Simultaneously with this political action by Cavour, from the Crimean war to the alliance with France, a movement of public opinion takes place in Italy which is increasingly oriented towards the monarchy with a unitary program. The very sacrifice of Carlo Alberto in Novara, which had brought the monarchy and revolution closer together, the loyal Italian conduct of Vittorio Emanuele II, which drew many of the revolutionaries into the orbit of the constitutional monarchy; the Italian political work of Cavour, in the Paris congress, which aroused enthusiasm: the action itself in Turin, asylum for emigrants, moral center of the nation, and finally the passion of enlightened patriots ready to sacrifice everything for the unity and independence. Thus arose that Italian National Society, of which Daniele Manin was the creator and animator since 1955, and whose motto was: “Italy and Vittorio Emanuele”.
On January 18, 1959 in Turin the speech of the crown sounded a war ring amid the enthusiasm of the Italians. Except that just then the London and Petersburg cabinets worked to prevent the war with the proposal to resolve the Italian question in a congress of powers. Napoleon III could not help but put the best in a bad situation, and accepted the proposal. Those days from March to April were terrible for the Count of Cavour, who saw all his work thus undone. Luckily it was Austria that threw the congress proposal upside down, since before accepting that proposal he wanted Piedmont to disarm; and to this end on April 23 he sent an ultimatum , giving the peremptory term of three days.
It was the war, the war caused by Austria; and the provocation, according to the Piedmont treaty with France, obliged France to intervene. On 29 April the Austrians, commanded by Giulay, passed the Ticino, and advanced as far as Chivasso, but were stopped in their march by the flooding of the low and marshy land of the Sesia. In the meantime, the conjunction of the French army with the Piedmontese took place. The battles of Montebello and Palestro misled Giulay, who believed he had the whole army in front of him, nor did he realize that a large part of the allied army had already passed through Lombardy.
On June 4, the victory of Magenta freed Lombardy; and four days later Vittorio Emanuele II and Napoleon III entered Milan victorious. In the meantime Garibaldi won the Austrians in San Fermo (May 27), entered Como, and continued to Brescia, fought at Tre Ponti (June 15), and continued victorious in Valtellina. The Austrian army, having received reinforcements, had strengthened on the right of the Mincio and on the heights of Solferino and S. Martino. The allies, after bloody assaults, victoriously drove the Austrians from those heights, and then laid siege to Peschiera.
According to countryvv, the hopes of the imminent liberation of the Veneto were suddenly broken by the armistice marked by the two emperors in Villafranca on 11 July. According to the pacts of the armistice, Lombardy was ceded to Napoleon III, so that he in turn ceded it to Vittorio Emanuele; the two emperors undertook to favor the formation of a federation of Italian states under the honorary presidency of the pope, and of which the emperor of Austria would be a part, as sovereign of the Veneto. Great was the indignation of the Italians at the news of the armistice; and Cavour was very agitated, who advised the king not to accept it. The king did not follow the advice; and Cavour resigned. Napoleon had breached the agreement; he, it was said, was induced to such a decision by the news that came to him from France, where a current was hostile to his Italian politics and because of the news that came to him from Prussia, where a mobilization, it was said, was preparing to march towards the Rhine. But other news, no less effective, then acted on Napoleon’s decision. From April to June the Duchies, the Legations, Romagna and Tuscany proclaimed that they wanted to unite with Piedmont. The movement, although repressed at the time, was already extending to the Marches and Umbria. Thus, the development of the war in Lombardy appeared to be the prelude to the formation of a great Italian state, larger and more powerful than that desired by Napoleon. The events took hold of those who believed they could dominate them, since – and this is the mistake of Napoleon III – the Italian question was not decided, as in the past, only between two great powers at war, with or without little Piedmont, nor was it resolved only in the congresses of the powers; another factor was now acting: Italy. It then revealed itself in the conduct of the populations who at the beginning of the war had freed themselves from the old governments in Parma, Modena, Bologna and Florence and had acclaimed Vittorio Emanuele, who had sent there his royal commissioners. Vittorio Emanuele, accepting the armistice pacts, had to withdraw the royal commissioners, but then the populations elected their own dictators, and prepared the weapons to oppose any attempt to restore the deposed sovereigns. All the intrigues of separate kingdoms with French princes were fought by the will of the people, who wanted to be the arbiter of their own fate. Mazzini, contrary to the Franco-Piedmontese alliance, once the war broke out, argued the need to expand it,Italianize it, to “accept the military leadership of today for this purpose”. The breakout of the national movement, part of the program of unity with the Savoy monarchy, upset Napoleon’s plans for an Italian federation, within the orbit of French influence. British politics acted effectively against those designs for its interests in the Mediterranean. Up until April 1959 England, a friend of Austria, had tried to prevent the war; after the Austrian defeats he feared that France would succeed in dominating Italy. England therefore welcomed the formation of a strong Italian state, to which Piedmont seemed to be heading with the annexations, and which France opposed because it could not easily exercise its protection there.