Keywords: political and historiographical vocabulary; historical semantics; Renaissance studies.
The paper examines the history of two words, Rinascimento and Risorgimento,
whose routes partially overlapped. In the XVIIIth century the form
risorgimento referred both (1) to the cultural and artistic rebirth which
took place in Italy from the end of the XIth until the XVIth century (with
the meaning of the contemporary Rinascimento) and (2) to a wished political
upheaval, as it stands out from some coeval works. The XIXth century
was the turning point: Risorgimento (with the capital letter) began to refer
to the political movement for the Italian unification. This semantic specialization
was totally incompatible with the previous cultural and historiographical
meaning ('period of artistic and cultural renewal'), that celebrated
a period in which Italy had no political independence. In the XIXth century
risorgimento and rinascimento finally specialized their meanings, although it
is possible to find traces of the previous intersections and new coinages.