“to What Extend Were Economic Factors Responsible for Making Piedmont the Leading Power in the Unification of Italy by 1860?”

“To what extend were economic factors responsible for making Piedmont the leading power in
              the Unification of Italy by 1860?”

        Economic factors were indeed a reason why Piedmont became the leading power in Italian Unification but there were several others. Firstly, Piedmont was the only state that retained a liberal constitution beyond 1849. As a result, nationalists from all over the peninsula moved north to Piedmont and it soon became the centre of Italian nationalism and liberal thought. Further, domestic Piedmont politics and the “connubio” that brought Cavour to power as well as Cavour as an individual played their role in making Piedmont the leading state of the unification. Additionally, Piedmont’s alliance with France along with Austria’s weariness and her diplomatic mistakes were also important factors that helped Piedmont becoming the leader of the Italian Unification. Therefore, the reason why Piedmont took the leading role in forging political unity along Italy lies in the nature of its political, social and economic development after 1849.

        The key to economic development in the years from 1849 to 1860 was the construction of railways. Cavour was a strong supporter of railways as a fundamental factor for industrial expansion as it provided a cheap and fast means of transport. Indeed railways stimulated Piedmont’s economic growth. By 1860, there were about 1,800km of railways on the peninsula and almost 1,000km were in Piedmont. Railways connected the state of Piedmont with France, which had invested lot of money in the sate. This had beneficial political side effects, preparing the ground for Cavour’s endeavor to ensure French support in a future war against Austria. Investment in telegraph lines, canals and the textile industry also benefited the economy. Cavour was able to negotiate free trade treaties with Britain, France, Austria, Portugal and Belgium. This resulted in an economic boom during the 1850s, and by...