Giuseppe Mazzini, (born June 22, 1805, Genoa—died March 10, 1872, Pisa, Italy) Italian propagandist and revolutionary he is considered as one of the “patron saints” of the Italian Risorgimento.
Giuseppe Mazzini was a doctor’s son; his birthplace, formerly a republic, was annexed to the Kingdom of Piedimont in 1814. As a child, he gave promise of high intellectual ability, fully confirmed when he entered the University of Genoa at 14. Two years later, strongly influenced by seeing a patriot fleeing from Italy after an unsuccessful insurrection, he began to think “that we Italians could and therefore ought to struggle for the liberty of our country.”
While still in his teens Mazzini committed himself to the cause of Italian independence and unity. His love of freedom led him to join the Carbonari, a secret society pledged to overthrow absolute rule in Italy.
Forced into exile in 1831 for his revolutionary activities, he began to recruit followers and organize uprisings against the rulers of the various Italian states. His association, Giovine Italia (Young Italy), founded in the 1830s, attracted adherents throughout the peninsula and among Italian political exiles everywhere. With the exception of Giuseppe Garibaldi, no other Italian Risorgimento leader enjoyed greater international renown than Mazzini in his time. His revolutionary vision extended beyond the limited objective of Italian national unity. Mazzini’s primary goals were the end of Austrian hegemony in Italy and of the temporal power of the pope, Italian unity, republicanism, democracy, and the liberation of all oppressed peoples.
Imbued with a messianic zeal, he believed that, united under the banner of “God and people”, Italians would succeed in ridding themselves of their various rulers and establish a democratic unitary republic with its capital in Rome. This new Italy would lead other subject peoples to freedom and liberty and embody a “third” Rome, successor to ancient and papal Rome.
A new Europe, controlled by the people and not by sovereigns, would replace the old order.
By the 1840s Mazzini had become the recognised leader of the Italian nationalist revolutionary movement. His appeal to Italians, restive under oppressive governments, was unrivaled, if not unchallenged. Intellectuals and artisans, men and women, all responded to him. Many lost their lives in abortive revolts inspired by his teachings.