Comparison of the Unifications of Italy and Germany

Topics: Prussia, Italy, Otto von Bismarck Pages: 7 (1814 words) Published: November 18, 2014

Chapter 1: Introduction 1

Chapter 2: Similarities 1-4

Division of Each Country 1

The Leading States 1-2

iii. Involvement of Napoleon III 2-3

iv. Failed Revolutions 3

v. Nationalism 3-4

Chapter 3: Differences 4-6

i. Leaders 4

ii. Context of Unification 4-5

iii. Great Powers 5

iv. Unitary vs. Federal States 5

v. The Goal of Each Nation 5-6

Chapter 4: Conclusion 6

Chapter 1: Introduction

Both Italy and Germany became unified in the mid to late 1800s after years of unrest that started with the 1815 Congress of Vienna, where both of these countries were split up into many states. One can compare and contrast these unification processes because they had many similarities and differences. In order to properly assess these situations one needs to look at the individual factors that led to unification and how they can be compared. While there were similarities in the Unifications of Italy and Germany, overall the processes were very different.

Chapter 2: Similarities


Despite the differences in the unifications of these two nations, there are some clear similarities in the factors that let to unification. One of the most obvious similarities one can point out is the fact that in order to be unified, these countries were separated first. From 1815 to Unification, Germany was separated into 39 states, whereas Italy was separated into 11. The separation of these nations was decided at the 1815 Congress of Vienna, and they were separated for different reasons. Italy was divided into the 11 original states it had been in before the Napoleonic era; whereas the number of states in Germany was significantly reduced from somewhere around 300 to 39.


One of the main similarities as far as the unification process is that for both countries, unification was led by the most economically advanced state. In Germany the unification was led by Prussia, which had recently overtaken Austria as the most powerful state in Germany. With the _Zollverein_ created under the concept of the Prussian Customs Union, Prussia was at the head of the most significant economic advancement in Germany at the time. Piedmont was similarly at the top of Italian economic advancement. This was mainly thanks to Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, the Prime Minister of Piedmont starting in the 1850s, and the man who primarily led the Italian Unification process. Cavour came into office with a very strong understanding of financial matters and by 1860 its trade increased by 300 percent and Piedmont's 800 kilometers of railway track was one third of the peninsula's total. Due to the powerful nature of these states, they were both able to take a lead in the unification process.

Another clear similarity between Italy and Germany was Austria's involvement in the unification of both nations. In Germany, Austria was the leading power of the German Confederation. The Habsburg Empire controlled most of the political doings in the German Confederation, until Prussia became more economically advanced. It took Prussia defeating Austria in the Seven Weeks War for Unification to be able to take place. In Italy, Austria had full control of Lombardy. In the failed 1848 revolutions, Charles Albert of Piedmont attempted to wage war with Austria and failed greatly. In the actual unification process, Piedmont went to war with Austria again in 1859, and with the help of Napoleon III managed to settle on a treaty.


In both unification processes Napoleon III was somehow involved. He was the nephew of the great Napoleon and wanted to prove himself to be the true successor of his uncle. This led him to be very politically involved, although he never did manage to conquer much territory in Europe. His involvement in German Unification was mainly in the Franco-Prussian War. The Prussian Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck provoked Napoleon into...

Cited: Coppa, Frank J. _The Origins of the Italian Wars of Independence_. London: Longman, 1992. Print.
Farmer, Alan, and Andrina Stiles. _The Unification of Germany, 1815-1919_. London: Hodder Education, 2007. Print.
Kehoe, Thomas J., Lawrence D. Hogan, and Jose M. Duvall. _Exploring Western Civilization: 1600 to the Present_. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Pub., 1994. Print.
Stiles, Andrina. _The Unification of Italy, 1815-70_. London: Hodder & Stoughton Educational, 2001. Print.
"Unification of German States - Issues - Countries - Office of the Historian." _Unification of German States_. Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
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