Italian Unification 1848

  • Created by: Pip Dan
  • Created on: 27-04-16 20:27

Short-term causes of 1848 revolutions

A Liberal Pope Pius IX elected Pope in 1846. He was a liberal and granted amnesty in all political prisoners. Reforms followed in admin, law, education and he introduced the ‘Consulta’ to advise him. Council members were elected. His reforms were copied in Piedmont and Tuscany. Liberal reforms Copied from Papal States in Piedmont and Tuscany

Economic crisis Disastrous harvests of 1846 and 1847 led to food shortages in rural and urban areas. High prices and static wages = revolutionary activities amongst masses.

Other revolutionary outbreaks in Europe Revolutions were breaking out all over Europe. E.g. in France, and Austria. Metternich even was forced out. Austrian weakness gave the Italian Revolutionaries the opportunity they had been waiting for. (Need to then mention each individual states’ causes of Revolution in terms of: ousting Austria; getting rid of church influence and Sicily’s call for independence.)

Causes, events and consequences of the 1848 revolutions

Lombardy - Causes:

  • Controlled by Austria.
  • Trouble began in Milan with a Tobacco boycott.
  • Tobacco was a state monopoly (Austrian) and people believed it would affect Austrian finances.


  • Austrian soldiers who smoked in public were attacked small scale fights turned into riots and became a full scale revolution known as the ‘Five Days’ (17-22 March)
  • Austrian commander 81 year old General Radetsky withdrew from the city (mainly because revolutions had broken out in Austria)
  • Provisional Government was set up in Milan by revolutionaries and they asked for support from Charles Albert (who had granted a constitution)
  • He agreed to declare war on Austria


  • Charles Albert (Piedmont) was defeated by the Austrians twice in Custoza and Novara.
  • Austrians then suppressed the revolution in Lombardy.

Piedmont - Causes:

  • Piedmont became involved with war after the revolutionaries in Milan asked for Charles Albert’s (King of Piedmont's) help and he agreed.


  • Charles Albert first had success and his army defeated the Austrians at the end of May 1848.
  • The Pope’s army Commander independently set off with troops and joined Albert’s Army.
  • The Pope was forced to issue the Papal Allocution stating that was with Austria was wrong.


  • By June 1848 reinforcements arrived in Austria and in July Albert’s army was defeated by the Austrians at Custoza.
  • An armistice was signed and Piedmont withdrew from Lombardy.
  • Albert re-started the war in March 1849. Within a month he was finally defeated at the Battle of Novara. Albert abdicated.

Tuscany - Causes:

  • News of Metternich’s fall and the revolution in Austria led to the Tuscan Government sending an army to fight the Austrians.


  • Workers in the cities began to complain about pay and conditions and middle class radicals called for Republicanism.
  • January 1849 the Grand Duke left.
  • A revolutionary Provisional Government was set up and a dictator appointed.


  • After Charles Albert was defeated in Novara – the Austrians swept through and restored the Grand Duke.

Parma and Modena - Causes:

  • Revolts broke out once Piedmont began


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