Shaping Italy: British Efforts to Restrain Italy, 1862–66

  • O. J. Wright
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


While Garibaldi was on the loose in Sicily during the summer of 1862, Lord John Russell, who had expended so much energy attempting to formulate possible solutions to the Roman Question, observed that there was no early prospect of the Emperor Napoléon III withdrawing his troops from Rome, as ‘Garibaldi furnishes the French Govt with too good an excuse for staying’. Garibaldi’s activities, and the conduct of the Rattazzi government during the Italian crisis of 1862, made the British anxious over not only the unstable condition of the Kingdom of Italy, but also the potential for its incompleteness to cause problems in international affairs. Lord Cowley, the British ambassador at Paris, advised the foreign secretary that Russell’s restless attempts to induce the French to evacuate Rome ‘caused difficulties instead of removing them’ and advised him in the aftermath of Aspromonte to desist from such intervention. Moreover, Queen Victoria complained frequently of ‘the want of dignity’ in Britain’s efforts. In the context of Aspromonte, Russell was obliged to admit that it was beyond his capacity to resolve the Roman Question, at least for the time being. In September 1862, he considered asking his nephew Odo if, through his role as the unofficial British representative to the Holy See, he might be able ‘to induce the Pope to leave Rome for a time & go to Malta—small chance I fear’. After that, the British finally left the matter alone.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • O. J. Wright
    • 1
  1. 1.Leeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

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