Journal article Open Access
Between 1843 and 1861, the role of the Italian moderates was decisive in the process of the country’s unification. The latest historiography has extensively analyzed such a role in all of its internal and international implications and has often emphasized a kind of cultural backwardness on the part of the Italian moderates with respect to the major European currents of thought.
This essay aims to contribute to eliminating such prejudice against the Italian moderates of this historical period by analyzing a fundamental aspect of their politics connected to beliefs and theoretical intuitions that would prove to be decisive in the transition from the old monarchic and aristocratic world to the new democratic one.
My aim in this essay is to show how the Italian moderates, from the most conservative to the most progressive, succeeded, from 1843, in controlling the patriotic movement, rejecting the republican option as unfeasible in a country that was still profoundly monarchical. They were also able to limit the democratic thrust, which came from the epic deeds of the revolutionary period, channeling it within the idea of a representative government led by public opinion and by the higher ranking monarchical power. They could benefit both from the English and French experience, the latter after the Restoration, and understood, only after the institution of a constitutional monarchy and only under its protective shield, that some of the achievements of the French Revolution, from the point of view of freedom, civil rights and political participation, could have been preserved.