were:

  • the Five Days of Milan, chronologically the first notable action that led to the Austrians' exit from Milan, which was thus brought about solely by a spontaneous revolt by the city's inhabitants.
  • the Repubblica di San Marco, which governed Venice from 17 March 1848 to 22 August 1849 and only fell after a hard-fought siege.
  • the Ten Days of Brescia, in which Brescia's inhabitants responded to Austrian repression by resisting their troops from 23 March (the day of Piedmont's defeat at Novara) to 1 April 1849.
  • the Roman Republic from 24 November 1848 (the flight of pope Pius IX) to 3 July 1849.

The royal war was the campaign by the Kingdom of Piedmont, including the battles of Goito, Peschiera del Garda, Custoza and Novara.

Second Italian Independence War[edit]

The Second Independence War was a typical example of royal war led by Victor Emmanuel II, allied to Napoleon III in conducting a war against Austria. The people's war was only a minor support Hunters of the Alps, a corps of volunteers commanded by Giuseppe Garibaldi and considered as a special unit within the royal army.

Expedition of the Thousand[edit]

The Expedition of the Thousand was entirely a people's war, with GaribaldI being its central figure.

Third Italian Independence War[edit]

In the Third Independence War, with the Italian defeats at Custoza and Lissa, was essentially a royal war, though the corps of volunteers under Garibaldi did win a victory at Bezzecca.

Analogy with the Resistance[edit]

The same contrast between royal war and people's war can be applied to the history of the Second World War,[1] when a disastrous war under the royal and fascist régime was followed by the people's war of the Italian Resistance.


  1. ^ Roberto Battaglia, Storia della Resistenza italiana (8 settembre 1943 - 25 aprile 1945), Torino, Einaudi, 1964; Giorgio Bocca, Storia dell'Italia partigiana, Bari, Laterza, 1963


  • A. Monti, Guerra regia e guerra di popolo nel Risorgimento. in Questioni di Storia a cura di Rota. (1951)