Assess the contribution of Cavour, Garibaldi andNapoleon III to the unification of Italy

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James Crosbie E

Assess the contribution of Cavour, Garibaldi and Napoleon III to the unification of Italy

The “Risorgimento” or “Resurrection” culminated in the declaration of the Kingdom of Italy and was finalized and put beyond all doubt when Rome, capital of the Papal States, was conquered in 1870. There were three key members of this gradual process who made the unification of Italy possible.

Cavour, born into a noble Piedmontese family, started his career in the military but, due to his liberal views he was forced to leave and he resigned in 1831. After Pope Pius IX’s election in 1846, Cavour felt that the chance for him to advocate reform had come. He failed in revolutions but he became Prime Minister of Piedmont-Sardinia and at the outbreak of the Crimean War he joined forces with Great Britain and France and, by this, proved himself to be a fine statesman for foreign affairs. And indeed it was his affairs with Napoleon III that helped Sardinia expand in a big way. After meeting with the man himself, Cavour agreed that if Austria were to attack Sardinia, French Fleets would enter the war on Sardinia's side. Cavour immediately set to provoking Austria into war, and in April 1859 Austria attacked the small Italian state. However, after ferocious victories, Napoleon decided to withdraw his troops. A compromise was formed and it allowed the Austrians to keep Venetia and transferred the territories conquered by the Sardinians to their former rulers. Sardinia received only Lombardy. Although Cavour was furious at Napoleon, the situation soon reversed itself when the citizens of Tuscany, Modena, Parma and Bologna voted to become part of Sardinia anyway.

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Garibaldi’s influence, it seems to me, was small in the big scheme of things and although he was influenced by Mazzini, who has been left out in the title but played a great role in organising and initiating the transformation, there is reason to believe he just arrived at the end and picked up the spoils and glory that came with it. The Red-Shirts took Sicily and he hailed himself Dictator of the island.

It will not suffice to give all the credit for these revolutionary movements to Garibaldi, the soldier, or the ambitious monarch of France. More important than ...

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