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To what extent does Cavour deserve his reputation as the architect of Italian Unification?

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Adam Wright Monday 17th February 2003 To what extent does Cavour deserve his reputation as the architect of Italian Unification? Plan Intro Line of argument-Hypothesis Explore question, architect, reputation etc? Reference to historical authorities Signals Direction Yes Foreign policy Successful diplomacy Public statement No Falsifications of evidence to "make Italians" The extent of Cavour's role in the process that finally brought about Italian Unification is much debated among modern historians. Many notable contemporary historians have their own school of thought on the extent of Cavour's role in Italian unification. Opinions range from the likes of Mack smith who powerfully believe that Cavour had little impact on Italian amalgamation to historians such as Derek Beales who believe Cavour's impact on Italian Unification was significant. The question on which I am writing this essay specifically asks me to focus on whether Cavour was the sole, coherent, energy behind a period of long-term planning that would bring about Italian unification. Ultimately Cavour was neither the above, nor anything near this but he was the sole provider of a unique set of catalyst that allowed a unified Italian Nation to become a reality not an idea held dear by a small number of mainly rich upper class radical thinkers. Cavour's foreign policy certainly raised the status of Piedmont on an international stage. ...read more.


The aim of this governmental scheme was to tie together all of the loose threads that would have to make Italy. Italians needed more in the history of unification than there really was. Italians needed to believe that unification came from a gradual rise in the Risorgimento, an alternative history based on Piemontese expansion would be damaging to the young, culturally divided country. This mass cover-up is instrumental in understanding if Cavour deserves his almost mystical reputation as the architect of Italian unification. This cover up leads me to believe that there were many documented occasions when Cavour did not fully back Italian unification that for the sake of unification needed to be 'altered'. It is true that Cavour did make several references to the state of Italy under Austria in his publication 'il risorgimento' that was published for the first time under Charles Albert. This was never a publication with Italian unification as its theme neither was it ever seriously discussed within its pages. So in the 1830's it is secure postulation that Cavour didn't harbour any nationalistic desires. So in a long-term perspective Cavour was not a committed nationalist from an early age. Cavour at several points in the 1850's describes Italian unification as manifestly "rubbish" (Stile p46). ...read more.


The above sources prove this part of my hypothesis. In relation to the essay question the above sources inform the modern historian that Cavour had neither any long term plans, by this I mean beliefs, desires and plans held dear fro a period of decades, or short term plans, in the years building to the activities at Plombieres. I am positive that Cavour did not harbour any long-term desire to unite the whole of the Italian peninsula. A number of sources taken from different points in Cavour's time before and during the time he held a position of power indicate that he certainly did not have the detailed planning which would require the title and reputation as an 'architect of Italian unification.' Cavour's attitude to Italian unification whenever it appears to be positive was merely a veil for his main, and well-planned objective, thus being Piemontese expansion. Older historians such as AJ Whyte believe that Cavour was following a 'master plan' to Italian unification are in light new analysis and evidence incorrect. Cavour's support of the ceding of Savoy and Nice against the wishes of Victor Emmanuel indicates that Cavour was not really a committed Italian Nationalist nor the true architect of Italian Unity. Ultimately Cavour "considered unification of the entire peninsular neither possible or desirable" and chose not to work towards an unified Italy using his immense political and diplomatic skills. ...read more.

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