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1820-1870 - Risorgimento - Italian Unification

  • 1859 - Kingdom of Sardinia
  • 1859 - Lombardy
  • 1860 - Duchy of Modena
  • 1860 - Duchy of Parma
  • 1860 - Grand Duchy of Tuscany
  • 1866 - Venetia
  • 1860 - Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
  • 1870 - Papal States


  • 1815-1830 - Concert of Europe
  • 1831-1846 - Between Revolutions
  • 1848-1867 - Wars of Italian Unification
  • 1848-1849 - Revolutions of 1848
  • 1850-1855 - Rise of Cavour
  • 1859-1860 - Italo-Roman War
  • 1860-1861 - Italo-Sicilian War
  • 1861-1870 - The Kingdom of Italy
  • The difficulty of Italian history lies in the fact that for a long time the Italians had no political unity, no independence, no organized existence as a nation. Split up into numerous and mutually hostile communities, they never, through the fourteen centuries which have elapsed since the end of the old Western empire, shook off the yoke of foreigners completely; they never until lately learned to merge their local and conflicting interests in the common good of undivided Italy. Their history is therefore not the history of a single people, centralizing and absorbing its constituent elements by a process of continued evolution, but of a group of cognate populations, exemplifying divers types of constitutional development.

    The arrangements made by the allies in accordance with the treaty of Paris {]une 12, 1814) and the Final Act of the congress of Vienna (June 9, 1815), imposed on Italy boundaries which, roughly speaking, corresponded to those of the pre-Napolconic era. As the result of the Vienna treaties, Austria became the real mistress of Italy. Not only did she govern Lombardy and Venctia directly, but Austrian princes ruled in Modena, Parma and Tuscany; Piacenza, Ferrara and Comacchio had Austrian garrisons; Prince Metternich, the Austrian chancellor, believed that he could always secure the election of an Austrophile pope, and Ferdinand of Naples, reinstated by an Austrian army, had bound himself, by a secret article of the treaty of June 12, 1815, not to introduce methods of government incompatible with those adopted in Austria's Italian possessions. Austria also concluded offensive and defensive alliances with Sardinia, Tuscany and Naples.

    To the kingdom of Sardinia, now reconstituted under Victor Emmanuel I, France ceded its old provinces, Savoy and Nice; and the allies, especially Great Britain and Austria, insisted on the addition to that monarchy of the territories of the former republic of Genoa, in respect of which the king took the title of duke of Genoa, in order to strengthen it for the duty of acting as a buffer state between France and the smaller states of central Italy.

    The pope, Pius VII., who had long been kept under restraint by Napoleon at Fontainebleau, returned to Rome in May 1S14, and was recognized by the congress of Vienna (not without some demur on the part of Austria) as the sovereign of all the former possessions of the Holy See. The Ionian Islands, formerly belonging to Venice, were, by a treaty signed at Paris on the 5th of November 1815, placed under the protection of Great Britain.

    Austria recovered the Milanese, and all the possessions of the old Venetian Republic on the mainland, including Istria and Dalmalia. By an instrument signed on the 24th of April 1815, the Austrian territories in north Italy were erected into the kingdom of Lombardo-Venetia, which, though an integral part of the Austrian empire, was to enjoy a separate administration, the symbol of its separate individuality being the coronation of the emperors with the ancient iron crown of Lombardy ("Proclamation de l'empcreur d'Autriche, &c," April 7, 1815, State Papers, ii. 006). Francis IV, son of the archduke Ferdinand of Austria and Maria Beatrice, daughter of Ercole Rinaldo, the last of the Estensi, was reinstated as duke of Modena. Parma and Piacenza were assigned to Marie Louise, daughter of the Austrian emperor and wife of Napoleon, on behalf of her son, the little Napoleon, but by subsequent arrangements (1816-1817) the duchy was to revert at her death to the Bourbons of Parma, then reigning at Lucca. Tuscany was restored to the grand-duke Ferdinand III. of Habsburg-Lorraine. The duchy of Lucca was given to Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma, who, at the death of Marie Louise of Austria, would return to Parma, when Lucca would be handed over to Tuscany. Ferdinand IV of Naples, not long after the death of his consort, Maria Carolina, in Austria, returned from Sicily to take possession of his dominions on the mainland.

    Metternich's ambition was to make Austrian predominance over Italy still more absolute, by placing an Austrian archduke on the Sardinian throne. Victor Emmanuel I, the king of Sardinia, was the only native ruler in the peninsula, and the Savoy dynasty was popular with all classes. But although welcomed with enthusiasm on his return to Turin, he introduced a system of in the reaction which, if less brutal, was no less uncompromising than that of Austrian archdukes or Bourbon princes. His object was to restore his dominions to the conditions preceding the French occupation.

    In 1848, Lombardy, with many of the minor Italian states, attempted to throw off the yoke of Austria. Florence expelled her Grand Duke. Milan expelled her Austrian garrison. Venice drove out the Austrians and established an independent provisional government, with Manin as Dictator. Charles Albert, king of Sardinia, defeated at Novara; resigned in favor of his son, Victor Emannel. Pope Pius IX, who at first was disposed to be liberal, became despotic, and was expelled from his territory. Insurrections in Naples were put down with great barbarity by "King Bomba." Garibaldi was active in the resistance to Austria. The Pope was re-instated in Rome by French and Neapolitans; though the French were defeated at Palestrina by Garibaldi. Venice was taken after an obstinate resistance.

    Contrary to expectation, Victor Emanuel proved a wise and consistent friend of Italian independence. He made Cavour his prime minister, and made great improvements in his own kingdom; checking the power of the ecclesiastics. Victor Emanuel engaged in Crimean war to give military education to his army and to secure the friendship of France - also as Russia was regarded as the great supporter of despotism in Europe.

    In 1859, Louis Napoleon, jealous of Austria, proclaimed the "unity of the Latin races," and joined Sardinia in war for the freedom of all Italy. French won the battles of Solferino, Magenta and Marignano. By the peace of Villa Franca, France obtained Nice and Savoy. The Austrian Srates were recommended to form a Confederation, but refused; and were soon joined to Sardinia. In 1860, Garibaldi, without the aid of Sardinia, and even against her orders, invaded Sicily, and soon after took Naples. Sardinia prevented papal troops from interfering, and soon annexed Naples to her own rule. All Italy, except Venice and the Papal States, were now under one king, and the capital was removed to Florence.

    In 1866, Italy allied herself with Prussia against Austria in the "Seven Weeks War." Italian force under Garibaldi were defeated at Custozza, but the Prussian victory at Kueniggroetz compelled Austria to sign a treaty by which all Italy proper, including Venice, was given up to Victor Emanuel. French troops were withdrawn from Rome in 1866. Garibaldi was active in forcing war against the pope, contrary to the wishes of the government. Insurrections in Rome led the French to re-occupy Rome. Garibaldi was arrested by the Italian government, and French troops were withdrawn on account of Franco-Prussian war of 1870. After the surrender of Napoleon III at Sedan, Italian troops occupied Rome. The Pope's temporal power was limited to the Vatican and its immediate neighborhood.




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