Several contexts are relevant for a thorough understanding of Clough's complex narrative poem. Here you will find links to discussions of some of these contexts.
For an overview of the European revolutions occurring in 1848-49 and
the struggle for a Roman Republic, which Clough uses in his poem, go to
of 1848 (beware: this student-constructed site has some
inaccuracies and a lot of typos). There are brief treatments of the Risorgimento
at the Victorian
Web, at the Encyclopedia
of the 1848 Revolutions, and at the Bartelby Project's
reprint of the Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th edition.
Among Victorian poets, Clough, like Tennyson, is famous for the quality of his religious doubt. His struggle with questions of religious dogma and truth inspires the epistemological concerns of his poetry. For a discussion of the religious context of Clough's poem, go to The Victorian Web's Religion Overview and look at the following topics:
Finally, Clough's politics are an example of Victorian liberalism. For links to Victorian liberalism try the review of Victorian Literature and the Victorian State at The Victorian Web. For a broader discussion of liberalism as a political philosophy, go to The Rise, Decline, and Reemergence of Classical Liberalism.