From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Expedition of the Thousand
Partenza da Quarto.jpg
The beginning of the expedition at Quarto.
Date 1860–1861
Location Sicily, Southern Italy
Result Decisive Sardinian/Italian victory, collapse of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Conquest of Southern Italy for the newly formed Kingdom of Italy

 Kingdom of Sardinia/Italy

 Hungarian legion of Italia[1]
 Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Italy Giuseppe Garibaldi
Kingdom of Italy Nino Bixio
Kingdom of Italy Enrico Cialdini
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Francis II of the Two Sicilies
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Ferdinando Lanza
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Giosuè Ritucci
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Pietro Carlo Maria Vial de Maton

The Expedition of the Thousand (Italian Spedizione dei Mille) was an event of the Italian Risorgimento took place in 1860. A corps of volunteers led by Giuseppe Garibaldi landed in Sicily in order to conquer the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, ruled by the Bourbons.

The project was an ambitious and risky venture to conquer, with a thousand men, a kingdom with a larger regular army and a more powerful navy. The expedition was a success and concluded with a plebiscite that brought Naples and Sicily into the Kingdom of Sardinia, the last territorial conquest before the creation of the Kingdom of Italy on March 17, 1861.

The sea venture was the only desired action that was jointly decided by the "four fathers of the nation" Italian Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel II and Camillo Cavour, pursuing divergent goals. It is difficult to determine the true instigator: Mazzini desired to release the Mezzogiorno and Rome while Garibaldi wants to conquer in the name of Victor Emmanuel II, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and continue to Rome to complete the unity of Italy, Cavour that wants to prevent at all costs to avoid a conflict with his French ally, Napoleon III, which protects Rome.

The expedition also brings new large collective ambiguity and misunderstanding: for Garibaldi, it is to achieve a united Italy; to the Sicilian bourgeoisie, an independent Sicily as part of the kingdom of Italy, and for the mass farmers, the end of oppression and land distribution.


The Italian peninsula is shared since the fall of Roman Empire in a multitude of small independent States. French Revolution and constitution of the Cisalpine then Italian Republic and the Kingdom of Italy (1805-1814) provoke a national feeling and républicain[2]. Insurrectionary movements are born alors[3]. Some of them are recovered by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia which becomes leader of the movement of political unification of the peninsula[4].

Further to the meeting of Plombières with Napoleon III on July 21st and 22nd, 1858, and especially after the signature of the treaty of defensive alliance between France and kingdom of Sardinia on January 26th, 1859, the Sardinian Head of government Camillo Cavour begins the preparations of unavoidable war intended to dispel the Austrians of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia created by the congress of Vienna of 1815[5].

On April 24th, 1859, Cavour succeeds in making sure that Austria declares war on the kingdom of Sardaigne[5]. The second war of independence begins on April 27th; after the release of Lombardy, it ends on July 11th, at the instigation of the only one Napoleon III[6]. The terms of the armistice of Villafranca acknowledge in the kingdom of Sardinia Lombardy (except for Peschiera and Mantoue)[7], but not Vénétie which returns to the kingdom of Italy only at the end of the third war of independence, in 1866[8].

From May, 1859, the populations of the grand duchy of Tuscany, of the legation of Romagnes (Bologna and Romagne), from the Duchy of Modena and Reggio and from the Duchy of Parma dispel their respective sovereigns and claim their annexation in the kingdom of Sardinia, in most cases thanks to members' action of the Italian National Society drawn away by the government piémontais[6][9], while the populations of Ombrie and Steps are subjected to the hard suppression of the pontifical government, the most bloody example of which is the massacre of Pérouse[10].

Napoleon III and Cavour are debtors one of the other: the first since it is removed from the conflict before the scheduled release of Venice, the second because he accepted that the insurrectional movements extend to the territories of northern and central Italy. The impasse is resolved the March 24, 1860, when Cavour signed the surrender of the Savoy and Nice to France and obtains the consent of the Emperor for the annexation of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna to the kingdom of Sardinia. As Cavour the indicates to the French envoy, the two have become "accomplices"[11].

Objectives and pressures of Piedmont[edit]

Italy in March, 1860.

In March, 1860, he stays, in what constitutes future Italy, that three States: the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, Papal States and the kingdom of Two Sicilies, it is necessary to add to which the empire of Austria of François-Joseph which still has solid interests in the Italian peninsula, with Vénétie, Trentino, Friuli and region of Mantua. Moreover, France plays at the same time the role of protective potency of the Pope and main ally of the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, of which she would definitely see however the territory limiting herself in northern Italy. This ambiguity allows to Napoleon III to keep an important influence on Italian business, influence which turns out to be decisive in 1860[12]. In effect, Napoleon III prevents, by its absence of support, an action of the kingdom of Sardinia counters Autriche[13], and an action against Rome by its definite opposition. There remains therefore for Piedmont only the single target: Naples.

The kingdom of Two Sicilies must cope with a agitation anti-bourbonienne in the island of Sicily10 and presented the weaknesses. First of all, its monarch, François II, is young and inexperienced: it has only twenty-three years old when he succeeded his father Ferdinand II the May 22, 1859, less than a year before the shipment. On the other hand, the kingdom has become a troublesome presence for the United Kingdom, with which the relationships are very bad since 1836 and the question of the sulfur 13.14 . Finally, the United Kingdom supports the kingdom of Sardinia in order to counter the French policy in the peninsule15. The other European powers such as Spain, Austria and Russia, more reactionary, are placed on the side of Deux-Siciles , but retain a wait-and-see attitude. In a Europe and shared, the kingdom of Deux-Siciles is somewhat isolated and can no longer rely on its own forces16

The kingdom of the South is still the biggest State, and, theoretically, the most powerful of the peninsula. He can depend on an army of 93 000 hommes17, in what add four auxiliary regiments of mercenaries, and the most powerful fleet of all Mediterranean Sea: eleven modern frigates, five corvettes and six brigantins stream, as well as different types of voiliers18,14. Finally, as Ferdinand II said, the kingdom is protected by « salt water and holy water » (« dall' acqua salata e dall' acqua benedetta »), that is to say by the sea and the presence of the pontifical States which, protected by France, make state service stamp and prevent any plague of the Earth of royaume18

An action begun by François II in keeping with the emperor François-Joseph takes place in autumn-winter, 1859 and dresses a particular importance: both monarches support the claims of Pie IX, Léopold II de Toscane and the dukes of Modène and Parma to take back their territorial belongings in Italy centrale19. Initiative opposes in fact directly to the interests of Turin and, as a result, Paris, at the time when Napoleon III, to justify war against Austria in front of French public opinion, must append territories (object of agreements of Tutti-frutti) to France19.

Before expedition[edit]

casus belli[edit]

To submit the Two Sicilies, the Kingdom of Sardinia need a reason to intervene: it is not to issue a declaration of war against the Kingdom of Bourbons20, 21, Cavour always presented as being the instrument of policing powers from européennes22. The only event that would satisfy this requirement would be an uprising from within, which proves the disaffection of the population towards the reigning dynasty of Naples, and especially the failure of Francis II to ensure public order in its territoires22. Sicily is a fertile ground, as shown by the history of previous decades. Southern liberals, especially those returning home after the amnesties granted by the young king after his accession to the throne in May 1859, working in the sens23.

The internal situation of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies[edit]

Arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Several rebellions broke out in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies in the first half of the nineteenth century, all repressed by the Bourbons: the insurrection of 182,024, the Calabrian revolution of 1847, the Sicilian revolution of independence of 1848, the insurrection of the Calabrian same year, and the constitutional movement of Naples, still in 1848. From a military point of view, to maintain close ties with the Austrian empire is fundamental to the Two Sicilies. Twice the Bourbons regained their throne thanks to the intervention of the Austrian armies: in 1815, the Austrian army defeated Federico Bianchi Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother, at the Battle of Tolentino in 1821 the Austrian Johann Maria Philipp Frimont beats Guglielmo Pepe troops at the battles of Rieti and Antrodoco25. In 1860, however, the situation is much more favorable to the Bourbons: since 1821, in fact, the army receives ongoing funding from the diet and is reinforced by units composed of foreigners (including Switzerland) which seem faithful to the house régnante26. Populations of the provinces of peninsular are for their generally close to the Bourbon dynasty, as evidenced by the success of the movement that toppled Sanfedist republic in 1799 by massacring the Neapolitan Jacobins of the kingdom of Naples, as well as the anti French-period 1806-181527

The Mazzinians and Sicily[edit]

In 1860, the only opposing force to the Bourbons who shows his willingness to take up arms is autonomism sicilien10. Memories of the long revolution of 1848 are still alive in the island, where repression by the Bourbons was particularly hard. Subsequently, the Neapolitan government attempts to achieve a political settlement have been unsuccessful. Intolerance is not limited to the ruling classes, but for a large part of the urban and rural population that associates with the Risorgimento, as evidenced by their membership in the ranks of volunteers Marsala Garibaldi Messina until the Volturno28 battle. Many executives of the revolution of 1848 (including Rosolino Pilo and Francesco Crispi) fled to Turin. They participate in the second war of independence and adopt a decidedly liberal political position and unit. These are Mazzinians who see in Sicily insurgency in the intervention of Garibaldi and the House of Savoy, the basic elements for the success of the cause unitaire29. On 2 March 1860, Giuseppe Mazzini wrote an incitement to rebellion and the Sicilians said: "Garibaldi is required to accourir29." Early March, Pilo addresses Garibaldi, first asking for weapons, then inviting a response directe30. Garibaldi finds it inappropriate that any revolutionary movement does not have a good chance of success. He wants to lead the revolution if requested by the people, and in the name of Victor Emmanuel II (Italia e Vittorio Emanuele) 31.30. With the help of local people and the support of the Piedmont, Garibaldi can prevent disasters such as the failure of previous actions of the brothers Bandiera and Carlo Pisacane30. Although he did not receive the support of Garibaldi, Pilo went to Sicily on March 25 with the intention of preparing the ground for future expédition32. Accompanied by Giovanni Corraro another Mazzinian, Pilo arrives at Messina and immediately contacts with representatives of the most important families. In this way, he obtained the support of landowners. The barons, in fact, once the expeditionary force landed, make available their bands, picciotti33. Pilo was killed in a confrontation May 21 186 034.

The revolt of Gancia[edit]

The revolt began on April 4 in Palermo réprimé35 immediately by an episode which has players on the field, and Pasquale Riso30 away from the theater, Francesco Crispi, who coordinates the activities of the rebels since Gênes36. Despite its failure, the action gives rise to a series of events and insurrections35 whose walk Rosolino Pilo Messina Piana dei Greci from 10 to 20 April. To those Pilo meets along the way, he says they should be prepared "for the arrival of Garibaldi." The news of the uprising is confirmed on the continent by a coded telegram sent by Nicola Fabrizi April 27. The content of the message is not encouraging and increasing uncertainty Garibaldi point he renounces, in a first time, the idea of ​​an expedition. For those who support the company, it is a disappointment. Francesco Crispi, who had decoded the telegram says he was wrong and provides a new version, probably falsified convinces Garibaldi to undertake the expédition37 38.


  1. ^ Magyarország hadtörténete 1. (Military history of Hungary), Zrínyi Katonai Kiadó 1984. ISBN 963-326-320-4
  2. ^ (Banti 2011, p. 3-27)
  3. ^ (Banti 2011, p. 53)
  4. ^ Nations and nationalism in XIXth Century archive consulted 25 October, on 2011
  5. ^ a b (Banti 2011, p. 108)
  6. ^ a b (Banti 2011, p. 109)
  7. ^ The Second War of Independence Consulted 14 July 2011
  8. ^ The third war of independence: the Veneto to Italy consulted 14 July 2011
  9. ^ (Martucci 1999, p. 25)
  10. ^ Massacres of Perugia… June 20, 1859 Consulted 5 July 2011
  11. ^ (Banti 2011, p. 111)
  12. ^ Napoleon III the creates united Italy consulted 4 July 2011
  13. ^ (Banti 2011, p. 110)