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Italian Unification Essay

1629 words - 7 pages

How was Italy restored in 1815 by the congress of Vienna? What were the obstacles preventing unification?

In 1815 a congress was held in Vienna it was a meeting of the main leaders on Western Europe. The idea of the conference was set up with the idea to sort out on going disputes (and disputes that had ended but needed resolving) in central Europe.

The congress was held in Austria one of the largest powers in Europe at the time. Being in Austria, the meeting was chaired by the Austrian chancellor Klemens Wenzel von Metternich (often known as just Metternich). The main Negotiations were between the ‘Big Four’ these countries being the most powerful countries in Europe at the time. ...view middle of the document...

In fact it was split up into the same states as it was before Napoleonic conquest with a few minor differences.

Italy was divided into these separate states
• The Papal States
• The Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont - Nice, Savoy and Genoa
• The Duchies of Parma, Lucca and Piacenza
• The Kingdom of the two Sicily’s – Naples and Sicily
• The Habsburg Kingdom of Lombardo-Venetia
• Tuscany
Separate rulers ran all of these states often with contrasting or even opposite views. This was part of the plan by the Congress of Vienna to completely halt all plans of unification, as the rulers were not in any way going to work with each other leaving the peasants and commoners to unite the country. They had little confidence in this happening as the lower classes were main illiterate and would not be able to organise anything other than a small riot or uprising which could easily crushed with the help of Austrian forces which would be on stand by.

There are many obstacles preventing the unification of Italy at this time.
Possibly the most significant Problems was Austria’s huge influence in the running of most of the states in Italy especially since the congress of Vienna during which France lost much of its influence in Italy which was made up for by even more Austrian control. Some of the control was direst such as in Lombardy and Venetia, which became part of the Austrian empire. It was chosen, as it was the most affluent and richest part of Italy this allowed the Austrians make lots of money including a quarter of the taxes for the whole of the Austrian empire. Another method of control was in states such as the duchies, which were ruled by members of the Austrian royal family.

But also the control was indirect such as in The Papal States in which the Austrians (a major catholic country) had an influence on the then pope. In The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies the king had signed a treaty with the Austrian government and ruler stating that ‘No change may take place in the government or governing of The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies without the consent of the Austrian leaders’. So they pretty much ran Sicily as well. They also had indirect control in the state of Piedmont in which the rulers were directly related to the then Austrian royal family, which meant they had a huge influence in the running of the state. Summing up the Austrian influence, they essentially had some form of control in every state in Italy, which lead them to either through direct or indirect methods to control the whole of the peninsula.

Another Important obstacle halting unification was the individual ruler of the states. They knew that the unification of the Italian peninsula would mean they would no longer have power. They knew that if it went well for they could end up as rich nobles but if it happened in a revolutionary way they were likely to end up exiled, imprisoned for life or even dead. For these reasons they decided it...

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