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Italian Unification

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Historians describe an era in Italy when the country was described as mad. This is the time of Italian unification where the country faced a lot of hurdles. Italian unification was a socio-political lobbying process that agglomerated various Italian states into a single nation of Italy. This took place in the 19th century. Many scholars apparently differ on the onset and the end of this period in history but it is mostly thought that it was between the commencements in 1815 during the Vienna congress and the end of Napoleonic reign (Beales & Biagini, pp. 2-23). It went all the way to 1871 during the Franco-Prussian war. During all this time, a lot factors contributed to Italy’s failure to unite. This essay paper seeks to highlight the most significant hindrances to the unification of Italy in its efforts of becoming one single state.

Between 1815 and 1850, Italy was in a perpetual condition of unrest.  After conquering the Napoleonic France, the Vienna Congress was planned to redraw the continent of Europe.  Italy was not left out and therefore the congress reinstated the pre-Napoleonic mess of self-government, either ruled directly or powerfully influenced by the existing powers of Europe, more specifically Austria. However, groups in various states of Italy started to agitate for the notion of a united state of Italy yet again, enhancing the nationalism concept. Unfortunately, the empire of Austria forcefully undermined the idea of nationalism that was emerging from the peninsula of Italy together with other Habsburg areas of Spain. The Chancellor of Austria, Franz Metternich was a prominent diplomat at the Vienna congress. He pointed out that Italy was just a geographic expression. Many revolutions turned out unsuccessful between 1815 and 1850. Carbonari began the revolutionary process in 1814 (Holt, pp. 11-77).

Two Sicilies Kingdom in 1820

The unification process of Italy faced a major blow in this kingdom. Ferdinand I reigned through an autocratic government. This drew much hatred form Carbonari. There were hopes unbounded in Italian unification through these revolutions. However, the Naples revolution turned out to be an affair of the middle-class and therefore these economic ties frustrated the efforts of becoming one Italian state.  Lower classes like those of the peasants in the South for instance were left out in the government system. Despite the fact that the revolt was scary to Ferdinand I, the absence of popular support, division amongst individuals in the revolt as well as the narrow leaders’ experience was a major threat to the failure of the revolution.

The Piedmont- Sardinia revolution came up after getting the news of the Naples revolution. Yet again, the ruler, Victor Emmanuel was terrified whilst they gained support from the nobles together with the middle class open-minded revolutionaries.  The revolutionary government which was set up agitated for a self-governing Italian kingdom and proclaimed war on Austria.  Victor Emmanuel relinquished in favor of Charles Felix, his brother. This accelerated the downfall of the liberation process. The 1820-1821 occurrences apparently made liberalism a lost cause on the entire region of Italy and its unification made unattainable.  All the same, disturbances continued in Italy in such places like Parma and Modena.  Sadly, these disturbances could not help in the unification process as they entertained the middle class at the expense of the rest (Beales & Biagini, pp. 112-23).

In the States of Papal, it was only the middle-class group that was in the protest front. The troops of Austria however crushed all the three disturbances which were indicative of the ease of halting a revolt. The main reason why these revolutions turned out unsuccessful was the fact that they were all together localized. Another reason was the fact that the middle-class led revolutions could not survive violence as they were not accustomed to it. The failure of the French to intervene on the part of revolutionaries also contributed to the loss. There was no significant change realized apart from the old-fashioned secret communities like the Carbonari together with the Federati which brought the idea that a new revolutionary politics style could garner support and the main image in the new belief was Giuseppe Mazzini (Astarita, pp. 187-264).

The 1848 revolution took place in a majority of the Italian parts. Pope Pius IX in Rome ran away since there were riots in the town. Reforms were declared by the government which was left behind. This included the provision of jobs for the unemployed, unpopular tax abolishment together with the holding together of a constituent which led to the formation of the Roman Republic. Despite these efforts made in the formation of the Roman Republic, it did not exist for long for its effect to be fully felt and realized.  More challenges to the unification process emerged when the French took sides in 1849. The French were committed to the restoration of the Pope. This made Rome to give in on the 29th of June the same year. Revolutions ultimately were totally crushed and both Garibaldi and Mazzini were on exile.

Leaders of the Time

In 1852, Cavour was then a prime minister and was broadminded of the western kind. Cavour was not a war fanatic but was ready to engage in war in an attempt to make Italy one under the Savoy House.  He sourced support from the French military while provoking Austria to a war. Cavour also made a secrete treaty with Napoleon III and tricked Austria into war making the French army to invade their territories. All the same, this was not a success; support came only from the Italian states in the north. However, this was a big step made towards the right direction. Cavour’s ways were harsh but made Italy better (Holt, pp. 11-77).

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Garibaldi was perceived a hero who lived in the USA and attained the Uruguay independence. Garibaldi created a group of followers with 1150 individuals known as the red shirts. This group armed themselves and moved towards the south. However, the Two Sicilies government lost all their trust and collapsed. The group moved to Rome where the French military and the Pope would keep in wait for them. Garibaldi had the desire to accept monarchy as the most efficacious solution. The problem came in because some of the followers were not fully supportive. The parliament that stood as a representation of Italy apart from Venetia and Rome came together and made a choice of becoming a single nation reigned over by god.  The unifying process would have made progress if both Venetia and Rome were included but only Venetia was included to assist in war. Rome was however annexed (Beales & Biagini, pp. 202-33).    

1848 -1849 Italy Revolutions

The main reason as to why the revolutions of 1848-1849 did not succeed was due to the division realized in Italy as at then. More weakness was attributed to the different objectives held by the various revolutions. It was therefore hard to reach a consensus. Italy therefore existed in independent states which anticipated different things. A percentage of the states wanted a republic to run them rather than money. The Pope’s desertion in the revolution was fully backed by the catholic supporters. Not a single state consented to the idea concerning taking Austria away from Venetia and Lombardy. The Austrians was one of the major factors that made the Italian revolutions fail (Astarita, pp. 187-264).

In the beginning of 1848, people never bought tobacco or even played the lottery since it fed the assets belonging to Austria.  Anger flared up in the Austrians and they ended up killing several citizens from Italy. Later on Austria took over Ferrara. The desire of the Italians was to take away from the north east of Venetia and Lombardy. The armies of Austria had superior weapons compared to the Italians. The Austrian troops were even more by 45,000 troops. Italy had only 30,000 troops. The only opportunity to success for the Italians was when Austria concentrated so much on the revolutions at home. Lack of enough troops to counteract to those of the Austrians was also a great challenge to the Italian unification. Radetzky was a very knowledgeable general and was a great advantage of the Austrians over the Italians. Austria denied Italy chance to unify. Radetzky leadership was very critical to the army of the Austrians which had superior weapons than the Italian army. Owing to the fact that the Italian states could not come to an agreement on the things they wanted, Austrian army easily stooped the Italian revolts (Holt, pp. 11-77).

Charles Albert and Pope Pius IX

Charles Albert, the Savoy king was a key hindrance to the failure in the revolutions. Charles failed by disapproving assistance from foreign countries. He asserted that Italy did not need such help from foreign powers. It was possible for Charles to attack Austria at their point of emaciation but he delayed in doing so in a week’s time and moreover, the communication lines of the Austrians were not cut. Another failure that was contributed by Charles Albert was the division he made on the western border troops since he feared that the French could invade them. Poor equipping of the Charles led troops as indicated by the lack of maps and enough men were a major setback to the unification process.  Pope Pius IX supported the revolutions from the start but on realizing that Catholics actively participated through fighting, he rescinded.  The opinions of the Pope as at this time owing to the beliefs of the religion downplayed the efforts made in making Italy as one nation. The revolutions failed as a result of the Pope’s stand along the way. A big number of the citizens made a choice between their political principles and their religion. The Italian army became weak consequentially (Astarita, pp. 187-264).

Division amongst Revolutions

Many revolutions experienced disunity. Despite having a common agenda of dealing with Austria, it happened to be the only thing that they held in similarity. Charles Albert yearned for the support from all other states by pledging allegiance to him to attack Austria. Not everybody was comfortable with this and thus the army was made weak. Apparently the leader’s ambitions overrode the national interests. Rome and Venetia for instance longed for a republic whilst Charles desired a monarchy. Other states however wanted rule by the Pope. As clearly seen in this context, there was no a united front that existed between the different Italian states hence the revolution to defeat Austria was weak and worked out for Austria instead.

French Policies and Napoleon III

Napoleon III brought a lot of impact on Italy although he did not affect all states in a positive way. Napoleon played a significant role in the annexation of Lombardy from Piedmont.  Cavour, the Italian nationalist met with Napoleon at Plombieres which led to the formation of an agreement.  This is where a war was planned between a mixture of the troops of Piedmontese and those of France and Austria. There was a hope of success for Piedmont. It was anticipated that after Piedmont’s success in the war, the territories of Austria, north of Italy would merge with Piedmont forming Upper Italy Kingdom.  Provoking a war with Austria was made a success by Cavour. Piedmont’s provision of 20,000 soldiers was however a big blow to the initiated war compared to an army of almost 110,000 Austrians. Napoleon stood to his word providing 200,000 men to counteract to the Austrian forces (Holt, pp. 11-77).

The French joined forces with Napoleon and Austria apparently worried about their defeat at the Solferino and Magenta battles. Piedmontese performed a significant role at Solferino but not at Magenta. There was a lot of carnage from either side. Napoleon did not like the results of the war as many soldiers were lost. Napoleon responded by signing a peace treaty at Villafranca with Austria.   The French ultimately got an opportunity to protect their borders from Prussia. The interests and the actions of Cavour in Tuscany were later controlled by France. Lombardy was later handed over to France who eventually gave Piedmont. This was a proof to all the war affiliates that Piedmont could not acquire Lombardy owing to the stability of Austria in war. Napoleon’s surrender by signing a peace treaty with Austria on this occasion slowed down the unification process (Beales & Biagini, pp. 56-123).

End of Napoleon Rule

After the end of Napoleon rule, former rulers took over and made an effort to take matters back to the traditional setting. However, this was a milestone. People had gone through great changes and experiences which were deemed disturbing. It was therefore very hard to make sense to the people on going back to the initial state in Italy. Even at this point, Italy could not unify owing to a lot of confusion that was authored by the exit of leaders and the rule of napoleon and the French policies (Davis, pp. 55-89).

Therefore, Italy was mad; this is the way the phrase of the time defined the situation. This was a high-minded nationalism of culture of Mazzini, the bravery of    Garibaldi, together with the Cavour cold policy. However, unification was attained in Italy through insurrections, endorsement of common votes and armed violence. The Italians failed to surrender and were initially a bunch of independent states in the same country.  The unification process was an idea to make Italy a brotherhood of Italians who hold on to the progress and duty law with convictions that the destination of Italy was in becoming one state. All this had its beginning and inspiration from the literature written by Mazzini who wrote concerning his strong convictions on unity even at a time when the Pope then did not stand up to nationalism. This movement of becoming a single state needed the Italians support otherwise it was doomed to fail.

Generally, separation and localism traditions were a key factor which frustrated the efforts of unifying Italy. The southern and the northern parts were absolutely different in the ways of living. The consciousness of same nationality was not significantly developed; neither was there a national flag. The entire Italy was a place of all against all. Geographically, the natural barriers of mountains are apparently an impendent to the unification process in Italy.   The lack of co-operation between the Italian states from pre-historic times was utilized to separate existence. These states also had diverse administrative organizations. The unification process experienced another blow because there was lack of unity economically.  The North Italian community together having rich resources could develop easily compared to the backward community in the South. This status of both the North and the South significantly divided the ancient Italy. Owing to these factors, it became hard to establish where the best government would emanate from. Apparently, no region would succumb to the demands of the other and this further made unification a nightmare. This was so because the South did not contribute effectively commercially, industrially and generally to the common progress of Italy (Astarita, pp. 187-264).

The Pope temporarily had authority and somehow reigned in the central Italian region. Austria support together with the assistance coming from loyal Catholics along with France made Italy a divided region. Pope stood in opposition to any lobby group that would put his authority in danger over the Papal States. Italy in this state could not unify and the unification idea was far out of reach. The Pope’s territory included a wedge between the southern and northern Italian parts. The Papal States could therefore not reform and change was made impossible throughout the entire Italy.  French policies and ideas through Napoleon rule caused a number of leaders in Italy to flee. What initially were well organized states pulled apart because there were no leaders in positions previously held before the French policies were established. In fact, Mazzini and Garibaldi in 1850 fled into exile yet another time (Davis, pp. 55-89). Therefore, these Italian rulers fled or rather came out of reign consequently creating power vacuums and new political agendas and ideas. Such were the state of affairs of the unification process in Italy.

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