Process of Italian Unification

Unification Process

Process as per Gramsci it was a passive revolution:

  • Secret societies such as the Carbonari, Filadelfi or Young Italy were active in the 1830s and 1840s in fomenting revolutions.
  • There was a chain of rebellions in Turin, Naples, Palermo and other areas in 1820-21 and a fresh round of rebellions during 1828-31 and the 1848-49 revolutions in Germany, the revolutionary coalitions collapsed with workers, peasants, urban poor and socialists parting company from the liberal upper and middle classes.
  • The 1848-49 revolutions failed but the heroic defense of the republics – in Rome by Mazzini and Garbaldi and in Venice by Manin – produced the legends of Italian nationalism and the Italian left.
  • Cavour joined the Crimean War in 1855 on behalf of Britain and France to gain their support in this future confrontation with Austria.
  • Although Italy did not achieve much, it got an opportunity to discuss its problems in an international forum in 1856. Although the republicans were initially distrustful of Cavour and the Piedmontese, they slowly recognized the pivotal importance, which Piedmont would have to play in Italian unification.
  • On the basic of the agreement with Napoleon III at Plombieres in 1858, France came to the aid of Piedmont in the war with Austria which broke out in 1859.
  • Italian National Society played a key role in the plebiscites. Between 1857 and 1862 this Society published a national newspaper, drafted volunteers, orchestrated revolutions in Central Italy and then played a role in the plebiscites.
  • Although the handing over of his home province of Nice to the French upset Garibaldi, he collaborated with Cavour in the invasion of Sicily and Naples. It was the tremendous success of Garibaldi’s volunteers, which galvanized Cavour into uniting the whole of Italy while earlier he had concentrated on northern and central Italy.
  • The 1859 annexations in North and Central Italy had been achieved without much collective violence, but in 1860 the transfer of power in the south was marked by enormous violence.

As far as the unification of Italy was concerned, the question of Venetia and Rome remained.

  • Venice was incorporated in Italy after an overwhelming vote in favour of union in a plebiscite. After several failed attempts to acquire Rome – notably Garbaldi’s attempt in 1867 – it was incorporated after a short war in September 1870.

Economic Unification

The Italian state after unification did try to force the pace of economic development in order to catch-up with the advanced countries. But here railways did not boost the industrialization.

In Italy the divisions between the more industrialized north, the less developed central region and the neglected and backward south actually intensified after the Italian unification.

The Italian economic unification was more due to military success and international diplomacy rather than people’s war or mass struggles.

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