The title of this episode, "The Eagle and the Bee", is a reference to the symbols of the House of Habsburg, the ruling house of Austria, and the House of Bonaparte, now the ruling house of France. The symbol of the House of Habsburg was a two-headed eagle, as it had been for centuries. The Bonapartes, having only recently risen to prominence, had adopted the industrious honey bee, as a complement to the traditional French eagle. And the conflict between these two, the eagle and the bee, is what this episode is leading into. Download Episode 42
Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power is one of the events that puts the 1790 in our "1790 to 1870" tagline. For almost 20 years Napoleon was deeply involved in Italian affairs both big and small, and no history of the Unification would be complete without a detailed discussion of his influence. It will be another Bonaparte who helps puts the 1870 in our tagline: his nephew Louis-Napoleon. Download Episode 41
In this episode we’ll continue the story of Piedmont’s involvement in the Crimean war, and Cavour’s role in the peace talks that followed. After that, we’ll move on to the long awaited listener Q&A. Download Episode 40
In this episode we're going to tell the first half of the story of Piedmont's involvement in the Crimean War, and Cavour's growing dominance of the Piedmontese political scene. We'll begin with a little housekeeping in Piedmont - some politics and then elections. Then we'll move on to the bigger story of how the Crimean war got started, and why Piedmont, a thousand miles away, somehow got involved. We'll close with a new round in the continuing battle between the Catholic church and the increasingly secular Piedmontese government. Download Episode 39
We'll open this episode with a discussion of why Piedmont had no competition - what had happened to the rest of Italy that Piedmont, backwards, isolated Piedmont, was now their last, best hope for unification? Then we’ll return to Piedmont, where the first of several showdowns with the Catholic Church is brewing, and where Cavour is using maneuvering to displace Massimo D'Azeglio as Prime Minister. Download Episode 38
Up until now we’ve been focusing on the different regions of Italy fairly evenly, though with a bias toward the North that is largely the result of the victors writing the history books. We’ve kept this broad focus because, to the people living in Italy at any time prior to the 1850’s, it would have been unclear where unification was going to come from, if anywhere. The 1850’s, called ‘The Decade of Preparation’ by historians, is when things start to change, and we’ll be spending more and more time talking about Piedmont. Again, part of this is because the victors write the history books, but it’s also because this podcast is about the Italian Unification, and by the mid-1850’s Piedmont will be the only game in town as far as unification is concerned. History doesn’t stop happening in the other places, but it stops being as relevant to our story. This doesn’t mean we’ll stop talking about them entirely, just that they’ll begin to do more reacting than acting as Piedmont seizes the initiative.
In this episode we’ll meet Piedmont’s new king, and see Piedmont try to regain its footing as it deals with its first constitutional crisis, triggered by its peace treaty with Austria. Against the backdrop of these events, Cavour, the late-bloomer of our Big Three, will rapidly become the dominant figure in Piedmontese politics. Download Episode 37
We left off with Garibaldi leading his men out of the doomed city to continue the fight elsewhere. In this episode we’ll follow our intrepid guerrilla leader’s fight to the bitter end, and see the fall of the Republic of Venice, the last holdout against Austria. Then we’ll discuss the revolutions of 1848 and try to make some sense of them - why did they happen, why did they fail, and what did they mean? Then we’ll set the stage for the 1850’s, often called the ‘Decade of Preparation’, in which Piedmont would become ascendant. Download Episode 36
Adam is back with the final stages of the Revolutions of 1848 in Europe! Download Episode 35
The poetic, heroic, and tragic defense was burned indelibly into the memory and imagination of Italian patriots, for whom the city of Rome would now forever be inextricably linked to the very idea of Italian nationalism. The story of the Roman Republic ensured that no future Italian state could long endure without the city of Rome as its capital. Download Episode 34
This episode will focus on two different areas. First, we’re going to jump back to Piedmont. Frightened by the success of the republicans in Rome, and humiliated by their defeat by the Austrians in July of 1848, the Piedmontese made a desperate stab to get back in the limelight by renewing their war with Austria. Second, we’re going to cover Mazzini’s role as the leader of the Roman Republic. Handed nearly supreme power in the republic, this revolutionary with no political experience will wield that power wisely and with moderation, earning the respect of some of his harshest critics. Download Episode 33
Benjamin and Adam are brothers, and are both in grad school studying theoretical chemistry. History is their hobby.