Napoleon and Italian Unification

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  • Topic: Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Papal States
  • Pages : 2 (722 words )
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  • Published : November 25, 2007
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To what extent was Napoleon III responsible for the unification of Italy?

Napoleon III's contribution to the unification of Italy was decisive but inadvertent. He and Cavour had no intention of unifying Italy; Cavour was interested in Piedmontese augmentation, while Napoleon was concerned to put French interests and his family before anything else. He had several reasons to help Cavour, none of which included his desire for a unified Italy. To a great extent, he was responsible for Italian unification.

Count Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont, carried out economic and industrial developments to try to rebuild Piedmont after the 1848-9 revolutions. He realized he could not expel Austria from Italy without foreign aid. He aimed to obtain such support from the likes of England and France. The British government was not willing to assist him, and he turned to Napoleon III. Cavour set out to win French support by launching extensive social reforms throughout Sardinia and by joining France in the Crimean War. Afterwards, Cavour met with Napoleon III to plan the liberation of Italy and to make sure he had military support.

Cavour endeavored to win military support because he was preparing for a war with Austria. An agreement was made between France and Sardinia. Napoleon III saw this as an opportunity to strengthen Sardinia because it would be a troublesome neighbor for Austria. Piedmont was to pay for all French expenses, and Napoleon requested a marriage association between his family and that of the House of Savoy. It was also an opportunity to gain control of more land, as he was promised Nice and Savoy in return for his assistance. After a period of fighting, Napoleon had offered an armistice to Austria and peace would follow. Austria agreed to yield Lombardy to Piedmont. The treaty provided that the people of the Duchies of Tuscany, Parma, and Modena should return to their allegiance, but this was not possible without military force. The people...
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