(Updated from 2014.) A correspondent asks if there were any words by Churchill about Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882), the Italian democratic patriot who contributed to the founding of Italy.
Garibaldi in Churchill’s novel
Savrola’s library includes Boccaccio’s Decameron, which takes place near Florence, reflecting Churchill’s interest in the political life of post-Roman Italy. Also, Churchill announced to his mother in April 1898 that among his next writing projects would be a biography of Garibaldi, the popular 19th century democratic revolutionary.
Clearly Churchill is preoccupied at this time with the challenge confronted by the popular leaders Savonarola or Garibaldi who, in post-Roman Italy, headed democratic efforts to restore and extend ancient Roman liberties, and who encountered resistance from the democratic population they would benefit and elevate.
From the Official Biography
This sent me to the Official Biography, Winston S. Churchill by Randolph Churchill and Martin Gilbert (Hillsdale College Press). They reveal that Churchill’s thought of writing a biography of Garibaldi (Volume 1 and The Churchill Documents, Volume 2.) Also, in The Churchill Documents, Volume 3, his mother writes in 1907: “Mind you get Trevelyan’s Garibaldi to read en route” (on WSC’s upcoming visit to East Africa).
There is also an index note to Garibaldi in WSC’s filial biography, Lord Randolph Churchill, where he quotes his father: “Would you undo the Revolution of Naples because Garibaldi might not be altogether a man of your mind? You know you would not; you know that those revolutions were justified by atrocious Governments.”
Another source is Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963 (8 vols, 1974). In 1944 he speaks of Ciano, Mussolini’s ill-fated foreign minister, “on whom the curse of Garibaldi has veritably fallen.” Perhaps a reader will help me understand what WSC was thinking. I do not see the parallel.