Italian Unification

Italian unification
In 1855 the obstacles to Italian unification seemed massive. The congress of Vienna (1815) had for the most part restored the traditional rules back to their thrones, thereby dividing the peninsula into nine duchies and kingdoms. Austria was also given a special role in Italian affairs. Lombardy and Venetia, two of Italy’s wealthiest regions were placed directly under Habsburg’s control. Important states in the peninsula were practically satellites of Vienna.
It was against this background that the Risorgimento emerged. This was an artistic, cultural and political movement which aimed to remind the Italians of their glorious past and to instil in them a longing for freedom and independence in the future. Giueseppe Mazzini was its prominent figure and his republican and nationalist beliefs and taste for revolution made him a much feared and hunted figure. But when, in 1848, revolutions did break out in the peninsula, they probably owed more to economic problems than to nationalist propaganda. The revolutions anyway failed to co-ordinate their efforts, and by 1849, everywhere-but in Piedmont- the old order was restored.
Piedmont proved to be a vital exception. Building on a liberal constitution, unique in Italy, Cavour embarked on a programme of modernisation, aiming to make piedmont a dominant state in the peninsula.
Cavour was determined to make Piedmont the dominant state in Italy. There was two distinct stages to his plan : the modernisation of Piedmont internally ; and a diplomatic and military campaign to isolate and defeat Austria , and so to drive her out of the peninsula. Cavour’s programme of modernisation was designed to accelerate Piedmont’s political, social and economical development.