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Italy in the 1870s


battles of Magenta and Solferino
battles of Magenta and Solferino

On March 17, 1861, the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, with Victor Emmanuel II as its constitutional king and Cavour as prime minister. Italy, however, was not complete; the pope continued to govern in Rome and Venice remained under Austrian control. Cavour, who planned for their peaceful inclusion, died in June. The Italian government wished to move cautiously because the European powers, especially France, were prepared to guarantee the pope’s sovereignty over Rome. Garibaldi and other nationalists were impatient, and Garibaldi went to Sicily in 1862 to relaunch a march on Rome. Fearing French intervention, the Italian government denounced Garibaldi. After Garibaldi landed in Calabria, the troops of Victor Emmanuel blocked his advance. While trying to break through, Garibaldi was seriously wounded and compelled to surrender in August 1862.

In 1866 Italy became the ally of Prussia in the Seven Weeks’ War against Austria. Following the Prussian victory, Italy acquired Venice. Rome still remained elusive. In 1867 Garibaldi and his followers attempted another attack, but this was repulsed with very heavy casualties by French and papal troops at Mentana. Italian troops were able to enter Rome only after the Prussians defeated Napoleon III at the Battle of Sedan in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. Pope Pius IX abandoned the city and crossed the Tiber River to the Vatican, where he remained a self-styled prisoner. In July 1871 Rome became the capital of a united Italy. In response Pius IX excommunicated Victor Emanuel, denounced the new state as the work of the devil, and instructed Catholics not to hold office or participate in politics. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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