Cavour unites ItalyWhile nationalism destroyed empires, it also built nations. Italy was one of the
countries to form from the territory of crumbling empires. Between 1815 and 1848, fewer and fewer Italians were content to live under foreign rulers.
Cavour leads Italian unificationCavour Leads Italian Unification Italian nationalists looked for leadership from
the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, the largest and most powerful of the Italian states.
The kingdom had adopted a liberal constitution in 1848. So, to the liberal Italian
middle classes, unification under Piedmont-Sardinia seemed a good plan.
Garibaldi brings unityAs Cavour
was uniting northern Italy, he secretly
started helping nationalist rebels in
southern Italy. In May 1860, a small
army of Italian nationalists led by a
bold and visionary soldier, Giuseppe
Garibaldi (GAR•uh• BAWL•dee),
Internal debate for CavourThe administrative structure and tax codes of the old Kingdom of Sardinia were extended to apply to the entire nation. Cavour felt that, for the moment, it was best to present a unified nation to the rest of Europe. Debate and factionalism might have destroyed the unity that he had worked so hard to achieve. Internal debate, he felt, could come later. This decision caused a rift between the northern and southern regions of Italy, as the south resented the dominance of leaders from the north.
Garibaldi's forcesFrom Sicily, Garibaldi and his
forces crossed to the Italian mainland
and marched north. Eventually,
Garibaldi agreed to unite the southern
areas he had conquered with
the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.
The big warWhen France declared war on Prussia in 1870, occupying French troops abandoned Rome. This left the pope undefended, and the Italian army immediately marched in to complete the unification process. Rome, once the center and apex of Classical civilization, had enormous symbolic importance to the Italians, and it was immediately named the new Italian capital city.