How successful were Cavour's first five years of government?
Count Camillo Benso di Cavour became Prime Minister of Piedmont in 1852, following his appointment as Minister of Trade, two years previously. He set out clear aims for his time as Prime Minister of Piedmont and achieved many successful changes in light of the modernisation of the state. He also sustained his own power but fell short of his goals regarding foreign policy. Historians may write that he did not achieve enough in many aspects of his time in power, although, the reality is, when measuring success against his aims, Cavour simply attempted what he planned to and no more.
An over-riding aim of Cavour's was to ensure that Piedmont became the leading Italian state, more powerful than all others in economy, trade and organisation of government. Cavour had the benefit of running an already forward-thinking and modern state. He saw this as an advantage and exploited it. Advancements in trade meant economic growth; free trading treaties with other countries saw a 30% rise in exports and 40% in imports. Reduction in the power of the Church, another of Cavour's aims, was sped up by the introduction of the Siccardi Laws. These stated several drastic alterations such as the new inability to seek refuge in the Church, as well as the abolishment of separate courts. This change in government was also all part of the new constitutional government that Cavour was maintaining. He attempted to reduce bureaucracy by centralising power and reducing the number of roles per job in government. Piedmont was also the only state to run by a constitution, the Statuto, that remained thanks to Austria following the 1848-9 revolutions. The benefit of already having these changes in place meant that Cavour simply had to maintain this positive attitude and take it forward. Following these changes, Piedmont was successfully established as the undisputed leader of Italy, although perhaps would have been anyway should...
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