With the downfall of the Roman Empire, the glorious sun of Italy began to set down. During the fifth century Italy was divided into small pieces.
Due to foreign invasions and the conflict between the king and Pope. Italy began to divide into small pieces.
Taking the advantage of this, France and Austria occupied many portions of Italy.
Napoleon occupied the small states of Italy and formed a vast Italian Empire. Metternich, the great diplomat of Austria said, ‘Italy is nothing more than a geographical expression’. But later on the great persons like Mazzini, Garibaldi and Cavour rose in the political horizon of Italy who united Italy and formed the nation State.
The Position of Italy in the Vienna Settlement:
After the downfall of Napoleon the ‘Congress of Vienna’ was convened in 1815. According to this Congress, ‘Lombardy’ and ‘Venetia’, the two prosperous states of Italy were given to Austria. The provinces of ‘Parma’, ‘Modena’, ‘Tuscany’ were ruled by the Austrian Princess. Rome was ruled by the Pope. The Bourbon dynasty ruled over Naples and Sicily ‘Piedmont’ and ‘Sardinia’ were ruled by the Savoy dynasty. The national unity of Italy was dissolved by the system of the Vienna Congress.
The Carbonari Movement:
The nationalists of Italy could not tolerate the injustice made by the Vienna Settlement to their state. They were annoyed with the dominating activities of the newly established rulers. So, the government employees and the soldiers of the middle class formed a Secret Committee was named as the ‘Carbonari Committee’.
The Carbonaries agreed to unite Italy into one nation state. The Carbonaries organised a revolt against king Ferdinand IV in Naples. They demanded the liberal constitution of Spain. In 1821 Austria sent his army and defeated the Carbonaries in the battle of Reiti.
On the return journey, this army also defeated the revolutionaries at piedmont in the battle of Novara. In 1830-31 Austria also crushed the revolts at Parma and Modena. The Carbonaries bitterly failed in their first attempt but this paved the way for the unification of Italy.
Mazzini and the young Italy Movement:
Joseph Mazzini blew the first trumpet of Italian unification. He was born in Genoa in 1805. He joined the Carbonari Committee in his childhood in order to liberate his motherland. He played an active role in the Carbonari Movement and was imprisoned in the Savona fort. After his release from the prison he established a revolutionary organisation of the youth of Italy, which was called the ‘Young Italy’.
The main object of this organisation was to arouse the political consciousness of the people who lived in different parts of Italy. Men below 40 years joined this party and had to contribute 50 percent of their income to the party fund. Each member had to provide a dagger, a rifle and fifty bullets. The Slogan of this party was-“God, the people and Italy”.
By 1833 there were as many as 60,000 members of this party. Having great faith on the Youth Mazzini told that Italians could unite Italy one day. Mazzini had a profound faith on God and dreamt to construct a bridge of equality between religion and politics. His speech and writings encouraged the people of Italy.
It created a flame of patriotism among the Italians. In 1843 the “Young Italy’ revolted in Sicily but failed in its mission. But in 1848 by the revolt of this party in Naples king, Ferdinand granted a constitution to Sicily. In course of time the fame of Mazzini increased. In the whole of Italy he was regarded as an angel.
In due course of time the patriots of ‘Young Italy Party joined the ‘Red Shirts’ of Garibaldi. Under the leadership of Mazzini, the republicans of Rome revolted against the pope and abdicated him from the throne. But later on, France sent army to Rome and destroyed the Roman Republics established by Mazzini and re-established the Pope in Rome.
By this, the dream of Mazzini to unite the whole of Italy was scattered into pieces. But his clarion call ‘Italy is one Country and the Italians are one Caste’ paved the way for the unification of Italy.
Piedmont Sardinia and Victor Emanuel II:
The people of Tuscany dismissed their ruler Leopold and established a republican government there. The revolt also broke out in Florence. Austria marched forward to suppress the revolts. With, the request of the people, Charles Albert the king of Piedmont-Sardinia declared war against Austria.
In 1849 he was defeated by Austria. He was so much disappointed that he abdicated the throne. At this critical juncture his son Victor Emanuel II ascended the throne of Piedmont- Sardinia. With him a new era began in the formation of Italy as a nation state. With the help of his Prime Minister Cavour and Commander Garibaldi he marched forward for the unification of Italy and became successful.
Whose brain was always active for the unification of Italy, he was Count Camille de Cavour. His ‘Resorgimento’ or the Revival Movement paved the way for the unification of Italy. He was born in 1810 in a royal family of Piedmont. After receiving defence education, he joined the army. But due to his liberal opinions he resigned from his post.
In 1848 he encouraged Piedmont to declare a war against Austria. He realised that the unification of Italy could be possible only by Piedmont-Sardinia. He was appointed as the Advisor of King Victor Emanuel II in order to make Piedmont an ideal state.
He took measure for the development of agriculture and for increasing the number of soldiers in the army. As a great diplomat Cavour joined the Crimean War. He also made an alliance with King Napoleon III of France and declared war against Austria. He played an important role for the formation of Italy as a nation state.