1848 to 1870 the Unification of Italy

The creation of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of concerted efforts of Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula. After the Revolutions of 1848, the apparent leader of the Italian unification movement was Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was popular amongst southern Italians and in the world was renowned for his extremely loyal followers.

Garibaldi led the Italian republican drive for unification in southern Italy, but the northern Italian monarchy of the House of Savoy in the Kingdom of Sardinia, a de facto Piedmontese state, whose government was led by Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour, also had ambitions of establishing a united Italian state. Though the kingdom had no physical connection to Rome (seen by all as the natural capital of Italy, but still capital of the Papal States), the kingdom had successfully challenged Austria in the Second Italian War of Independence, liberating Lombardy-Venetia from Austrian rule. The kingdom also had established important alliances which helped it improve the possibility of Italian unification, such as Britain and the Second French Empire in the Crimean War.

Sardinia was dependent on France being willing to protect it and in 1860, Sardinia was forced to cede territory to France to maintain relations, including Garibaldi's birthplace Nice. Cavour moved to challenge republican unification efforts by Garibaldi by organizing popular revolts in the Papal States. He used these revolts as a pretext to invade the country, even though the invasion angered the Catholics, whom he told that the invasion was an effort to protect the Roman Catholic Church from the anti-clerical secularist nationalist republicans of Garibaldi. Only a small portion of the Papal States around Rome remained in the control of Pope Pius IX.

Despite their differences, Cavour agreed to include Garibaldi's Southern Italy allowing it to join the union with Piedmont-Sardinia in 1860. Subsequently the Parliament declared the creation of the Kingdom of Italy on February 18, 1861 (officially proclaiming it on March 17, 1861) composed of both Northern Italy and Southern Italy. King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont-Sardinia from the House of Savoy was then declared King of Italy, though he did not renumber himself with the assumption of the new title. This title had been out of use since the abdication of Napoleon I of France on April 6, 1814. , the first King of the united Italy.

Following the unification of most of Italy, tensions between the monarchists and republicans erupted. In April 1861, Garibaldi entered the Italian parliament and challenged Cavour's leadership of the government, accusing him of dividing Italy and spoke of the threat of civil war between the Kingdom in the north and Garibaldi's forces in the south. On June 6, 1861, the Kingdom's strongman Cavour died. During the ensuing political instability, Garibaldi and the republicans became increasingly revolutionary in tone. Garibaldi's arrest in 1862 set off worldwide controversy.

In 1866 Otto von Bismarck, Minister President of Prussia offered Victor Emmanuel II an alliance with the Kingdom of Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War. In exchange Prussia would allow Italy to annex Austrian controlled Venice. King Emmanuel agreed to the alliance and the Third Italian War of Independence began. Italy fared poorly in the war with a badly organized military against Austria, but Prussia's victory allowed Italy to annex Venice.

The one major obstacle to Italian unity remained Rome. In 1870, Prussia went to war with France starting the Franco-Prussian War. To keep the large Prussian Army at bay, France abandoned its positions in Rome - which protected the remnants of the Papal States and Pius IX - in order to fight the Prussians. Italy benefited from Prussia's victory against France by being able to take over the Papal States from French authority. Rome was captured by the kingdom of Italy after several battles and guerilla-like warfare by Papal Zouaves and official troops of the Holy See against the Italian invaders.

Italian unification was completed, and shortly afterward Italy's capital was moved to Rome. Economic conditions in the united Italy were poor. There were no industry or transportation facilities, extreme poverty (especially in the Mezzogiorno), high illiteracy, and only a small percent of wealthy Italians had the right to vote. The unification movement had largely been dependent on the support of foreign powers and remained so afterwards. Following the capture of Rome in 1870 from French forces of Napoleon III, Papal troops, and Zouaves, relations between Italy and the Vatican remained sour for the next sixty years with the Popes declaring themselves to be prisoners in the Vatican. The Catholic Church frequently protested the actions of the secular and anticlerical-influenced Italian governments, refused to meet with envoys from the King and urged Catholics not to vote in Italian elections. It would not be until 1929, that positive relations would be restored between the Kingdom of Italy and the Vatican after the signing of the Lateran Pacts.

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