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Talking History: The Italian Unification

Updated 9 days ago

Education
History
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Two brothers telling the story of the Italian Unification, 1790-1870. Our story will start with a quick recap of Italian history from Roman times to 1790, then we'll slow down and examine the complex social, political, and economic themes as we cover the events of the Italian Unification.

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Two brothers telling the story of the Italian Unification, 1790-1870. Our story will start with a quick recap of Italian history from Roman times to 1790, then we'll slow down and examine the complex social, political, and economic themes as we cover the events of the Italian Unification.

iTunes Ratings

194 Ratings
Average Ratings
168
13
8
2
3

Perfect.

By Jed Bell - Aug 26 2019
Read more
Charming, gripping, and informative. Mille grazie!

Come back

By shtock - Jun 20 2019
Read more
Excellent podcast wish they didn’t quit.

iTunes Ratings

194 Ratings
Average Ratings
168
13
8
2
3

Perfect.

By Jed Bell - Aug 26 2019
Read more
Charming, gripping, and informative. Mille grazie!

Come back

By shtock - Jun 20 2019
Read more
Excellent podcast wish they didn’t quit.
Cover image of Talking History: The Italian Unification

Talking History: The Italian Unification

Latest release on Jun 23, 2019

Read more

Two brothers telling the story of the Italian Unification, 1790-1870. Our story will start with a quick recap of Italian history from Roman times to 1790, then we'll slow down and examine the complex social, political, and economic themes as we cover the events of the Italian Unification.

Rank #1: 3 - The High Middle Ages

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We discuss the birth of the Italian city states and their governments, as well as cover the overall politics of Italy between 1000 and 1300.

Jul 20 2013

35mins

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Rank #2: Venice 1 - In the Beginning

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This is the first of a series of bonus episodes on the history of Venice. In this episode we start with the founding of Venice by Roman refugees fleeing barbarian invasions and work our way up to the end of the 11th century, just before the 1st crusade.

Aug 07 2013

42mins

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Rank #3: 4 - The Renaissance

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We discuss the Italian Renaissance, the late medieval era in Italy, and the papacy.

Jul 28 2013

33mins

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Rank #4: 6 - The French Revolution

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The French Revolution. Adam makes his triumphant return to the podcast! He discusses the French Revolution, which is what set the ball in motion that would eventually lead to the Unification of Italy!

Aug 25 2013

55mins

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Rank #5: 7 - The War Enters Italy

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Adam talks about the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleon's invasion of Italy. At the end of the episode we answer questions from listeners.

Sep 09 2013

52mins

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Rank #6: Venice 3 - The Road to Hell

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In Venice Bonus Episode 2 we explained how the 4th Crusade started. Now we follow it to its tragic conclusion, with the sack of Constantinople by French and Venetian crusaders.

Oct 21 2013

1hr 24mins

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Rank #7: 46 - A Vote for Italy

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In the space of a single year, Italy will change forever, emerging from the Second War of Italian Unification with an entirely new political landscape.

Apr 09 2016

1hr 1min

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Rank #8: 12 - Napoleon's Mistress

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Napoleon had used Italy's disunity to his advantage, allowing him to control most of Italy, either directly or indirectly, for a comparatively small cost in men and resources. However, Napoleon was about to double down on his rise to power, and he'd need to tighten his grip on Italy to help finance his bet. In 1806, Napoleon told a Prussian minister "Italy is my mistress whose favors I want no one to share."

By 1810 the map of Italy will be greatly simplified, and Italy will be divided into three pieces, all under Napoleon’s control. First we'll Napoleon replace the Italian Republic, in the northeast of Italy, with the Kingdom of Italy, making himself its new king. Then he'll dissolve the Papal states, which, with the rest of northwest of Italy, will be annexed to France. Finally, he'll put first his brother and then his brother-in-law on the throne of the nominally independent Kingdom of Naples. 

Nov 25 2013

48mins

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Rank #9: 11 - Divide and Rule

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It's 1799, and Italy is fractured, politically, socially, and economically. This isn't new - it’s been fractured for over a thousand years at this point. This made it easy for Napoleon to invade in the first place, and now he is going to exploit this to keep Italy under his thumb. In this episode we’re going to see how Napoleon manages to juggle the various forces in Italy - he needs to keep things united enough to be stable, but fractured enough to be pliable.

Nov 11 2013

51mins

Play

Rank #10: 10 - The War of the 2nd Coalition

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Adam's back with the War of the 2nd Coalition. The war in Europe spreads as Napoleon invades Egypt. Russia enters the war against France and helps invade Italy. Meanwhile politics back in France are getting increasingly heated as various factions vie for power.

Oct 28 2013

36mins

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Rank #11: 43 - The Wounded Heart of Italy

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 In this episode we're going to catch back up with both of our revolutionary friends Mazzini and Garibaldi. We'll start with Mazzini and the internal politics of the revolutionary movement post-1848, and then we'll get into a renewed round of revolutions. We'll then see Garibaldi wander the face of the globe searching for some peace and happiness. Then, toward the middle of the 1850's, Cavour will begin to infiltrate the revolutionary movement,  laying plots and plans of his own, securing his reputation as a devious, manipulative political genius. 

Sep 07 2015

50mins

Play

Rank #12: 45 - The Die is Cast

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It's the beginning of 1859, and we're at a pivotal point in the story. While it would be an exaggeration to say that the entire Italian Unification hinges on the events of this episode, the timing of events here will play a role in everything to come. The plan was for Cavour to stir up trouble in the duchy of Modena, which would lead to an escalating series of diplomatic incidents that would start a war between Piedmont and Austria, while making Austria look like the aggressor. France would then come to Piedmont's aid and crush the Austrians. We'll see Cavour's plan begin to crumble as the rest of Europe attempts to intervene to stop the war before it starts. In desperation, the lifelong gambler will double down on his plan. In the end, it will be Austria's foolishness rather than his cleverness that makes the difference, and he will win despite himself. 

Jan 24 2016

39mins

Play

Rank #13: 44 - A Recipe for War

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A new election in Piedmont will threaten to unseat Cavour, who will only survive through cunning, ruthlessness, and good old fashioned cheating. An assassination attempt on French Emperor Napoleon III will either warm the cockles of his heart or fan the flames of his ambition. Either way, Napoleon III will get serious about supporting Piedmont in a war against Austria. Cavour and Napoleon will meet and hash out the future of Italy in a single afternoon, including a pretext for war.

Nov 25 2015

40mins

Play

Rank #14: 47 - David and Goliath

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Ever since the fall of the Roman Republic to the French army in 1849, we've focused pretty exclusively on events in Northern Italy, because that was there the action was. That is going to change. Distracted by the annexation of most of northern Italy, Piedmont will temporarily lose the initiative, which will pass into the hands of the republicans and revolutionaries, and in particular, to Garibaldi. Today we begin the famous story of The Thousand, or in Italian, Il Mille. 

Jul 20 2016

42mins

Play

Rank #15: 16 - The Restoration

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Episode 16 - The Restoration, is out! In this episode we're going to see what came after Napoleon, and how the victorious British, Prussians, Austrians, and Russians tried to undo the damage that had been done to the Old Order. We'll see the old governments restored in Italy. Some will be  reactionary, removing all things French, while others will be more progressive.

Jan 27 2014

59mins

Play

Rank #16: 26 - Fly, Thought, on Wings of Gold

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Gearing up for the revolutions of 1848, we lay the groundwork by talking about liberalism, money, books, and opera in 19th century Italy. This unusually long episode has an intermission halfway through.

Jun 16 2014

59mins

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Rank #17: 19 - The Changing of the Guard

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In the early 1820's most of Italy was still ruled by the same men who had squared off against Napoleon - Grand Duke Ferdinand in Tuscany, King Ferdinand in Naples, and Pope Pius VII in the Papal States. King Victor Emmanuel I had abdicated in 1821 and his brother Charles Felix was now king, but they were men cut from the same cloth, so Piedmont still had a decidedly pre-Napoleonic mindset. There will be a changing of the guard, and by 1831 all of these men will be dead and gone, replaced with new rulers who will be some of the key players in the Italian Unification. We're also going to see another wave of revolutions in that break out in 1831, and which will meet much the same fate as those in 1820 and 21.

Mar 10 2014

51mins

Play

Rank #18: 17 - Plots, Plans, and Revolutions

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We cover the revolutions against the Kingdom of Piedmont and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1820-1821). 

Feb 10 2014

43mins

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Rank #19: 42 - The Eagle and the Bee

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The title of this episode, "The Eagle and the Bee", is a reference to the symbols of the House of Habsburg, the ruling house of Austria, and the House of Bonaparte, now the ruling house of France. The symbol of the House of Habsburg was a two-headed eagle, as it had been for centuries. The Bonapartes, having only recently risen to prominence, had adopted the industrious honey bee, as a complement to the traditional French eagle. And the conflict between these two, the eagle and the bee, is what this episode is leading into.

Jun 26 2015

44mins

Play

Rank #20: 32 - Roads to Rome

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The creation and heroic defense of a new Roman Republic is one of the defining episodes in the story of the Italian unification. It's an epic story, a blockbuster, and Garibaldi and Mazzini are the two main characters. We're not quite there yet - in this episode we're going to set the stage for what will be the showdown between the Italian republicans and the European forces of conservatism.

Oct 29 2014

37mins

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51 - The End

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We've come to the end of the series - this will be the last episode of our story. I'd like to spend this episode addressing some of the big questions that the series raised:

First, was unification inevitable?

Second, was the incorporation of Southern Italy into the new Italian state a result of conquest or unification?

And third, what was the legacy of the three men we focused on: Cavour, Garibaldi, and Mazzini?

Then I'll wrap up with a few closing remarks and say goodbye.

Jun 23 2019

40mins

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50 - Rome or Death

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In this penultimate episode we'll cover the period from 1861 to 1871 and reach the end of our story. Italy started as a collection of small states, many of them ancient, and now the entire peninsula, minus a few outlying areas that Italy would gain after WWI, has been unified under a single government based in the ancient city of Rome. This was an amazing, almost unbelievable achievement. The Kingdom of Italy had weathered the death of its leading statesman only a few months after its formation, had survived a brutal civil war in the south, uprisings and revolts, had suffered disastrous war with Austria, and now had ended the thousand-year-old temporal power of the popes. But it had come at a price paid in money, tears, and blood. 

Dec 18 2017

1hr 24mins

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49 - The Harsh Light of Day

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We're closing in on the end of the story of the Italian unification. Through both force of arms and cunning, Piedmont has conquered almost all of Italy - from the perspective of grand, heroic history, we've already passed the climax and we’re just tying up loose ends. But that’s not how I feel about it - because we're about to leave the heady days of high hopes and dreams for the future into the murky realm of mistakes, and of what might have been. 

Jun 12 2017

54mins

Play

Podcast Delay Update

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A brief update on the podcast delays.

Mar 19 2017

1min

Play

48 - A Kingdom is Born

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1860 was a bad year to be a cartographer - or maybe a good year, depending on how you look at it. In 1859 there had been seven states in Italy: the Kingdom of Piedmont, the Austrian-controlled Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Parma, the Duchy of Modena, the Papal States, and the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. But, after the Second War of Italian Independence, which pitted France and Piedmont against Austria, we saw that number shrink to four, as Tuscany, Modena, and Parma all disappeared into the Kingdom of Piedmont, which also absorbed the Lombardy half of Lombardy-Venetia, and the northeastern parts of the Papal States, called the Legations. Just as the ink was drying on the revised maps, Garibaldi set sail to Sicily with just over 1,000 men in an event that has moved into the realm of mythology in Italian history - akin perhaps to Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware in American history. 

Oct 22 2016

46mins

Play

47 - David and Goliath

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Ever since the fall of the Roman Republic to the French army in 1849, we've focused pretty exclusively on events in Northern Italy, because that was there the action was. That is going to change. Distracted by the annexation of most of northern Italy, Piedmont will temporarily lose the initiative, which will pass into the hands of the republicans and revolutionaries, and in particular, to Garibaldi. Today we begin the famous story of The Thousand, or in Italian, Il Mille. 

Jul 20 2016

42mins

Play

46 - A Vote for Italy

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In the space of a single year, Italy will change forever, emerging from the Second War of Italian Unification with an entirely new political landscape.

Apr 09 2016

1hr 1min

Play

45 - The Die is Cast

Podcast cover
Read more

It's the beginning of 1859, and we're at a pivotal point in the story. While it would be an exaggeration to say that the entire Italian Unification hinges on the events of this episode, the timing of events here will play a role in everything to come. The plan was for Cavour to stir up trouble in the duchy of Modena, which would lead to an escalating series of diplomatic incidents that would start a war between Piedmont and Austria, while making Austria look like the aggressor. France would then come to Piedmont's aid and crush the Austrians. We'll see Cavour's plan begin to crumble as the rest of Europe attempts to intervene to stop the war before it starts. In desperation, the lifelong gambler will double down on his plan. In the end, it will be Austria's foolishness rather than his cleverness that makes the difference, and he will win despite himself. 

Jan 24 2016

39mins

Play

44 - A Recipe for War

Podcast cover
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A new election in Piedmont will threaten to unseat Cavour, who will only survive through cunning, ruthlessness, and good old fashioned cheating. An assassination attempt on French Emperor Napoleon III will either warm the cockles of his heart or fan the flames of his ambition. Either way, Napoleon III will get serious about supporting Piedmont in a war against Austria. Cavour and Napoleon will meet and hash out the future of Italy in a single afternoon, including a pretext for war.

Nov 25 2015

40mins

Play

43 - The Wounded Heart of Italy

Podcast cover
Read more

 In this episode we're going to catch back up with both of our revolutionary friends Mazzini and Garibaldi. We'll start with Mazzini and the internal politics of the revolutionary movement post-1848, and then we'll get into a renewed round of revolutions. We'll then see Garibaldi wander the face of the globe searching for some peace and happiness. Then, toward the middle of the 1850's, Cavour will begin to infiltrate the revolutionary movement,  laying plots and plans of his own, securing his reputation as a devious, manipulative political genius. 

Sep 07 2015

50mins

Play

Podcast Update

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Release schedule update.

Aug 02 2015

1min

Play

42 - The Eagle and the Bee

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The title of this episode, "The Eagle and the Bee", is a reference to the symbols of the House of Habsburg, the ruling house of Austria, and the House of Bonaparte, now the ruling house of France. The symbol of the House of Habsburg was a two-headed eagle, as it had been for centuries. The Bonapartes, having only recently risen to prominence, had adopted the industrious honey bee, as a complement to the traditional French eagle. And the conflict between these two, the eagle and the bee, is what this episode is leading into.

Jun 26 2015

44mins

Play

41 - The Right Name

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Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power is one of the events that puts the 1790 in our "1790 to 1870" tagline. For almost 20 years Napoleon was deeply involved in Italian affairs both big and small, and no history of the Unification would be complete without a detailed discussion of his influence. It will be another Bonaparte who helps puts the 1870 in our tagline: his nephew Louis-Napoleon.

May 28 2015

35mins

Play

40 - War and Peace

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In this episode we'll continue the story of Piedmont's involvement in the Crimean war, and Cavour's role in the peace talks that followed. After that, we'll move on to the long awaited listener Q&A.

Apr 27 2015

33mins

Play

39 - The World Stage

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In this episode we're going to tell the first half of the story of Piedmont's involvement in the Crimean War, and Cavour's growing dominance of the Piedmontese political scene. We'll begin with a little housekeeping in Piedmont - some politics and then elections. Then we'll move on to the bigger story of how the Crimean war got started, and why Piedmont, a thousand miles away, somehow got involved. We'll close with a new round in the continuing battle between the Catholic church and the increasingly secular Piedmontese government.

Apr 08 2015

40mins

Play

38 - The Marriage

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We'll open this episode with a discussion of why Piedmont had no competition - what had happened to the rest of Italy that Piedmont, backwards, isolated Piedmont, was now their last, best hope for unification? Then we’ll return to Piedmont, where the first of several showdowns with the Catholic Church is brewing, and where Cavour is using maneuvering to displace Massimo D'Azeglio as Prime Minister.

Mar 10 2015

39mins

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37 - Piedmont Seizes the Initiative

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In this episode we'll meet Piedmont's new king, and see Piedmont try to regain its footing as it deals with its first constitutional crisis, triggered by its peace treaty with Austria. Against the backdrop of these events, Cavour, the late-bloomer of our Big Three, will rapidly become the dominant figure in Piedmontese politics. 

Feb 04 2015

43mins

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36 - With a Whimper

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We left off with Garibaldi leading his men out of the doomed city to continue the fight elsewhere. In this episode we'll follow our intrepid guerrilla leader's fight to the bitter end, and see the fall of the Republic of Venice, the last holdout against Austria. Then we'll discuss the revolutions of 1848 and try to make some sense of them - why did they happen, why did they fail, and what did they mean? Then we'll set the stage for the 1850's, often called the 'Decade of Preparation', in which Piedmont would become ascendant. 

Jan 12 2015

29mins

Play

35 - As Fire Drives Out Fire

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Adam is back with the final stages of the Revolutions of 1848 in Europe.

Dec 21 2014

41mins

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34 - A Devil and a Panther

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The poetic, heroic, and tragic defense was burned indelibly into the memory and imagination of Italian patriots, for whom the city of Rome would now forever be inextricably linked to the very idea of Italian nationalism. The story of the Roman Republic ensured that no future Italian state could long endure without the city of Rome as its capital. 

Dec 08 2014

48mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

194 Ratings
Average Ratings
168
13
8
2
3

Perfect.

By Jed Bell - Aug 26 2019
Read more
Charming, gripping, and informative. Mille grazie!

Come back

By shtock - Jun 20 2019
Read more
Excellent podcast wish they didn’t quit.