In the annals of Italian unification, few episodes have been more unjustly neglected than the Venetian rebellion against Austrian rule of 1848. Historians have lavished detailed attention on the defence of the rebel ‘Roman Republic’ by Mazzini and Garibaldi in that same tumultuous year. The contemporaneous Venetian Republic of 1848–49, however, has been relegated to the sidelines – as has its largely forgotten hero, Daniele Manin.
Despite Jonathan Keates’s indignation at this neglect – the spur for this pioneering new book – it is not hard to understand why the short-lived Venetian Republic should have been regarded as something of a back-eddy beside the mainstream of Risorgimento history. The year 1848 was, of course, a busy