The Formation of the Kingdom of Italy Part III

By | February 9, 2022

Cavour, when he returned to power in January 1960, and was completely absorbed by that unified national movement, was immediately able to treasure this Anglo-French antagonism on the Italian question. Napoleon III then abandons the designs conceived since Plombières, and seeks to have compensation. In order to have Nice, as well as Savoy, he was not interested in the fate of central Italy, which united with the plebiscites in Piedmont. The unitary national movement then had its martyrs in Sicily. Already in ’56 Francesco Bentivegna, an ardent Mazzinian, was shot with the cry of “Viva l’Italia”; Mazzini’s propaganda swept the remains of separatism, which in 1948 was still deep in the Sicilian consciousness. In 1958 the National Society had the Sicilian La Farina as its secretary.

On 6 May he left Genoa with 1100 volunteers. He landed in Marsala on 11 May, and four days later he won the first battle in Calatafimi. He then continued his march and, deceiving the enemy, entered Palermo fighting on 27 May. According to topschoolsintheusa, the valor of his volunteers and his genius as a strategist would not have obtained the triumph without the help of the Sicilian people, who had all risen against the Bourbons. On 20 July Garibaldi won the bitter battle of Milazzo, and thus had opened the way to Messina. He then prepared to cross the strait: the unification of Italy was now on the way. It was the path that Napoleon wanted to stop, trying to save the Bourbon, advising him to grant the constitution, and inviting England to prevent Garibaldi’s landing on the peninsula. England refused, declaring that he would protest if the French team acted in Sicilian waters. Thus Garibaldi on 20 August was able to easily cross the strait. The young king of Naples, Francesco II, witnessed the collapse of the state in Naples as news of Garibaldi’s victories and his triumphal march through Naples arrived. Francesco II had happened in May 1959 to Ferdinand II. He had been advised, and still in time, by the prince of Satriano, to immediately grant the constitution and to ally himself with Piedmont. He did not want to, and did not realize that neither inside nor outside the kingdom could he find the strength to fight against the national movement. Garibaldi entered Naples on 7 September, and a few days earlier Francesco II had retired to the fortress of Gaeta. The troops who remained loyal to him were, however, still animated to fight, and strengthened themselves on the Volturno line. On 2 October Garibaldi won the battle of the Volturno. The army, defeated, took shelter in the valid fortress of Gaeta, which on the side of the sea had the tacit support of the French team.

Despite Garibaldi’s victories, the situation was threatening with dangers: neither was the question only military, but political and very difficult, both in international relations and in relations with the Savoy monarchy. The Neapolitan national movement had been pushed by the revolution and the Garibaldian war; in vain emissaries from Cavour and the National Society had tried to stir up a movement in Naples in favor of Vittorio Emanuele before Garibaldi’s entry. Republicans acted around Garibaldi who could have prevailed, and who considered Naples a stage in the march on Rome; which would have resulted in a war against France, which had its militias in Rome. Cavour foresaw all this in September and skilfully provided, drawing elements in his favor from the same political situation. In Rome, an enemy of Napoleon III, General Lamoricière and a fanatic legitimist, Saverio De Merode, had pushed the pope, in the pain of the loss of the Legations, to call in volunteers in his defense. Rome thus became the center of a true legitimist revival, a new and great Vendée, where Catholic nobles from Belgium, Ireland and France gathered, ready to fight for the defense of the Church and legitimism. The ranks of papal volunteers were a cause for concern not only for Vittorio Emanuele, but also for Napoleon, who was irritated that Rome was the center of Bourbon legitimacy. Therefore Napoleon III did not oppose theultimatum that Cavour on 7 September ordered the cardinal secretary of state for the dissolution of the ranks of papal volunteers. Upon refusal, the royal army crossed the border, the Lamoricière won on 18 September, which closed in Ancona. Ancona surrendered on September 28th. The advance of Vittorio’s army in the Marches, to proceed therefore in the Neapolitan area, was a daring and dangerous act: Austria could have attacked and reconquered Lombardy. That danger nevertheless saw Cavour being able to deal with the whole nation, with the king’s army and with the revolutionary forces of Garibaldi and Mazzini; nor would France have been neutral. In short, that danger of Austria’s attack on Lombardy appeared to be less than that of a development of the Garibaldi movement in the Neapolitan area under republican action and pushed towards a march on Rome and an inevitable war against France. Napoleon himself, to whom that republican danger and that threat to Rome were envisaged by Cavour, ended up allowing, as he had done before, the intervention of Vittorio’s army in the Neapolitan area. Cavour’s policy thus managed to keep Napoleon and the pope and the republican party around Garibaldi in check. The intervention of the army with Vittorio Emanuele in the Neapolitan area hastened the plebiscite, and gave the necessary weapons for the siege of Gaeta. On 26 October Vittorio Emanuele and Garibaldi met, and on 7 November they entered Naples together, where the king received the votes of the plebiscite that united southern Italy to his kingdom. On February 13, the fortress of Gaeta surrendered. On February 18, 1861 the parliament met in Turin with the deputies of Naples, Sicily, Umbria and the Marches; on 17 March the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed under the monarchy of Vittorio Emanuele II. A few days later, on March 27, Cavour in a memorable speech to Parliament affirmed that he could not conceive of Italy constituted in unity without Rome being its capital, and added: “We have the right, indeed the duty to ask, to to insist that Rome be united with Italy, because without Rome, the capital of Italy, Italy cannot be established “.

The great minister died three months later (June 6, 1861); Italy was losing its greatest statesman.

The Formation of the Kingdom of Italy 3