Important Italian Figures

Revision cards on the Roles of Cavour, Victory Emmanuel, Garabaldi and the Church

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Count Camillo di Cavour

In the 1850s, the leadership of Piedmont was in the hands of Count Camillo di Cavour. He was a "gentleman farmer" who became involved in politics through the Agricultural Society set up in 1842. He supported the creation of a Piedmontese constitution which the King granted in 1848. 

  • In 1850 he was the author of a Bill  which reduced the power of the Catholic Church and abolished the Church courts. 
  • Supported modernisation for example where he was a farmer he introduced moderrn farming methods and encouraged the building of railways and banking. 
  • Introduced reforms to make the army more democratic 
  • Arranged commercial treaties with Austria, Britain and Franceand invited foreign banks to invest in Piedmont. 

However he was not particularly popular for a variety of reasons:

  • Victor Emmanuel II disliked him because he was not from the traditional elite.
  • The Church opposed his restrictions on ecclesiastical influence, especially his support for the abolition of monasteries in 1855
  • Working people disliked the increases in taxes to pay off the debts incurred by the war 
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Cavour vs. Austria

Cavour wanted to drive the Austrians out of Lombardy and Venetia for the cause of Piedmontese expansion rather than Italian unity. Cavour was regarded as the most likely leader to defeat Austria by 1856. 

He knew that he needed the support of France and so in the 1850s he sent Piedmontese troops to support Britain and France in the Crimean War which gained him a place at the conference table in Paris in 1856 as well as got the attention of Napoleon III. 

Napoleon invited Cavour to meet him at Plombieres in July 1858 and a deal was made that France would fight with Piedmont against Austria if they could provoke the Austrians into attacking. 

Napoleon had no intention of creating a united Italy and demanded Nice and Savoy as payment if Piedmont expanded its territory as far as the Adriatic. 

-> By the spring of 1859 Piedmont was able to provoke an Austrian attack. 

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Guiseppe Garibaldi

Garabaldi was a lifelong revolutionary who was born in Nice in 1807. In 1833 he decided to join Young Italy and met Mazzini in Genoa where he took a vow to dedicate his life to freeing Italy from Austrian tyranny. 

In February 1834, he took part in a failed revolt in Piedmont and fled abroad. He was sentenced to death in his absence and he ended up in South America and until 1846 fought for revolutionaries in Brazil and Uruguay where he became a skillful guerrilla fighter. He returned home after the outbreak of the Sicilian revolt. 

An offer to help to Charles Albert was turned down so Garibaldi led volunteers to support the provisional government in Milan. After the Piedmontese defeat at Novara Garibaldi went to the defence of the Roman Republic and took command of its army. 

In April 1860 Garabaldi heard of a Mazzini inspired revolt in Sicily and set sail with his '1000' and liberated the island. From there he crossed into Naples and defeated their forces and marched towards the Papal states. Here he was thwarted by Cavour and Garabaldi surrendered his conquests to Victor Emmanuel at Teano in October 1860. 

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Victor Emmanuel II

Despite having many disagreements with Cavour he accepted him as prime ministers and allowed him considerable freedom in running Piedmontese affairs. Instinctively he would have abolished the constitution however because he didn't he allowed Piedmont to be more attractive to liberals and nationalists.

He insisted the Cavour accept the terms of the Treaty of Villafranca and refused Cavour's demand to fight on alone. 

It was Victor Emmanuel's decision to lead the Piedmontese army into the Papal states to meet Garabaldi in person. He knew that Garibaldi was loyal to the Piedmontese monarchy

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Pope Pius IX

The 'Liberal Pope' raised the hopes of many liberals and nationalists when he was elected in 1846. His early reforms attracted the support of Garabaldi who offered to return to Italy with volunteers in order to lead a crusade to create a federation of Italy with the Pope at its head. 

However he was merely a kindly man, who wanted to right the many wrongs perpetrated by his two immediate successors. 

He believed that republicans were enemies of Catholicism. 

In defense of his state and the Catholic Church he was very willing to summon foreign armies to defeat Italian nationalists. 

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