Research Paper: Italian Unification Process and Camillo Benso Di Carvour as the Italian Bismarck

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Italian Unification Process

Unification processes of Germany and Italy during the second half of the nineteenth century

Cavour and Bismarck

the theoretical explanations of unification process

Ernest Gellner

Eric Habsbawm

Benedict Anderson

Explanation of nationalism in Italy and Germany

The role of Giuseppe Garibaldi

Converging interests of Cavour & Bismarck: From Austria-Prussian War 1866 to Franco-Prussian War 1970

The unification process of both Germany and Italy assumes fundamental importance in the European history. Both the nations struggled hard to attain the unification in the latter half of nineteenth century. Both Italy and Germany had many different states that unified to form a common federation. The culture and language also created an impact on the lives of people in an identical way. The process was lengthy and painful as much of the struggle for the unification process was led in the secret societies of both these countries. Kingdom of Sardinia pursued the process in Italy whereas it was for Kingdom of Prussia in Germany to follow the oath of unification. The nations, Italy and Germany fought battles vehemently against the foreign power to liberate their cities and towns from foreign occupation. There however remained significant influence of foreign power in the domestic matters of both Germany and Italy. Whereas France and Great Britain supported the unification of one (Italy), these power opposed the unification of Germany on contradictory grounds. The battle between philosophies had already reached the shores of Italy and Germany hereby both the countries were trying hard to save the old order that favored their established administrations.

The Kingdom of Sarnia fought battle with Austria to maintain their independence but later Germany also fought the Prussian armies and France in its quest for the independence. Some stark differences in both the unification processes also indicate the inherent differences that existed within both states. Italy became a unified state and one unitary federation before Germany. The German state unified under the agreement that all the constituting states shall maintain their existence and King of Prussia as the emperor of unified state. It was only in the first half of the 20th century that Germany was made a unitary state. The Napoleonic Wars impacted the unification process of both the states and it was after the death and destruction of Napoleonic wars that concerned quarters of Italy and Germany wished for a unified state that can be saved from the foreign aggression. While the Congress of Vienna played an important role in the unification process, there was significant nature of forces that impacted the expedition of process.

The paper will investigate the major similarities and contrasts of unification process of both Italy and Germany during the second half of the nineteenth century. Theoretical approaches to the unification process will also be described. The theories presented by renowned theorists such as Ernest Gellner, Eric Habsbawm, and Benedict Anderson will also are made part of the paper in order to comprehensively describe the unification process and to draw the comparison with each other.

The paper will then investigate the role played by Camillo Benso di Cavour, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Otto von Bismarck, Cavour's and Pietmonts within the process of unification of Italy. The comparison of this process will be made with the German unification process along with the theoretical explanation. The conclusion will be reported in the last section of the paper whereby it will be determined whether or not Cavour was an Italian Bismarck.

2- Unification processes of Germany and Italy during the second half of the nineteenth century

The German Empire and the Kingdom of Italy both were significantly influenced by the role of Cavour (Camillo Benso, Conte di Cavour).Cavour as a leader played a vital role to unify Italy. Born in Turin, Piedmont, Sardinia Kingdom, Cavour was born in 1810 and joined engineering battalion of armed service. Starting his professional career as lieutenant in engineering division of Sardinian Army, Cavour developed resentment for Charles Albert, the throne heir of Kingdom of Sardinia. Cavour also developed anti-cleric views and did not want clergy to have significant role in country's politics. This compelled the young Cavour to resign from the army in 1831.

The era was the start of steam engines and rails. The mechanistic advantages of science had also started benefiting the agriculturists. Being an agriculturist, Cavour pursued his career in politics and positioned himself as an admirer of constitutional monarchy rather than absolute monarchy or republicanism. The events of France during the same period of 1830s helped Cavour understand the underlying conflicts in Italy as well. It was through the publishing of 'Il Risorgimento', an Italian newspaper advocating liberal constitutional reforms in Italy. Since Pope that took charge in 1846 distanced himself of the conservatives and extremist devout Catholics, Cavour found it easy to strive for a unified, nationalist, and constitutional monarchy in Italy.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Dincecco, Mark, Giovanni Federico, and Andrea Vindigni. "Warfare, taxation, and political change: Evidence from the Italian Risorgimento." (Journal of Economic History, 2011). ]

It was thus in late 1840s that Cavour pushed for the constitutional reforms for abandoning absolute monarchy and establishment of constitutional monarchy. The Western Europe was passing through a phase of revolutions when in late 1840s; the influence of Cavour through his liberalist newspaper was increasing by each day.[footnoteRef:3] After Milan revolted against the Austrian empire in 1848, Cavour advised Charles Albert to defend the people of Milan against Austrian army by sending in the Sardinian Army. It was at this point of time in history that Cavour actively engaged himself in politics and decided to run for Sardinian chamber of deputies. His travels to England and France were fuelled by the passion to unite Piedmont through all the forces of Italy and be placed as the head of unification movement. Other territories of Italian peninsula were also proposed to be drawn into the Piedmont. [3: Dal Lago, Enrico. "Lincoln, Cavour, and National Unification: American Republicanism and Italian Liberal Nationalism in Comparative Perspective." (the Journal of the Civil War Era, 2013). ]

The importance of Cavour's central role in unification of Italy is also verified by the fact that he continued to push for the unification agenda while being the prime minister in 1852. He got Italy entered into the Crimean War (1854-56) in support of the English and French on the condition that the issue if Italian Peninsula will be addressed on preferential basis in the peace talks. The estrangement of Tsarist Russia and Austria was successfully exploited by Cavour as he hoped to redefine the problem of Italian Peninsula. The assumption of power by Louis Napoleon in France after King Louis Phillippe also helped further the aim of liberalization of Italy along with Italy's establishment on a 'unified nationalist' framework. Thus, it was Cavour, who in the pursuit of liberalist and unionist objectives, helped unify Italy and without Cavour the process would not been successful.[footnoteRef:4] [4: Carter, Nick. "Nation, nationality, nationalism and internationalism in Italy, from Cavour to Mussolini." (the Historical Journal, 1996). ]

3- Cavour and Bismarck

Both Cavour and Bismarck used Machiavellian tactics to gain power and unify the states that were controlled by them. Power politics were the main aim with gaining strength and control of each state under their rule was achieved through brokering power deals. Before the decades of 1960 and 1970, both Italy and Germany were territories that occupied clear geographical boundaries. While Germany constituted of forty states being independent of each other, Prussia and Austria did compete to gain influence in Germany. Since Napoleon had inflicted causalities both in Italy and Germany, both the states were passing from a wave of nationalism whereby the citizens felt disgraced by the devastation caused by continuous fighting. Some of the striking differences that were present in Cavour and Bismarck of Germany are summed up in the table below.

Cavour of Italy

Bismarck of Germany

Encourage democracy

Abolished democracy

Replaced absolute monarchy with constitutional monarchy

Replaced parliamentary democracy with weak constitutional monarchy

Used diplomatic and military means to gain the unified Italy.

Relied on military tactics only for expansion of territories.

Whereas one leader used democracy to strengthen the national fabric, the other dismantled it. Cavour during his stint as prime minister the Kingdom of Sardinia was strengthening the sole unified state of Italy. By transforming the Kingdom of Sardinia from being absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, Cavour placed the seed of liberalist movement in the country. By investing heavily in the infrastructural development of the country, Cavour courted the common men for enabling the liberalist ideology and limiting the role of church in the Italian politics. While Cavour was sharp to gain the 'war' as a tactic for expanding and unifying Italy, he was also quick in making smooth moves in the diplomatic circles as well. Before the war with Austria broke out in 1859, there remains considerable concern regarding the role of Cavour in instigating the 1959 Austrian war. The concerns were legitimized when in 1959; the Italian leader Cavour secured the consent of Napoleon… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Italian Unification Process and Camillo Benso Di Carvour as the Italian Bismarck.  (2013, April 14).  Retrieved June 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/italian-unification-process-camillo/8063652

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"Italian Unification Process and Camillo Benso Di Carvour as the Italian Bismarck."  14 April 2013.  Web.  18 June 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/italian-unification-process-camillo/8063652>.

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"Italian Unification Process and Camillo Benso Di Carvour as the Italian Bismarck."  Essaytown.com.  April 14, 2013.  Accessed June 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/italian-unification-process-camillo/8063652.