The Unification of Italy

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The Unification of Italy                                                          (go Back to the main menu of History of Italy)

The following decade coincides with the presence of Count Camillo Benso Cavour in the government of Piedmont and his able and patient pursual of a policy that succeeded in inserting the small State of Savoy within the schemes and alliances of the great European powers, as well as ensuring the friendship of neighbouring France. Results were not slow in arriving. At the Congress of Paris (1856) concluding the Crimean War, fought by the army of Piedmont in a coalition with France and England against Russia and Turkey (in the Battle of the Cernaia the new corps of the Bersaglieri, founded by General La Marmora, dist inguished itself), Cavour managed to raise the Italian question although without obtaining immediate territorial advantages. These were to come three years later in 1859. Following the speech from the throne at the beginning of the year by Vittorio Emanuele II on the support of Piedmont for Italians with nationalistic aspirations, Austria, having failed in her request for the disarmament of Piedmont, declared war on the Kingdom of Sardinia. This was the occasion for which Cavour had long waited. The intervention of France under Napoleon III with the bloody victories of Solferino and San Martino forced Austria to the armistice of Villafranca and the cession of Lombardy. At the same time all Central Italy and Romagna rebelled, overturning the old regimes. Following the plebiscite that voted in favour of annexation to Piedmont (1860), there then began the construction, together with the territory of Southern Italy that had been taken by Garibaldi's expedition of `The Thousand', of the United Kingdom of Italy. This was to be proclaimed at Turin on 17 March 1861, though the acquisition of Rome and Venice were still outstanding. The latter was added five years later (1866) following an unfortunate conflict with Austria, which was resolved in Italy's favour thanks to the intervention of Prussia; Rome was conquered by force, 20 September 1870, on the fall of Napoleon III.
With these events the territorial unity of the Italian nation was almost complete and it was now necessary to construct its own social, economic and cultural image.



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