[Click the back button on your web browser to return to the section of “Signs of the Times” for which the following serves as an annotation.]
Carbonari Rebellions: The Carbonari Rebellions were a combination of liberal revolts against church and state, particularly in Western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Widespread political unrest in the early nineteenth century let to the emergence of many revolutionary secret societies, which took the form of scattered cells throughout Italy and France. According to R. John Rath, the Carbonari, in particular, were "'popular' Freemasonry created by liberal anti-Napoleonic Masons to serve as a vehicle to arouse the educated masses in southern Italy against the French" (Rath, 356). As noted on Wikepedia, the Carbonari became known for also being anti-clerical, particularly because of their controversial publication, the Alta Vendita, which challenged the authority of the Catholic Church and called for an overall takeover. Feared by European governments and religious institutions alike, these societies were considered "dangerous to the maintenance of the status quo" (353). For example, members of the Italian Carbonari strove for unification and actively participated in the development of Italian Nationalism.
Connecting the liberal ideas of the Carbonari to other similar revolutionary organizations across Western Europe, Carlyle argues that “the voice it utters is the same. The thinking minds of all nations call for change. There is a deep-lying struggle in the whole fabric of society; a boundless grinding collision of the New with the Old.” Carlyle stresses that this political unrest in the public thought, as exemplified by the Carbonari rebellions, would eventually lead to societal destruction, and so must be addressed immediately.
"Carbonari." Wikipedia. 21 March 2010. 23 March 2010.
Rath, John R. The Carbonari: Their Origins, Initiation Rites, and Aims. The American Historical Review 69.2 (Jan., 1964): 353-70.
Last modified 25 March 2010