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Hello everybody.

I'm a new member of this forum. I come from Italy and I wish to introduce one of my favourite topics: the born of modern Italy.

Traditionally, the "Risorgimento" is placed in the years 1815-1870, between the Wien congress and the "breccia di Porta Pia", when Rome became part of Italy.

We started with 7 different states, 7 currencies, 7 units of measure, at least 6 boundaries to go from Naples to Milan; not a good situation, regardless of political matters.

(I feel that unifying Europe has some in common with unifying Italy, including the difficulties...)

Much of this history crosses the French one, the Austrian one and the ones of other main countries of Europe.

Well, now some documents and medals.

In 1848 there was the first independance war, which was completely unsuccessful. A few medals from that year and the following.

Romani alla difesa di Vicenza (1848)


Pope Pius IX sent some troops to Vicenza, but recall them soon. Some volunteers remained in Vicenza and were defeated by the Austrian army.

During the Rome Republic, the temporary government gave this medal to the volunteers, but when Pius IX returned to Rome the medal was canceled.

Liberazione di Venezia - Vessillo di vittoria (1848)


Venice was freed in 1848, but a few months later the Austrian army defeated it.

Sicily Campaign (1849)


A rebellion happened in Sicily in 1849 and King Ferdinando II defeated it. This rare medal rarely has the flag pins (here missing) and the ribbon.

Hope this topic can be of any interest. If it is the case, I will continue to post.

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Benvenuto! This is a wonderful chunk of history which I have not seen on the forum before. Thank you for providing it. Perhaps you could also tell us a little about your icon. It suggests that you are / were a Lieutenant in the Italian Navy.



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Benvenuto! This is a wonderful chunk of history which I have not seen on the forum before. Thank you for providing it. Perhaps you could also tell us a little about your icon. It suggests that you are / were a Lieutenant in the Italian Navy.



Thanks Hugh.

Yes, I was in the Navy, mmmmmany years ago. The blue arms comes from the Association of Italian Sailors, the rank is self explanatory. The brown back of the rank stands for Naval Weapons, which is my specialization (it has a little to do with weapons, however; mainly with electrical power and distribution).

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Really hard to find.

The very first I have (1831) is the redefinition of the rules for the Order of St. Mauricius and Lazarus, from the Kingdom of Sardina (king Carlo Alberto). Here you find some pages of the document and a Officer cross:


Unluckily I don't have any document from the Kindgdom of two Sicilies, Grand Duchy of Tuscany and other ancient Italian states.

Right tonight I tried to buy two on the ebay, but I lost both fights...

Edited by claudio2574
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Ciao Claudio !

Very interesting - please continue this thread on the Risorgimento period medals :love:

And ... since you mention the St. M & L Order, an overview of its different models would be nice too ...

Best regards,


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I'm happy to see that there is somebody interested in this topic.

Well, now a flashback to the first years of 1800, some years before of the Risorgimento traditional period, but actually relevant for it.
In 1797 Napoleone created the "Repubblica cisalpina", including Lombardia, Emilia, part of Veneto and Tuscany. Its flag was a copy of the French flag, changing only the blue with green. This flag is still now our national flag. In 1802 in Lyon the name of the Republic was changed in "Italic". As far as I know, this is the very first time that this name was used in modern history. This medallion celebrates the born of the Italic Republic, with hopes for long time life. Please note that all the decisions were taken OUT of Italy and NOT by Italians...


Not a long life for the Republic. Three years later Napoleon crowned himself as King of Italy, in Milan. This medallion celebrates the event. The date is wrong, because the ceremony was held three days later than expected, nobody knows why; anyway, the medallions were already been struck!


In 1814, after the 1813/14 campaigns between the Austrian empire and the French one, this medal was created. It is known as Armeekreuz and also Kanonenkreuz, because it was made using the bronze of French guns. (This thing will happen again in the future...) Several Italians served in the Austrian army and were awarded with this medal. When later they become soldiers of the Sardinan army they were allowed to wear this medal.


Last one of the flashback. In 1815, after the Wien congress, all Europe was turned back to the situation before Napoleon wars. The Savoy was given back to the Sardinian Kingdom and this medallion celebrates the event. There are traces of this medallion also in an old French book of 1826.


Unfortunately the medal was smoothed by time...


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The 1st one in post 10 is one of the best quality stampings i have seen on a medal....

Actually there are two versions of this medal, one saying "REPUBBLICA CISALPINA" and the other "REPUBBLICA ITALICA". It was made by the Milan mint; the designer was Manfredini. The medallion is 55 mm wide.

New subject: Carlo Alberto.

Carlo Alberto become king of Sardinia in 1827. He was the very first to open his Kingdom to the liberal ideas. In 1846 he gave the Constitution and the year later he changed the Code of Criminal Procedure, giving some freedom to the press. This medallion celebrates the event. The words on the back say "al principe riformatore i popoli riconoscenti 30 Ottobre 1847" (to the reformer Prince the grateful people 30 oct 1847)


In the same year a custom League was stated between the Sardinia, the Tuscany and the State of the Church: here is a medal to celebrate this new economic idea, whose purpose was anti-Austrian. Pope Pius IX is on the other side of the medal.


Carlo Alberto resigned in 1849 after the defeat in the First Independence War. He dead in exile in the same year. This medal was made in 1884, 35 years after, for a pilgrimage to his grave.


Edited by claudio2574
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Hi Paul, happy to see that other sailors are around, encouraging me to continue.

One of the brightest moments of the Risorgimento was the rising of Milan against the Austria, 18-22 march 1848 (5 giornate di Milano). In five days the people of the city, virtually without weapons (they used the ones from the museums), drove away an army of about 20000 soldiers. This was the beginning of the first independance war, which at the end was a heavy defeat for the Sardinian kingdom and for Italy.

A medal was made in those days, with the picture of pope Pius IX (many Italians trusted on his liberal ideas, but at the very end the Pope showed a very different behaviour). There are two variants. Here is the type A, with a six points star; the type B has 5.


Many years later, in 1884, the municipality of Milan gave something between 665 to 662 commemorative medals to the veterans. This type (A) was made by Johnson with the names of the engravers Crespi and Cappuccio over it. Another type (B) was made later without those names, for other veterans. The colours white and red come from the arms of Milan.


Edited by claudio2574
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Please tell me when to stop, otherwise I will continue forever...

1848 was so a terrible year for Italy that till now you can listen the Italian sentence "e' successo un 48" (translation: "it happened a 48") to mean a very big mess. Not knowing the Italian history this sentence makes no sense. Unfortunately many Italians do not know Italian history too...

Just at the beginning of 1849 Rome rised against the Pope (Pius IX, no longer trusted as a liberal, after the First Independance War) and created the second Roman Republic. A short story, 5 months only, but some signes of that experience are still present in all modern Constitutions.

The troops of France, Spain, Austria and Kingdom of Two Sicilies (Naples) freed the Pope. Please note that in this case the behaviour of France was against the new Italy; in the following years the France was several times (at least) ambiguous about the new state.

This medal was given to the multinational army. There are at least three variants: bronze, gilted bronze and gilted bronze with green enamel (which I don't have).


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1855, Sardinian participation to the War of Crimea.
Italian Prime Minister, Camillo Cavour, used this occasion to introduce the Kingdom of Sardinia in the club of European powers. He sent 18000 to 20000 soldiers under the command of General La Marmora. The Crimea war was the very first time for the new corp "Bersaglieri" to fight out of Italy, having good results. There were a few casualties in battle, much more for diseases, including the Commander.

"Cavour" is now the name given to our flagship, a light carrier.
(Image from the site http://www.freewebs.com/jeffhead/worldwideaircraftcarriers/cavour.htm)

Other posts in this forum describe the British and the Sardinian medals and I don't feel nice to copy them.

Here I post a diploma given to a French soldier, Nicolas Maillet, who later received other medals also, for the Italy Campaign, the Medaille Militaire and the medal for Mentana. Unfortunately I'm the owner of the Crimea one only. A good example of how the Italian history is mixed with the one of the other European countries.

Now the well known Turkish Crimea medal, sardinian issue, given to Sgt Thomas Sawyer, 2bgt Grn Guard

According to a well know forum (http://www.victorianwars.com/), the low quality Sardinian medals were replaced by new ones made by Hunt & Roskill.

The original Sardinian medal is 36.8mm diam, 2.5mm thickness, 25.1g weight, 800/1000 Ag; the replacement is 37.3mm diameter, 3.3mm thickness, 35.3g weight, 925/1000 Ag. A sign of how much the huge British Empire was richer than the small Kingdom of Sardinia.

In 1886 some commemorative medals were made to celebrate the 50 years of the Bersaglieri corp. Here you find a medallion of them, 64mm wide. In the front of it there are the names of the battles: Goito (1848), Palestro (1859), Cernaia (Crimea war, 1855), S.Martino (1859), Ancona (1860). In the reverse there is the face of La Marmora.

Edited by claudio2574
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Napoleon III

As already written, the France entered several times in our history. During Napoleon III period, in 1849 pope Pius IX was helped by French troops (see post #16). A few years later Napoleon changed his position, because he wanted an allied in his neverending war against Austria.

Here I introduce the well known Medaille Militaire with its diploma given to a French soldier.



Here the Saint Helen medaille with its diploma given to an Italian soldier (Giuseppe Giudice from Spotorno, near Genova).



In a postcard printed probably around 1903 you can see that some of the foreign medals (British Crimea, Turkish Crimea, Italy Campaign, Medaille Militaire) were allowed even after the cleanout made with the "Medaglia per l'Indipendenza" in 1865.


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2nd war of Independence - Campagne d'Italie - 1859

In 1858 a secret treaty was made between Cavour and Napoleon II in Plombieres. In case of war from Austria to the kingdom of Sardinia, the France would have helped the small country.
Actually the treaty was made to create the war and the true goal was to defeat the Austria arriving to Wien. 300000 soldiers would have prepared to fight. The Italy would have been completely redesigned, having the north under the kingdom of Sardinia, the center under the Duchess of Parma, Rome and its surrounding to the Pope and the south possibly under Lucian Murat.
The federation of these 4 states would have been formally under the Pope, but actually Napoleon III hoped to have the leadership of the new state (3 out of 4 states would have been under his control), while Cavour hoped himself to have the control because the north of Italy was the most modern part; more or less as Italy is now.

On January 1859 the King Vittorio Emanuele II opened the Parliament with his famous speech : "non siamo insensibili al grido di dolore che da tante parti d'Italia si leva verso di noi" ("we are not insensitive to the cries of painstanding to us from many parts of Italy"). Here is the medallion for this. The above words are written in small characters on the front side.


Not a formal declaration of war, but Austria felt into the trap and the war began on 30th april 1859.

The French people was not so in favour of the war, while the Italians, not only the Sardinians but also many volunteers coming from other parts of Italy, looked forward to this occasion. Here are some medallions created to celebrate the alliance.


During the war 200000 French soldiers and 65000 Italians (less than the 100000 expected) won the fight against the about 110000 Austrians. Over the well known 'Campagne d'Italie' medal there are the names of the famous battles fighted from the French (Montebello, Palestro, Turbigo, Magenta, Marignan [which is not an Italian name], Solferino)


This medal was awarder also to Italian soldiers:


8000 medals "Al valore militare" (Silver medal for bravery, the highest Sardinian medal in those years) were given to French soldiers. Here is one of that, with the documents of the recipient, Jean Lasserre


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(second part)

The Solferino battle was one of the most cruel in the history: 29000 casualties out of 230000 soldiers fighting for 14 hours. It was the reason for Henry Dunant to propose a rescue organization: the Red Cross born after this proposal.

The end of the war was not as expected. Napoleon III realized that his idea to control the new state was not possible, due to the many popular rising in all Italy. Without any agreement with his ally, he signed with the Austria the Villafranca treaty to stop the war. Napoleon was considered a traitor from the Italian soldiers, so that the 'Campagne d'Italie' medal was often weared not showing the face of the Emperor, but the places of the battles.
At the same time, Napoleon become so popular in Italy that his face is in many of the almost 100 small popular medals created in Italy (and in France also) to celebrate the 1859 facts, together with Vittorio Emanuele and Garibaldi.


Here is the medal made to celebrate the French army coming back to Paris


Here are two copies of the "Journal de la guerre". Quite interesting to follow the war when it was going on, using the words of some XIX century journalists.


Edited by claudio2574
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Perugia, June 1859

One of the cities which tried to rise and join the kindom of Sardina was Perugia, located in the center of Italy, within the State of the Church. This happened while the 2nd war of Independence was still going on.

The city drove away the government representative. An army of about 1700 soldiers, mainly Swiss, was sent from Rome to recapture the city and after a short battle they did. There were episodes of cruelty against the people, which were known in the world because some Americans were involved. The New York Times published an article about the facts on 25th June 1859:

In August 1859 the Papal soldiers received a silver medal:


The colours of the ribbon are not known. An old picture, published by Comandini in his book (begin of XX century), shows a ribbon with a bar "Perugia" similar to the one created for the "Pro Petri Sede" medal. Since this medal and its bars were created one year later, it is not sure that the Comandini's picture shows an original medal.


The facts of Perugia remained in the memory of the people. Fifty years later, 1909, a commemorative medal in silver and bronze was created. Here is a bronze medallion. The ribbon, when used, was red/white/red.


"Perugia dopo L anni sempre memore e fiera" (Perugia after 50 years [is] still mindful and proud)

(Sorry for the mark over the picture. I'm starting to mark my pictures because I've found some unathorised copies all around the web... If it is against the rules of this forum, I will replace it with a clean one).

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Now two (not so much) foreign medals, completely different from each other.

Here is the well known St. Helen medal, 1857, with its diploma given to an Italian soldier (Giuseppe Giudice, from Spotorno, near Genova)


The medal for the Schleswig-Holstein campaign, 1864. The imperial regiment (Prince Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Glücksburg" N° 80), created with Italian soldiers from Veneto, participated to the war. These soldiers were allowed to wear the medal even after the unification of the Veneto with the Kingdom of Italy.
There are two version of the medal. The one made in Austria has the "FJ" (Franz Joseph) before the "W" (Wilhelm), the one from Prussia exchanges FJ and W.
Some of the Austrian medals have the words AUS EROBERTEM GESCHUETZ (=from the kept gun) on the border, like the 1814 medal Kanonenkreuz.

Several soldiers, which have been previously in the Austrian army, moved to the new Italian one. In this 1868 document (Congedo assoluto = final farewell) it is written that Francesco Crippa served in the Regiment "Baron Bianchi" for 8 months + 2 as reserve, before being 6 years in the Italian army (1860-1866).


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