Vital Signs

The Italian Counterrevolutions of 1799

Who says that conservative historians have to be old, hoary-headed men unable to produce anything innovative? A young Italian scholar named Massimo Viglione is proving the contrary with his two latest books, Rivolte dimenticate (Forgotten Revolts) and Le Insorgenze—Rivoluzione e controrivoluzione in Italia, 1792-1815 (Uprisings-Revolution and Counterrevolution in Italy). Viglione is a Catholic researcher in the University of Cassino's Department of Modern History, specializing in the French Revolution and its profound impact on the Italian peninsula between the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

His two books do not come out of the blue: They are an expansion of his first work on the subject. The Italian Vendee, published in 1995. Since then, Viglione has collected an impressive number of documents to describe one of the least known yet most dramatic periods in Italian history, following the invasion of the French revolutionary armies in Italy, bent on "liberating" the "oppressed" Italian masses at gunpoint.

The publication of Viglione's books is one of an increasing number of events which celebrate the tens of thousands of victims of this "liberation." events in opposition to the 15 billion lire of public money spent to extol a handful of Italian "martyrs of freedom" who supported the French invaders and their ideas. The confrontation...

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