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Department of History and Civilisation
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The Fairy Tale: Celebrating of an Italian Hero in Sweden
Once upon a time, there was an Italian called Giuseppe Garibaldi. He fought a series of battles in southern Italy, with a people's army he had raised to liberate his Fatherland from oppressors and turn it into an independent nation. Being quite successful in war, he achieved a certain degree of fame in the rest of Europe as the great hero who had fought glorious wars for his Fatherland and in the end also suffered for the good cause, as any other great son would.
At the same time in a small town in Sweden called Helsingborg it happened that the radical liberal Fredrik Borg, the editor of the liberal and Scandinavian organ Öresundsposten, together with O. P. Stürzenbecker and some other central figures from the local bourgeoisie and its associations became great admirers of Garibaldi and his people's armies. So in-between 1860 and 1862 they were involved in a series of ceremonies and manifestations, spontaneous as well as meticulously prepared festivities. The participants, mainly the bourgeoisie and the working people, such as artisans and journeymen, took to the streets singing, playing, cheering, making speeches, and at one occasion carrying a bust of Garibaldi through the streets, in order to honour the great hero and celebrate his latest war victories.
Helsingborg was not an isolated case, there are examples of manifestations and festivities organised in a similar fashion all around the country during this period concentrated in Stockholm, Goteborg and Orebro. This kind of ceremonies where radical liberals played the central roles central figures seem to have peaked in 1860s Sweden due to the desire of parliamentary reform and a Scandinavian union. Other festivities that were organised between 1860 and 1865 were for example Poltava festivals (1863), Union parties (1864) and Reform parties (1865). Thus I believe that these political ceremonies and manifestations, with their revolutionary language and symbols and their honouring of revolutionary heroes or other past war heroes, such as Charles XII, were used as a tool to express the wish and the urge for domestic political change. These changes were the already mentioned parliamentary reform and a Scandinavian union where the Nordic countries would unite under the Swedish monarchy just as Italy had been united through the guidance of Piedmont and Victor Emanuel.
Regarding the ceremonies, I will also examine Denmark and Norway to see if these countries had a similar tradition of political festivities in the 1860s, and if so what kind of symbols and what language they employed and if they honoured other war heroes than those mentioned for Sweden. Furthermore, it will be interesting to analyse what kind of political messages these countries wanted to transmit through the ceremonies and how they viewed Sweden in this period after the recent union crisis in Norway and the German-Danish conflict in Schleswig/Slesvig.
I would welcome any of comments, criticism or suggestions regarding my research.