To what extent was Austria responsible for the failure of Italian revolutionaries in the years 1820-37? (30 marks)

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Essay q.Italy 1815-184729/09/13

To what extent was Austria responsible for the failure of Italian revolutionaries in the years 1820-37? (30 marks)

The revolutions of 1820-1 and 1831-2 were generally dismissed as failures, strengthening the hold of reactionary governments and leaders.  This is due to a number of factors, some more significant that others however each one individually important in preventing progress of the temporary successes of each revolution.  Austria itself was not the most important factor for the failure of Italian revolutions in the years 1820-1 and 31-2.  Austria’s strength which enabled them to suppress revolutions easily would not have been so effective without the combination of other factors involved such as lack of unity and organisation within the revolutions, lack of popular support for the motive of the revolutionaries, and lack of external support from other, stronger nations.

Austria’s role however was a factor in determining the outcome of the 1820-1 and 31-2 revolutions in Italy.  It can be said that despite the temporary successes of most of the revolutions, Austria’s strength was a key factor in preventing maintenance of these brief revolutionary establishments.  The Troppau Doctrine, created in 1821 by Metternich in response to the 1920 revolutions, was the force behind Austria’s apparent strength.  Austria, Russia and Prussia agreed it was their responsibility to support any government in risk of being overthrown by providing military support.  In Naples, King Ferdinand called for help from Austria after being invited to attend a congress at Laibach with the Metternich and the superpowers in1821.  The Austrian army suppressed the 1 year constitution set up by liberals in Naples swiftly in March 1821, followed by strict reprisals for rebels.  Similarly, in Piedmont, 1920, after Charles Felix refused to accept a constitution, he appealed for help from Austria, who brought troops, defeating Turin liberals alongside Piedmontese troops loyal to Felix at the Battle of Novara, 1821, and then exiling hundreds of revolutionaries.  In the 1831-2 revolutions, Austria suppressed uprisings in Modena, Parma and the Papal States.  The provisional government established by students in Modena and Parma, forcing the abdication of Ruler, Duchess Maria-Louise of Parma was quickly restored to pre-1831 rule as Duke Frances of Modena returned at the head of the Austrian army.  Finally, in the Papal States Metternich’s army defeated the liberal rebels, ending the constitutional government using violent methods to show their strength.  Despite temporary successes of most revolutionaries in creating provisional governments and constitutions, Austria managed to abolish these all within a year for all states, showing some significance in the failure of the revolutions from 1820-37.

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However Austria’s strength can be questioned as representing the weakness of the revolutions themselves, as well as the weaknesses of the original rulers overthrown, rather than Austria’s strength.  In Naples, Piedmont and Modena, the overthrown monarchs looked to Austria for aid when they are revolted against and the papal government in the Papal States put up a weak defensive and little resistance to the small number of liberal middle-class rebels of 1831, re-enforcing the weakness of the papal government.  As well as this, the revolutionaries often had little time to firmly establish a strong government and organise before Austria attacked, ...

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