Politics of Italy: Giuseppe Garibaldi

In the 19th century Giuseppe Garibaldi and his legion of loyal supporters fought for the independence of what we now know as Italy, and his revolutionary actions have not been forgotten…


As a result of his exploits as a general and commander Giuseppe Garibaldi is considered a key individual in the formation of unified Italy. To achieve this, Garibaldi and roughly 1,000 volunteers, named the Red Shirts due to their choice of attire, left Quarto near Genoa in 1860 and landed in Sicily from where they began to conquer the various southern regions which were to become part of the new country.

His amicable meeting with King Victor Emmanuel II in the small town of Teano will always remain one of the most important moments in Italian history. Garibaldi was a master tactician, winning a number of battles despite often finding his army outnumbered and badly equipped.

The popularity he acquired over this period was largely down to his skill at rousing the common people, culminating in a 40,000-strong army for his final struggle against Austria in 1866. In between he spent six years in exile which led him to America, Brazil and England – helping him become an internationally admired figure. So much so, he was offered a leading role in the American fight for independence by Abraham Lincoln, which never materialised because Garibaldi wanted the abolition of slavery to be the main objective.