The Carbonari, the secret society that instigated revolutions in Italy

The Carbonari, the secret society that instigated revolutions in Italy

Much has been written about secret societies. But without a doubt there is one that has more value than any about the history of Italy: the carbonari. This group was born in Naples at the beginning of the 19th century as a reaction to the Napoleonic occupation of the country. The objective of the society was to establish democratic regimes throughout Europe, endowing each of the nations with a constitution drawn up by the people.

The members of the organization did not know all the purposes of the organization and were subject to oaths of fidelity and confidentiality that, if they broke, they were paid with life. They used to be bourgeois who wanted political freedom and constitutional government within their nations. The structure was hierarchical and was divided into different local nuclei throughout several cities, but not much more is known, due to the secrecy of the organization. However, it is known that there was a civil section, in charge of propaganda and peaceful protest, and a military section that was in charge of guerrilla-style military actions.

The end of Napoleon and the arrival of Ferdinand I it did nothing but increase the membership of this secret society. They began to practice violent acts in the cities of the Italian peninsula and demonstrated in favor of Italian unification.

Their most relevant role was played in the Italian revolutions of 1820, where they were vital. They organized anti-absolutist revolts and in favor of the proclamation of a Liberal constitution, following the example of Rafael de Riego in Spain. At that time, several army officers they joined the Carbonari and they marched towards Naples with their troops, bringing about the end of the absolute reign (although only for a few years) of Ferdinand I. In the same way, the Piedmontese Carbonari finished their king Victor Emmanuel I.

The intervention of the Holy Alliance To restore absolutism in the Italian kingdoms, he caused many Carbonari to be sentenced to death, exile, or imprisoned. The organization was seriously affected. However, it was not their end, since in 1830 they returned to arms against the absolutist states.

However, a new defeat years later at the hands of the Austrians caused the end of the Carbonari. They disbanded and were forced to join new groups (Giovine Italy) or to put aside their claims. But the nationalist, unitary and liberal spirit that they spread throughout the Italian peninsula would be key to achieving unification years later.

Image: Public domain

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved History and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

Video: Revolutions of 1820 in Piedmont-Sardinia: Italian Unification