Italy under Prime Minister Agostino Depretis

1861-1875 - Peasant rebellions, known as brigandaggio, take place in Southern Italy against the Piedmontese ’conquest’. The new state levies heavy taxes and imposes compulsory military conscription.

1866 - Third War of independence. Italy allies itself with Prussia at war with Austria for the control of Germany. The Italian army is defeated at Custoza on land and at Lissa on the sea. Prussia, however, defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks’ War, and Venice becomes as a result part of Italy. The cities of Trento and Trieste and their surrounding regions remain part of the Austrian Empire till the end of the First World War in 1918.

1870 - War between Napoleon III of France and Prussia. The French troops defending the temporal power of the Pope are recalled to France from Rome. Italy takes advantage of the occasion to occupy the Eternal City. General Lamarmora and his bersaglieri enter the city at Porta Pia and annex the city to the Kingdom of Italy.

1872 - Giuseppe Mazzini, who had returned from exile, dies in Pisa under a false identity.

1876: Parliamentary revolution. Liberal centre-right governments come to an end. They are replaced by left-leaning ones. Lombard Agostino Depretis and Sicilian Francesco Crispi are the most representative figures of the ‘sinistra storica’ and are in charge of the political life.

1878 - King Victor Emmanuel II dies. His son Umberto I inherits his throne.

Depretis is the inventor of transformism: the capacity to gain support of all political forces in Parliament, by giving the impression of introducing reforms, without affecting the privileges of the industrial bourgeoisie in the North and landowners in the South.

1882: Depretis introduces electoral reform. He lowers to 21 years, the age to have the right to vote and reduces from 40 to 20 lira (old form of Italian currency) of annual taxation the required proof of property.

1882 - Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had retired in the small Sardinian Island of Caprera, dies

1887: Depretis pursues protectionist policies and introduces stiff custom duties in the textile, steel and building industries. Taxes are imposed on the import of cereals, resulting in the increasing cost of bread and pasta, basic staples in common people’s diet. Protectionism sets the ground and favours the industrial development in Northern Italy.

1882: In foreign policy, the most important initiative is Italy’s entry into the Triple Alliance with Austria and Germany. The treaty is renewed every five years until 1912. It guarantees territorial concessions (Trento and Trieste are still dominated by the Austrians) in case of Austrian territorial expansions in the Balkans.

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