Nationalism: state-building in Italy (Part 3)
Liberation and Unification of Italy (1850 – 1870)
Cavour appointed as Prime Minister
- In 1847 Cavour was involved in the the founding of “Risorgimento”, a newspaper whose very publication had been facilitated by a recent relaxation of censorship, which became the official voice for the Italian National Movement.
- He successfully pressed King Charles Albert of Sardinia to grant a constitution to his people to form a constitutional monarchy; and in 1848 to battle against Austria as an holder of power in the Italian peninsula. The failure of this military action prompted the king to abdicate in favour of his son, Victor Emmanuel.
- Cavour became a member of parliament briefly from 1848 – 1849. Subsequently, he became minister of agriculture, industry and commerce in 1850, finance minister in 1851, and premier or prime minister in 1852.
- Cavour formed a coalition with the connubio (“union”), uniting the moderate men of the Right and of the Left, and brought about the fall of the cabinet in November 1852. The King reluctantly accepted Cavour as prime minister as the most conservative possible choice, but their relationship was never an easy one.
- Cavour’s career as prime minister can be considered one of the most successful of all time, given that when he took up the post, Piedmont had just suffered a horrible loss to Austria, but when he died, Victor Emmanuel II ruled a state five times as large, which dominated Italy and ranked among Europe’s great powers. Cavour was a great statesman and a leading figure in the movement toward Italian unification.
- Cavour was generally liberal and believed in free trade, freedom of opinion, and secular rule, but he was an enemy of republicans and revolutionaries, whom he feared as disorganized radicals who would upset the social order.
- Cavour was the first man who felt that only Piedmont-Sardinia could lead the war for independence and unification of Italy. He was a great monarchist and thus wanted to unify Italy under monarchy.
- He laid great emphasis upon the social, economic, spiritual and intellectual issues along with the political problems.
- He considered that if Piedmont had to lead the national movement of Italy, she must be made a model state of Italy by raising her up in the political, social, economic and spiritual fields, so the other states of Italy would recognize her leadership. In his own words: “It would gather to itself all living forces of Italy and will be in a position to lead her to the high destiny to which she is called Piedmont must begin by raising herself by re-establishing in Europe as well as in Italy a position and a credit equal to her ambition.”
- Cavour believed that economic progress had to precede political change, and stressed the advantages of railroad construction. He was a strong supporter of transportation by steam engine, sponsoring the building of many railroads and canals. Cavour began several initiatives in attempts to solve economic problems.
Austria: The main enemy
- He had seen the experiences of the patriots during the last for years. He desired the unity and independence of Italy. He hated Austria and called her as the oppressor of Italy. He knew very well that Austria was the greatest opponent of the liberty and unity of Italy and the patriots could not achieve their go without driving her out of Italy.
- But, at the same time, he all knew the actual position of the military power of the states Italy. His views were quite different from those of Mazzini considered this issue. Mazzini considered that only Italians could complete the work of unification.
- But, on the other hand, Cavour was the view that Austria could not be driven out of Italy without seeking foreign help. In other words, it can be said that Cavour was the first man who wanted to internationalise the problem of Italy.
Reorganisation of Army
- Cavour believed that the freedom and unity of Italy could on be achieved by war, and for this purpose he considered essential to increase the military strength against Austria. Hence, the military organization of Piedmont was the main element of Cavour’s policy.
Reform in Church
- As Prime Minister Cavour sponsored policies that promoted economic development, allowed some liberalisation in politics, and countenanced reforms that, in ways, compromised the position of the Church.
- Piedmont-Sardinia had already in 1848 abolished the ecclesiastical courts and introduced civil marriage – policies which had met with the dire protests of Pope Pius IX. Cavour’s new measure ordered the closure of some one half of the monastic houses within Sardinian territories.He reduced the excessive privileges of the church.
Cavour and the Crimea War
- “Realpolitik” is the notion that politics must be conducted in terms of the realistic assessment of power and the self-interest of individual nation-states (and the pursuit of those interests by any means, often ruthless and violent ones) and Cavour used it superbly. In 1855, as prime minister of Sardinia, he involved the kingdom on the British and French side of the Crimean War, using the peace conference to give international publicity to the cause of Italian unification.
- The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict in which Russia lost to an alliance of France, the United Kingdom, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia. The immediate cause involved the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, which was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Catholics, while Russia promoted those of the Orthodox Christians. Crimean War was part of the wider Eastern Question.
- Cavour was looking for allies to help him in the unification of Northern Italy. He had no interest in Eastern Question and no quarrel with Russia. He took Piedmont into the war in 1855 when it was more obvious that the Allies would win.
- Peace negotiations at the Congress of Paris resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Paris on the 30th of March 1856. A significant diplomatic victory was scored by tiny Piedmont that, although not being yet considered a “great” European power, was nevertheless granted a seat at the Congress by the French Emperor Napoleon III. Cavour seized this opportunity to denounce Austrian political and military interference in the Italian peninsula that he said was stifling the wish of the Italian people to choose their own government. The unhappy condition of Italy was exposed to Europe and matter got internationalised. The prestige of Piedmont got high and she won sympathy of Europe.
Cavour wins over Napoleon III
- In the peace conference at Paris following the Crimean War, Cavour attempted to bring attention to efforts for Italian unification. He found Britain and France to be sympathetic, but entirely unwilling to go against Austrian wishes, as any movement towards Italian independence would necessarily threaten Austria’s territory in Lombardy and Venetia.
- Private talks between Napoleon III and Cavour after the conference identified Napoleon as the most likely, albeit still uncommitted, candidate for aiding Italy.
- On January 14, 1858, Felice Orsini, an Italian, led an attempt on Napoleon III’s life. While in jail awaiting trial, Orsini wrote a public letter to the Emperor of the French, ending with, “Remember that, so long as Italy is not independent, the peace of Europe and Your Majesty is but an empty dream… Set my country free, and the blessings of twenty-five million people will follow you everywhere and forever.”
- This assassination attempt brought widespread sympathy for the Italian unification effort, and had a profound effect on Napoleon himself, who now was determined to help Piedmont against Austria in order to defuse the wider revolutionary activities that the governments inside Italy might allow to happen in the future.
- After a covert meeting at Plombieres (Compact of Plombieres), Napoleon III and Cavour signed a secret treaty of alliance against Austria: France would help Sardinia-Piedmont to fight against Austria if attacked, and Sardinia-Piedmont would then give Nice and Savoy (the seat of the Piedmontese royal family) to France in return. Also Naples and Rome were to be left unmolested and rest of the Italy was to be made into a separate Kingdom.
- This secret alliance served both countries: it helped with the Sardinian (Piedmontese) plan of unification of the Italian peninsula under the House of Savoy, and weakened Austria, a fiery adversary of Napoleon III’s French Empire.
- In the same year, Cavour sent his cousin, the famous beauty, photographic artist, and secret agent Virginia Oldoini, to further the interests of Italian unification with the emperor by whatever means possible, and by all accounts she succeeded, famously becoming the mistress of Napoleon.
Austro Sardinian War, 1859
(Second Italian Independence War of 1859) (First was 1848 Revolution)
- Cavour, being unable to get the French help unless the Austrians attacked first, provoked Vienna with a series of military manoeuvres close to the border. Clavour wanted war before Napoleon III changes his mind.
- Both France and Piedmont began to prepare for war, but diplomatic support diminished rapidly. Napoleon III also did not want war as French people were against it. Britain, Prussia, and Russia proposed an international congress, with one likely goal to be the disarmament of Piedmont. Piedmont was saved from this situation by Austria’s sending an ultimatum on April 23, demanding that Piedmont disarm itself, thus casting Austria as an aggressor (and thus played into Clavour’s hand). The British Government made a last desperate effort to maintain peace, and the Austrians always said that this was their ruin, as it delayed the invasion of Piedmont for a week.
- Clavour rejecting the Austrian ultimatum could appeal to France and face Europe as defending andd not attacking. Both France and Piedmont began to prepare for war, but diplomatic support diminished rapidly. Napoleon III who hesitated to undertake an aggressive ware, was satisfied andd Cavour cried: “The die is cast, we have made history“. The war broke out.
- The Austrian forces counted on a swift victory over the weaker Sardinian army before French forces could arrive in Piedmont.
- The Austrian commander in chief, Field Marshal Gyulay, was not a very aggressive leader, and his sluggish and indecisive advance soon petered out.
- Franco-Piedmontese forces advanced to Lombardy and defeated Austria in Battle of Magenta and Solferance. At the same time, in the northern part of Lombardy, the Italian volunteers of Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Hunters of the Alps defeated the Austrians at Varese and Como.
Treaty of Villafranca
- The battles of Magenta and Solferino left Franco-Piedmontese forces in control of Lombardy. Venice was just in reach and Austrian expulsion certain.
- The possibility of Prussian entry into the war, and the potential for an over-strong Piedmontese state convinced Napoleon to sign a separate peace with Austria in the Treaty of Villafranca on July 11, 1859.
- Most of Lombardy, with its capital Milan, was transferred from Austria to France, which would immediately cede these territories to Sardinia.
- The rulers of Central Italy (Tuscancy, Parma and Modena), who had been expelled by revolution shortly after the beginning of the war, were to be restored and an Italian federation was to b formed under the presidency of Pope.
- This deal, made by Napoleon behind the backs of his Sardinian allies, led to great outrage in Sardinia-Piedmont — Cavour himself resigned in protest.(though he returned after some times)
- However, the terms of Villafranca were never to come into effect: although they were reaffirmed by the final Treaty of Zürich in November, by then the agreement had become a dead letter.
- The central Italian states were occupied by the Piedmontese, who showed no willingness to restore the previous rulers, and the French showed no willingness to force them to abide by the terms of the treaty. The Austrians were left to look on in frustration at the French failure to carry out the terms of the treaty.
Why Napoleon signed the treaty of Villafranca
- Prussia might have intervened on behalf of Austria because decisive French victory would be dangerous to the security of Prussia.
- The French losses had been heavy and Austrian forces were strongly entrenched in Venetia.
- The situation in France was becoming serious. The Catholic party was against war as Pope would have suffered in the case of victory of Piedmont.
- The defeat of Austrian had inspired such an outburst of nationalism in north central Italy that people expelled their rulers and demanded union with piedmont. A united Italy would have been dangerous for France.
Acquisition of Lombardy and sound judgement of Victor Emmanuel
- Lombardy was integrated but the truce of Villafranca was a cruel disappointment to Italians dashing their hope for complete emancipation. Cavour was furious and urged King to repudiate the treacherous treaty but his advice was unheeded and he resigned.
- But King Victor Emmaniel’s judgement was more sound at this moment than Cavour’s. He clearly saw that it was wiser to take what one could take and bide the future than to imperil. He realised that the determination of the future of Italy has passed out of the hands of diplomats into those of the people. The events which followed justified his judgement.
Sympathetic attitude of British
- In England Lord Derby’s administration had fallen and the Liberals were again in power. Napoleon was so strangely deluded as to expect to find support in that quarter for his anti-unionist conspiracy. His earliest scheme was that the federative plan should be presented to Europe by Great Britain. Lord John Russell answered : ‘ We are asked to propose a partition of the peoples of Italy, as if we had the right to dispose of them.’ It was a happy circumstance for Italy that her unity had no better friends than in the English Government during those difficult years. Cavour’s words soon after Villafranca, ‘ It is England’s turn now,’ were not belied.
Annexation of Duchy of Parma, Duchy of Modena, Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal States:
- News of the evacuation of Lombardy by Austrians caused popular revolt in central duchies and Parma, Modena and Tuscany rose in revolt and expelled the rulers. In Romagna, the most northerly of the Papal states, people repudiated the temporal sovereignty of the Pope. All these states set up provincial government.
- The next year, in 1860, with French and British approval, the central Italian states — Duchy of Parma, Duchy of Modena, Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal States — were annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia. They unanimously voted for fusion with Piedmont in plebiscite. (This was second step towards unification of Italy after annexation of Lombardy.).
- Napoleon had found it difficult to secure the restoration of the expelled rulers as per the treaty with Austria. He became ready when France was given its deferred reward, Savoy and Nice. This latter move was vehemently opposed by Italian national hero Garibaldi, a native of Nice, and directly led to Garibaldi’s expedition to Sicily, which would complete the preliminary unification of Italy.
Third Stage of Unification
- After the annexation of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchies of Modena and Parma and the Romagna to Piedmont in March 1860, Italian nationalists set their sights on the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which comprised all of southern mainland Italy and Sicily, as the next step toward their dream of unification of all Italian lands. In the meantime, Giuseppe Garibaldi, a native of Nice, was deeply resentful of the French annexation of his home city. He hoped to use his supporters to regain the territory. Cavour, terrified of Garibaldi provoking a war with France, persuaded Garibaldi to instead use his forces in the Sicilian rebellions.
Expedition of the Thousand (expedition against Sicily and Naples)
- Expedition of the Thousand campaign undertaken in 1860 by Giuseppe Garibaldi that overthrew the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples) and permitted the union of southern Italy and Sicily with the north. The expedition was one of the most dramatic events of the Risorgimento (movement for Italian unification)
- By 1860 Garibaldi had established a reputation as a successful military leader. He was totally committed to the cause of Italian unification, and, although sympathetic to democratic ideas, he was willing, for the sake of the nation, to work for Victor Emmanuel II, the king of Piedmont-Sardinia. But Garibaldi became impatient with the cautious, diplomatic tactics of Piedmont’s prime minister, Count Cavour, and was ready to act on his own initiative to help unite Italy.
- A revolt in Sicily, beginning on April 4, 1860, caused Garibaldi to make the decision to begin with an attack on the Bourbon kingdom in the south with the covert support of the United Kingdom. Sicilian leaders, among them Francesco Crispi, were discontented with Neapolitan rule over the island. Moreover Britain was worried by the approaches of the Neapolitans towards the Russian Empire in the latter’s attempt to open its way to the Mediterranean Sea; the strategic importance of the Sicilian ports was also to be dramatically increased by the opening of the Suez Canal.British support for Garibaldi’s expedition was spurred by the necessity to obtain more favourable economic conditions for Sicilian sulfur, which was needed in great quantities for the new steamers.
- By May 1860, Garibaldi had collected more than 1,000 volunteers for his expedition to Sicily, mostly idealistic young northerners. (Called Red Shirt).
- On the night of May 5–6, he embarked from Quarto (a suburb of Genoa) with volunteers. The expedition landed at the western Sicilian port of Marsala on the westernmost point of Sicily, on 11 May, with the help of British ships present in the harbour to deter the Bourbon ships.
- Garibaldi was faced with the problem of defeating more than 20,000 Neapolitan troops of the Bourbon king Francis II in Sicily with an untrained force armed only with rusty rifles.
- After proclaiming himself dictator of Sicily in the name of Victor Emmanuel, he led his men across the island toward Palermo. He defeated a Neapolitan force at Calatafimi (May 15), and many Sicilians then joined him to help overthrow their hated Neapolitan rulers. Aided also by the incompetence of the Bourbon command, Garibaldi captured Palermo (June 6) and, with the Battle of Milazzo (July 20), won control of all Sicily except Messina.
- Garibaldi now hoped to take Naples and even to complete Italy’s unification by a march on papal Rome. On August 20 he crossed the strait of Messina and landed in Calabria. His advance to Naples became a triumphal march as Bourbon rule totally collapsed; he was welcomed as a hero on entering Naples on September 7.
Cavour comes into action
- Garibaldi’s march to Rome was blocked by political maneuvering. Cavour decided to take the initiative, fearful that the Risorgimento was being turned into a popular movement by the radical followers of Garibaldi and that France would intervene if Rome were attacked as French army was protecting the Pope.
- To insure that Piedmont kept the leadership of the unification movement and there would not be any Republican movement under Garibaldi and his supporters, Cavour ordered Piedmontese troops under Victor Emmanuel to invade the papal territories of Umbria and Marche and to join Garibaldi at Naples. Cavour declared: Italy must be saved from foreigners (i.e. French intervention), evil principle (Republicanism of Garibaldi) and madman (Garibaldi).
- Garibaldi distrusted the pragmatic Cavour, particularly due to Cavour’s role in the French annexation of Nice, Garibaldi’s birthplace. Nevertheless, he accepted the command of Victor Emmanuel realizing that completion of unification was impossible in the existing situation. Garibaldi agreed to hold a plebiscite in the south, which resulted in an overwhelming victory for annexation under Piedmont (October 21).
- On October 26 Garibaldi met with Victor Emmanuel and relinquished his dictatorship over the south into the king’s hands and he retired into private life for farming.
- The Expedition of the Thousand has traditionally been one of the most celebrated events of the Italian Risorgimento, the process of the unification of Italy. Now only Rome (held by Pope), Venetia (held by Austrian) and Savoy (held by France) remained to be added for complete unification of Italy.
Victor Emmanuel proclaimed King of Italy and death of Cavour
- Victor Emanuel completed the conquest which Garbaldi had alone carried out so fat. The fall of fortress of Gaeta led to surrender of the King of Naples (Francis II) in 1861 and brought military operation to a close.
- On 18 February 1861, Victor Emmanuel assembled the deputies of the first Italian Parliament in Turin. On 17 March 1861, the Parliament proclaimed Victor Emmanuel King of Italy, and on 27 March 1861 Rome was declared Capital of Italy. However, the Italian Government could not take its seat in Rome because a French garrison maintained there by Napoleon III of France.
- Three months later Cavour, having seen his life’s work nearly complete, died. When he was given the last rites, Cavour purportedly said: “Italy is made. All is safe.”
- Mazzini was discontent with the perpetuation of monarchical government and continued to agitate for a republic. With the motto “Free from the Alps to the Adriatic”, the unification movement set its gaze on Rome and Venice. There were obstacles, however. A challenge against the Pope’s temporal dominion was viewed with great distrust by Catholics around the world, and there were French troops stationed in Rome. Victor Emmanuel was wary of the international repercussions of attacking the Papal States, and discouraged his subjects from participating in revolutionary ventures with such intentions.
- Nonetheless, Garibaldi believed that the government would support him if he attacked Rome. Frustrated at inaction by the king, and bristling over perceived snubs, he came out of retirement to organize a new venture. In June 1862, he sailed from Genoa and landed again at Palermo, where he gathered volunteers for the campaign, under the slogan Roma o Morte (“Rome or Death”).
- Far from supporting this endeavour, the Italian government was quite disapproving. The regular army was dispatched against the volunteer bands. On 28 August the two forces met in the Aspromonte. Garibaldi forbade his men to return fire on fellow subjects of the Kingdom of Italy. The volunteers suffered several casualties. Garibaldi was honorably imprisoned for a time, but finally released.
- Meanwhile, Victor Emmanuel sought a safer means to the acquisition of the remaining Papal territory. He negotiated with the Emperor Napoleon for the removal of the French troops from Rome through a treaty. They agreed to the September Convention.
The September Convention
- The September Convention was a treaty, signed on 15 September 1864, between the Kingdom of Italy and the French Empire, under which:
- French Emperor Napoleon III would withdraw all French troops from Rome within two years.
- King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy guaranteed the frontiers of the Papal States, which at the time consisted of Rome and Latium.
- The Italian government would move from Turin to Florence, to indicate that the government would not attempt to take its seat in Rome.
- This treaty was opposed by the Pope, the French Catholics, and by Italian patriots. The seat of government was moved in 1865 from Turin, the old Sardinian capital, to Florence, where the first Italian parliament was summoned. This arrangement created such disturbances in Turin that the king was forced to leave that city hastily for his new capital. Widespread anti-government riots broke out, and hundreds of Italian civilians were killed.
- The last French troops left Rome in December 1866. By their withdrawal, Italy (excluding Venetia and Savoy) was freed from the presence of foreign soldiers. Napoleon III hoped that the Italian government and Pope Pius IX would negotiate a compromise that would allow the government to move from Florence to Rome.
- Because the intransigent Pius IX rejected all proposals, Italian patriots, under the leadership of Giuseppe Garibaldi, organized an invasion of Latium and Rome in October 1867. The patriots were defeated at Mentana by 2,000 French troops, sent by Napoleon III. A French garrison was kept in Rome to prop up the rule of Pius IX.
Third Independence War and Acquisition of Venetia
(Within the context of Italian unification, the Austro-Prussian war is called Third Independence War, after the First (1848) and the Second (1859))
- The increasing discord between Austria and Prussia over the German Question turned into open war in 1866, offering Italy an occasion to capture Venetia. On April 8, 1866 the Italian government signed a military alliance with Prussia ( that supported Italy’s acquisition of Venetia), through the mediation of Emperor Napoleon III of France. On 20 June Italy declared war on Austria.
- The Italian army encountered the Austrians at Custoza on 24 June and suffered a defeat. On 20 July Italy was defeated in the battle of Lissa. Italy’s fortunes were not all so dismal, though. The following day, Garibaldi’s volunteers defeated an Austrian force in the battle of Bezzecca.
- Meanwhile, Prussian Prime Minister Bismarck saw that his own ends in the war had been achieved, and signed an armistice with Austria on 27 July. Italy officially laid down its arms on 12 August.
- The terms of the Peace of Prague included the cession of Venetia to France, as Napoleon III was acting as intermediary between Prussia and Austria. The Austrians refused to surrender Venetia directly to Italy as the Italian army had performed very poorly and had not defeated the Austrian army. The Italians felt humiliated that they were not involved in the Austro-Prussian peace talks, and that they were to receive Venetia as a gift from France. In order to avoid such humiliation, the Italians demanded they would only annex Venetia after a plebiscite, in order for it to appear as the will of the people rather than a French gift. The Peace of Prague was followed up by the Austrian-Italian Treaty of Vienna, which confirmed the cession of the territory to Italy The plebiscite was held on 21 and 22 October 1866 and the result was overwhelmingly in support of joining Italy.
- The final unification of Italy was completed three years later after the Capture of Rome by the Kingdom of Italy and the subsequent plebiscite.
Acquisition of Rome
- In July 1870, the Franco-Prussian War began. In early August, Napoleon III recalled his garrison from Rome. The French not only needed the troops to defend their homeland – Prussian diplomats were actively trying to convince Italy to join the war, so there was real concern that Italy might use the French presence in Rome as a pretext to go to war with France. In the earlier Austro-Prussian War Italy had allied with Prussia and Italian public opinion favoured the Prussian side at the start of the war. The removal of the French garrison eased tensions between Italy and France. Italy remained neutral in the Franco-Prussian War.
- With the French garrison gone, widespread public demonstrations demanded that the Italian government take Rome. But Rome remained under French protection on paper, therefore an attack would still have been regarded as an act of war against the French Empire. Until events elsewhere took their course the Italians were unwilling to provoke Napoleon, but after the surrender of Napoleon and his army at the Battle of Sedan the situation changed radically. The French Emperor was deposed. The new French government was clearly in no position to retaliate against Italy, nor did it possess the political will to protect the Pope’s position.
Capturing of Rome
- King Victor Emmanuel II sent Gustavo Ponza to Pius IX with a personal letter offering a face-saving proposal that would have allowed the peaceful entry of the Italian Army into Rome, under the guise of protecting the pope.
- Along with the letter, the count carried a document that Lanza had prepared, setting out ten articles to serve as the basis for an agreement between Italy and the Holy See:
- Main points of the articles were: The Pope would retain the inviolability and prerogatives attaching to him as a sovereign. The Leonine city would remain “under the full jurisdiction and sovereignty of the Pontiff”. The Italian state would guarantee the pope’s freedom to communicate with the Catholic world, as well as diplomatic immunity.
- Pope rejected the offer because acceptance would have been an implied endorsement of the legitimacy of the Italian kingdom’s rule over his former domain.
- The Italian Army, commanded by General Raffaele Cadorna, crossed the papal frontier on 11 September and advanced slowly toward Rome, hoping that a peaceful entry could be negotiated. Although now convinced of his unavoidable defeat, Pius IX remained intransigent to the bitter end and forced his troops to put up a token resistance. On 20 September, Rome and Latium were annexed to the Kingdom of Italy after a plebiscite held on 2 October. The results of this plebiscite were accepted by decree of 9 October.
- Pius IX declared himself a prisoner in the Vatican, although he was not actually restrained from coming and going.
- The Capture of Rome (20 September 1870) was the final event of the long process of Italian unification known as the Risorgimento, marking both the final defeat of the Papal States under Pope Pius IX and the unification the Italian peninsula under King Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy.