The Systematic Destruction of Southern Italian Culture & Economy 1861-


           By: Tom Frascella                                                                                                         March 2017


  Southern Italians, former citizens of the Bourbon Monarchy of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, largely supported Unification of Italy at the time of Garibaldi’s Sicilian landing in 1860. That support included the self-controlled/determined revolt and declaration of independence in Basilicata against the Bourbon’s in August 1860 along with their subsequent declaration of Unity by the Basilicatan State with Piedmont-Sardinia in the same month. The revolt in Basilicata in August 1860 was the culmination of decades of local political and sometimes armed insurgent pressure for basic civil rights in the region. Basilicata was the only Italian State to independently declare independence from its regional monarch and declare itself unified with Piedmont without the presence of Piedmont troops.

 Basilicata, after obtaining their own independence then vigorously placed their support behind Garibaldi’s mainland campaign against the Bourbon’s. Armed men from Basilicata, volunteers, remained on the frontline of the war for Unification through to the arrival of King Victor Emmanuel in the later part of 1860. Estimates of the number of Basilicatan “volunteers” for Garibaldi are about 10,000 hand chosen by Garibaldi for frontline action and 10,000-30,000 for reserve back home regional order. But for King Victor’s decision to send all southern “volunteers” home in late 1860 there is no doubt that the volunteers, some 10,000- 40,000 were ready to aid in the eventual triumph of Piedmont forces against the Bourbons in the first quarter of 1861. It was only the purposeful exclusion of their efforts by Piedmont and the denial of their immediate integration into the army of Piedmont that prohibited them from the shared victory.

 Nevertheless, with the holding of a  general plebiscite in late 1860 throughout the south, confirming unity with Piedmont, and Piedmont’s eventual April 1861 military victory over the Bourbons southern Italy’s citizens remained optimistic that a new and better day was about to dawn in the south of Italy. After all, Piedmont had promised the extension of their liberal and progressive northern Constitution to all of southern Italy. That Constitution guaranteed many of the civil rights that the south including Basilicata had struggled/sacrificed and failed to obtain for generations. In addition, Garibaldi had promised in the name of Victor Emmanuel II that land reform and free elections would be forthcoming. Southern Italians believed these fundamental changes would usher in a new era of shared prosperity to the region. After all southern Italy under the Bourbon’s was the richest of all of the Italian States but the wealth was distributed primarily to the wealthy elite. Finally, they thought, with a true say in government, fairness and equity could become rule of law. Prosperity they hoped, could be shared by all.

 The reality of the new regime soon became evident to the people of the south and that reality was vastly different from what had been promised. First, the largest treasury in Italy with its financial arm the Bank of Naples almost immediately had all of its liquid assets removed or looted. The looting came in two parts, first during Garibaldi’s brief administration then immediately after by the Piedmont administration. It was argued by Piedmont that this “removal” of funds was necessary in order to relieve the accumulated debt of Piedmont’s wars to unify the north and to maintain an army of “liberation” in the south. The so-called cost of unification was determined by Piedmont to be fair for the benefits bestowed. So almost immediately the Piedmont government began to drain the resources of the south for the “greater good”. After all with such a robust economy southern Italy was thought by Piedmont to not only have the economic resiliency to absorb the drain of its treasury but to also underwrite Piedmonts agenda going forward. With this as a presumed economic reality, in addition to removing all of the available capital, other measures were implemented that rather than stimulating economic growth in the south, undercut the very foundations upon which southern Italy’s wealth had been generated.

 The extent and nature of the depletion of the treasury of the south was largely was and continues to be “officially” ignored. This was particularly true as it was happening and the lack of transparency was aided and abetted in the foreign press, especially in Great Britain and France. As has been the subject of previous articles the reasons for the lack of foreign acknowledgement of Piedmont excesses are fairly obvious, it was very much against Piedmont’s principle allies’ interests to depict a true picture of what was taking place.

 The Bourbons had replenished the treasury diminished during the Napoleonic period by withdrawing British favored and protected purchase of sulfur at below market rates. Much to the dissatisfaction of Britain, southern Italy had in the 1840-1850’s had opened up the market. This move toward free market control of pricing had vastly driven up sulfur prices and filled the Kingdom of Naples’ treasury. Concurrent with open pricing the Kingdom of Naples had set up a governmental monopoly guaranteeing that British mining interests were denied control over commodity production.  Britain had famously warned as early as the 1840’sthat southern Italy’s sulfur move would result in Britain’s support of regime change in the south.

 Britain had made good on its threat with the defeat of the Bourbons and in gratitude for its aid Piedmont once in control allowed the purchase of these mineral assets once again to be protected and largely controlled by British interests. Piedmont allies France and mostly England received favored trading status for the mineral whose previous free market trade had been a major component basis of southern Italian national wealth. This guaranteed that replenishment of the southern treasury would either not occur or occur at a much slower pace.

 England for its support of Piedmont received both protected market reduction costs and also was allowed to own mines in Sicily. It should be noted that British mines in Sicily employed children seven to twelve years old as mining labor. These children worked in conditions which amounted to virtual slavery. There was no British objection raised to either the usurping of the independence and economic health of the southern people or to the virtual enslavement of many of its children.

 The Piedmont stripping of economic resources went even further in that factories in the south were looted of their manufacturing machines which were then shipped intact to northern manufacturing sites. The removal of industrial machinery to the north vastly increased northern manufacturing but conversely created wholesale unemployment in the south eliminating both the source of trade and the ability to buy foreign goods.

 One would think that once free elections were held then southern representatives to the Italian Parliament could address the wrongs. However, southern Italy soon found that Piedmont appointees were to be installed in most major governmental positions in the south and only Piedmont supported candidates had any chance of running/winning election. Election results and sometimes the Piedmont supported candidates themselves were often recruited from organized crime syndicates or from individuals with a track record of corruption and Piedmont loyalty. Piedmont made sure that the system was rigged to obtain the results they wanted not the results of the general population. Opposition candidates and voters during that first year of “unification” were often subject to intimidation tactics including assault and murder, in order to obtain the desired election results.

 It did not take the southern population long to figure out that a great sham was being perpetrated. Demonstrations of opposition and protest in the south began to occur within months of “unification”. By early 1862 Piedmont military and political forces in the south began to implement suppressive measures to insure that their heavy handed rule was not successfully opposed. Among the first of the suppressive tactics taken to insure no voices of opposition could be heard was the order that those who had fought against the Bourbons and labelled by the former regime as “briganti” could not rise up against the new regime. These men who in fact had help in the creation of a unified Italy were ordered to report to their local “police” for arrest. Their crime nothing more than an extension of the Bourbon label but their real crime the audacity to act on their independent thought.

 Piedmont further initiated a draft of young southern men. This may seem inconsistent to arrest those who had volunteered to serve while drafting untrained “young” non-soldiers from the general population.  This was done in order to enlist men young enough to be influenced by Piedmont while segregating them from the more independent thinking “volunteers”.  Anyone among the young draftees who objected to conscription was labelled an outlaw/brigand and faced immediate imprisonment or death along with their older insurgent “brothers’.

 Faced with the above betrayal and injustices, it is little wonder that some men and women in rural Basilicata and other regions of southern Italy resisted. By early 1862 widespread revolt, protest and at times armed conflict with Piedmont soldiers had broken out throughout the south including Basilicata. This was at first a populist movement that had broad support, as the Piedmont policies were generally considered unjust. However by mid-1862 Piedmont commanders in southern Italy responded with more and more heavy handed extreme suppression and had started to impose martial law in the most “rebellious” of the rural southern regions, including Basilicata.

 At first these military imposed decrees advanced against the civilian population were issued supposedly on an emergency basis to help “stop” Garibaldi’s “Roma e Morte” march on Rome.

 Also as applied the martial law decrees were issued by individual military commanders with the approval of the Piedmont regime but with no Constitutional authority for such suspension of civil rights for a civilian population. Essentially, the regime suspended without color of law the civil rights of the southern Italian population. Martial law continued in the south and in fact became more general and suppressive as resistance increased from mid-1862 thru mid-1863. This is well after Garibaldi’s forces surrendered and were imprisoned.

 Initially the Italian Parliament well aware of what was taking place largely ignored the fact that unauthorized martial law was being enforced on the civilian population. However, as the edicts and measures implemented by military authorities coupled with the atrocities and murderous events by soldiers began to emerge in the press the Italian Parliament was forced to confront the situation. Two factions emerged, the Piedmont regime which wanted to white-wash and deny the events and a small “liberal” faction that objected to the government’s behavior toward its citizens.

 Since it was obvious that the “unconstitutional” suspension of all civil rights of southern citizens and the murderous military actions against non-combatant civilians that followed by the Piedmont military could not have occurred without the acquiescence and support of the highest levels of the Piedmont regime a narrative needed to be created that partly denied and partly justified the realities taking place. However, this complex narrative could not hope to prevail without the support of the British and French governments. The international press was too present for the circumstances not to have been known and so only with a wink and a nod from their governments could the conditions of violent suppression continue.

 This suppression is doubly ironic in that initially British and French support of Piedmont’s war against the Bourbons had been predicated on the somewhat fabricated “dismal” civil rights record of the Bourbons. In reality the British had helped orchestrate the takeover through actions and negative press starting in the 1840’s. This had been purposely done in response to the Bourbon open market approach to the sale of sulfur. But the British government of the time knew that a purely economic interest was not sufficient reason to gain public support for Italian regime change in England. Issues of Constitutional rights and cruelty of the former regime, real or made up were the narrative needed to win the debate in the court of public opinion in England. Although the English government was aware that Southern Italy produced 99% of the world’s sulfur, a strategic mineral resource necessary in manufacturing and gunpowder production England’s general population did not understand the significance. Italy’s going to the open market had radically increased the commodity’s value and allowed other foreign interests to purchase. Imperial Britain was not interested in international parity.

 Now when the abuses to civil rights by Piedmont in its effort to suppress opposition began to accumulate the British government faced a dilemma. How to support a regime that was actively engaged in civil rights suppression equal to or greater than those previously, vigorously objected to. A conspiracy of narrative between Britain , France and Italy emerged which actively and intentionally diverted/ disguised attention from the reality of what was going on.  In successfully doing so, this adopted, false narrative allowed for greater and greater abuse of power toward the south and in many ways created a narrative that continues to distort and injure the civil rights of the people of the south even today.

 By way of example as to how the narrative developed, the English record, in terms of what was known and suppressed in the public view, thru debate in the House of Commons from 1863 is enlightening. So it is to this record I would turn for exposing the conspiracy.


                    The British Official and Then Factual View of Southern Italian Economic Turmoil

 Between Garibaldi’s seizing of the Bourbon treasury intact and his administrators making “loans and distribution of payments to his northern “volunteers, and the Piedmont Government’s removing the rest the largest treasury in Italy disappeared without a trace or accounting in 1861-1862. To emphasize the true significance of the theft the Bourbon treasury was estimated before its seizure to be larger than the treasuries of all of the other Italian States combined. The loss of what today would be hundreds of billions of dollars had immediate devastating effect on southern Italy as it became wholly unavailable for any locally oriented civil use going forward in the south. To the extent it was usurped it became the asset of Piedmont and therefore used for the enrichment of northern Italy.

 This loss to the south is hard to quantify as the Italian government intentionally failed to keep records and publicly consistently misrepresented the state of the economy of the south. Of all places one can look for answers England appears the best hope. It appears from historic records that not all British politicians were buying the party line which mirrored that of the Piedmont Government on the state of southern Italian economy after unification. Some British members of Parliament were genuinely concerned about what their governments meddling was actually doing to the people of southern Italy. One such politician was Mr. Cavendish Bentinck a representative to the House of Commons.

 In the minutes of May 8, 1863 Mr. Cavendish-Bentinck and Mr. Hennesy raised an interesting challenge in debate on the state of British trade with southern Italy following the unification which was only a year old at that point. The statistics on trade relations with Britain comparing 1861 pre-unification with 1862 post-unification are enlightening. For example;


                                                                   1861                                                            1862


Wine export:                                      332,210 gals.                                            211,494  gals.

Manufactured cotton cloth to Naples           L  744,505                                           L 436,457

From Eng;land

Linen to Naples                                                2,186,621 yds                                     1,512,172 yds

Iron to Naples from England                           l 107,754                                            L  96,872

 Essentially by 1862, just a year after “unification”, trade with the southern port of Naples had dropped by 40% using just English trade as a reference point. Yet the British were officially denying any decrease had taken place at all. By denying that a decrease of this significance occurred the British Government avoided any questions as to why this was occurring. This in turn allowed them to ignore the looting of the regional treasury and manufacturing. It also allowed them to avoid questions as to the long term meaning of the looting. Had these questions been publicly addressed honestly it would have become obvious that Piedmont had reduced the viability of the southern part of the country as either an importer or exporter of manufactured goods including cloth. This decrease in trading status would soon emerge as a chronic permanent consequence of the Piedmont economic policies in the south.

 The British record of this Parliamentary debate further brought the broader divergence between what the British Government was “officially” saying about the facts relating to post-unification absorption of southern Italy and the reality of that absorption.  Out the groundwork of this British parliamentary narrative one can also begin to see a narrative on the virtues and vices of the southern Italian culture and people that will follow for decades. Of note in that long term debate is the consistent characterization and demonization of the pro-Bourbon and insurgents who oppose Piedmont and the linkage to the “evil” Vatican.

 Mr. Cavendish Bentinck’s Description of British Meddling May 8, 1863 House of Commons debate:

“Popular sympathy in England had been excited in favour of the new Kingdom of Italy because it was believed (promoted by the English Government in the press) that all the ills and wrongs of Italy had proceeded from bad government, which, under Piedmontese rule, would be forthwith redressed. Inspired by this feeling, the English people had unmoved seen many great changes. The disastrous war of 1859-the Treaties of Vienna torn to pieces-the dethronement of the Grand Dukes by intrigues- the sad  surrender of Savoy and Nice to France- the seizure of the Pope’s dominions, and the invasions of Naples, without pretext for war, or even a declaration of war…”

 He goes on to say in his opening of address; “These gross infractions of the law of nations were excused because an impression prevailed that the policy of Count Cavour was a panacea for all political disorders, and that peace and contentment were necessary consequences of its success. The Italian Government then was on its trial. Having attained then present position by violation of all inter-national law, they could not plead inter-national law as a bar of any examination of their conduct- they were bound to prove they had acted up to their principles, or to forfeit that confidence which the people of England had perhaps with too great readiness reposed in them. What had been the course of Her Majesty’s Government had in regard to all questions affecting Italy? Everybody conversant with the conduct of the Members of the Government, both in and out of the House, must frankly admit, that while they studiously kept back important information which they possessed, the question of “Italian unity,” the French occupation of Rome, “the maintenance of the Pope’s temporal power,” and the kindred subjects had been continually in their mouths…They had attempted, moreover, to show the precise cause of evil, and fixed idea seemed to pervade their minds that all disorders which afflicted Italy were solely due to the French occupation of Rome and the protection of the King of Naples by the Pope.”

 To point out both the misinformation and purposeful deceit of the Government’s 1862 position regarding the progress of the “unification of Italy” Mr. Cavendish Bentinck stated; “When the question was introduced to the House last year by the hon. And learned Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer), the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the noble Viscount at the head of the Government, followed each other in quick succession, and endeavored to browbeat those who entertained an opposite view of the question. The hon. Gentlemen (Mr. Layard) maintained the most extravagant propositions- that the brigands were entirely harboured at Rome; that brigandage was confined to the frontiers of Rome; that there was no brigandage in Calabria, in Otranto, or in Bari; that the conscription was popular; that the National Guard was entirely on the side of the Government; that the brigands committed the greatest outrages, while the Piedmontese soldiers were merciful. The Chancellor of the Exchequer followed on the same side, and committed himself to the statement that “it was marvelous how little cruelty had been proved against the soldiers of Italy;” and finally, the noble Lord at the head of the Government concluded the debate by saying- “I do not want to dwell on the enormities committed by those who were sent from Rome under the sanction of the head of the Roman Catholic religion and of the unhappy and exiled sovereign who lives under the protection of the Pope. I will not go into these atrocities. I will simply say they were such as ought to deter any one from advocating a cause stained by such cruelties. If the southern part of Italy is disturbed it is not by internal insurrection- not by the people themselves, but totally and entirely by emissaries, the scum of the earth, sent there on purpose to murder, plunder, destroy by fire, and even to burn people alive.” (3 Hansard, clxvi. 966.)”

 As we have seen in previous articles, the revolts in southern Italy were actually “popular” based in response to provocations by the north and their administration of the south. To the extent that there was any linkage to the Bourbon or Papal causes it was after the fact in an attempt to gain support in a cause that was grossly unprepared to carry the fight to the Piedmont troops. Suspension of civil rights, executions, mass imprisonments, rapes and massacres had been inflicted by Piedmont soldiers on pockets of southern civilian populations even before the Bourbon King had officially surrendered. By 1862 the appalling record of such atrocities was not hard to find but as the above demonstrates the truth was hidden and an opposite “truth” became the British government line.

Few dispatches from English consuls in Italy to the British Home Office regarding the status and conditions of the unification process in southern Italy made it to the House of Commons, directly or indirectly, during the April-December 1862 session. Starting in December 1862 the British began to draw, for public consumption, a very critical and unfounded image of the insurgents centered on the notion that they were in “league” with the Papacy. This line of public attack can be traced from the November 24, 1862 dispatch of British consul to Italy Mr. Odo Russel. In that dispatch he asserted “sources” had confirmed insurgents and foreign soldiers were crossing the Papal States’ border to attack southern Italy and were being protected by the French army in Rome.  His dispatch went so far as to describe the countries of origin of the foreign fighters and their design of uniform. So the dispatch appeared very detailed and therefore authoritative.

 This assertion then lead the British Home Office to send a protest letter from the British Foreign Minister, Lord Russell on December 27, 1867 complaining to the French Government.  In that letter he states; “ If the French army at Rome protected a Power thus holy, religious and charitable, the evils of the French occupation would be in some degree mitigated. But there is a long distance between the theory thus stated and the existing fact. The political banditti who invest the Southern provinces of Italy have their headquarters in Rome. They constantly issue from haunts rendered secure for them by cover of the French flag, to destroy whole villages, and to murder the peaceful farmers of the South.” He then went on describe how hundreds of men including foreign troops were crossing the border to cause havoc on the south under the direction of the Pope and Bourbon King Frances.

 When this letter was received by France it was passed along to the French General in Rome who immediately called Mr. Russell to task. It appears that Mr. Russell’s November letter was unsubstantiated and false.  As a result, Mr. Russell was forced in January 1863 to retract his previous accounts and in a letter to Lord Russell admitted his previous correspondence was unsubstantiated hearsay and not based on actual events. But, as such things go the retraction made far less news than the initial allegation. However, it is quite clear that protecting British foreign interests in Italy contained the assumption that both King Francis’ exile close to southern Italy and the secular power of the Vatican were flashpoints to be dealt with. By 1863 the demonization of the Papacy and the assertion that the Vatican was supporting atrocities in the south had become part of the British program to secure their interests in Italy.




                                                                                             Photograph of Lord John Russell


 In retort to what the Home Office had been peddling as the circumstances and conditions in existence in southern Italy Mr. Cavandish- Bentinck first pointed out that the British were well aware that the roots of southern “brigandage” in Italy lie in “civil” strife. That the British had, since as far back as the Napoleonic conflict been in direct contact with and at times allied with southern brigands when it suited British interests. Of more interest to me is his citing of Italian conditions lifted directly from the Italian Parliament. He stated; “The subject of Neapolitan brigandage had been from time to time much discussed in the Turin Chamber, especially during the debate of November 1862, which lead to the fall of Ratazzi, and during the past month. It is quite obvious that statements made in the Chamber with reference to the condition of the Southern Provinces, which the Ministry could neither contradict nor explain away, were the best evidence that could possibly be adduced. He held in his hand the speeches of distinquished Members of the Turin Chamber- Ferrari, Massari, Nicotera, Crispi, Cappone, Bixio, Ricciardi and many other Liberals, men without any reactionary tendency. With these he would not trouble the House at any length, for a good case required but few witnesses. He would only read sufficient to establish the truth, pledging himself, if need be, to substantiate his allegations to the fullest extent. For the purpose he would select the speeches of Deputy Ferrari, because Ferrari was a man of high character and reputation, a Lombard, free from Piedmontese and Southern prejudices, a gentleman, in short, whose testimony was impeachable. Signor Ferrari, returning from a visit to the Southern Provinces, when he had witnessed the ruins of Pontelandolfo and Casaldini, two towns sacked and destroyed by the Piedmontese (at Pontelandolfo thirty unhappy women, who were in terror kneeling at the foot of the symbol of the Christian faith, were massacred by assassins in the garb of regular soldiers), in his place in Parliament thus expressed himself- ‘Ay, you may call them brigands, but they fight a national flag; you may call them brigands, but the fathers of these brigands twice restored the Bourbons to the throne of Naples.’ Mr. Bentinck then goes on to cite Ferrari’s November 1862 speech at the Italian Parliament questioning Italy’s own characterization of the brigands and the threats and measures being employed to suppress them; “ on the 29th of November last, Signor Ferrari, addressing the Ministry, said- “What constitutes brigandage? Is it the fact, as the Ministry would have us believe, that 1,500 men, commanded by two or three vagabonds, can make head against the whole kingdom, backed by an army of 120,000 regulars? Why, these 1,500 must be demi-gods! Heroes! I have seen a town of 5,000 inhabitants (he alluded to Pontelandolfo) utterly destroyed. By whom? Not by the brigand. You cannot deny that whole families are arrested without pretence; many individuals acquitted by judges still linger in prison. A new code is in operation, under which every msn taken with arms in his hands is shot. This I call a war of barbarians, a war without quarter. If conscience does not tell you, you wade in blood, I know not how to express myself.’

 Bentinck further reported based on the Italian record; that former General Bixio, a companion of Garibaldi in the Sicilian campaign and an appointed member of the Brigandage Commission which had been tasked by the Italian Parliament with studying the situation in southern Italy made the following comments. “A system of blood is established in the South of Italy, but it is not by shedding blood that the evils will be remedied. There is truth in the statement of Miceli, (he had reported on the massacres of civilians directed by General Riccardi and the number of execution being conducted without trial). It is evident that in the South blood alone is sought, but Parliament must not follow this course.” Yet having said this he went on to not hold Piedmont General La Marmora personally responsible for the excesses of his subordinates, and blaming the severities permitted by all the Ministers, he concluded “Let us first be just. If Italy is to be a nation, we must attain our end by justice, not by shedding blood.”

 After exposing the reign of terror and blood taking place in southern Italy at the hands of Piedmont forces in the year following the “unification’ Mr. Cavendish-Bentinck goes on to express the April 1863 status of the “law” as established under unification. He does this in a five part criticism both of the policies of Piedmont but also in the hypocrisy of the British government which had condemned the previous acts of the Bourbon regime but was now silent as to Piedmont. His five part condemnation is;

“First, that 20,000 persons and upwards were confined in public prisons” (under the Bourbons in the 1850’s). Now under the Piedmont however, political prisoners exceeded that number of 20,000”. The House would learn from Signor Crispi that 1,300 political prisoners were detained in prison in Palermo. From Deputy Lazzaro that the prison at Salerno, constructed for 600 prisoners, now holds 1,400. At Potenza the prison held 1,100 but was designed for 600. Lanciano held 700 instead of the 200 it was designed for and so on. So, the excesses of jailing people as political criminals had actually increased under the Piedmont regime without an objection from the British Government.

 Secondly, He relates that the laws of Naples, (southern Italy) under the Piedmont Constitution “requires that personal liberty shall be inviolable, except under warrant from a court of justice authorized for a purpose”. However,  “In utter defiance of this law, the Government, of which the Prefect of Police is an important member, through the agents of that department, watches and dogs the people, pays domiciliary visits very commonly at night, ransacks houses, seizing papers arid effects, and tearing up floors at pleasure, under pretence of searching for arms, and imprisons men by the score, by the hundreds, by the thousand, without any warrant whatever, sometimes without even any written authority at all, or anything beyond the word of a policeman, constantly without any statement whatever the nature of the offence. Nor is this the last fact wonderful. Men arrested, not because they have committed or are believed to have committed any offence, but because they are persons whom it is thought convenient to confine and get rid of, and against whom, therefore, some charge must be fabricated…now that the relatives and connections of alledged brigands to the third degree and hundreds of persons, upon mere suspicion of complicity, were arrested and frequently shot without trial-now that many persons, actually acquitted by the courts, still lingered in prison.” So under Piedmont Constitutional rights were ignored and arrests were being made in the thousands based on allegations without trial. Further, relatives and acquaintances of suspects were also subject to arrest. Again, there was no outcry from the British Government.

 Thirdly regarding the detention of people for long periods without charge was objected to when done by the Bourbons but Britain was silent when the same was done by Piedmont. “Now that thousands of unhappy wretches, of all ages and both sexes, were rotting in gaol without hope, and appealed piteously to the passing stranger. Again he notes British silence.

 Fourthly, He complains about the abysmal conditions of those imprisoned.

 Lastlly, he condemned the utter “lawlessness” of the regime in controlling the south. “My main charge against the Government is its utter lawlessness. I am obliged to repeat it, and I say there is no body of brigands in the country which breaks the laws of Naples with the same hardihood, or on the same scale, as does the Government by the hands of its agents”. In essence the law was suspended by the government against its people.

 The reason that citing the above is important is for two reasons. First, the conditions and actions of Piedmont against the civilian population of southern Italy was known both in the Italian Parliament and in the British House of Commons. Despite that knowledge the facts were downplayed if not ignored.

 The second reason is I think more important in the long term picture of the southern Italian story and in generating the beginnings of the mass exodus of southern Italians. The fact that Piedmont was able to get away with the abuses and atrocities of 1862 and early 1863 without color of law, emboldened the regime to even more draconian measures starting with what became known as the PICA Laws approved by the Italian Parliament in August 1863.


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