Mazzini and Anticlericalism: The English Exile

Eugenio F. Biagini

in Giuseppe Mazzini and the Globalization of Democratic Nationalism, 1830-1920

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780197264317
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734472 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Mazzini and Anticlericalism: The English Exile

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The Mazzinian movement has often been associated with radical anticlericalism, epitomized by the leader presiding over the republic that replaced papal rule in Rome in 1849. Yet, unlike many of his followers, Mazzini himself was less than an ‘anticlerical’ and in fact favoured a close relationship between politics and religion, provided the latter became the organic expression and spiritual mirror image of a democratic, non-hierarchical society. In contrast to much of the historiographical consensus, which stresses the influence of Saint-Simon, this chapter argues that Mazzini's vision incorporated features from a wider variety of cultural traditions, including Jansenism and Protestantism. In particular, during his long exile in England, the great eclectic became increasingly aware of the affinities between his project and Protestant Nonconformity. While the latter made a number of converts within the Italian émigré community in Britain, it was the less-orthodox views of the ‘Rational Dissenters’ that were most interesting to Mazzini as he tried to define his republican ideal of the relationship between church and state.

Keywords: Mazzinian movement; radical anticlericalism; Jansenism; Protestantism; Protestant nonconformity; Rational Dissenters; church; state

Chapter.  10546 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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