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The Carbonari ( Italian for Köhler ) or Germanized Karbonari were the members of the Carboneria [ karbonɛˈria ], the most important of the secret societies in the Italian states of the 19th century . They were involved in the further development of the Italian unification movement of the Risorgimento and, as Charbonnerie, also developed political influence in France .

Character of the covenant

Despite their Catholic and mystical content, the Carbonari strongly resemble Freemasonry in their form , from which they differed in their efforts for political freedom and their ruthless choice of means. Like the Freemasons from the stonemasons ' guilds, the Carbonari took their customs and names from the charcoal burners.

Admission was gradual: there were apprentice, journeyman and master craftsman departments, the highest grades were achieved only by a few members. But all were sworn to absolute secrecy and absolute obedience to the superiors.

The members called each other buoni cugini (good cousins), non-members were called pagani (pagans). They called their meeting buildings baracca (hut) and the meetings themselves vendita (market or box). The associations of women (" gardeners ") were called "gardens", the place outside the vendita was the "forest" in which the "wolves" (meaning the Italian princes) lived.

Between 1815 and 1820, more than 600,000 people are said to have belonged to the secret society.

The slogan of the Carbonari was I ustum n ecare r eges I taliae ( It is fair to kill Italy's kings ), whose abbreviation INRI coincided with the initials on the cross of Jesus and should therefore deceive the identification mark.


The historical origin of the Carbonari is unclear; the secret society developed into a political factor in the Naples area during the Napoleonic period . Here its members initially wavered in their attitude to the used by Napoleon as king of Naples , Joachim Murat , before they finally behind King Ferdinand I presented.

Restoration time

Like all European ruling houses, Ferdinand I carried out a restoration in his Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which was created after the Congress of Vienna . After the Carbonari had found a broader base because of the general dissatisfaction that developed from this among the people, Guglielmo Pepe succeeded in developing the union into a military organization and eliminating internal adversaries. On July 2, 1820, the Carbonari launched a military uprising and forced Ferdinand to adopt the Spanish Constitution of 1812 . After this interim success, the Carbonari were persecuted by the notorious Police Minister of King Ferdinand, Antonio Capece Minutolo, Principe di Canosa , and by foreign organizations such as the Calderari ("tinker").

At Rieti there was a battle on March 7, 1821 between an Austrian intervention army under the command of Johann Maria Frimont von Palota and 50,000 men from Neapolitan troops under General Guglielmo Pepes during the uprising of the Carbonari. The Battle of Rieti ended with the defeat of the Neapolitan army.

Early Risorgimento

In Piedmont , where Karl Albert was mistakenly regarded as a member of the secret alliance, the Carbonari quickly gained popularity and were also able to enforce the Spanish constitution there, a year after Naples. In 1830, Napoléon Louis Bonaparte and Charles Louis Bonaparte joined the Carbonari. Charles Louis led the siege of the fortress of Civita Castellana . After the rebellion was put down and his brother died, Charles Louis, who later became Napoleon III, fled to France with his mother. Even at this point in time, Metternich saw the Carbonari as a great danger to Austria's political intentions in Italy, since their striving for power was directed not only against the Italian territorial lords, but increasingly against the foreign rule of the Habsburgs . Therefore, he not only pursued them on his own territory, but also supported the Italian territorial lords, whereby the rule of the Bourbons over the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies , like that of the House of Savoy over the Kingdom of Sardinia , could be re-established. Popes Pius VII and Leo XII also joined the struggle of the Austrians . , for whom the Carbonari was considered a Freemasons' union (see for example the bull Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo ). Under this pressure, the Carbonari finally merged after 1833 in the popular movement "Giovine Italia" ("Young Italy"), which was further developed by Giuseppe Mazzini .

See also


  • Albert Falcionelli: Les sociétés secrètes italiennes. Les Carbonari, la Camorra, la Mafia . Payot, Paris 1936.
  • Carbonari . In: Encyclopædia Britannica . 11th edition. tape 5 : Calhoun - Chatelaine . London 1910, p. 307 (English, full text [ Wikisource ]).

Web links

Commons : Carbonari  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Isabella Ackerman, Walter Kleindel: The Chronicle of Austria. Chronik Verlag, 1994, p. 311.