History ETDs

Publication Date



Eighteen forty-eight at its opening gave to many Italian patriots the hope that the time had at last come when Italy would be united under the leadership of Pope Pius IX. But very soon the dream was killed. The year indeed began with revolutions in Sicily and in all of Europe; Pope Pius IX was faced with demands, both liberal and nationalist, much beyond what he was prepared to grant. On March 14 he was compelled to grant a constitution. When, on March 23, Charles Albert of Sardinia declared war on Austria, Pius tried to steer a middle course; however, in the atmosphere of the times, his position was judged was a clear display of absolute hostility to the national cause. The Papacy appeared as a bulwark of reaction. Pius IX was a liberal Pope, but he did not have a plan for replacing the traditional policies with new ones; he was never definitive or decisive in his decisions; and his actions always reflected a conflict between his patriotism and his duties as head of the universal church. To prevent revolution from breaking out in Rome itself, the Pope appointed really popular ministers, but the demands of the liberals were always more and more pressing and the opposition of the conservatives was becoming stronger every day; therefore, the Pope and his ministers were not able to control the difficult situation. In the midst of chaos, he thought to solve his problems by appointing as chief minister, Pellegrino Rossi. Despite Rossi's uncommon intellectual and personal qualities, he was doomed to failure; the liberals judged him too conservative and the conservatives saw in him a very dangerous revolutionary. A steadily deteriorating situation culminated in Rossi's assassination on November 15. In his indecision Pius IX took another wrong step in the appointment of Rossi's successors: the radicals I. Muzzarelli and G. Galletti. When the Swiss guards were disbanded the Pope became a virtual prisoner, and, on November 24, with the aid of the French and Bavarian ambassadors, he fled to Gaeta in the Kingdom of Naples. And that was the end of the Neo-Guelph myth, the end of the dream of having a Pope as creator of Italian unification.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Gunther Eric Rothenberg

Second Committee Member

Walter Warren Wagar

Third Committee Member

Robert William Kern



Document Type


Included in

History Commons