[Part 3] Revolutimonary Movements in Europe: Unification of Italy
Like Germany, Italy too was divided into a number of states, like- Sardinia, Lombardy, Sicily and Naples, Papal states, Tuscany, Parma and Modena. Sardinia was the most powerful of these states. Venetia and Lombardy were under the Austrian occupation. Thus, the Italian people were faced with the task of expelling the Austrians and forcing the rulers of independent states to unite.
Young Italy Movement
struggle for Italian independence and unification was organized by the two famous revolutionaries- Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi. This movement aimed at the establishment of a republic in Italy. In 1848, after the revolutionary uprisings, the rulers were forced to grant certain democratic reforms to the people. But the goal of independence and unification was still far.
King of Sardinia introduced many reforms. His Prime Minister Count Cavour took the initiative of uniting Italy under the leadership of Sardinia. Cavour entered the Crimean War in 1853-56, against Russia, hoping to gain the support of Britain and France. However, no gain could be made. In 1859, he entered into an alliance with Louis Bonaparte and went to war with Austria. Austria was ousted from Lombardy, which was taken over by Sardinia.
Tuscany, Modena, Parma and Papal States of the north also joined Sardinia. Now, only Venetia was under the Austrian occupation. Other than that, Kingdom of the two Sicilies and Rome were also to be united. An Uprising broke in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Garibaldi marched into the island of Sicily with his revolutionary fighters, and liberated it from the rule of the king within three months. By the end of November 1860, the entire kingdom of the Two Sicilies had been liberated. However, the revolutionaries surrendered the kingdom to the King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel II, who then took the title of King of Italy in 1861.
Occupation of Rome
Meanwhile, Rome was being ruled by the Pope with the help of French soldiers, provided by Louis Bonaparte. When the war between France and Prussia broke out in 1870, Bonaparte was forced to withdraw his troops from Rome. Soon, Italian soldier occupied Rome in 1870, and in July 1871, Rome became the capital of united Italy.
However, inspite of the important role played by democratic and revolutionary leaders in the struggle for Italy’s unification, Italy became a monarchy.
Conclusion: Italian and German Unification
Unification of Germany and Italy, though did not prove democratic, but marked a great advance in the history of the two counties. These revolutions, along with the industrial revolution, deeply influenced the history of mankind. One of the aspects of these movements was the ever increasing number of people in the political life of the country. The period of autocracy and privileged aristocracy was coming to an end.
It is also important to remember that the new political and economic system that was emerging in Europe in the 19th century was also creating imperialism. Thus, the period of triumph of democracy, in Europe, was also the period of Conquest in Asia and Africa, by the imperialist power of Europe.
Team Aspirant Forum