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THE NATIONS OF TO-DAY

A New History of the World
Edited by JOHN BUCHAN



ITALY



THE NATIONS
OF TO-DAY

A New History of the World
Edited by

JOHN BUCHAN

FIRST LIST OF VOLUMES

GREAT BRITAIN %SL*

FRANCE

JAPAN

ITALY

INDIA

BELGIUM AND LUXEM-
BOURG

BRITISH AMERICA

YUGOSLAVIA

THE BALTIC AND CAU-
CASIAN STATES

IRELAND

BULGARIA AND RO-
MAN L\

Other Volumes in Preparation



:■




ITALY



THE NATIONS OF TO-DAY

A New History of the World
Edited by JOHN BUGHAN



BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN COMPANY






Made and Printed in Great Britain.

Hazelly Watson & Viney, Ld. t London and Aylesbury.

1923



GENERAL INTRODUCTION

This series has been undertaken to provide for the ordinary
citizen a popular account of the history of his own and other
nations, a chronicle of those movements of the past of which
the effect is not yet exhausted, and which are still potent for
the peace and comfort of the present. The writers conceive
history as a living thing of the most urgent consequence to the
men of to-day ; they regard the world around us as an organic
growth dependent upon a long historic ancestry. The modern
view of history— apart from the pedantry of certain specialists
—is a large view, subordinating the mere vicissitudes of
dynasties and parliaments to those more fateful events which
are the true milestones of civilisation. Clio has become an
active goddess and her eyes range far. History is, of course,
like all sciences, the quest for a particular kind of truth, but
that word " truth " has been given a generous interpretation.
The older type of historian was apt to interest himself chiefly
in the doings of kings and statesmen, the campaigns of generals
and the contests of parties. These no doubt are important,
but they are not the whole, and to insist upon them to the
exclusion of all else is to make the past an unfeatured wilderness,
where the only personalities are generals on horseback, judges
in ermine and monarchs in purple. Nowadays, whatever we
may lack in art, we have gained in science. The plain man has
come to his own, and, as Lord Acton has put it, " The true
historian must now take his meals in the kitchen."

The War brought the meaning of history home to the world.
Events which befell long ago suddenly became disruptive forces
to shatter a man's ease, and he realised that what had seemed
only a phrase in the textbooks might be a thing to die for.
The Armistice left an infinity of problems, no one of which
could be settled without tracing its roots into the past. Both
time and space seemed to have " closed up." Whether we
like it or not, our isolation is shattered, and not the remotest
nation can now draw in its skirts from its neighbours. The
consequence must be that even those who are averse to science,
and prefer to settle everything by rule of thumb, will be forced



1^0 9£



ii GENERAL INTRODUCTION

to reconsider their views. Foreign politics have become again,
as they were in the age of Pitt and Castlereagh, of Palmerston
and Disraeli, urgent matters for every electorate. The average
citizen recognises that the popular neglect of the subject con-
tributed in no small degree to the War, and that problems in
foreign affairs are as vital to him as questions of tariff and
income tax. Once it used to be believed that a country might
be rich while its neighbours were poor ; now even the dullest
is aware that economically the whole world is tightly bound
together, and that the poverty of a part lessens the prosperity
of the whole. A merchant finds his profits shrinking because
of the rate of exchange in a land which was his chief market ;
he finds his necessary raw material costly and scarce because
of the dislocation of industry in some far-away country. He
recognises that no nation is commercially sufficient to itself,
and he finds himself crippled, not by the success, but by the
failure of his foreign colleagues. It is the same in other matters
than commerce. Peace is every man's chief interest, but a
partial peace is impossible. The world is so closely linked
that one recalcitrant unit may penalise all the others.

In these circumstances it is inevitable that interest in foreign
countries, often an unwilling and angry interest, should be
compulsory for large classes which up to now have scarcely
given the matter a thought. An understanding of foreign
conditions — though at first it may not be a very sympathetic
understanding — is forced upon us by the needs of our daily
life. This understanding, if it is to be of the slightest value,
must be based upon some knowledge of history, and Clio
will be compelled to descend from the schools to the
market-place. Of all the movements of the day none is more
hopeful than the spread through all classes of a real, though
often incoherent, desire for education. Partly it is a fruit of
the War. Men realise that battles were not won by muddling
through ; that as long as we muddled we stuck fast, and that
when we won it was because we used our brains to better
purpose than our opponents. Partly it is the consequence of
the long movement towards self-conscious citizenship, which
some call democracy. Most thinking people to-day believe
that knowledge spread in the widest commonalty is the only
cure for many ills. They believe that education in the most
real sense does not stop with school or college ; indeed, that
true education may only begin when the orthodox curriculum
is finished. They believe, further, that this fuller training
comes by a man's own efforts and is not necessarily dependent



GENERAL INTRODUCTION iii

upon certain advantages in his early years. Finally, they are
assured that true education cannot be merely technical or
professional instruction ; that it must deal in the larger sense
with what are called the "humanities." If this diagnosis is
correct, then the study of history must play a major part in
the equipment of the citizen of the future.

I propose in these few pages to suggest certain reasons why
the cultivation of the historical sense is of special value at
this moment. The utilitarian arguments are obvious enough,
but I would add to them certain considerations of another kind.

Man, as we know, is long-descended, and so are human society
and the State. That society is a complex thing, the result of
a slow organic growth and no mere artificial machine. In a
living thing such as the State growth must be continuous, like
the growth of a plant. Every gardener knows that in the
tending of plants you cannot make violent changes, that you
cannot transplant a well-grown tree at your pleasure from a
wooded valley to the bare summit of a hill, that you cannot
teach rhododendrons to love lime, or grow plants which need
sun and dry soil in a shady bog. A new machine-made thing
is simple, but the organic is always subtle and complex. Now,
half the mischiefs in politics come from a foolish simplification.
Take two familiar conceptions, the " political man " and the
44 economic man." Those who regard the citizen purely as a
political animal, divorce him from all other aspects, moral and
spiritual, in framing their theory of the State. In the same
way the " economic man " is isolated from all other relations,
and, if he is allowed to escape from the cage of economic science
into political theory, will work havoc in that delicate sphere.
Both are false conceptions, if our problem is to find out the
best way to make actual human beings live together in
happiness and prosperity. Neither, as a matter of fact, ever
existed or could exist, and any polity based upon either would
have the harshness and rigidity arid weakness of a machine.

We have seen two creeds grow up rooted in these abstractions,
and the error of both lies in the fact that they are utterly
unhistorical, that they have been framed without any sense
of the continuity of history. In what we call Prussianism a
citizen was regarded as a cog in a vast machine called the
State, to which he surrendered his liberty of judgment and his
standard of morals. He had no rights against it and no person-
ality distinct from it. The machine admitted no ethical
principles which might interfere with its success, and the



iv GENERAL INTRODUCTION

citizen, whatever his private virtues, was compelled to conform
to this inverted anarchy. Moreover, the directors of the
machine regarded the world as if it were a smooth, flat high-
road. If there were hollows and hills created by time, they
must be flattened out to make the progress of the machine
smoother and swifter. The past had no meaning ; all problems
were considered on the supposition that human nature was
like a mathematical quantity, and that solutions could be
obtained by an austere mathematical process. The result was
tyranny, a highly efficient tyranny, which nevertheless was
bound to break its head upon the complexities of human nature.
Such was Prussianism, against which we fought for four years,
and which for the time is out of fashion. Bolshevism, to use
the convenient word, started with exactly the same view. It
believed that you could wipe the slate quite clean and write on
it what you pleased, that you could build a new world with
human beings as if they were little square blocks in a child's
box of bricks. Karl Marx, from whom it derived much of its
dogma, interpreted history as only the result of economic
forces ; he isolated the economic aspect of man from every
other aspect and desired to re-create society on a purely
economic basis. Bolshevism, though it wandered very far
from Marx's doctrine, had a similar point of view. It sought
with one sweep of the sponge to blot out all past history, and
imagined that it could build its castles of bricks without troubling
about foundations. It also was a tyranny, the worse tyranny
of the two, perhaps because it was the stupider. It has had its
triumphs and its failures, and would now appear to be declining ;
but it, or something of the sort, will come again, since it
represents the eternal instinct of theorists who disregard history,
and who would mechanise and unduly simplify human life.

There will always be much rootless stuff in the world. In
almost every age the creed which lies at the back of Bolshevism
and Prussianism is preached in some form or other. The
revolutionary and the reactionary are alike devotees of the
mechanical. The safeguard against experiments which can
only end in chaos is the wide diffusion of the historical sense,
and the recognition that " counsels to which Time hath not
been called, Time will not ratify."

The second reason is that a sense of history is a safeguard
against another form of abstraction. Ever since the War the
world has indulged in a debauch of theorising, and the con-
sequence has been an orgy of catchwords and formulas, which,



GENERAL INTRODUCTION v

unless they are critically examined, are bound to turn political
discussion into a desert. The weakening of the substance of
any accepted creeds seems to have disposed men to cling
more feverishly to their shibboleths. Take any of our con-
temporary phrases — " self-determination," " liberty," " the
right to work," " the right to maintenance," " the proletariat,"
" class consciousness," " international solidarity," and so forth.
They all have a kind of dim meaning, but as they are currently
used they have many very different meanings, and these
meanings are often contradictory. I think it was Lord Acton
who once said he had counted two hundred definitions of
" liberty." Abraham Lincoln's words are worth remembering :
" The world has never yet had a good definition of the word
1 liberty,' and the American people just now are much in want
of one. We are all declaring for liberty ; but in using the
same word we do not all mean the same thing. We assume
the word 4 liberty ' to mean that each worker can do as he
pleases with himself and the product of his labour, while, on
the other hand, it may mean that some man can do as he
pleases with other men and the product of other men's labour."
Are we not in the same difficulty to-day ? Perhaps the worst
sinner in this respect is the word " democracy." As commonly
used, it has a dozen quite distinct meanings, when it has any
meaning at all, and we are all familiar in political discussions
with the circular argument — that such and such a measure is
good for the people because it is democratic ; and if it be asked
why it is democratic, the answer is, " Because it is good for the
people." " Democratic " really describes that form of govern-
ment in which the policy of the State is determined and its
business conducted by the will of the majority of its citizens,
expressed through some regular channel. It is a word which
denotes machinery, not purpose. " Popular," often used as
an equivalent, means merely that the bulk of the people approve
of a particular mode of government. " Liberal," the other
assumed equivalent, implies those notions of freedom, toleration
and pacific progress which lie at the roots of Western civilisation.
The words are clearly not interchangeable. A policy or a
government may be popular without being liberal or demo-
cratic ; there have been highly popular tyrannies ; the German
policy of 1914 was popular, but it was not liberal, nor was
Germany a democracy. America is a democracy, but it is not
always liberal ; the French Republic has at various times in
its history been both liberal and democratic without being
popular. Accurately employed, " democratic " describes a



vi GENERAL INTRODUCTION

particular method, "popular" an historical fact, "liberal"
a quality and an ideal. The study of history will make us
chary about the loud, vague use of formulas. It will make us
anxious to see catchwords in their historical relations, and
will help us to realise the maleficent effect of phrases which
have a fine rhetorical appeal, but very little concrete meaning.
If political science is to be anything but a vicious form of
casuistry it is very necessary to give its terms an exact inter-
pretation, for their slipshod use will tend to create false
oppositions and conceal fundamental agreements, and thereby
waste the energy of mankind in empty disputation.

The third reason for the study of history is that it enables
a man to take a balanced view of current problems, for a
memory stored with historical parallels is the best preventive
both against panic and over-confidence. Such a view does not
imply the hard-and-fast deduction of so-called laws, which
was a habit of many of the historians of the nineteenth century.
Exact parallels with the past are hard to find, and nothing is
easier than to draw false conclusions. A facile philosophy of
history is, as Stubbs once said, " in nine cases out of ten a
generalisation founded rather on the ignorance of points in
which particulars differ, than in any strong grasp of one in
which they agree." Precedents from the past have often been
used with disastrous results. In our own Civil War the dubious
behaviour of the Israelites on various occasions was made an
argument for countless blunders and tyrannies. In the same
way the French Revolution has been used as a kind of arsenal
for bogus parallels, both by revolutionaries and conservatives,
and the most innocent reformers have been identified with
Robespierre and St. Just. During the Great War the air was
thick with these false precedents. In the Gallipoli Expedition,
for example, it was possible to draw an ingenious parallel
between that affair and the Athenian Expedition to Syracuse,
and much needless depression was the consequence. At the
outbreak of the Russian Revolution there were many who
saw in it an exact equivalent to the Revolution of 1788 and
imagined that the new Russian revolutionary armies would be
as invincible as those which repelled the invaders of France.
There have been eminent teachers in recent years whose mind
has been so obsessed with certain superficial resemblances
between the third century of the Christian era and our own
times that they have prophesied an impending twilight of
civilisation. Those of us who have been engaged in arguing the



GENERAL INTRODUCTION vii

case for the League of Nations are confronted by its opponents
with a dozen inaccurate parallels from history, and the famous
plea of the " thin edge of the wedge " is usually based upon a
mistaken use of the same armoury.

A wise man will be chary of drawing dapper parallels and
interpreting an historical lesson too rigidly. At the same
time there are certain general deductions which are sound and
helpful. For example, we all talk too glibly of revolution,
and many imagine that, whether they like it or not, a clean
cut can be made, and the course of national life turned suddenly
and violently in a different direction. But history gives no
warrant for such a view. There have been many thousands
of revolutions since the world began ; nearly all have been
the work of minorities, often small minorities ; and nearly
all, after a shorter or longer period of success, have utterly
failed. The French Revolution altered the face of the world,
but only when it had ceased to be a revolution and had
developed into an absolute monarchy. So with the various
outbreaks of 1848. So conspicuously with the Russian Revolu-
tion of to-day which has developed principles the exact opposite
of those with which it started. The exception proves the rule,
as we see in the case of our own English Revolution of 1688.
Properly considered, that was not a revolution, but a reaction.
The revolution had been against the personal and unlimited
monarchy of the Stuarts. In 1688 there was a return to the
normal development of English society, which had been violently
broken. It may fairly be said that a revolution to be successful
must be a reaction — that is, it must be a return to an organic
historical sequence, which for some reason or other has been
interrupted.

Parallels are not to be trusted, if it is attempted to elaborate
them in detail, but a sober and scientific generalisation may
be of high practical value. At the close of the Great War
many people indulged in roseate forecasts of a new world — a
land fit for heroes to live in, a land inspired with the spirit of
the trenches, a land of co-operation and national and inter-
national goodwill. Such hasty idealists were curiously blind
to the lessons of the past, and had they considered what
happened after the Napoleonic wars they might have found a
juster perspective. With a curious exactness the history of
the three years after Waterloo has repeated itself to-day.
There were the same economic troubles — the same rise in the
cost of living, with which wages could not keep pace ; the
same shrinking of foreign exports owing to difficulties of



viii GENERAL INTRODUCTION

exchange ; the same cataclysmic descent of agricultural prices
from the high levels of the war ; the same hostility to profiteers ;
the same revolt against high taxation, and the same impossi-
bility of balancing budgets without it. The Property tax then
was the equivalent of our Excess Profits tax, and it is interesting
to note that it was abolished in spite of the Government because
the commercial community rose against it. There was the
same dread of revolution, and the same blunders in the handling
of labour, and there was relatively far greater suffering. Yet
the land, in spite of countless mistakes, passed through the
crisis and emerged into the sunlight of prosperity. In this
case historic precedent is not without its warrant for hope.

One charge has been brought against the study of history —
that it may kill reforming zeal. This has been well put by
Lord Morley : " The study of all the successive stages and
beliefs, institutions, laws, forms of art, only too soon grows
into a substitute for practical criticism of all these things upon
their merits and in themselves. Too exclusive attention to
dynamic aspects weakens the energetic duties of the static.
The method of history is used merely like any other scientific
instrument. There is no more conscience in your comparative
history than there is in comparative anatomy. You arrange
ideals in classes and series ; but the classified ideal loses its
vital spark and halo." There is justice in the warning, for a
man may easily fall into the mood in which he sees everything
as a repetition of the past, and the world bound on the iron
bed of necessity, and may therefore lose his vitality and zest
in the practical work of to-day. It is a danger to be guarded
against, but to me it seems a far less urgent menace than its
opposite — the tendency to forget the past and to adventure in
a raw new world without any chart to guide us. History gives
us a kind of chart, and we dare not surrender even a small
rushlight in the darkness. The hasty reformer who does not
remember the past will find himself condemned to repeat it.

There is little to sympathise with in the type of mind which
is always inculcating a lack-lustre moderation, and which has
attained to such a pitch of abstraction that it finds nothing
worth doing and prefers to stagnate in ironic contemplation.
Nor is there more to be said for the temper which is always
halving differences in a problem and trying to find a middle
course. The middle course, mechanically defined, may be the
wrong course. The business of a man steering up a difficult
estuary is to keep to the deep-water channel, and that channel



GENERAL INTRODUCTION ix

may at one hour take him near the left shore and at another
hour close to the right shore. The path of false moderation
sticks to the exact middle of the channel, and will almost
certainly land the pilot on a sandbank. These are the vices
that spring from a narrow study of history and the remedy is
a broader and juster interpretation. At one season it may
be necessary to be a violent innovator, and at another to be
a conservative ; but the point is that a clear objective must
be there, and some chart of the course to steer by. History
does not provide a perfect chart, but it gives us something
better than guess-work. It is a bridle on crude haste ; but
it is not less a spur for timidity and false moderation. Above
all it is a guide and a comforter to sane idealism. " The true
Past departs not," Carlyle wrote, " nothing that was worthy
in the Past departs ; no Truth or Goodness realised by man
ever dies, or can die ; but all is still here, and, recognised or
not, lives and works through endless change."

John Buchan.



NOTE

The Introductory chapter, Chronological Tables, and the
History of Italy from Renaissance times to 1912 — with the
exception of the " Risorgimento," which is by Miss Helen
Zimmern — have been written by Mr. J. C. Powell, M.A., King's
College, Cambridge ; he is also responsible for Chapter XIV
on Recent Social Movements. Mr. W. K. McClure, late Times
Correspondent in Rome, describes the Italy of just before, and
during, the Great War ; whilst the Economic Section is the
work of Mr. Aldea Cassuto, correspondent of the Secolo and
Messagero.

The whole has been compiled under the care of Major-General
Lord Edward Gleichen.



XI



CONTENTS



GENERAL INTRODUCTION



NOTE



PAGE

i
xi



.4— HISTORY

INTRODUCTORY : GEOGRAPHY AS A FACTOR IN ITALIAN

HISTORY ....... 3

I. AN OUTLINE OF EVENTS FROM A.D. 330 TO A.D. 1370 8



II. THE RENAISSANCE (1250-1500)
ROME AND THE PAPACY
THE NEAPOLITAN KINGDOM
MILAN
FLORENCE .
VENICE
RENAISSANCE CULTURE



14
17
20

22
24
29
31



III. THE RETURN OF THE BARBARIANS AND THE SPANISH

REGIME (1494-1529)

FRANCE AND SPAIN RIVA!
THE COUNTER-REFORMATION

IV. ITALY IN BONDAGE (1540-1796)

VENICE

FLORENCE AND TUSCANY
THE PAPAL STATE
SPANISH ITALY .
THE RISE OF SAVOY .
IT — b »"



.




FOR ITALY .


36





39




43


.


44


.


46


.


47


.


50


...


51



XIV



CONTENTS



V. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND NAPOLEON (1792-
1815)

1796 TO THE TREATY OF CAMPO FORMIO

(1797)

CAMPO FORMIO TO THE FIRST COALITION
(1799)

THE AUSTRIAN RECOVERY OF 1799

NAPOLEONIC ITALY AND NAPOLEON' S FALL
(1800-1815)



VI. TOWARDS THE RISORGIMENTO (1815-1848)
TORPOR .....

ATTEMPTS AT REVOLUTION .
MA^ZINl'S GOSPEL
THE ROMANTIC AND OTHER MOVEMENTS



VII. THE RISORGIMENTO (1848-70)

THE YEAR OF REVOLUTION .

THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

SICILY, ETC., AFTER THE RESTORATION

FROM NOVARA (1849) TO 1854

THE WAR OF 1859

" I MILLE " ....

THE KINGDOM OF ITALY (1860-1866)

THE TRENTINO, ETC., FROM 1848 .



Online LibraryJohn BuchanItaly: The nations of to-day, a new history of the world → online text (page 1 of 33)