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Memoria e Ricerca

Monarchy and the nationalization of the Italians (1861-1900)

di Catherine Brice
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 42 (2013), p. 69

Though considered for a long time by historians as a minor actor of Italian’s nation building process, monarchy did play a part in the decades between 1861 and the turn of the century. The Author tries to reconstruct this role around four main aspects. The first one lies in identifying the piedmontese dynasty with its Italian destiny. The story of the Savoia has been rewritten and presented as a genuinely Italian one, along with the invention of a history of the Risorgimento tending to become always more consensual, erasing as much as possible the differences between the King, Victor Emanuel II and Garibaldi, for instance. The second aspect lies in the «possession» of the territory by the King Humbert Ist and his wife, Queen Margherita, through a regular practice of royal visits, aimed at a better knowledge of the populations, at a staging of Monarchy under different aspects (visiting the workers, the Church, local aristocracies etc). Third, Italian monarchy has tried to build up new national/dynastic rituals though festivities such as the festa dello Statuto or royal funerals. And the king and queen have build up a strong network for philanthropy, in a country where on this field, the State was competing with the traditional catholic chrity. Finally there has been a political issue in monarchical circles or groups that have been active in the Italian territory at the end of the XIXth century. Key words: monarchy, Italy, royal trips, rituals, monuments, politics