How likely was Italian unification before 1848?

by Ben Alford

Italy, segmented and mostly under foreign control, The 3 big powers (Russia Prussia andAustria) wanting to keep everything the same as laid out by theViennasettlement. Metternich wanted to halt the rise of Nationalism throughout “Italy”. But on the other hand there were people like Mazzini, a chief promoter of nationalism, working tirelessly for the struggling cause of nationalism.

The way Italy was split up was one large cause as to why, unification looked so far away, all states ruled by different monarchs, all mainly reactionary as shown by King Victor Emanuel I When he returned to Piedmont, he set about turning the clock back to pre-Napoleonic times, one such example was the removal of all non-noble officers from army, Which to begin with, shows lack of toleration for any sort of change within certain states, mainly Piedmont, Naples and The Papal States.

The pope was a reactionary, The papal states which he controlled were seen as the most backward of all the states, He as the leader of the main religion In Italy, had the power to deem blasphemous anything which he did not agree with, and the general people would not fight for a cause which the had deemed almost blasphemous, They could fight and die for a cause which would not really affect them anyway, and end up in hell as the pope said it was against gods wishes, Most would not even think it. Another major factor aimed against unification, possibly one of the most powerful factors. With all these factors working against them how could unification even be thought of?

The people, who kept the dream of Italian unification alive, were the “revolutionary’s” the secret societies of Mazzini, Like the carbonari, There were carbonari branches in all the Italian states, their ranks were filled with middle classes such as officers and lawyers, its was rarely heard of a peasant in their ranks, they went on secret missions to further their cause of nationalism, partaking in assassination attempts against anyone Mazzini did not like. Their were other great thinkers too, Balbo, all contributed to the cause of nationalism. Spreading their ideas wherever they went.

The revolutions of 1820 also caused major support for the nationalist cause, They started in Naples, where king Ferdinand greatly increased the churches power to censor books, thus upsetting the middle classes as freedom of speech was being made Impossible, the news of the Spanish revolution sparked it all off, A constitution was granted, but subject to change at a later date, Metternich was concerned that the revolutions were so successful, so he sent troops to quash the revolutions. And savage reprisals were handed out to all involved, the other revolutions failed due to lack of co-ordination from the secret societies and also the use of Austrian military might. They also lacked popular support.

Foreign intervention was another major factor in the reasons forItalynot getting unified. MainlyAustriaand their links with most of the monarchs, also Metternich himself seemed to hate the idea of change, and that everything should stay the same as in theViennasettlement.Austria’s military might would play a part though-out history, but how-ever some believed that with foreign intervention, that they could beat the Austrian army.

So in finishing, With all these factors fighting against them, and only ideas and a few brave men fighting for the cause, and refusal to use a popular revolt, all these eventually overwhelmed the at first successful revolts, but even though they were successful they never worked together for a common cause, and as such they were crushed individually, with no real effort, i

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