Before the process of revolution began, foreign powers and
monarchs ruled Italy. Italian citizens wanted a change of freedom and a change
in the government. The first attempt of revolt wad disorganised and
consequently failed as there was too much division due to separate groups.
There had to be unity in order for there to be a success. Some of the main
revolutionaries which included, Mazzini, Garibaldi, Cavour and the many independence
wars, it was possible to see a more unified nation and government. John Grooch
reveals that William Ewart Gladstone describes Italy’s unification as “among the greatest marvels of our time”
(Gooch , J, 2002).  Following the
country’s reconstruction and unification, there arrived a surge of people,
consequently causing overpopulation. Thanks to this, the unification of the
country was successful and there could be a political restructuring.

 

Italy was divided into 10 states before 1976. These were The
Kingdom of Sardinia, the Republic of Venice, the Republic of Genoa, the
Republic of Lucca, the Papal States, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Kingdom of
Naples, the Duchy of Modena, The Duchy of Milan and the Duchy of Parma. They
were all very different as economies, currencies, dialects and rulers varied
vastly. In 1976 with his French army, Napoleon defeated Austria, making them
surrender Italy and sign the treaty of Campo Formio, which gave Napoleon the
power to take over the north of Italy.

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Therefore prior to gaining its independence, most of Italy
was controlled by the French. The Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Italy
which were annexed to France were the most controlled regions. By 1810, the
north and the centre of Italy united due to this foreign rule. The kingdom of
Italy was ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte and the Kingdom of Naples by Joseph
Bonaparte. Although it would later be taken over by Joachim Murat. After
conquering Italy, Bonaparte left some important characteristics: an efficient
government, showed the population benefits of a united Italy and a dislike
towards foreign influence. After his fall however, countries such as Austria,
Russia, Prussia and the United Kingdom would decide what would be done with the
Italy that Napoleon had conquered. It was consequently decided that each of the
different monarchs mostly all associated with the Habsburgs, would have control
over a certain part of Italy.

 

Until
1820 was when change started to happen. There was a mass revolt led by the
Carbonari which aimed for change and to remove Austrian influence. The success
was partial as a new constitution was created which took away privileges from
the church and nobles. This later failed. The Carbonari attempted three revolts
to overthrow, unfortunately all of these failed. Despite this, they created
nationalism to the Italian people.

 

There
were three men who played a significant role in Italy’s unification as
mentioned above. In 1827 Giueseppe Mazzini had an objective to create Italian
unity and liberate and give freedoms to his fellow people. He desired a
republican and democratic Italy, he also wanted the people to take charge and
be independent. 

Giuseppe
Garibaldi, another vital figure in Italy’s unification was introduced to the
concept of Italy as a united country on a trip to Constantinople in 1833. Later
after hearing about a new movement, became particularly close to Mazzini and
joined the ‘Giovine Italia Movement’ (Young Italy Movement). Later, a plot to
revolt against the Sardinian navy got him in trouble and then he consequently
fled to South America where he became a skilled soldier.

 

In
the 1830’s the aristocracy and the middle classes were starting to think of a
united Italy. Camillo Benso Cavour was born into a noble family. He travelled
in many countries, one of them being Britain, which gave him new ideas about
managing the economy and how to govern a country. Therefore, years later became
the founder of ‘II Risorgimento’, a
newspaper which voiced the ideas of the Italian National Movement. Later in
1852, he became Prime Minister and had ideas in order to promote economical
development for the country and proposed many reforms that could make the
country stronger as well as a plan to gain back territory in the north.

 

‘Young
Italy’ became the face of nationalism. People from different parts of society
were beginning to come together. Mazzini discovered that Italy had to become a
republic as opposed to a country with a monarchy. Because of news from the
French revolution, wars broke out in 1848 in Sicily. The king was defeated
which started the Italian revolution. Consequently, Milan and Venice were
declared independent republics.

 

Later,
the revolts in Italy failed. Regardless of this, there were positive factors
which continued the fight for nationalism and unification. Victor Emmanuel II
of Sardinia supported Italy’s was in favour of the unification, as he signed a
constitution.  Later he became the King
of a unified Italy.

 

A
couple of years later in 1850, Cavour began to gain more power after becoming
Minister of Agriculture, commerce and industry. In 1852, he became Prime
Minister due to his success in politics. He began a plan of modernisation, for
example, an implementation of railways, trade arrangements with other
countries, getting the army back together and creating order within it.

 

The
fighting continued, in 1960, Garibaldi along with his redshirts, defeated
20,000 troops and took Sicily. Victor Emmanuel II proclaimed the Kingdom of
Italy a constitutional monarchy in 1861. Venetia and Rome were the remaining
lands to gain from the Austrian rule until an achievement of unification.
Cavour’s death occurred before this could happen consequently taking more time
for progress to occur. Until 1866, Prussia was planning a war with Austria
therefore made a deal with Italy that Italy and Prussia would declare war on
Austria, which it would not be able to cope with and therefore after pressure
and the defeat of the Austrians, Prussia would enable Venetia to be handed over
to Italy. Finally, Rome was the last place to unite. To Italy’s advantage, in
the Franco-Prussian war, the French were losing and therefore Napoleon removed
his troops from Rome in 1870.

 

After
1870 however, Italy was not a powerful state, in fact Italy fell into a lot of
debt due to the expense of the wars which enabled it to be unified. Italy
lacked an education system, a functional army and a navy. Moreover, many people
in Italy spoke dialect as opposed to Italian. This is called the questione
della lingua. As the Italian state was divided into different vernaculars and
local dialects there was much debate between scholars as to which vernacular
would succeed and be the best to use for literary works. In the end, the
Archaic Tuscan overruled due to the many Tuscan works that already existed.

 

Finally,
after the Lateran agreements in 1929, the ‘Roman question’ was resolved. The
agreements concluded that the Papacy had to be seen as sovereign over the
Vatican City State. In exchange, the Italian Kingdom was sovereign and Rome was
its capital city.

 

In
conclusion, there were many protagonists, ideas and events which lead to the
final unification process of Italy. Formed only 150 years ago. Despite its
occupation from many parts of Europe such as France, Britain, Russia and
Austria tearing the country apart by creating great disorder and chaos. There
were significant figures such as Mazzini who was in the end considered the
“spirit” of Italy’s unification, Garibaldi who was described as the “sword”,
Cavour described as the “brain” and many others who all desired the same end
goal for their country, unification and independence from all its occupants.
Moreover, with the help of the movements such as the ‘Young Italy’ (lead by
Mazzini), the country began to become nationalistic and started to realise that
a unified Italy would mean more freedoms for the country. Despite not being
successful at first, there was great fight and struggle to unify the country
once and for all.