- (1808–1873)A native of Alessandria (Piedmont), Rattazzi became a parliamentary deputy in 1848. In 1852, Rattazzi, leader of the relatively radical wing of the Parliament, made the political agreement known as the connubio (union) with Camillo Benso di Cavour and established himself as the second most important political figure in pre-Risorgimento Piedmont. The alliance between the two men dissolved on the eve of the war with Austria in 1859. Rattazzi, who was a favorite of King Victor Emmanuel II, became minister of the interior in the short-lived government formed by General Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora after the Treaty of Villafranca in July 1859, which had provoked Cavour’s resignation. As minister of the interior Rattazzi initiated an important reform of local government that extended the Piedmontese form of provincial and communal administration to Lombardy. The same law, in slightly modified form, was extended throughout the peninsula after unification and established Italy as a centralized state whose lower levels of administration were conceded little autonomy. In March 1862, Rattazzi formed his first cabinet, taking the offices of foreign and interior minister as well as the premiership. His government made the important decision to introduce a single Italian currency, which increased Italy’s ability to borrow in the international markets, but fell afoul of public opinion in September 1862 when the government used troops to prevent Giuseppe Garibaldi from marching on Rome. Rattazzi’s administration resigned in November 1862, but he returned to the premiership in April 1867. The most important act of his short-lived administration was a law in August 1867 that nationalized and auctioned off the land and property held by thousands of religious institutions all over Italy. Garibaldi’s attempts to seize Rome in 1867, which ended in the disaster of Mentana, once more brought down Rattazzi’s government. Caught between public opinion, which regarded him as too cautious on the Roman question, and France, which suspected him of aiding and abetting Garibaldi, Rattazzi dithered and lost the favor of the king. He died in Rome in 1873. Contemporary writers judged his political record harshly, but, in retrospect, it seems that circumstances, rather than ineptitude, were the chief cause of Rattazzi’s ministerial failures.
Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. Mark F. Gilbert & K. Robert Nilsson. 2007.
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