The Unification process 1859-70

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The War with Austria

In March 1859 all Piedmontese army reserves were ordered to report for duty. Cavour sent agents into the duchies to create unrest. 

Austria fell for the bait and ordered Piedmont to stand down its army. Cavour rejected this ultimatum and the Austrians invaded Piedmont. As agreed French forces were sent by Napoleon to support the Piedmontese. 

The Austrians were allowed to fall back on the well defended Quadrilateral. Victories were won at Solferino and Magenta but Napoleon was so appalled at the loss of life that he considered an armistice.

Prussian forces were also gathering on France's eastern borders. 

In addition unrest had been stirred in the Duchies and the leaders had been driven out. This was not part of France's plan and an armistice signed in Villafranca in July 1859.

As a result Lombardy was given to Piedmont and Austrian rulers would be reinstated in the duchies. Cavour was angry that he had not been consulted however wasn't allowed to continue the war at the insistance of Victor Emmanuel. 

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What happened in the duchies?

The rebels invited Victor Emmanuel to become dictator for the duration of the war, after which they would become independant. The Piedmontese government wanted to annex the Duchies and quickly arrange for plebiscites. These took place in the presence of Piedmontese troops and resulted in large majorities in favour of union with Piedmont.

Cavour agreed to Napoleon to hand over Nice and Savoy if plebiscites voted for union with France. The handing over of Savoy and Nice happened without the agreement of Parliament and greatly angered many liberals and nationalists. 

Liberals in the Duchies lost faith in Cavour for his actions.

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How did Garabaldi become involved in Sicily?

In April 1860 Mazzinian agents stirred up a revolt against the king of Naples in Sicily. Mazzini had been outwitted by Cavour in the north and was trying to make up lost ground in the south.

In Piedmont Garabaldi decided to go to the support of the people of Sicily. He had been planning to march to Nice to defend it against the French. 

He wanted to prove that Italians did not need foreign support to fulfil their destiny. 

By the end of May Garabaldi had taken Palermo and was virtual dictator of Sicily. By the end of July the King's forces had been driven out of Italy.

Garabaldi from here was determined to invade the mainland and destroy the Kingdom of Naples. Although he hated Cavour he respected Victor Emmanuel and was prepared to see him as King of Italy. 

Within a month Nice had been taken and Garabaldi was planning to march north and take Rome. 

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Why did Cavour intervene?

Cavour had not intervened when Garabaldi took Sicily and Naples because he knew that Garabaldi was loyal to the kingdom of Piedmont. However he knew that if Garabaldi attacked Rome the French would almost certainly intervene. 

In September 1860 Cavour ordered the Piedmontese amy to invade the Papal States and march south to meet Garibaldi, with Victor Emmanuel at its head. 

Papal forces were defeated at Castelfidado and Victor Emmanuel met Garibaldi in Teano. 

Garibaldi decided to hand over all his conquests to Victor Emmanuel, however he regretted that they did not include Rome. 

Following this most of the Papal states broke away from the Pope and voted for union with Piedmont. Naples and Sicily did the same. 

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How did Venice and Rome become part of Italy?

Garabaldi retired once again to his island of Caprera but never gave up hope of incorporating Rome in Italy. 

In 1862 an attack on Rome was prevented by Piedmontese forces and Garibaldi was captured. 

The main aim of the Piedmontese government was Venetia, where there was a large amount of support for annexation. 

Progress was made possible when Bismark wanted Italian support to keep Austrian forces tied down on the Southern border. In May 1866 Italy signed a deal with Prussia and the following month they declared war. 

The Prussian army defeated the Austrians very easily, and despite losses by the Piedmontese army, the Austrians were forced to hand over Venetia.

To the annoyance of liberals Italian unification had been the result of foreign intervention. 

In 1870 France declared war on Prussia and the city of Rome was occupied by the Italian army.

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