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principles. But no-one welcomed French troops on their soil or the financial demands

            Napoleon made on his subject peoples. Napoleon shook up the old map of Europe,
            even though the Congress of Vienna did its best to reconstruct it.

            To Mazzini, nationalism was a moral crusade. He later recalled that he was inspired
            to his life’s work when as a 15-year-old student at Genoa harbour he encountered
            some Italian refugees begging for money to get to Spain, on the run from the
            Austrian authorities after an unsuccessful uprising: “That day there took shape
            confusedly in my mind the thought that we Italians could and therefore ought to

            struggle for the liberty of our fatherland.” His tireless activism, letter-writing,
            pamphleteering, setting up Young Italy, sister organisations such as Young Poland
            and other oppressed nationalities, and even a Young Europe, was devoted to
            educating public opinion. But it had its limitations. His message was well received by
            the liberal middle classes, but struggled to penetrate workers or peasants. Mazzini
            was keen to educate public opinion and move Italian nationalism beyond the
            conspiratorial ethos of the Carbonari (“charcoal burners”, the codename used by the

            pre-Mazzini Italian nationalists). But he still had to operate outside the law; Mazzini
            himself lived in exile under a death sentence. However, some critics have noted how
            Mazzini organised many revolutionary conspiracies which nearly always resulted in
            failure and the capture and execution of young men who became involved; he
            remarked that the nationalist cause would be helped by the blood of its martyrs.
            The revolutionary ethos of Europe between 1815 and 1848 is well described by
            historian L.B. Seaman (Vienna to Versailles 1995): “revolts and revolutions occurred
            only when there were added to the discontent of the professional classes the

            discontents of the uneducated elements of society. These might include brigands and
            bandits as in southern Italy and Greece in 1820; deracinated cranks, ruffians and
            delinquents as in the 1830 revolutions in Italy; unemployed or under-employed army
            officers as in Spain in 1820; an unemployed urban proletariat augmented by peasants
            migrating to the towns after bad harvests as happened in Berlin, Vienna and
            Budapest in 1848. The irresponsibility of students, the sheer incendiarism of fanatics,

            the half-lunatic, half-criminal proceedings of Europe’s myriad secret societies – these,
            allied to the anger of workers in their thousands, and peasants in their tens of
            thousands, made the Revolutions possible, for otherwise the professional classes
            would have been leaders without an army. To the uneducated and the unbalanced, to
            the immature, passionate natures of young men burning with frustrated patriotism or
            thwarted ambition or idealism – and still more to the starving worker or peasant –
            revolution seemed the only way.” And when their efforts failed to deliver the new
            Heaven, “there was Mazzini to tell them with the fervour of a prophet that revolution
            was still the essential aim.”
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