Naples and Napoleon: Southern Italy and the European Revolutions, 1780-1860

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Naples and Napoleon rewrites the history of Italy in the age of the European revolutions from the perspective of the South. In contrast to later images of southern backwardness and immobility, Davis portrays the South as a precocious theatre for political and economic upheavals that sooner or later would challenge the survival of all the pre-Unification states. Focusing on the years of French rule from 1806 to 1815, when southern Italy became the arena for one of the most ambitious reform projects in Napoleonic Europe, Davis argues that this owed less to Napoleon than to the forces unleashed by the crisis of the Ancien Regime. However, an examination of the earlier Republic and the popular counter-revolutions of 1799, along with the later revolutions in Naples and Sicily in 1820-1, reveals that the impact of these changes was deeply contradictory.

This major reinterpretation of the history of the South before Unification significantly reshapes our understanding of how the Italian states came to be unified, while Davis also shows why long after Unification not just the South but Italy as a whole would remain vulnerable to the continuing challenges of the new age

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a radical book; it turns the question of political change in Italy in the century before Unification upside down and redefines the south/north dichotomy.... This is the most important and most comprehensive study of southern Italy in that period and it is destined to change the terms of discourse on Italy's Risorgimento."—Marta Petrusewicz, Journal of Modern Italian Studies

"John Davis's remarkable study of the largest of the Italian states goes a long way to demonstrating the suggestive and revisionist thesis that in broad outline the kingdom of Naples was in most respects similar to the other imperial satellites.... Naples, in this fascinating reading eventually parted company with its fratelli to the north.... only late in the nineteenth century." —Steven Englund, The Historical Journal

"Davis offers a sharp, nuanced synthesis of a complex period, and a persuasive analysis of the Italian South in the age of revolution...a splendid achievement: thorough, solid, innovative, convincing, and appealingly written."—Tommaso Astarita, Catholic Historical Review

"Davis has set a benchmark for research on Naples, Napoleon, the Age of Revolutions, and the Southern Question for future generations of scholars to meet."—Lucy Riall, American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198207559
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/16/2006
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John A. Davis studied modern history at Oxford and taught subsequently at the University of Warwick, where he was Director of the Centre for Social History. In 1992 he moved to the University of Connecticut, where he holds the Emiliana Pasca Noether Chair in Modern Italian History. With David Kertzer he founded the Journal of Modern Italian Studies in 1995, which they continue to edit jointly. Davis was awarded the British Academy Serena Medal in 1996 for his contributions to Italian history, and the Galileo Galilei Prize in 2000. He is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and a Resident of the American Academy in Rome.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Naples, Napoleon and the Origins of the Two Italies
Part One: Absolutist Naples
1. The Ancien Regime in the South
2. Projecting Reform
3. Undermining the Old Order
4. 1799: The Rise and Fall of the Republic
5. Jacobins and Patriots
6. The Counter-Revolution
Part Two: Napoleonic Naples
7. Naples in the Imperial Enterprise
8. The Costs of Empire
9. The Promise of Change
10. A Kingdom Remodelled? The Provinces and the Capital
11. Disorder
12. Legacies of Empire
Part Three: Restoration & Revolution
13. Losing Naples
14. Restoration
15. Revolution
Conclusion: States of Insecurity

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