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The Unification of Italy, 1796-1871

2. Napoleon in Italy, 1796-1815

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In this module, we think about Italy under the control of Napoleon and the French, beginning with his invasion of Milan in 1796, and ending with his defeat at Waterloo in 1815 and the subsequent Congress of Vienna. In particular, we focus on the changes that Napoleon made—especially the creation of Sister Republics—and reflect on Napoleon's popularity among different sections of Italian society. The module ends by considering the Neapolitan Revolution, and the legacy left by Napoleon and the French in Italy.


In this course, Dr Marcella Sutcliffe (University of Cambridge) explores Italy's unification movement, starting with Napoleon’s invasion of Italy in the late 1790s, and ending with the unification of Italy in 1861. As we move through the course, we think about the impact of Napoleon’s reforms on Italy; the extent to which these reforms were reversed following the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and the various insurrections that followed; the outbreak of revolutions in 1848, including the Five Days in Milan and the declaration of the Roman Republic; the growth of a national consciousness in the years following the crushing of the democrat movements in 1848-49; the life, career, and celebrity of Giuseppe Garibaldi, his Expedition of the Thousand to Sicily in 1860, the famous handshake of Teano, where Garibaldi handed over control of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont-Sardinia, and the declaration of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. The course ends by considering the challenges that faced Italy after 1861, including the continued opposition of the Catholic church, and the fact that Rome and Venice remained under the control of the Pope and the Austrians, respectively.


Marcella Sutcliffe is a post-doctoral Research Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, and a Supervisor in the History Faculty (‘European History (1714-1890)’). Her interests include the cultural and social history of modern Britain and modern Italy as well as transnationalism in the long nineteenth century. She is presently working on a research project entitled 'Books and Bullets: The Value of the Humanities during the First World War'. Her book, 'Victorian Radicals and Italian Democrats', published by the Royal Historical Society History Series in 2014 won the Institute of Historical Research Scouloudi Award Prize. Marcella has published chapters in edited books and numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals. In 2013-14 she was an award-holder at the British School at Rome. Marcella is an executive member of the Association for the Study of Modern Italy and a member of the National Committee responsible for the publication of Giuseppe Mazzini's Collected Works and Unpublished Letters.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Sutcliffe, M. (2018, August 15). The Unification of Italy, 1796-1871 - Napoleon in Italy, 1796-1815 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Sutcliffe, M. "The Unification of Italy, 1796-1871 – Napoleon in Italy, 1796-1815." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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