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The Italian revolutions of 1848 The first of the Italian revolutions of 1848 broke out in Palermo Sicily on January 9 Most of the revolutions that followed shortly after across Europe were similar to that of Palermo popular and nationalist insurrections aimed to fight foreign rule and Metternichs repressive policy Starting as a small popular insurrection against Ferdinanad II of Naples the rebellion soon took on overtones of Sicilian separatism and grew throughout the island and throughout almost all other large Italian cities Piecemeal reforms were not able to satisfy the revolutionaries both bourgeois and noble who were determined to create a new more liberal constitution In January of 1848 Ferdinand II King of the Two Sicilies granted one Other rulers subsequently followed Ferdinands example Leopold II of Tuscany in February Charles Albert of Sardinia-Piedmont in March and Pope Pius IX also in March However the Austrian government did not bow down to popular pressure that was becomming ever so strong in northern Italy It reinforced its garrisons in Lombardy-Venetia arrested the leaders of the opposition in the major northern cities and violently suppressed student demonstrations in Padova and Pavia By late March when revolution had spread to as far as Vienna and Budapest Venetian and Milanese rebels moved to overthrow their Austrian overlords In less than a week the Austrian army lost nearly all of Lombardy-Venetia and retreated into the so-called Quadrilateral the region between Mantova Verona Peschiera and Legnano On March 23 Charles Albert officially declared war on Austria This was a risky political and military decision but hopes for a national war were high as were also hopes of democratic domination of the insurgency The Piemontesi won a few battles in Parma and Modena but suffered much heavier defeats Pope Pius IX Leopold II and Ferdinand II had all initially sent troops to northern Italy to support Charles Albert but immediately withdrew their forces perhaps in fear the Austrians
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