Italian Unification

These cue cards are on The Italian Unification from 1815-1870 and the importance of certain people such as: Cavour, Garibaldi and Mazzini. 


Congress of Vienna 1815

Main Objectives

  • Reduce France to its old boundaries 
  • Restore as many old monarchies as possible that has lost their thrones during the Napoleonic era. 

Key Principles established at Vienna 

  • Balance of power
  • Legitimacy 
  • Compensation 
  • Containment of France 

Who was there?

  • The Host = Prince Klemens von Metternich - Austria
  • Tsar Alexander I - Russia 
  • Foreign Minister Viscount Castlereagh - British 
  • King Frederick William III - Prussia 
  • Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Tallyrand - France 
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The Holy Alliance 

  • Russia 
  • Prussia 
  • Austria

Aim -  To preserve Christian social values and traditional monarchies. 

This alliance was REVOLUTIONARY and wanted the status quo and reject all types of liberation. They were in favour of absolutist monarchies. 

Quadruple Alliance 1812

  • Britain
  • Austria 
  • Prussia 
  • Austria 

Aim - Defeat Napoleon. 

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The Congress of Troppau 1820

  • The Quadruple Alliance met here to discuss the crushing of the revolts in Naples of July 1920. 
  • They met in October, in Austria, apon the request of Tsar Alexander Francis I of Austria
  • Britian was apposed to the congress ans so was on represented by a British ambassador to Vienna. 
  • On November 8th The Protocol of Troppau was signed by Austria, Russia and Prussia. 
  • The Protocol stated that revolutions can not go ahead with revolutions, neither can a country unify if it threatens other states or is seen to have an immediate dangers to other surrounding countries. Quite like The Truman Doctrine. 
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Reasons for the 1820-1 revolts

  • In January 1820, news of revolt in Spain encouraged the Carbonari and the Liberals of Naples to take action. 
  • The governments attempt at rounding up the rebels was half-hearted
  • In July, King Ferdinand promised to meet the rebels' demands for a constitution like that granted in Spain in 1812
  • This gave the vote to all adult males, limited King's power and abolished clerical and noble priveliges 
  • The revolt leader General Pepe set up a revolutionary government.
  • A revolt started in Sicily as they were determined to win independance
  • The Sicilians felt that Ferdinand was negelcting Sicily 
  • Agricultural prices had fell and this caused an uprising and riots throughout Sicily where they were demanding a constituional goverment
  • They burnt building, released building and sent the Neopolitan governor back home
  • When this news hit Piedmont, The Carbonari gained lots of new members who equally set up a revolt against Austria. 
  • Charles Albert, 2nd in line, issued a vague constituion. When the righful heir returned to Peidmont, Charles Felix, he denounced all revolts along with denouncing Charles Albert
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Reasons for failure 1820-1 revolts

  • Austria took control of Naples
  • Austrian-controlled Naples resumed control in Sicily 
  • Charles Felix and Austria took control of Piedmont
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Reason for the 1830-1 revolts

  • Revolts broke out in Parma, Modena and The Papal States
  • In Parma, The Duchess Marie-Louise fled in terror of a provisional goverment
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Reasons for failure 1830-1 revolts

  • The Strength of Austria
  • Revolutions were local and seperate 
  • Little popular support
  • No outside help
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Mazzini's thoughts, actions and significance.

Mazzini's Thoughts

  • National Unity 
  • Revolution from below
  • Republicanism 
  • Social reform 

Mazzini's Actions

  • Young Italy 1831
  • Disciples/followers
  • Attempted coups 
  • Roman Republic 1848 

Mazzini's Significance 

  • Introduced the idea of Italian Unity
  • Inspired Garibaldi 
  • Helped to win International publicity for Italian freedom. 
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How successful was Mazzini?

  • Had little practical experience 
  • Overestimated level of support - ignored the peasants 
  • Support was limited - use Carbonari methods
  • All of his plots failed!
  • Some middle classes alienated by his revolutionary stance 
  • He made no attempt to win support from peasants and town workers
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Other key players

Vincenzo Gioberti

  • He believed that the Sardinian Army would be needed to deal with The Austiran Army 
  • He wanted a federation of Independant states under the Presidency of The Pope

Count Cesare Balbo

  • He believed that the Sardinian Army would be needed to deal with The Austiran Army 
  • Italy should be a federation of states under the King of Sardina 

Mazzimo d'Azeglio

  • He rejected the idea of The Pope as the 'unifier' 


  • He believed in a federal republic 


  • He believed the Austrians could be driven out by The Italian People 
  • He believed that the centralised Italy must be centralised and a democratic republic
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Pope Pius IX

  • Oppressive and corrupt
  • Liberal
  • A man of persoanl piety and deap faith 
  • impressionable
  • impulsive
  • unpredictable
  • Easily influenced
  • 'An amiable but weak mind'
  • Initially liberal, but soon turned reactionary
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Reason for the 1848-9 revolts - The First War of I

  • In Piedmont and Tuscany press censorship was abolished and proposals were made for custom unions
  • Austrian-controlled Lombardy were worried with Metternich who acted swiftly to preserve Austrian control in N. Italy
  • LIberals = constitution, government reform and political freedom
  • Nationalist = Independance from Austria
  • c.90% of Italian income was Argricultural 
  • The Harvests failed in 1846 and 1847, problems mulitplied
  • Shortages in wheat and maize meant rocketing food prices with stationary wages
  • The Popes reforms spurred on leaders of other states like Tuscany and Piedmont to follow
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Reasons for failure 1848-9 revolts

  • Lack of Unity 
  • Lack of popular support 
  • Lack of international allies 

Lack of Unity

  • The states of Italy were not aiming for the unification of the penninsular
  • The revolutionary had different aims 

Lack of popular support 

  • The revolutionary groups and leaders were largely 'middle class' 
  • The peasanty, urban middle class and workers rarely worked together 

Lack of International allies 

  • No Armies could match the Austrian forces 
  • Powerful friends would have been essential but did not exist 
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The Roman Republic March - June 1849

  • Legal reforms 
  • Taxation changes 
  • Educational reforms 
  • French forces ended the republic in June 
  • Attempt to form a coalition against Austria 
  • Defiance from Garibaldi 
  • Freedom of speech 
  • Mazzini was head of the Triumvirate 
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Orsini Bomb Plot 1858

This was when Count Felice Orsini decided to bomb both Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. 

They got the bombs from London to France via train and detenated them as Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie were going to the theatre. 

150 were injured and 8 died

Orsini thought that if Napoleon died then a new republican goverment could be formed to help out with Italian unification

Orsini appealed to Napoleon III to help with Italian Unificiation. 

Many people say that Napoleon had some influence in Orsini's writing, because Napoleon was certainly eager to publish this 

We will not know if this was an honest plea from an Italian Unitiarian and Republican, or if Napoleon was eager to get involved with 'The Italian Story' 

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Plombiere 1858

This was a highly secret meeting between Napoleon and Cavour. Not even The French Foreign Minister knew about it, and Cavour only told Victor Emmanuel II. 

This was where Napoleon promised to help Piedmont in a war against Austria as long as it didnt end in revolutionary means. 

In return France got Nice and Savoy. 

Cavour needed to maneouver Austria to declare war with Piedmont. Cavour decided to mobilise an Army near Austria. Austria had mobilised an Army here a month prior

Austria could not afford to keep their Army there for much longer, neither could they disband whilst the Piedmontese Army were still mobile. 

Austria sent an Ultimatum to Piedmont who totally ignored it, thus, on the 29th April 1858, Austria declared war with Piedmont. 

Shortly afterwards, France declared war on their ally. 

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War With Austria 1859 - The Second War of Independ

This war was extremely bloody, brutal and totally unorganised. 

The French turned up before their equipment and ammunition and Napoleon sent a complaint to Paris. The only consolation was that Peidmontese and Austrian forces were even less compitent. 

The war lasted for only 7 weeks

Lombardy was quickly overrun by French and Piedmontese forces. The Austrians were defeated at Magenta on 4thJune and at Solferino on 24thJune. 

The only good thing to come from this war was an organisiation called The Red Cross. 

This war was ended with the treaty of Villafrance 1859. 

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The Treaty of Villafrance 1859

Napoleon met with Austrian ruler Franz Joseph at Villafranca and agreed an armistice. He did not consult his Piedmontese allies about the meeting. The terms of the meeting were: 

  • Piedmont would recieve Lombardy - To save face Lombardy would be ceded to France and then given to Piedmont. 
  • The previous rulers of Tuscany, Parma and Modena would return 
  • Austria would keep Venetia, thus, still a powerful influence in Italy. 

Cavour was furious with this decision as he wanted both Lombardy and Venetia and demanded to VEII that they go back to war with Austria, he said no and Cavour resigned. d'Azeglio took over as Prime Minister. 

In 1860, Tuscany and Emilia (Parma, Modena and Romagna) had a national plebiscite to annex with Piedmont. 

In March 1860, Nice and Savoy was officially handed over to France. 

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Cavour, Garibaldi and Unification of 1860-61

  • May 11th 1860 - Garibaldi and the red shirts landed at Marsala 11th May
  • May 27th 1860 - Garibaldi entered Palermo 
  • September 7th 1860 - Garibaldi entered the city of Naples 
  • Garibaldi fled towards the Papal states - Cavour feared this 

To prevent Garibaldi reaching Rome, Cavour was prepared to invade Rome and put a Piedmontese army in Garibaldi's path. The Piedmontese army invaded on 11th September.

  • The Piedmontese were defeated by the Papal army on 18th September at Castlefidaro 
  • On 26th October 1860, Garibaldi gave up all of his conquests 
  • The Kingdom of Italy was founded in January 1861
  • Caour died later that year
  • Garibaldi was offered the title of Prince, a castle and copious other rewards but refused them all as he thought that the north betrayed him - he lated retired to the Ireland of Caprera with a years supply of Macaroni. 
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The Austro-Prussian War 1866

Austria and Prussia were the two leading Germanic states out of c.39 and went to battle to prove who was the most dominant. 

Italy signed an alliance with Prussia; Italy agreed that if Prussia went to war with Austria, they would follow and attack from behind. 

Napoleon signed a treaty with Prussia, to say that if France remained neutral in the Austro-Prussian war France would recieve Venetia only if Austria were defeated. 

Napoleon decided that he needed to make the same treaty with Austria to be seen as the Italian Unifier and to be appreciated by many Italians. 

So, Napoleon signed a treaty with France that stated if Austria won, Venetia would be ceded to France to be given to Piedmont, in return France would remain neutral in the war. 

Peace of Prague was made and Austria immediately gave Venetia to France in 1866. 

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1867: Garibaldi's attempt on Rome

In 1867, Garibaldi attempted again on Rome but was very quickly halted by the French, the reasons are stated below: 

  • Napoleon wanted to be seen as the only and greatest external influence in helping with Italian Unification. 
  • He wanted to get Austria back for The Congress of Vienna 1815, where they stripped France of most of their powers, thus, Napoleon III wanted to beat Austria to it. 
  • By doing this, Napoleon would recieve a great deal of cleracalist support from France along with throughout Europe and even the Pope. 
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Franco-Prussian War 1870

Outbreak of war between Prussia and France saw withdrawal of French garrison from Rome - Rome was declared capital of Rome. 

On the 1st September 1870 - The French main Army were defeated at The Battle of Sedan

Piedmontese Army went to Rome and took control. They used the ever so famous plebiscite which was open for corruption. 

  • Austrian influence left in '66 and French influence in '70
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