European History - Unification of Italy
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Q: Describe & Explain the Unification of Italy.
The Unification of Italy divides in to 3 main stages: 1815-1830: Revolts all over Italy. Revolts are suppressed. 1848-1849: Revolts all over Italy. Revolts are suppressed. 1858-1870: The unification of Italy
Introduction To understand the unification of Italy, matters before the revolution need to be examined.
Up until 1716, Italy was just a big piece of land divided among small kingdoms of monarchs. (ref. H.O. #1 p.29)
When napoleon Bonaparte conquered Italy, he left them 3 things, which were probably the key characteristics in the revolution: - Efficient Government. - A practical demonstrations of the benefits from a unified Italy - Hatred towards foreign influence.
After the fall of Napoleon, the major European powers (Austria, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, & Prussia) what was to be done with Italy, which was conquered at the time by Napoleon.
It was thus decided that Italy would be divided among different monarchs, all associated with the Habsburgs (except for Piedmont Sardinia, which was to be ruled by Victor Emmanuel, an independent monarch, and Papal States, ruled by the pope.). (ref. H.O. #1 p. 29-30)
Austria had very strong domination over Italy. It had agreements with Ferdinand, king of Kingdom of the 2 Sicilies, and helped the pope maintain his kingdom. Only Piedmont Sardinia wasn't influenced by Austria (ref. H.O. #1 p. 30).
1815 - 1830 Revolution Almost all "'Italians" hated the foreign influence of Austria on Italy.
Metternich, an Austrian prince wanted to make sure no nationalist activities were in process in Austria's territories in Italy (which was Lombardy Venetia).
He imposed repressive rule in Lombardy Venetia. German was the official language, a strong Austrian army was always present to suppress any hostile activities, an efficient system of spies reported on any nationalist activities, a strict censorship of news was present, and Italian history was banned in schools to avoid the younger generation from learning about the glorious Roman past.
Metternich caused even further resentment when he obligated Lombards to serve in Austrian army, obey Austrian rules, and pay high taxes to Austrian empire. Lombardy Venetia's situation was very bad, and nothing seemed able to be done. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 30).
The situation in Lombardy (and in other parts of Italy) led to the establishment of many secret societies dedicated to the cause of Liberalism and Nationalism the biggest and most famous of those societies was named Carbonari.
The Carbonari resented the Austrian domination and initiated many uprisings. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 30).
In 1815, the Carbonari initiated the first revolt in The Kingdom of the 2 Sicilies, ruled by a cruel tyrant named Ferdinand. The revolution managed to issue a constitution from the monarch. Ferdinand though, had no intension in following his constitution. With the help of Austria, he easily managed to suppress the revolution. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 124).
Another revolt was then initiated in Piedmont Sardinia. The Carbonari tried to link the revolt with a revolt in Lombardy, but with no success. Austria and Piedmont Sardinia easily suppressed all revolts. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 124).
By 1830, other feeble tries to suppress Austrians were tried, but all led to failure. Italy wasn't ready for unification. The secret societies weren't strong enough and even worse, not coordinated. They initiated their revolts at different times, allowing the Austrians to deal with them one by one. Maybe the Austrian army would've been defenseless against a series of revolution all occurring at the same time. (ref. Mr. Patrick 12/1/01 history class).
On 1829 a passionate Carbonari rebel called Mazzini was caught and sent to exile into France. In exile, Mazzini formed a society called "Young Italy". Its ideals were to unify Italy under a republic with no foreign rule or influence. The society gained a lot of popularity, mainly among students. The ideals of a unified Italy were strongly placed inside many minds thanks to Mazzini and his society.
Mazzini later tried to convince Charles Albert (ruler of Kingdom of the 2 Sicilies) into helping him fight against the Austrians, but with no success.
Young Italy led many revolts across Italy but all were suppressed. Mazzini's name was to be heard again. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 31).
1848 - 1849 revolution In 1846, a liberal pope was elected. His name was Pope Pius 9th. He resented the cruel rule led by the former pope, and was ready to grant concessions, free liberalist prisoners, and he acted against the tortures of the inquisition in the Papal State. He seemed quite a promising future to many Liberalists and Nationalists. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 32).
The liberalist saw another hope when Charles Albert, successor to the throne of Piedmont Sardinia proved to dislike Austrian presence in Italy, and saw no problem in sending them away. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 133).
The first revolt occurred on January 1848. Following revolutions in other European countries (e.g. France & Hungary), an overnight revolution took place in The Kingdom of the 2 Sicilies. The revolution forced Ferdinand into once again, publishing a constitution.
The revolution in the kingdom of the 2 Sicilies soon motivated all of Italy. By March Charles Albert deliberately published a constitution. He wanted to have his people behind him on his campaign to expel Austrians from Italy. By then, also the pope reluctantly released a constitution. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 127)
Thanks to the successful turns of events, on 17th of March, the Milanese rose against the Austrian army and successfully defeated it, and on 22nd of Venice, a Venice expelled Austrian army, and under Daniel Manin, proclaimed itself a Republic.
The revolution seemed unstoppable. All waited for Charles Albert to invade Lombardy and help them expel Austrians. But Charles Albert delayed too long before coming to a decision. When he finally sent his troops at the end of March, the Austrians had already been reinforced. By then, the pope, not wanting to help Charles Albert confront a major Catholic power, withdrew his forces from battle. Another problem that arose was the divisions caused by the flocking of the Lombard and the Sicilian army into Charles Albert's army. All this added together led to Charles Albert's defeat at the battle of Custozza. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 127)
Now, the revolution went through its turning point. The revolutionary forces were starting to lose their struggle.
By August, the Austrian army marched back into Milan, and recaptured all of Lombardy. Charles Albert attempted a comeback, and invaded Lombardy, but was once again defeated by the superior Austrian army. Now, defeated and disappointed, Charles Albert abdicated in favor of his son, Victor Emmanuel 2nd. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 127-28).
Meanwhile, the revolution In Kingdom of two Sicilies was too suppresses after Sicilians had to surrender due to Ferdinand bombing the villagers into massacre.
By now, all revolts were suppressed apart for two. Venice and Papal States. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 128).
On February 1849, the pope fled to the safety of King Ferdinand after his prime minister was assassinated, due to him refusing to grant any further concessions. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 128).
Now, after Rome was under the control of a liberalist force, Mazzini took the task of leadership, and declared Rome a Republic, with Garibaldi, joining troops with him and becoming the head of defense army.
Unfortunately, Louis Napoleon decided to march an army into Rome and recapture it from Mazzini. After overcoming a heroic resistance put up by Garibaldi, The French army, heavily outnumbering Rome's defense army, recaptured Rome. Mazzini was forced to flee along with garibaldi. The French restored the pope into Rome and remained to protect it for the next 21 years. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 129)
The only thing left to do to end the revolution was to defeat Manin's Republic. This was easily achieved after he willingly surrendered after Venice endured a long siege in which diseases roamed through its people. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 129).
Now, the revolution came to an end. Although having a good start, and adequate forces, it stilled lacked of good conduction, and a unified idea of what should be done.
Now that the French intervened, the task for unification was even tougher. There was also needed a single ideal under which to unify Italy, Whether to establish a Democratic Republic (as Mazzini wished), a monarchy (as Charles Albert wished), or a Federation (as pope's supporters wished). But all were in favor of one idea: Unification.
1858- 1870 Unification Two great people came forward in the 1858 - 1870 revolution. Garibaldi and Cavour. Both associated with the new king of Piedmont Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel 2nd, but it was Cavour who played a role first in the unification of Italy.
Like all people, Cavour also wanted a unified Italy. He also wanted to industrialize Piedmont Sardinia like he's seen in Britain. He founded the newspaper "Il Risorgimento" in 1847. The newspaper made the Piedmontese aware of Nationalist and democratic ideals. By 1850 he became a minister in Victor Emmanuel's parliament, and in 1852, a Prime Minister.
Cavour increased Piedmontese spending, and greatly improved Commerce, communication, Industry, and agriculture, within Piedmont Sardinia, along with developing Transportation, and the Genoese port. His improvements to Piedmont Sardinia made the Piedmontese like their king very much. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 130).
After convincing Victor Emmanuel 2nd to send troops to assist Britain & France in the Crimean War, Cavour managed to earn Piedmont Sardinia the affect of Britain and France. (ref. H.O. #1 p.35).
After an attempted assassination on Napoleon 3rd (new king of France) by an Italian patriot, Napoleon 3rd's interest in Italian Liberation was renewed. (ref. H.O. #1 p.35).
Later that year, Cavour & Napoleon 3rd signed a secret agreement. In that agreement Napoleon 3rd made it clear he couldn't attack Austria, but if Austria was to invade Piedmont Sardinia, France would come to the rescue. Additionally, France would gain Nice and Savoy, & Piedmont Sardinia would gain Lombardy Venetia. This was to be a good deal for Piedmont That would gain her a large territory under her control. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 36).
Piedmont Sardinia had to somehow provoke Austria into invading. This was achieved by mobilizing troops and protecting conscription refugees. (ref. H.O. # 1 p. 36)
By now, Piedmont was fully behind their king. The idea of Italy being unified under Piedmont Sardinia was to their liking. Slogans saying "Verdi" (Initials in Italian meaning: Victor Emmanuel King of Italy) appeared everywhere in Piedmont Sardinia. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 36)
On 29th of April, after an ultimatum posed by Austria, the inevitable happened. Austria marched into Piedmont Sardinia and declared war. As agreed, France marched into Piedmont Sardinia and assisted it against the Austrians.
But Napoleon 3rd became more and more reluctant about the deal. He noticed Prussia was mobilizing troops (probably to aid Austria), and the war had already taken a great toll on life. This led to a truce signed between France and Austria.
The truce stated: - Piedmont Sardinia would gain Lombardy but Austria would retain Venetia. - Tuscany & Modena would be restored to their former rulers. - A confederation of Italian States led by the pope should be formed.
(ref. H.O. # 1 p. 36)
As agreed, Piedmont Sardinia gained Lombardy. This was the first step towards the unification of Italy under one king. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 36)
The agreement between France and Austria couldn't be completed though. The people of Tuscany and Modena refused to be ruled by their former Duchies. They wanted to be joined to Piedmont Sardinia. France had no problem except it demanded Nice and Savoy.
As a result, a plebiscite was taken (Both in Tuscany and Modena, & In Nice and Savoy). The plebiscite concluded that Tuscany and Modena would become part of Piedmont Sardinia, and Nice & Savoy would join France. This even further enlarged the Kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia, which now stretched from North to center of the Italian peninsula. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 36)
Meanwhile Cavour, deeply furious due to the broken agreement, came back to his senses and continued working toward unification. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 36)
Now that Piedmont Sardinia gained all this land, the unification was stuck. What should be the next step? Should Piedmont Sardinia try and invade, or wait a couple of years. But it was Garibaldi who made sure the revolution would keep on moving.
Garibaldi spent 12 years in South America where he got to master the art of guerilla warfare. He had great passion to unification, and wanted to advance Liberalism and Nationalism as much as he could in Italy. After the Republic of Rome came to an end, he escaped back to his island, Caprera. Now, he came back ready to contribute to the Italian unification.
He was secretly supported by Cavour and Victor Emmanuel, which provided him with weaponry and shirts. Cavour publicly stated he was against Garibaldi but privately supported him.
Garibaldi easily gathered 1000 volunteers in Piedmont Sardinia to sail off with him to an expedition to Kingdom of the 2 Sicilies.
Garibaldi luckily managed to land on the shores of Sicily. The landing was of bizarre coincidence with several British battle ships which were casually sailing along the coast of Sicily. The Sicilian garrison was afraid to shoot at British ships, and instead, let Garibaldi's men land on Sicily's shores unharmed. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 133)
When the garrison realized his mistake, it was too late. Garibaldi's army easily conquered Sicily and headed on to the Italian mainland.
He fought his way (using mainly guerilla warfare) to Naples, which he eventually conquered. By now he had many more volunteers join his army (including a British legion of 650 men). (ref. H.O. #2 p. 133)
By now, Garibaldi has achieved the unexpected. He liberated all of Southern Italy.
The French weren't very keen with the idea of Garibaldi getting too close to Rome, so they proposed Britain to block Garibaldi. Britain, after asking what Cavour wishes, and getting a positive public answer, but a negative private answer, refused the proposal. After all, also Britain was a strong supporter of Garibaldi's expedition. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 135).
Cavour and Victor Emmanuel had mixed feelings about Garibaldi's expedition. They feared he would declare the land he conquered a Republic, or head on and try conquering Rome, greatly provoking the French. (ref. H.O. #2 p. 135).
Cavour persuaded Victor Emmanuel to lead an army of 35,000 men through the Papal States and not allow Garibaldi invade Rome. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 38).
But by now, Garibaldi had no intentions of conquering Rome. After he conducted a plebiscite in the Kingdom of the 2 Sicilies, he found out that all they wished was to join Piedmont Sardinia. Shortly afterwards, Garibaldi and King Victor Emmanuel 2nd met in the North of Naples where Garibaldi handed over all the land he conquered to Victor Emmanuel 2nd, thus, acknowledging him as the King of a Unified Italy. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 138).
Now, the unification of Italy was complete. Thanks to Garibaldi's war knowledge, and Cavour's diplomacy, Italy was finally unified under Victor Emmanuel 2nd.
Only 2 areas were left to be unified, Rome and Venetian. Rome seemed to be the natural capital of the unified Italy, and was held by the French, and Venetia, a large territory in the North East part of Italy held by the Austrians. But soon enough, they too were annexed to Italy. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 38).
On 1866, Austria had to withdraw its army from Venetia to help it fight an allied force of Italy and Prussia. Victor Emmanuel easily marched into Venetia, and confirmed its annexation to Italy through a plebiscite. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 38).
On 1870, France too had to withdraw its forces from Rome after it engaged in a war with Prussia. Now that Rome wasn't guarded, the Piedmontese army easily entered the Papal States conquering Rome and declaring it the capital of Italy on October 2nd 1870. (ref. H.O. #1 p. 38).
This was the final end of the legendary unification of Italy, a story of great disappointments, surprises, and a happy ending. Though many problems later arose for the fresh country, Rome remains unified till today, but not as a monarchy but as a republic, and not with the same territories, but with new ones. But that is a different view in Italian history.