After 1861 Italy seemed to be rid of scornful definition of “geographical expression” by Metternich: the nation missed just Rome and Venice for its territorial and political unit. It missed Much more civil, economic, moral and spiritual unit.

Many serious problems, some of which unfortunately still persist today, prevented the complete and real- not just formal – unification of the new state; that is the reason why Massimo d’Azeglio said: “We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians”. Among the problems prevailed the phenomenon of Brigandage, which summarized in itself, in those years, the largest and most complex “Southern problem”. This problem raised because the people of the farmers felt oppressed by the few and usual masters. The term “Brigandage” is usually defined as banditry or a form of banditry characterized by acts of violence, by robberies and extortion.

A good degree of blame for the rise of brigandage is due to the illusion that the unification of Italy would change many things, but peasant life became more and more worse, mainly because of short-sighted and bad policy of the Savoy dinasty, that treated the south like a conquered colony and with expansionist ambitions. In fact, the Piedmonteses did nothing but replace the Bourbons in the administration of power, fueling the discontent and the disappointment of the farmers that later resulted in the rebellion.

The brigandage, according to some, was the first civil war of New Italy and was smothered with brutal methods, so brutal that they trigger controversies even by liberal leaders and by some European politicians.

The robbers of the period were mainly people of humble social background, former soldiers of the Two Sicilies and former members of the south army; there also were common criminals as well as robbers already active as those under the previous Bourbon government. Their revolt was encouraged and supported by the Bourbon government in exile.

To quell the south rebellion the government needed massive military reinforcements and promulgation of special and temporary rules such as the “Pica law” (in force from August 1863 to December 1865 over most of the continental territories of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies), named because of its promoter Giuseppe Pica. The law was designed to counter the post-unification brigandage: it introduced the definition of Brigandage as a crime; offenders would be tried by military tribunals; it also was the first legislative provision of the unitary state to contemplate the crime of Mafia.

The issue about the Brigandage is not yet complete nor defined unanimously in its causes by historians and scholars.


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