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Biographie: Giuseppe Abba
 Giuseppe Abba

1) Annotations concerning the didactical value 2) biographie of Giuseppe Abba 3) Historical context

 1) Annotations concerning the didactical value

To learn italian the text is completely useless. Concerning the syntax and the vocabulary it differs enormously from the italian spoken nowadays. Beside that it can only be understood if the reader have a very detailed knowledge of the italian wars of liberation. Unlike what the title suggests, it is not a "chronik" but an interpretation of the historical events and these events where not presented in a structured way but insinuated. This text is only interesting for people who studie italian philologie. In this case this text can be used as a basis for a course at the university about italian history. This would allow to discuss the historical events which are still important for modern Italy and which leads finally to the reunification of Italy. Someone may ask why we have introduced this text in this website. The answer is very easy. It was a misunderstanding. But it was recorded in a professional sound studio and we had only the choice to throw it away or to insert it. As we already had it, we decided to insert it.

 2) Biographie Giuseppe Abba

Most of the events described in this text, for instance the invasion of Napoleon in Italy, happened before the birth of Giuseppe Cesare Abbas, but are essential, at least in the eyes of Abbas, for the reunification of Italy. The period this text is about ends with the defeat of Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo (1815). The text describes the influence of the French Revolution, the importance of Napoleon for Italy and some of the battle of the napoleon armee in Italy. For Abba all these events are the beginning of the Italian mouve for independence, but he was born after that period on the 6th of october 1838 in Cairo Montenotte (Liguria / near the french border). In Montenotte started the rise of Napoleon with his victore over the austrian sardinian troops. After primary school he continued his studies in an institution of the Scolopi in Carcare (about 40 km in the south of Montenotte). The Scolopi, the real name is Chierici Regolari Poveri della Madre di Dio delle Scuole Pie were an orden which dedicated itself to the instruction of children from poor families. The episode in the text Chronache di Memoria about the live in a seminar of this institution is therefore autobiographic. The description of the Patres, unlike what we would expect from a religious order fervent adherent of the revolution (see historical context) is based on personal experiences. He joined Garibaldi in his March of the Thousand towards the kingdom of the two Sicily. Sicily was attached by dynastical relationships to Spain and was so a hindrance for the unification of Italy and eliminated in 1860 when Garibaldi entered Naple. This episode in which Abbas participated himself doesn' t play any role in the text. In 1861 he returned to Cairo Montenotte to dedicate himself to public works. In 1862 he started to study in Pisa. In 1866 he joined again the troops of Garibaldi (third italian war of independence, see historical context) and participated the 21th july 1866 in the battle of Bezzecca (Bezzecca at the north of the Lake of Garda) where the austrians where defeated. From that moment on he dedecates himself exclusely to his writing. In 1884 he became a professor at the Istituto Tecnico of Brescia who he teaches for 26 years. He dies in Brescia the 6th november 1919.

 3) historical context

The novel, or perhaps it is better to call it a report, describes the period of the French Revolution or better the aftershocks of this Revolution in Italy and the three wars of independence but only in the north of Italy, in Piemont and Liguria. The role of Garibaldi, a very important figure in modern italian history and someone known by Abbas from own experience is not mentionned at all.


The italian liberation war can be separated in four historical periods.

a) The period from the 2nd march 1796 (Napoleon became the commander in chief over the italian armee) until the 17th october 1797 (peace of Formio).
b) First italian war of independence 1848 / 89
c) Second italian war of independence 1859
d) Third war of independence 1866 until 1870

a) Briefly mentionned is the first intrusion of the Jakobins in Italy and the diffusion of the ideas of the French Revolution in Italy. The military maneuver of the napoleonian armee in Italy and the events happening at the same time in France are described in Detail. The internal political situation of France was instabel and the second directorium, to which belonged Barras, the lover of Joséphine de Beauharnais, the later wife of Napoleon, wouldn' t have been able to remain in power if Napoleon had not defeated a revolt of the soldiers loyal to the king (this episode is mentionned by Abbas). At this time France was in war against more or less all monarchies in Europe but most of all with Austria to which dominion belonged the north of Italy as well through an alliance with Lombardy and Sardinia. (At this time! Later Sardinia will become the leader of the mouvement of independance.) Thus Napoleon is in war with two different armies, the austrian armee and the armee of Lombardy and Sardinia. As Napoleon has less and badly trained soldiers he was obliged to fight them isolatedly. In the battle of Montenotte the 12th april of 1796 he defeated the austrians and in the battle of Millesimo the 13th april 1796 the troups of Sardinia. In the following treaty on 18th of may 1796 in Turin Sardinia ceaded Nizza to France. The actual king of Sardinia Victor Amadeus III and his successors, Karl Emanuel IV, Victor Emanuel and Carl Felix are not mentionned in the text. Only Karl Albert of the house of the Savoyen, who became a leader of the independent mouvement, is mentionned briefly when he was on the way to his exile in Portugal after the battle of Novara (1849) where the sardinian troops were defeated by the austrian troops. More important is the son of Karl Albert, Victor Emanuel II (1820 - 1878), which become the first king of whole Italy, see part c). During the napoleonian wars the whole Italy and the Vatican falls under the dominion of Napoleon. In the treaty of Campo Formio (17th october 1797) Austria ceaded the Netherland to France getting as recompensation Venice.

b) The year 1848 is very often mentionned in the text. Abba is by the time 10 years old. The first italian war of independence is very often reduced to this year. This may be usefull from a dictactical point of view but is obvious that the period from the abdication of Napoleon (1815) and the rebellions in several italian towns against the austrian dominion prepared the events of 1848. The period before 1848 is completely exluded from the text. The reader must already have a good understanding of italian history to understand what happened in 1848. This period saw the arising of several political mouvements, liberals, adherents of the constitutionel monarchy, mouvements influenced by the French Revolution etc. which only had one point in common, their struggle for the idependence and unification of Italy. Some of these groups are mentionned briefly in the text. The Carbonori (the name derives from carbonaro, the italian word for charburner, because they used many words taken from the charcoal burning like barraca, barrack, the place they held their meetings etc.). The carbonari had 600 000 members. In 1820 the organized a rebellion in Naples which forced the king of the two Sicilies to agree to a constitution. But this events doesn' t play any role in the text of Abbas. Giuseppe Mazzini is mentionned several times. He was at the beginning a member of the Carbonari himself until the Carbonari joined the mouvement "new" Italy created by Manzzini. This mouvement became important through the newspaper Giovine Italia / Joung Italy. Only en passant is mentionned the central figure of the italian wars of independence, Giusepp Garibaldi. Garibaldi organized in 1834 a rebellion in Piemont but was defeated and obliged to go in exile to South America where he participated in the wars following the independence of Spain. All these mouvements together with the claims of the bourgeoisie for economic reforms leads to the rebellion in march 1848 in Milan. The austrian troups where obliged to withdraw to their fortifications in Mantua, Peschiera del Garda, Verona, Legnan. This leads to general uprising in the whole Italy. The kingdom of Sardinia under the rule of Karl Albert declared itself protecting power of Lombardia and declared the war to Austria. A heterogenous coalition was formed between the Vatican, the kingdom of the two Sicilies and the troups of Lombardia. This coalition is heterogenous because Ferdinand II, king of the two Sicilies is against reforms. The pope Pius IX was at the beginning the hope of the reformer and the independent mouvement but the claims of the carbonari went to far for him. In Goito (30th march 1848 the troups of Sardinia were successfull. Karl Albert is declared king of Italy. But Ferdinand II was obliged to retire his troops due to internal problems. So Karl Albert was defeated in the battle of Custozza the 25th july 1848. The austrian dominino over Italy is reestablished. Karl Albert believed that the Austrians were weakened by internal problems and declared once again the war to Austria but was once again defeated the 23rd of march 1849 in Norvara near Turin. The battles itselves are not described in the text but there is a description of Karl - Albert in a carriage on the way to exile in Portugal. His sucessor is Victor Emanuel II. Abba is by the time eleven years old. Manzini and Garibaldi declare Italy a republique on 9th february 1849 in Rom, Papst Pius IX escaped. This leads to an intervention of France in favour of the pope. Garibaldi, which doesn' t play any role in the text, has to escape again, this time to North America. The revolution of 48 had failed.

The problem with the second italian war of liberalization is similar to the first one. It is a didactical construct but anybody knows that the time didn' t stop between 1849 and 1859. The kingdom of Sardinia under the rule of prime minister Camilo Benso di Cavour (he is mentionned several times in the text) gave up his attempt to obtain the independence of Italy by his own forces and looked for coalition partner, most of all France, which is interested as well in weakening Austria. He succeded, by ceading Nizza, which belonged already to the dynastie of Savoyen (the ruling house in Sardinia) to form a coalition with France. Ceading Nizza to France leads to a conflict with Giuseppe Garibaldi. Austria attacked Sardinia but is defeated the 24th of june 1859 in Solferini (near the the lake of Garda). This victory of Sardinia ended the dominion of Austria in most parts of the North of Italy (except Modena, Parma, Bologna and Emilia Romagna, where the austrian rules ended only one year later, after more rebellions and popular referendums. Only Venice still belongs to Austria.). As important as the events in the north of Italy are the events in the south of Italy which where not mentionned in the text. For Abbas the events in the south where more important than the events in the north, because he took part in the march of the thousand to Naples organized by Garibaldi after he had returned from his exile in the United States in 1854. With this march of Garibaldi ends the kingdom of the two Sicilie. The kingdom of the two Sicilie belongs now to the kingdom of Sardinia.

d) After 1859 the dominion of Austria in Italy didn' t exist any more. Only the vatican and venice (as well as Triest, which became part of Italy only th 18th january 1919) still belonged to Italy. The attempt to break the austrian rule over Venice by forced failed. In the second battle of Custozza the Italian were defeated. But when Austria was weakened due to the war with Prussia it was obliged to cead Venice to France and France ceaded it to Italy. In 1870 Rom was conquered because France was not able to intervene because it was in war with Germany. All these events are not mentionned in the text.