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Empire, city, nation: Venice's imperial past and the 'making of Italians' from unification to fascism

Central European University Press
Publication Date
  • History
  • Political Science


Stefan_Alexei_empire1_with_translations Empire, city, nation: Venice’s imperial past and the ‘making of Italians’ from unification to fascism David Laven and Elsa Damien In the aftermath of the 1848-9 revolutions, even amongst those political commentators most deeply sympathetic to the cause of Italian unification, it remained a commonplace to decry not only the politically fragmented nature of the peninsula but the deep internal divisions within the Italian people. Thus, for example, the French historian François-Tommy Perrens, writing in a work completed shortly after New Year 1857, reflected that, Agreement is no more than a dream. Everywhere division rules, between subjects as much as between princes, between one province of city and another, even within the very heart of an individual city. Nothing can be done that requires collective effort. Much has been spoken of federations and leagues, without a single one ever having been formed. In vain has it been desired to unite Rome with Florence, Lombardy with Piedmont, Sicily with Naples; but no one can agree on anything, even on the battle field. […] These suspicions, these universal jealousies have made Italy fail in favourable circumstances that perhaps will not be seen again for many years. L’accord n’est qu’une vague aspiration. Partout règne la division, et entre les sujets comme entre les princes, d’une province d’une ville à l’autre et jusqu’au sein d’une même cité. Rien ne s’y fait de ce qui demande des efforts collectifs. On a beaucoup parlé de fédérations et de ligues sans en former une seule. Vainement on a voulu réunir Rome à Florence, la Lombardie au Piémont, Venise à la Lombardie, la Sicile à Naples ; on n’a pu marcher d’accord nulle part, pas même sur les champs de bataille … Ces défiances, ces jalousies universelles ont fait échouer l’Italie dans des circonstances favorables qui ne renouvelleront pas de longtemps peut-être.1 At first glance it might appear as though Perrens spo

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