Arianna Arisi Rota

«So brutal an insult». Gestures of iconoclasm in the Italian peninsula between 1848 and the Second Restoration

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This essay focuses on some episodes of iconoclasm in the 1848 Italian scenario meant as destructive and regenerative rituals performed in the urban space by middle- class people crowds. Marking a new awareness in the targeting of symbols and in public behavior if compared to episodes occurred in the 1814 fall of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, such gestures were shaped by the urgent and spontaneous need to substitute signs of the past and defeated regime with the new ones. From Venice down to Florence, Rome and Naples, Austrian imperial arms came therefore under attack also in the case of diplomatic missions - legations and consulates - representing Austrian sovereignty in the peninsular space. A selection of episodes of late March 1848 according to the less known perspective of Austrian officers and British diplomats are then compared to clandestine and overnight offences to Austrian symbols occurred during the 1850s, which nevertheless confirmed a durable format for the coming out of political emotions such as rage, dissent and frustration.


  • Iconoclasm
  • Risorgimento
  • 1848 Revolution
  • Political Emotions
  • Public Rage and Violence
  • Regime Change


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