Napoleon III and the Wars of Italian Unification
Key Words Notes
• For all of Bismarck’s assessment of Napoleon III, there
was no doubt that Napoleon III knew what was wrong in
the structure the European body politics. He knew there
was some profound inadequacy in the structure of
international power in central Europe.
• He knew that the time had come, and that was the idea
Napoleon III addressed of central European nationalism. Like it or not, one
an idea of central
could not ignore the fact that the growing pressure,
European Nationalism: especially inside the educated elite inside Germany and
- He said that if the rest Italy were uniformly pushing for some form of national
of Europe was too state. Some form of greater political unification
brittles to amongst German and Italian state.
accommodate them it • It was the post-Crimean war discussions with the
powers that napoleon saw as the unsatisfactory
- The Italian peninsula condition of international relations amongst the German
itself was quite and Italian people. The Italian peninsula was a power
unstable. It was bunch head. It was obviously unstable and was fragmented in
of scattered territories number of state. And dominated by Austria, it was not a
being governed by tenable situation.
- However, Napoleon • In another way Napoleon III was being a sophisticated
statesmen in making these points and in posing it to
did not have a solution other great powers. He was pointing out that unless the
to the way the system was flexible enough, mature enough to make
problem should be way for major changes in the central Europe, it would
handled break. It was too brittle to accommodate the demands
for the central Europe nationalism; it would go down in
ruins. Yet, when asked for more specific answers to the
problem, Napoleon III had no ready solution.
• The nationalist themselves proved to be disappointed
and dissatisfied with the his inaction. With his simple
rhetorical commitment to their cause.
January 14, 1858
Nationalist leader Orsini • 14 of January 1858 small group of Italian radical patriots
attempted to assassinate gave expression to their disappointment by attempting
to assassinate him.
Napoleon III. • The leader of this group Orsini was tried and executed;
however he was given the opportunity to defend
Cavour: Prime Minister
of Piedmont-Sardinia. himself. He wrote a letter and that was published in full
-Approached Napoleon to in the officially controlled French newspaper. The
see if a deal could be opportunity was now there for the leader of the most
viable form of Italian unity, the Prime Minister of
made Piedmont-Sardinia Cavour, to approach Napoleon III to
-Personal Agendas: see if a deal could be done to address the Italian
Cavour knew that
immediate Italian question in one way or another. Both had their own
unification wasn’t agendas.
possible. So he - Cavour’s was to expand the territory of Piedmont-
Sardinia, northwestern Italian state ruled by the
sought territorial House of Savoy. He didn’t want immediate Italian
expansion. For this unification, because he knew it wasn’t going to
he needed French happen in practical terms. But he thought they’d
restructure it a bit with a little expansion. French did not want Dependent more on France, Austria would be in
another great power, fear of this place. so he turned to France for
championship. The piedmontians tried to fight the
but he knew that by
helping Cavour he Austrians during the years of 1848 1849, but they
would take them had been beaten roundly. All the progressive
away from Austria Peidmonties realized only with French help could
and Peidmountinians they cast off the Austrian shadow.
would be dependent - Napoleon III said that he didn’t want to create a
new great power. He didn’t want to unify Italy, but
on the French
-This was the basis of a in Italy, which would be remade with French help
deal between Cavour would be dependent for its protection upon French
and the Napoleon III championship. So France would have taken Italy
from Austria as its fear of influence and interest.
- This was the basis of the deal made off of national
interests of two states-leaving aside questions of
July 20 1858 broader interests of the Italian question injected
-Cavour and Napoleon III into the wider international system.
meet at plombiéres to • For the 20 July 1858, these two statesmen, Cavour
sign on to a secret deal from Piedmont-Sardinia ruled by King Victor Emanuel
-The deal is to go to war and Napoleon III met at Plombiéres and made a secret
against Austria and deal to wage war against Austria, to have it rejected
reject it from the Italian from the Italian peninsula.
peninsula. - The deal consisted of a project by Piedmont-
-Piedmont-Sardinia, with Sardinia with the help French army, which would
the help of the French conquer the Austrian provinces of Lombardy and
army would go to war Venetia.
against Austria. The - The rest of Italy would be reorganized into several
French would be dependent kingdoms such as upper Italy, central
rewarded with the Italy, the papal states and so on
territory of Savoy and - This restructured Italian land would depend for its
Nice. viability and survival upon French military
-Italy would be protection. Against any act of Austrian revenge in
reorganized into the future.
dependent kingdoms - So Italy would be more territorially consolidated,
-The Italian lands would such as Parma, Modena, Tuscany, and Papal states,
be consolidated, into larger kingdoms. But not too large as to
however they would challenge France rather then to be dependant upon
still be dependant on it as satellite kingdoms of the French empire.
France for protection. • Obviously to wage war against Austria, the French and