Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association

NOTES AND DOCUMENTS: AN ITALIAN CONSPIRATOR IN EXILE: THE MEMOIRS OF CAVALIERE GIOVANNI BATISTA TESTA (1798-1882)

Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association (2021), 56, (2), 123–148.

Abstract

One of the earliest European uprisings against the post-Napoleonic governments imposed by the Congress of Vienna occurred in 1821. This article relates to one of the casualties of the uprising. Few would have been aware that the unassuming Italian refugee Giovanni Batista Testa, living as a language teacher in Doncaster for over five decades from 1825, had played a part in the early events of the Risorgimento. Abandoning his post in a leading law firm in Turin, he became involved in the unsuccessful constitutionalist insurrection there in the spring of 1821 and was obliged to flee for his life. He subsequently became a historian of twelfth-century Lombardy, and achieved reconciliation with his country through the award of a knighthood in 1854 by the Kingdom of Sardinia for this achievement. He later received a second knighthood from the new kingdom of a united Italy. Before his return to Italy in 1881 he dictated an autobiographical memoir describing his four years of transition from Italy to England between 1821 and 1824 and some significant aspects of his subsequent life up to the date of his first knighthood. The memoir is of sufficient interest to merit republication two centuries after its principal events took place. This preliminary commentary focuses upon the English context of his narrative and continues his story up to his death.

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Author details

Barber, Brian