To What Extent Was Cavour the Architect of the Italian Unification?

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  • Topic: Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian unification
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  • Published : March 26, 2013
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To what extent is it fair to refer to Cavour as the architect of the Italian Unification?

After the failures of the 1848 revolution, Count Camillo Benso Di Cavour stepped in as the Prime Minister of Piedmont as the state was considered to be agitation concentration for those who still aimed and fought for the independence and unison of Italy. His liberal leadership philosophies enabled him to contribute in the movement towards the Italian Unification. However, is it fair to consider him an Italian Nationalist who always worked with his eyes on a unitary state?

Cavour certainly aimed to get rid of Austrian interference in Italy so that Piedmont would grow into the Italian leading state. To accomplish this goal, he had to modernize Piedmont and extend its influence. Yet, he was aware that success would only be achieved by gaining foreign aid as Piedmont itself lacked strength to fight Austria alone. An opportunity to ally and get support from other nations rose during the Crimean War. Piedmont took the French and British sides on a war against Russia, which got defeated in 1856. As well as gaining the sympathy of France and Britain, Piedmont got the chance to attend the Paris Peace Conference where Cavour had the opportunity to share his intentions on ending with all Austrian domination over Italy. Although his plans were not much acclaimed, he did establish friendly relations with the French Emperor, Napoleon III.

The two men met at Plombières on July 20th and an agreement was made stating that if Austria attacked Piedmont, France would send in troops to help the fighting in return for the lands of Nice and Savoy. According to the historian Mac Smith, “Britain however, mistrusted Cavour and never planned war against Russia”. But still, with the French support, Cavour now tempted Austria into war, and when an ultimatum was issued, he rejected it declaring war. Austria was defeated provoking turbulences and commotions throughout Italy. Napoleon, however,...
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