The chapter illustrates the events from the February 1848 uprisings in Palermo to the fall of the Roman Republic in July 1849, in the context of the constitutional and nationalist revolutions that were affecting much of continental Europe. There is particular focus on the constitutional state projects expressed by various political forces, which were influenced in a number of different ways by European models. The most enduring achievement was the Statuto granted in the Kingdom of Sardinia, the only constitution to survive to the end of the revolutionary period.
The events of the war of the Kingdom of Sardinia against Austria are illustrated – a war that was supported by volunteers from all over the peninsula. The so-called “First War of Independence” took place in two phases between March and August 1848, and then again in March 1849, due to pressure from public opinion and parliament in the Kingdom of Sardinia. Austria’s victory was clear-cut and facilitated counter-revolution in the other states of the peninsula under the influence of the Habsburg Empire. Power was restored to the sovereigns and constitutions and provisionally granted political liberties were abolished.
The last to fall was Rome, which had rebelled against the power of the pope and for a short time established a republic inspired by democratic ideas.