Fathers of Italy: the Generation who turned a "mere geographical expression" into a Nation

Don't get sidetracked, friend. A Lambruschini papacy is a project for tomorrow, or maybe next months.
You've a different (and probably more gratifying) TL to take care of
Yes, you are absolutely right. I just stumbled upon the information while doing research for the next chapter of FoI. Turns out there are a lot more things I would like to include in the narration than I thought. The focus will be the war in the North, but I would like to give details and insights on what happens in the other Italian States, particularly in Naples. Ferdinand II makes for an interesting, challenging character. He might well earn his own PoW chapters. Let's see...
 
Yes, you are absolutely right. I just stumbled upon the information while doing research for the next chapter of FoI. Turns out there are a lot more things I would like to include in the narration than I thought. The focus will be the war in the North, but I would like to give details and insights on what happens in the other Italian States, particularly in Naples. Ferdinand II makes for an interesting, challenging character. He might well earn his own PoW chapters. Let's see...
Giving insights from other parts of Italy would be certainly interesting (Naples and Rome certainly, but don't forget Sicily where everything started on 12 January 1848).
My recommendation would be to do it, but without forgetting that the main narrative is centered in Turin.
 
Giving insights from other parts of Italy would be certainly interesting (Naples and Rome certainly, but don't forget Sicily where everything started on 12 January 1848).
My recommendation would be to do it, but without forgetting that the main narrative is centered in Turin.
Definitely. Sicily is getting its fair share of narration, at the beginning of 1848 and later, when the Queen arrives. Naples and Rome will be more like reactions to what is happening, to give context, but the focus will be on the war and its aftermath.
 
Definitely. Sicily is getting its fair share of narration, at the beginning of 1848 and later, when the Queen arrives. Naples and Rome will be more like reactions to what is happening, to give context, but the focus will be on the war and its aftermath.
From what I gather, the revolution in Sicily started more as dissatisfaction for the abolition of the Sicilian parliament, and had a lot of backing in the aristocracy: in many ways it is a different kind of revolution, at least this is my impression. The queen will have her work cut for her to avoid the risk of OTL outcome ("change everything to change nothing")
 
From what I gather, the revolution in Sicily started more as dissatisfaction for the abolition of the Sicilian parliament, and had a lot of backing in the aristocracy: in many ways it is a different kind of revolution, at least this is my impression. The queen will have her work cut for her to avoid the risk of OTL outcome ("change everything to change nothing")
Thanks for the hint! It was my general impression as well. I am doing a bit of research, hopefully, I will gather enough information to create an interesting setting.
 
I like where this is going! It seems that Ferdinand will become a great king after his father dies.

Speaking of Carlo Alberto, please don't kill him off in a battle. Let him die in peace, surrounded by his family and loved ones, satisfied that his son will inherit a kingdom infinitely more powerful than the one he took over in 1831.
 
I like where this is going! It seems that Ferdinand will become a great king after his father dies.

Speaking of Carlo Alberto, please don't kill him off in a battle. Let him die in peace, surrounded by his family and loved ones, satisfied that his son will inherit a kingdom infinitely more powerful than the one he took over in 1831.
Thanks for your feedback! Glad you like it. Yes, I have tried to shape Ferdinand as a sort of optimum princeps, and he will mostly behave as such. As for CA, I still have to write the War in detail, but for now, I am pretty decided. The main reason for this is letting him have a lot of glory- and not giving him many chances to screw things up. Although, having him severely wounded and let Ferdinand manage things might work just as well, now that I think about it. Let's where inspiration leads me. May I ask you the reason for your "request"?
 
Thanks for your feedback! Glad you like it. Yes, I have tried to shape Ferdinand as a sort of optimum princeps, and he will mostly behave as such. As for CA, I still have to write the War in detail, but for now, I am pretty decided. The main reason for this is letting him have a lot of glory- and not giving him many chances to screw things up. Although, having him severely wounded and let Ferdinand manage things might work just as well, now that I think about it. Let's where inspiration leads me. May I ask you the reason for your "request"?
The guy is one of my favorite historical figures, considering just how contradictory, melancholic, indecisive and ultimately tragic his life was. The liberal prince who became a conservative monarch and later pulled another 180 by supporting the Springtime of Peoples, even if mostly for dynastic reasons. All of that leading to a pathetic death in exile after being completely defeated and deprived of the "honor" of dying in battle. IIRC, he said "Even death cast me off" or something like that after the defeat at Novara.
 
The guy is one of my favorite historical figures, considering just how contradictory, melancholic, indecisive and ultimately tragic his life was. The liberal prince who became a conservative monarch and later pulled another 180 by supporting the Springtime of Peoples, even if mostly for dynastic reasons. All of that leading to a pathetic death in exile after being completely defeated and deprived of the "honor" of dying in battle. IIRC, he said "Even death cast me off" or something like that after the defeat at Novara.
Oh, I see. I agree with your analysis. And, if I may add, he managed to be quite effective in his reforms-somehow. ITTL he has found in Ferdinand a worthy ally in this, with a much clearer vision than him. But trust me, the idea of a gallant death in a Pastrengo-style cavalry charge was intended as an act of kindness, a way for him to finally "atone" atone for his self-perceived sins and make a legend of him.
 
Oh, I see. I agree with your analysis. And, if I may add, he managed to be quite effective in his reforms-somehow. ITTL he has found in Ferdinand a worthy ally in this, with a much clearer vision than him. But trust me, the idea of a gallant death in a Pastrengo-style cavalry charge was intended as an act of kindness, a way for him to finally "atone" atone for his self-perceived sins and make a legend of him.
I see. As something that may not have much to do with this thread, people on this site discuss whether Napoleon would've had a better reputation had he bravely died at Waterloo instead of rotting in Saint Helena for six years.

Good luck, I await your next update!
 
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I see. As something that may not have much to do with this thread, people on this site discuss whether Napoleon would've had a better reputation had he bravely died at Waterloo instead of rotting in Saint Helena for six years.

Good luck, I await your next update!
I have seen that thread, but I had not read it. I will have a look, might give some insights. And thank you! The next update will come shortly, I hope. In the meantime, any suggestions, ideas, criticisms are always welcome!
 
Narrative Interlude #1: Italy is an artichoke
Narrative Interlude #1: Italy is an artichoke

Ferdinand was tired. He was many things at that very moment, but chiefly, he was tired.
He got back studying the tons of paper that covered his desk. It was a mess, it was chaos, but it was his chaos. That one, he could manage; more than that, it was necessary for his mind to work. He called it “his inner chaos”. The outer chaos, however… “One problem at a time. One problem at a time.”, he whispered to himself. The hour was late, but he would not dare sleep; too many things may happen and he had to be ready. He even wondered if he was already asleep, dreaming. A smile cracked on his face at that silly thought. It was his usual half smile: it reached only his right cheek, it did not show his teeth, it did not brighten his eyes. It was a good thing, for a king, to be able to conceal his own emotions. He silently said a prayer, thanking God that he was not yet a King. He also had to thank his persuasion capabilities. Or was it cynicism? It did not matter; what mattered, was that he, and he alone, had managed to dissuade the King from the idiotic idea of the abdication. He always thought of him as “the King”, or “His Majesty”; never as “Father”. The latter concept implied love, affection, and from Charles Albert, he had had none of those. Not that he complained; he was not a child anymore, he had children of his own, and soon, a Kingdom to rule. He felt his day would come shortly; just not today. If he were in the mood to complain about something related to his childhood, he would have complained about the essays the King had him write to test his abilities. Why, for Heaven’s sake, instead of “Can a Prince take part in horse-sale?”[1] he had not chosen more useful subjects such as “How can the Crown Prince dissuade his King from abdicating in the middle of the biggest chaos Italy had seen since Napoleon?”.
And bigger it would grow by the day; Ferdinand was sure of that. The situation all over the peninsula was escalating exponentially. Everybody knew the facts; everybody knew how it all started. On January 12th, the birthday of his namesake Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies, Sicily had risen in rebellion. People fighting in the street, calling for a Constitution, chanting the name of Pius IX. To everybody’s surprise, the other Ferdinand conceded it on January 29th. Ferdinand knew that that was the real turning point: now the choice of every Italian Royalty was between Constitution and Revolution. He also knew that many were looking at him, in case the King (as it was feared) would prove unable to make such a choice. Surprisingly, one of those was Charles Albert himself.
He could not help but remembering the short yet crucial meeting with His Majesty. The King looked trapped and vulnerable, torn between the oath he had sworn to Charles Felix some twenty years before to abide by the rules of the Monarchy and the opportunity he sensed to finally make history. But then, he had done what he had always done: he had found a loophole.

“Ours has never been truly a reign, dearest son. It has not even been a Regency, but a mere Lieutenancy, waiting for you to grow and flourish. Our Lieutenancy is finally over. It is time for you to become King. We have everything ready; we shall sign Our abdication today. Today, we shall not sin; today, we make atonement.”

Ferdinand knew that His Majesty genuinely believed that this would somehow settle things. He would preserve his honor, he would not sin again. That was the key: sin. Ferdinand would have loved the King to see sense, to carefully plan the future of the nation and be ready to rip those plan apart if needed (Necessity, that ancient, terrible Goddess the Ancient Greeks called Ananke, still ruled the life of all men, from the lowest peasant to the highest king). But that was foolish wishful thinking, the king would not be able to accept this logic. Then words came to Ferdinand’s mouth without even thinking; they were flowing, natural as breathing, sharp as razors, light as feathers, healing as God’s Grace.

“Your Majesty, one does not atone from his sins by committing a bigger one. For abandoning our beloved Kingdom now, depriving it of Your wisdom and guidance in the direst hour would be a sin, not even the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on Earth would dare forgive. And what about the rest of Italy? Everywhere, people are out in the streets to fight not for revolution, but for the Throne and the Altar, for Pius and Charles Albert, for the rulers, temporal and spiritual, who may be wise enough to grant them the measure of freedom they deserve, and whose swords shall protect them from foreign tyranny. The voice of the people announces the fall of the tyrants and the rise of the worthy rulers. Your Majesty, my time shall come; but not today. I do not lust for a crown, I want only to do my duty, supporting in every possible means my king and father, and I pray that God will grant strength to my arm and sharpness to my brain so that I will never be a disappointment to him."

Charles Albert was deeply impressed by his son’s speech, but yet, he took some time to relent. He dare not be an oath-breaker. A different loophole had to be found, in the form of a formal absolution from his oath.[2] After all, if a repentant murderer could be forgiven through confession by any drunken parish priest, why could not a King be dispensed by a foolish oath extorted from another, short-sighted King nearly twenty years before (on his deathbed, a nice dramatic touch)?[3]

Of course, he had phrased this differently in front of the King. The catastrophe had been avoided, for now, and the path to the Statute- another loophole, calling it so, instead of Constitution- had been taken. Camillo had highly praised Ferdinand’s feat.
“Where did Your Highness find such, ehm, sensible words?” he asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. I guess I thought: what would our sharp-tongued friend, the Count of Cavour, say? And then, I did the opposite.” It was a joke, and a good one at that (it was the last real laugh Ferdinand would have in some months), but like any good joke, it had some truth in it. Camillo would probably have said something like “A King should know when to abdicate”[4], a terrible move in that particular moment. The two of them were very different. After all, it was the very reason their friendship worked so well.

A question lingered in the air. What was next? War, Ferdinand was sure. Against whom? There was only one option available. The outcome? Hard to predict, Italy being such chaos. But then he remembered that Italy was no mess; it was not a mere geographical expression. It was an artichoke. To his ancestors, it meant that it was to be eaten one leaf at a time, starting from the outside, and maybe, one day, until its very core. Lombardy-Venetia could well be a leaf, and a big, juicy one at that, he thought, while staring at the topographical map on his desk, half-buried between books, diaries, and paper notes. But what if… Nothing, he thought. He got himself back to work.
Even solving one problem at a time, or eating one leaf at a time, needed several possible solutions, from which the most elegant and simple was to be sorted out. He knew he would not find it alone, but he would not look unprepared. He cleared the mess on his desk: only the map and a sheet of paper would survive. Another half-smile, another silly thought. Amused, he started to write:
“Essay: What is the best way to successfully invade a neighboring country with whom we signed a defensive pact? Discuss at least three workable plans in no less than ten pages.”

Footnotes:

[1]
Believe it or not, I did not make this up-this is OTL.
[2] This is inspired by what happened OTL. Charles Albert wanted to abdicate, and VE dissuaded him.
[3] Charles Felix had CA solemnly swear an oath to forever respect the "fundamental laws of the Monarchy", implying that he would never concede any Constitution. On February 7th, 1848, CA was "absolved" from the oath by the Archbishop of Vercelli.
[4] As he did say to VE II OTL in 1859.
 
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Your Majesty, my time shall come; but not today. Today, I shall fight and back the King of Sardinia; tomorrow, I shall kneel before the King of Italy.”
I love your update, except that single line: I understand what you mean, but it's a bit contorted and anyway it is very early to start speaking of a crown of Italy, and it is also the wrong thing to say to an already tortured king and father, who is yearning to abdicate to atone his real or perceived sins.
May I make a suggestion?
"Your Majesty, my time shall come, but not today. I do not lust for a crown, I want only to do my duty, supporting in every possible means my king and father, and I pray that God will grant strength to my arm and sharpness to my brain, so that I will never be a disappointment to him."

I would also suggest a footnote for the oath Carlo Felice extracted from CA on his death bed: it is not common knowledge.

The best line is the very last:
“Essay: What is the best way to successfully invade a neighboring country with whom we signed a defensive pact? Discuss at least three workable plans in no less than ten pages.”
 
I love your update, except that single line: I understand what you mean, but it's a bit contorted and anyway it is very early to start speaking of a crown of Italy, and it is also the wrong thing to say to an already tortured king and father, who is yearning to abdicate to atone his real or perceived sins.
May I make a suggestion?
"Your Majesty, my time shall come, but not today. I do not lust for a crown, I want only to do my duty, supporting in every possible means my king and father, and I pray that God will grant strength to my arm and sharpness to my brain, so that I will never be a disappointment to him."

I would also suggest a footnote for the oath Carlo Felice extracted from CA on his death bed: it is not common knowledge.

The best line is the very last:
Thank you very much! Yes, I guess I let enthusiasm take over. I modified the chapter accordingly, incorporating your suggestion without any further modfications- It is really what Ferdinand would have said. I also added the footnotes-what do you think of them? Should I expand further? I am glad you liked the last line, it is my favorite as well. Ferdinand may look serious and nerdy, but he does have his own sense of humor.
 
Oh hell yeah! I hope Ferdinand continues to be a good influence on the Italian Hamlet, God knows he'll need one in the coming war against Austria.
 
Oh hell yeah! I hope Ferdinand continues to be a good influence on the Italian Hamlet, God knows he'll need one in the coming war against Austria.
Wow! And a good influence he shall be. He cannot perform miracles, but hopefully, the Italian cause will not need them TTL ;)
 
#6: Ferdinand, January-March 1848: The Springtime of Peoples, the flourishing of a Prince
Ferdinand, January-March 1848: The Springtime of Peoples, the flourishing of a Prince

The year 1847 had been apparently uneventful. Yet another year under the European order established by the Congress of Vienna. However, small cracks on the façade of such order had started to open. In Milan, riots would explode on the nomination of an Italian as Archbishop after Von Gaisruck’s death; in Sicily, statues of King Ferdinand would be found blindfolded, the ears stuffed with cotton. A breeze of moderate reforms would start in Turin and Florence, letting some freedom of the press. Journals started to sprout in the Kingdom of Sardinia and the GranDuchy of Tuscany. What names were those journals given? We mention just two, but our reader will get the gist: Cavour’s “Il Risorgimento” in Turin and Ricasoli’s “La Patria” in Florence. Having the privilege of hindsight, and of reading of those events instead of having to live them, we may well smirk and laugh at the people (some Italian Monarchs chief among them) who could not read the signs. It would be most unjust; we read through the lines those people were writing with their breath and blood (most of times, without even knowing it). And to be fair, until January 12th, 1848 (when the Sicilian Revolution started), most people had no reason to believe it would be any different from 1847.
It is not a coincidence that in Italian there are two idiomatic expressions regarding this most fateful year: “Fare un quarantotto” (literally “to make a forty-eight) and “subire un quarantotto” (“to get a forty-eight). And Ferdinand was the one who made a forty-eight if there was any. It has been argued that Ferdinand’s gamble in 1848 and his fast thinking and decisiveness were a reaction to Charles Albert’s internal torments and moral struggles. As Carducci put it later: “Only in our sacred Italic land could Hamlet father Scipio.” Although the latter affirmation is hyperbolic, it describes well these two pivotal figures, so different that it is sometimes hard to believe they were father and son.
Be as it may, it is worth telling the events before commenting on them. The echo of the Sicilian Revolution in Turin was feeble at first. The real turning point was the concession by Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies of the Constitution on January 29th. This move by “the other Ferdinand”, as he is infamously known, was by and large aimed at hitting his “liberal” fellow monarchs, Pius and Charle Albert. And hit them it did. In fact, how could they refuse a constitution, now? Bound by his infamous oath to his predecessor Charles Felix, Charles Albert felt trapped. He genuinely thought his moderate reforms would have been enough. But appetizers of democracy do not satiate the hunger for liberty; they merely stimulate it. Torn and shaken, the King went as far as to take every provision to abdicate. The only thing that was left was to sign the decree. It was only Ferdinand’s intervention, during their famous meeting on February 5th, that avoided this which would have been an insensible move. His moral doubts placated by the absolution from his oath at the hands of the Bishop of Vercelli on February 9th, Charles Albert started the talks about the Statute (calling it a Constitution still sent him shivers from his failed endeavor in 1821) on February 10th. His most prominent concerns were two: that the Catholic faith is recognized as the official religion of his Kingdom and that the rights of the Monarchy be established. It was the Throne and Altar all over again. Ferdinand ostensibly took a low-profile approach to the matter, not meddling too much in the writing of the Statute. The reason was clear: Ferdinand’s main concern was the Army. From his diary, we know that he started to make plans for his Lombard campaign as soon as he got back from the meeting with his father. However, to that point, there was nothing that could justify any mobilization of the Army (although Ferdinand had quietly informed some trusted high-ranking officials, chiefly LaMarmora and Franzini, that they should best be ready “to serve the Fatherland”) and even the mobilization o the full strength of the Bersaglieri (now 8000 strong) could hardly be justified, even if as an excess of zeal. The official reason for the mobilization ordered by the King (but supervised by the Crown Prince, who was the acting Commander-in-Chief) on February 25th was the situation in France, where, following the riots of February 22nd, King Louis-Philippe had abdicated and left France on the 24th. On that very day, Henri resigned as Governor of Algeria and left with Maria Cristina for Turin, where they arrived on March 1st (it was later revealed that the Princess was with child).
And so we get to the fateful March of 1848. Once the Statute was granted on March 10th, the events in Northern Italy spiraled outside of control. When word of this and of the insurrection in Wien (March 13th) reached Milan, the until then somewhat peaceful revolt against Austrian rule (the famous “tobacco strike”, aimed at hitting the Austrian government’s revenue) started to take a different direction. Here, a less-known aspect of Ferdinand played an important role: cynicism. It was with the Prince’s blessing (and through the Prince’s purse) that Lombard political dissenters who had taken refuge in Turin started to trickle back in Lombardy, carrying their voices, their ideas and more importantly, arms. The speed of the Sardinian mobilization (which was deeply surprising Charles Albert) was growing every passing day, to reach its full on March 14th.
Meanwhile, Milan and Venice were turning powder kegs, and finally, ignited on March 17th. Violence erupted in the streets, and the rebels, although unorganized at first, managed to inflict grievous losses to the Austrian troops. Barricades were built, and an unknown sharpshooter, called “Toni” by the insurgents, started to bring havoc between the Austrian officers (who preferred to call him “Der Teufel”, the Devil). No one could find him, but he seemed to be equipped with a superior gun, for he could strike with deadly precision from seemingly anywhere-or nowhere, which was where he was to be found. The angered Austrians gave no quarter to the rebels, and Charles Albert (or better said, Ferdinand through Charles Albert) declared war on Austria “to protect his fellow Italians from foreign tyranny” on March 19th. On that very day, the Piedmontese vanguard of Bersaglieri and Dragoon, led by LaMarmora, crossed the Ticino River, headed to Milan. News that “the entire Sardinian Army” was approaching the city made the fighting on the streets grow bitter and bitter, with heavy casualties on the Austrian side.
Truth to be told, most of the Piedmontese crossed the river only on the 24th, an impressive feat on itself, due to the use of the railway to Alessandria and Novara (ironically build thanks to the defensive treaty between Sardinian-Piedmont and the Austrian Empire). Smaller detachments, headed to Varese and Como, would cross on the 20th, while the bulk of the Sardinian Army would march on Cremona.
Radetzky was finally forced to leave Milan on March 22nd, when the Piedmontese vanguard was in sight of the city. Instead of entering the city, Lamarmora’s vanguard would follow Radetzki, who was retreating to the fortresses of the “Quadrilatero”, the four cardinal points of Austrian defense in Northern Italy (Peschiera, Mantova, Verona, and Legnago). The first mistake made by Radetzi was to underestimate his foe. The small rearguard he left was annihilated by a superb pincer move performed by the Bersaglieri at Treviglio. While a relatively small confrontation, Treviglio showed not only that the Austrians could be beaten, but also gave the Bersaglieri the baptism of fire they needed. As La Marmora wrote in his diary, after Treviglio his men would be willing to storm the very gates of Hell, and he was tremendously proud of them.

Lastly, after Treviglio, the details of the movements of the Austrian Army were now in Piedmontese possession. Messengers were sent to the Sardinian second wave, 15000 strong, commanded by the Crown Prince Ferdinand himself (his second-in-command was his brother-in-law Henri d’Orleans, who was granted a commission as a general in the Sardinian Army). After crossing the Ticino on March 22nd, the Prince had entered Cremona; there Lamarmora's messengers found him, and gave the news: the whole of the Austrian Army was going to cross the Mincio at Goito. Truth to be told, Ferdinand was already planning to head there; call it an educated guess, but the Prince had deeply studied the cartography of Lombardy-Venetia, and Goito seemed the obvious choice. Although, the Austrians were proving faster than he thought. Besides (and the most senior members of his staff were keen on remembering the Prince of this all the time) they still outnumbered his force, even combined with Lamarmora’s; the bulk of the Army, under the King’s command, were two, maybe three days behind.
Ferdinand, always the careful planner, a man who held personal hate of gambling (unique among the nobility), in this case, went full gambler. A man of reason and wit, he felt that the Austrians were not just making a strategic retreat, but fleeing towards the safety of a fortress after having been chased out of a city over which they had lorded for more than 30 years. He explained his reasons for the dash to Goito to his top officers during a dinner in Cremona (which would then became famous as the "fatal Cremona", the fateful Cremona) and concluded with these words: “During another regimental dinner I attended in London, the colonel gave a toast that I liked so much I made an effort to memorize it, and which I want to share with you all, being very fitting with the task we are undertaking. He fears His fate too much / Or his desserts are small / Who dares not to put it to the touch / to win or to lose all”.
In order to make his march as swift as possible, Ferdinand made a difficult choice for a former Artillery commander: he left most of his artillery behind before rushing towards Goito. It was a risky move, another gambit, but one must strike while the enemy is vulnerable. And surprise him, too, not only once, but twice, if possible.

And another surprise would come, this in the form not of a gamble, but of a pure act of faith and glory.
 
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