Italian and German Unification study guide chapters summary



Italian and German Unification study guide chapters summary


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Italian and German Unification study guide chapters summary

Italian Unification

  • Italian Unification
    • After collapse of revolutions of 1848-49, unification movement in Italy shifted to Sardinia-Piedmont under King Victor Emmanuel, Count Cavour and Garibaldi
      • Replaced earlier leaders Mazzini, the once-liberal Pope Pius IX, and Gioberti.
      • Realpolitik instead of romanticism for unification: Machiavellian approach—practical politics


    • Count Camillo Benso di Cavour (1810-1861) of Sardinia-Piedmont led the struggle for Italian unification
      • Served as King Victor Emmanuel’s prime minister between 1852 and 1861
  • Essentially a moderate nationalist and aristocratic liberal
      • Replaced the earlier failed unification revolutionaries such as Mazzini and the Young Italy Movement.
      • Did not employ romantic illusions of a unified Italy (such as those of Mazzini) but rather carried out realpolitik
      • Editor of Il Risorgimento, a newspaper arguing Sardinia should be the foundation of a new unified Italy.
      • Guided Sardinia-Piedmont into a liberal and economically viable state
          • Modeled on French constitution of 1830: some civil liberties, parliamentary gov't with elections and parliamentary control of taxes.
          • Reformed the judicial system
          • Built up infrastructure (roads, canals, ports)
          • The Law on Convents and Siccardi Law sought to reduce the influence of the Catholic Church.
          • In response, Pope Pius IX issued his Syllabus of Errors(1864) warning Catholics against liberalism, rationalism, socialism, separation of church and state, and religious liberty.
  • Also a response to France’s secularization of education during the same period
      • Cavour sought unity for the northern and central areas of Italy
          • 1855,  joined Britain and France in the Crimean War against Russia (as a result, gained France as an ally)
          • Plombiérès (1859)
  • Cavour gained a promise from Napoleon III that France would support a Sardinian war with Austria for the creation of a northern Italian kingdom (controlled by Sardinia)
        • Sardinia would annex a number of Italian states such as Venice, Lombardy, Parma, Modena and part of the Papal States
        • In return, France would get Savoy and Nice
        • Austria declared war on Sardinia in  1859 after being provoked
    • Unification
      • Sardinia-Piedmont gained Lombardy (but not Venetia) as a result of its 1859 war with  Austria
                • France briefly came to Sardinia’s aid in 1859
                • Yet, France soon backed away from Plombiérès agreement: fear of war with Prussia, Austria’s strength in military power, revolutionary unrest in northern Italy, and French public's concern over a war with Catholic Austria.
      • 1860, Cavour arranged the annexation of Parma, Modena, Romagna, and Tuscany into Sardinia
  • France supported Cavour in return for receiving the territories of Nice and Savoy
      • Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) liberated southern Italy and Sicily.
          • Garibaldi exemplified the romantic nationalism of Mazzini and earlier Young Italy revolutionaries.
          • May 1860, Garibaldi and his thousand Red Shirts landed in Sicily and extended the nationalist activity to the south
          • By September, Garibaldi took control of Naples and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
  • Although Cavour distrusted Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel II encouraged Garibaldi’s exploits in the south of Italy
        • Cavour insisted that Sardinia be the foundation of the Italian nation.
          • Garibaldi thus allowed his conquests to be absorbed into Sardinia-Piedmont
      • February 1861, Victor Emmanuel declared King of Italy and presided over an Italian Parliament which represented all of Italy except for Rome and Venice.
      • 1866, Venice was incorporated into Italian Kingdom as a result of an alliance with German chancellor Bismarck
        • Sardinia had agreed to open up a front against Austria during the Austro-Prussian War (1866) in return for its annexation of Venice.
      • 1871, Rome captured by Italian troops and became capital of Kingdom of Italy
        • France had just been defeated by Germany in the Franco-Prussian war and could no longer defend the Papal States
    • Though politically unified, a great social and cultural gap separated the progressive, industrializing north from the stagnant, agrarian south


German Unification

German Unification under the Hohenzollerns

    • After 1815 Prussia emerged as an alternative to a Habsburg-based Germany
      • 1849, Austria had blocked the attempt of Frederick William IV of Prussia to unify Germany “from above”

a. This was known as the “Humiliation of Olmutz”
b. Thus, the "grossdeutsch plan" failed: plan for unified Germany including Prussia and Austria.

      • Zollverein (German customs union), 1734: biggest source of tension between Prussia and Austria.
        • Excluded Austria; Austria thus tried unsuccessfully to destroy it
      • "Kleindeutsch plan": a unified Germany without Austria was seen as the most practicable means of unification among various German states, particularly Prussia.
    • Otto von Bismarck (1810-1898) led the drive for a Prussian-based Hohenzollern Germany
      • Junker background; obsessed with power
      • "Gap theory" gained Bismarck's favor with the king
          • Army Bill Crisis created stalemate between king & legislature over reforms of the army.
          • Bismarck insisted Prussian constitution contained a “gap”: did not mention what was to be done if a stalemate developed.
          • Since the king had granted the constitution, Bismarck insisted he ignore liberals (middle class) in the legislature and follow his own judgment.
        • “The great questions of the day will not be decided by speeches and resolutions—that was the blunder of 1848 and 1849—but by blood and iron.”
        • Gov’t continued to collect taxes even though the parliament refused to approve the budget.
        • Voters countered by sending liberal majorities to the parliament between 1862-1866.
          • Oversaw a number of reforms  that improved the Prussian military


    • Prussian-Danish War, 1863
      • Germany & Austria defeated Denmark and took control of the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein
      • The provinces were jointly administered by Prussia and Austria but conflicts over jurisdiction would lead to a major war between Prussia and Austria
    • Austro-Prussian War (7 Weeks’ War/German Civil War) 1866
      • Bismarck sought a localized war
  • Made diplomatic preparations for war with Austria by negotiating with France, Italy, and Russia for noninterference
      • Prussia’s use of railroads to mass troops and use of the breech-loading rifle proved superior to Austria’s military efforts.
      • Prussia’s victory unified much of Germany without Austria.
          • The “kleindeutsch plan” prevailed
          • Austria was given generous peace terms
          • Italy received Venice from Austria
    • 1867, the North German Confederation established by Bismarck with King William I as president.
      • Included all the German states except Baden, Wurttemberg, Bavaria, and Saxony
      • The federal constitution allowed each state to retain its own local government
      • The parliament (Reichstag) consisted of two houses that shared power equally.
          • The upper house (bundesrat) included representatives from each state
          • The lower house (bundestag) had representatives elected by universal male suffrage
      • The new gov’t structure gave Bismarck the ability to circumvent the middle-class by appealing directly to the working classes (as Napoleon III had done in France)
  • Thus, the German middle class did not regain its influence until World War I
    • Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)
      • Ems Dispatch
        • Bismarck sought to provoke a war with France in order to further unify Germany and annex Alsace and Lorraine
        • Thus, Bismarck boasted that a French diplomat had been kicked out of Germany after asking William I not to interfere with the succession to the Spanish throne.
  • The alleged snub was exaggerated by Bismarck intentionally in order to provoke France.
        • An infuriated France declared war against Germany
      • Bismarck used the war with France to bring 4 remaining southern German states into the North German Confederation
  • Bavaria, Baden, Wurttemberg, and Saxony
      • The apparent ease with which Prussia defeated France sent shockwaves throughout Europe.
      • Paris fell to the Germans in January, 1871: Napoleon III was captured
  • The battles of Sedan and Metz were particularly decisive in Prussia’s victory.
      • Treaty of Frankfurt (May, 1871): Alsace and Lorraine ceded to Germany


    • The German Empire was proclaimed on January 18, 1871 (Germany now the most powerful nation in Europe)
      • William I became Emperor of Germany (Kaiser Wilhelm)
      • Bismarck became the Imperial Chancellor.
      • Bavaria, Baden, Wurttemberg, and Saxony were incorporated into the German Empire
      • The German Empire’s government was essentially the same federal structure established in 1866.
  • In reality, the Reichstag had little power as the German Empire became a conservative autocracy with the nobility allied with the monarch.





Pointy Hat





































Napoleon III and Bismarck
Following the battle of Sedan











Congress of Vienna created German Confederation, c39 states, kept weaker than Austria by Austrian chief minister Metternich.


Prussian Customs Union created, abolishing internal tariffs in Prussia and allowing her to develop her economy.

Prussia’s economy grows


Carlsbad Decrees – laws used by Metternich to restrict press and University freedoms, stopping spread of nationalist ideas.


Zollverein created – a customs union of German states (not including Austria) that eventually allowed Prussia to dominate the German states economically. Started with 18 states.

Failed attempts at Unification


March 13th – Metternich forced to resign in Austria.


March – Frankfurt Parliament agree on a constitution for Germany (‘Kleindeutschland’, without Austria), led by the King of Prussia.
April – Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia rejects the offer of a ‘crown from the gutter’.

Steps to Unifying Germany


Wilhelm I becomes King of Prussia.


Otto von Bismarck made ‘Minister-President’ (Prime Minister/Chancellor) of Prussia.


King Frederick VII of Denmark dies. Bismarck sees an opportunity to gain Schleswig and Holstein.


Jan – Austria and Prussia go to war together against Denmark.
July – Denmark surrenders.


Bismarck provokes disagreements between Austria and Prussia over Holstein.
24th June – Seven Weeks’ War begins between Austria and Prussia.
3rd July – Austria badly defeated by Prussia at Battle of Sadowa.
August – Peace of Prague ends the war.


July – North German Confederation created by Bismarck, made Prussia the most powerful German state. Southern German states (e.g. Bavaria) still follow Austria’s lead.


Feb – Hohenzollern Candidate crisis – Bismarck offends the French by attempting to place Leopold of Hohenzollern (a member of King Wilhelm’s family) on the throne of Spain.
Jul 13th – The Ems Telegram is published, edited by Bismarck to look as if King Wilhelm was rude to the French Ambassador whilst discussing the Spanish throne issue.
July 19th – France declares war – Franco-Prussian War begins.
Sept 1st – French defeated by Prussia at Battle of Sedan, Napoleon III captured.
Oct – French Army surrenders at Metz.
Nov – Southern German states (apart from Austria) agree to join a German Empire, influenced by nationalist excitement.


Jan 18th – German Empire declared in Palace of Versailles – Germany created! Wilhelm I is Kaiser, Bismarck is Chancellor.
Jan 28th – France signs an Armistice ending the war.
May – Treaty of Frankfurt. France gives up Alsace and Lorraine and has to pay Germany £200 million.  (remember this following WWI) 

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Italian and German Unification study guide chapters summary