Sensibilities of the Risorgimento

Reason and Passions in Political Thought


Author: Roberto Romani
A purely political framework does not capture the complexity of the culture behind Italians’ struggle for liberty and independence during the Risorgimento (1815-1861). Roberto Romani identifies the sensibilities associated with each of the two main political programmes, Mazzini’s republicanism and moderatism, which in fact were comprehensive projects for a political, moral, and religious resurgence. The moderates’ espousal of reason entailed an ideal personality expressed by private virtue, self-possession, and a public morality informed by Catholicism, while Mazzini’s advocacy of passions led to ‘enthusiasm’ and a total commitment to the cause. Romani demonstrates that the patriots’ moral quest rested on a thick cultural bedrock, dating back to Stoicism and the Catholic Aufklärung, and passing through Rousseau and the Revolution.

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Roberto Romani, Ph.D. (1990), is an Associate Professor in the History of Economic Thought at the University of Teramo (Italy). He was a Research Fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, King’s College, Cambridge, in 1995-8, and a Member of the School of History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, in 2014. His publications include National Character and Public Spirit in Britain and France, 1750-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
List of Abbreviations


1 Against the Passions of Revolution: Making the Moderate Sensibility, 1815–1848

2 Grand Vision, Minor Demands: The Themes and Sources of 1840s Moderatism

3 The Truths of the Heart: Passions, Sentiments, and Faith from Mazzini to Nievo

4 The Reason of the Elites: Constitutional Moderatism in the Kingdom of Sardinia, 1849–1861


All scholars, graduate students, and educated laymen interested in Italian history, in nineteenth-century political thought, and in the role of emotions in history.