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17 - Italy: Revolution and Counterrevolution (1789–1799)

from Part II - Western, Central, and Eastern Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 October 2023

Wim Klooster
Affiliation:
Clark University, Massachusetts
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Summary

Stressing the continuities between Enlightenment and Revolution, new studies have explored the ways in which the crises that overwhelmed the 18th century Italian states encouraged Italian thinkers to engage with the transnational political and intellectual debates of the age. Although the Italian Republics were set up only after the arrival of the first French armies in 1796, their democratic and republican ideals had been firmly established long before. Despite tensions between French and Italian republicans, new studies show that many French military and civil officials remained strongly committed to a project of democratization despite the territorial ambitions of the Directory, while the political positions of the Italian republicans varied greatly, as did their attitudes towards France and the Revolution. The chapter then moves to consider why the Italian peninsula became the principal theater of the European counterrevolution in 1799, and concludes by examining how these experiences shaped the ways in which the next generation of Italian democrats and liberals formulated their own understandings of the French Revolution of 1789, its place in the Atlantic Revolutions, in the Napoleonic sequel and in their own history.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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