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2017 | 35 English Version | 113-132

Article title

Norwid’s poems and letters about Rome and the papacy in the context of French polemics

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Norwid was very much interested in the fate of the Papal State in the second half of the 19th century, which is testified in some of his letters and poems. Many traces of his reading newspapers and essayistic texts (particularly in French) can be found in these texts. From Norwid’s point of view the Pope played an important, historical role. He believed that Pius IX should head a federation-based Italian state. The Pope’s main opponent was Giuseppe Garibaldi who in the 1860s decisively contributed to the Italian unity, although Napoleon III’s France did not allow him to capture Rome itself. Norwid – unlike the largest part of the Polish emigration – had a negative attitude towards the Italian republican leader. He did not consider him (in the period immediately preceding the January Uprising) a model to follow. The main reason of this negative assessment was Norwid’s concept of sacred history that presumes there must exist a relation between the history and sacrum. According to Norwid, Garibaldi’s armed struggle for the establishment of a modern nation state did not fit in the context of sacred history (by contrast, the peaceful manifestations on the streets of Warsaw in the years 1861-62 took an entirely different course). In particular, Garibaldi failed to appreciate the sacerdotal char-isma of the Rome’s ruler. But it was precisely this “Christian-Patriotism” on which the universal mission of the world capital (prefigured by pagan Rome) was based. Norwid, the author of the poem “Do władcy Rzymu” [To Rome’s ruler], was convinced that this vision of Rome rooted in sacred history would – in spite of temporary setbacks – ultimately triumph.


  • University of Amsterdam


  • DE LA GUERONNIÈRE A., De la politique intérieure et extérieure de la France, Paris 1862.
  • L’Abandon de Rome par M. le Vte de la Gueronnière Sénateur, Paris 1862.
  • PROUDHON P.-J., La Fédération et l’unité en Italie, Paris 1862.
  • RIALL L., Garibaldi: invention of a hero, New Haven 2007.
  • TROJANOWICZOWA Z., DAMBEK Z., CZARNOMORSKA J., Kalendarz życia i twórczości Cypriana Norwida, t. I: 1821-1860, Poznań 2007.

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