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Prince Salina learns that Garibaldi's troops have embarked in Sicily. The noble Prince sees the event as an obvious threat to his current social status. Salina's opportunistic nephew Tancredi becomes an officer in Garibaldi's army and returns home a war hero. Soon Tancredi starts courting the beautiful Angelica, a daughter of the town's newly appointed Mayor, Don Calogero Sedara. Though the Prince despises Don Calogero as an upstart who made a fortune on land speculation during the recent social upheaval, he reluctantly agrees to his nephew's marriage to the mayor's daughter, understanding how much this alliance would mean for the impecunious Tancredi. Painfully realizing the aristocracy's obsolescence in the wake of the new class of bourgeoisie, the Prince later declines an offer from a governmental emissary to become a senator in the new Parliament in Turin. The upper classes try to ignore the nationalist movements and the prince soon is uncertain of his own feelings.
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