Italico Valore - A more successful 1848 revolution in Italy - a TL

  • Long time lurker and AH fan, I've finally decided to write my own TL. Enjoy!


    Novara 20 March 1848

    Carlo Alberto di Savoia was seated in his chair, in the royal command tent at the center of Sardinian Army camp. It was early afternoon and while the men practiced, cleaned their weapons and checked their equipment, the king was reading a novel by Gioberti "Of the moral and civil primacy of the Italians" fascinated by the Neoguelfe ideas of the Piedmontese writer, especially those concerning an Italy independent of foreign domination and united.

    This idea played in favor of the mantra of the house of Savoy from the end of the War of Spanish Succession: to expand its domains along the Po valley, to build a strong kingdom in northern Italy wedged between Austria and France and be able to expand its influence to the rest of the peninsula in a Confederal structure such as that proposed by Gioberti, with the other states too weak or backward to resist the military and economic power of the North.

    While his majesty was reading, a few tens of kilometers from the camp the city of Milan was inflamed by a patriotic anti-Austrian revolt, which had been raging for two days now.. Piedmontese spies and patriots in favor of the house of Savoy in the Italian unification had reported to him in a timely, albeit sporadic way, the events in the Lombard-Venetian capital: the most recent news claimed that Marshal Radetzky had repaired his troops in the Castello Sforzesco while the insurgents were rampaging through the city.

    With the Austrians hidden and the patriots now in possession of the city, the situation in northern Italy was changing rapidly. The Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopoldo and the King of Naples, together with the Pope, had expressed varying degrees of support for the nationalist insurrection that was spreading in the Lombardy-Veneto region, but were still hesitating on what to do. The nationalist uprising in Hungary and the liberal one in Vienna had stunned the old empire which seemed to falter under the blows of its minorities and entered a momentary crisis. The Italian states only needed to follow the example of someone brave enough to put themselves at the head of the army that would free the north, but at the same time that someone had to be ambitious (or foolish) enough to challenge a European Great Power such Austria. That someone could have been him, Carlo Alberto, and laid the foundations of the Confederation foreseen by Gioberti years earlier.

    The war council of Milan, made up of rebel leaders such as the podestà, Casati and Carlo Cattaneo, had been in meeting since the 18th by now and had already begun to make weak contact with the Piedmontese authorities in view of their potential intervention in the revolution and, with Piedemontese great surprise, Count Martini, a Milanese patriot and personal friend of the king, arrived at the army camp bringing the news of the Austrian retreat and the stabilization of the situation. The king and Martini had long discussed the possibility of an armed intervention in support of the insurgents who, according to the count, would have been able to drive the Austrians out of the city but would not have been able to keep it when they would inevitably return and that only an intervention by a regular army could have reversed the situation. The two nobles also agreed that the Casati faction, with Mazzinian and anti-Piedmontese sympathies, was by far the strongest and most active in the insurrection and that if he had had a free hand for much longer he could have forced a change at the top revolutionaries and replace the monarchist Casati, endangering the union of Lombardy and Piedmont. The king had dismissed Martini after the interview, telling him that he would take a few hours to think about what to do.

    The solution was clear, obvious. But Carlo Alberto was still hesitating, he was undecided, he didn't know what to do: leading the army against foreigners would have elevated him to the rank of leader of Italian unification but in case of defeat there would have been very little to do besides abdicating and being humiliated . If he had not intervened he would have wasted a unique opportunity and his population would have turned against him for not having at least tried to unite the North. The king was undecided, but every minute that passed convinced him more and more of the need to intervene. At four in the afternoon the king got up from his armchair, put the book between his tomes on the desk and sent for Count Martini and generals Bava and De Sonnaz. The army would have waded through Ticino and would have marched to Lombardy in aid of the insurgents for the Italian cause.
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    During the Piedemontese War Council on March 20 the king and his commanders quickly agreed on an action plan: the rapid advance proposed by Carlo Alberto to catch the Austrians off guard and occupy as much Lombardy as possible to establish a clear position of dominance between the Italian states interested in the insurrection was opposed by Bava's more cautious strategy, which preferred to wait for the outcome of the clashes in Milan and then intervene but in the end the king prevailed, supported by Martini and De Sonnaz. The Piedmontese army would have left at the first light of dawn on the 21st in order to reach Milan in the day and complete the encirclement of the city. Meanwhile, messengers on horseback would be sent before dusk to the Emilian duchies, Tuscany, the two Sicilies and the Papacy, to warn them of the Savoy intentions and to invite them to join the newborn "Italian Army" while the vanguards would have crossed the border and prepared the ground for the arrival of the main contingent

    The following day, the 21st, the king ordered his foreign minister to deliver the declaration of war to the Austrian ambassador in Turin, citing as casus belli the need to intervene in favor of the Italian peoples who claimed their self-determination. At the first light of dawn the army crossed the Ticino, the border line between the Kingdom of Sardinia and Austria, with the feared Piedmontese cavalry at the forefront and began to march towards Milan.

    The night before, a messenger from Count Martini had ridden to the city to report the king's decision and his plans to the War Council (which had now turned into a real provisional government). The Casati faction was enthusiastic, the Cattaneo faction a little less, being convinced of the need to overcome the insurrection on their own in order to be able to deal on equal grounds with the Piedmontese but by now it was done: it no longer made sense to oppose the inevitable therefore it was necessary collaborate with the Savoys to free Lombardy. The situation in Milan was stalled, with the Austrians under siege and the insurgents with numbers but not the weapons to force Radetzky's hand. Therefore the general had sent an armistice request to the provisional government which, knowing of the imminent arrival of Carlo Alberto, decided to postpone the answer until late afternoon, just before the Piedmontese avant-garde arrived at the gates of the city.

    Meanwhile, the situation in Austria was worsening: the empire was overwhelmed by a revolutionary spiral of a nationalist mold that was putting a strain on traditional German domination in the territories of the Empire, with the Hungarian revolution erupted three days before the Milanese and Vienna in the hands of liberal insurgents who demanded the constitution and political rights already claimed in the Frankfurt conference of 1847 Ferdinand I had to leave the city by going to Linz, leaving the task of restoring order to the army and loyalist forces. It was not a civil war or at least it did not seem so to observers of the time, but it was a symptom of the malaise of the empire, originating from the Germanic power, the oppression of other nationalities and their awareness of the heritage of Napoleon's campaigns more than 40 years ago. Some minorities, such as the Czechs and Slovaks, only requested more autonomy with the more radical pro-secession groups being a fringe group, while in Hungary and Italy these extremists made up the majority of the rioters. Despite everything, however, Austria was not yet finished: it had a strong army and numerous resources that would have been used to crush the rebellions and restore the order of the Congress of Vienna, as it was up to a great power like Austria.

    At dawn on March 22 Milan was surrounded by Piedmontese soldiers from the 1st Corps, led by Bava while the 2nd Corps commanded by De Sonnaz proceeded towards Brescia to occupy Lombardy as quickly as possible. The region was practically devoid of Austrian soldiers: the sudden and rapid attack of the Piedmontese had managed to isolate the bulk of the enemy army in Milan, leaving out of town some gaunt garrisons that they could not do against the 50,000 men who were advancing against them, except giving up or running away. De Sonnaz proceeded cautiously but quickly, not wanting to get caught up in a pitched battle but not wanting to advance like a snail.

    Radetzky feared the arrival of the Piedmontese army before he could subdue the rebels or retire to the quadrilateral where he could resist until the situation in Austria improved and he could receive reinforcements. Cut off from their own lines of communication and refueling, waiting in Milan was not feasible: supplies would soon run out and they should have given up. The Piedmontese had arrived a few hours ago and had surrounded the city, but they had not yet established siege or defense positions, they were still in mobile order and the creation of defenses would have taken time. So it was that the general decided to attempt a sortie from Porta Tosa, which according to his scouts was the least defended.

    The 20,000 Austrians present in Milan began a slow but organized retreat, led by the shock troops who would force the door and allow the imperials to retreat to the Quadrilatero fortresses from where they could resist. The first contact between the two sides occurred before sunset, with the Austrians attempting to charge the Piedmontese lines out of town. The clash immediately turned into a violent melee but General Bava was immediately informed of the situation by order carriers and ordered the bulk of the army to converge on Porta Tosa, foiling Radetzky's plan. Meanwhile the Milanese insurgents continued to pick on the Austrian rear and maintain pressure on it. The Austrians were between the Piedmontese anvil and the Milanese hammer and if they had not been able to force the lines by evening they would have been crushed. After three charges (and as many Piedmontese counter-charges) the area around Porta Tosa was full of bodies and torn by cannonballs, but it was now clear that the Austrian plan had failed with heavy losses. Not wanting to risk complete annihilation, Radetzky sent a messenger to Bava proposing the Austrian surrender, which the Savoy general accepted immediately. Milan was free from the Austrian yoke.
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    After liberating Milan, Carlo Alberto granted a day of rest to the 1st Corps and then further divided it into three divisions that would have had to march to Pavia, Como and Cremona to secure the rest of the Lombard territory and demonstrate strength towards the Emilian duchies, to push them to fully embrace the Italian cause. The king would have stayed a few days in Milan with the provisional government to reach an agreement on the statute of Lombardy after the war, leaving the conduct of the war to generals Bava and De Sonnaz.

    The Battle of Porta Tosa and the "Five Days of Milan" had been a great boost in morale for the Italian patriots, but they had also been expensive in manpower: the clashes around the Lombard capital had cost more than 3000 Piedmontese and about 5,000 Austrians, several thousand of Milanese civilians killed during the clashes. The Piedmontese army was well trained and equipped, but the numbers were in Austria's favour having at least 8 times the population of the Kingdom of Sardinia. To remedy the lack of personnel, the war council and the Savoy staff had agreed to establish a 3rd Corps of 30 / 40,000 units to be added to the army, consisting of Lombard soldiers and officers. Many of these were inexperienced young patriots while others were former imperial soldiers of Italian origin who had abandoned the empire for their homeland and who would have formed the officer core. The training camp was established in Melegnano and the first division was equipped with weapons stolen from the Austrians while the Milanese workshops began to concentrate their production on war material. Although enthusiastic, the volunteers would have required at least two months of training before being ready, forcing the Piedmontese to rely on their reserve population and not to waste too many lives in combat, as it was not easy to replace them unlike the Austrians.

    News of the defeat of Radetzky arrived quickly in Linz, passing through Venice (which was already in revolt) where when learning of the blow suffered by the Germans the local population had risen and emptied the prisons, driving out the Austrian garrison and proclaiming the republic of San Marco. The situation in Italy was worsening rapidly and Ferdinand I was starting to feel the weight of the responsibilities of the crown, fatiguing and annoying him. At this time of the emperor's absence, government posts fell to Prince Schwarzenberg, who took charge of restoring peace in the Austrian empire. The Hungarians had already recalled their units from the army, but these had been disarmed and interned by loyal troops before they could return to their land to help the insurgents. Loyal troops from the Sudetenland, Bohemia and Galicia were converging on Vienna to take it back from the liberal insurgents. In Italy, between Veneto, Istria and Trentino there were about 30,000 soldiers, too few to clash with the Piedmontese but enough to slow them down waiting for reinforcements. In command of these troops Schwarzenberg appointed general Von Westmeath, who was promised reinforcements from Croatia and Austria itself once Vienna was safe. The empire was currently fighting on three fronts and it was necessary to prioritize resources and, although Italy and Hungary were important, the loss of Vienna was a serious blow to the prestige of the house of Habsburg and its recovery would have shown that the empire was not yet ready to leave.

    De Sonnaz's II Corps entered Brescia on March 26th. He learned that Veneto was in revolt but the Austrians still controlled large parts of the region, including the Alpine passages to Austria itself, ensuring the continuity of supplies. The Austrians were still in shock from the events taking place in the spring of 1848 but still remained a great power with great military capabilities, especially compared to the kingdom of Sardinia. De Sonnaz knew that it was necessary to move the front line as far east as possible, in order to place as much territory as possible between the Austrians and Piedmont but that it was also imperative to help the Venetians, giving them time to organize.

    The other Italian nations, although galvanized by the rapid advance through Lombardy and the annihilation of Radetzky's units, were still undecided whether to join to Piedmont or remain neutral, waiting for Austria to recover and descend again on the peninsula. At the same time, the great European powers were still paralyzed by the uprisings in France and Germany, leaving the Italians alone in their struggle for independence.

    On the 27th Carlo Alberto received two communications in his headquarters in Milan: One came from De Sonnaz, in command of 40,000 men encamped in Brescia, in which the general suggested repeating the rapid advance of the previous week in Veneto, engulfed in a revolt no different from the Lombard one, establishing a front line close to the Alps and placing the Alpine passes under siege. This theory was also supported by Bava, also surprised by the ease with which the Piedmontese had crossed Lombardy after having annihilated the Austrians in Milan, but the general was naturally cautious and expected that sooner or later the Austrians would react once they had recovered from the initial shock. The second letter was signed by Daniele Manin, president of the Republic of San Marco asking for the intervention of the Piedemontese army to defend the republic, in the name of the unity of the Italian peoples. The situation was becoming complicated for Carlo Alberto: The rapid successes of the previous weeks had galvanized him, leading him to believe that after the defeat of Radetzky the Austrians would have cut the losses and left Lombardy to repress the Hungarians, but Prince Schwarzenberg was interested in maintaining the unity of the Empire at all costs. Complicating matters was the Venetian revolution which needed Piedmont to be successful. Ignoring the request would have caused a great loss of legitimacy of the Italian cause, which would have turned into the Savoy cause but accepting to intervene meant extremely irritating the Austrian empire, which Carlo Alberto was still reluctant to do as he still believed he could negotiate a peace. After hours of discussion with Bava, Cattaneo and Martini the king became convinced of the need to help Veneto and that by now there was no turning back. It was necessary to start a new recruitment in Piedmont in view of future campaigns and to focus industrial resources on war production, but it was also necessary to maintain the strategic initiative and advance in depth in the Veneto region, to move the front line from Lombardy as far as possible and, in the worst case, resist and negotiate a peace for Lombardy, sacrificing Veneto if necessary. The king ordered De Sonnaz and his troops to wade the Mincio and head towards Venice, leaving the general free hand in the conduct of operations but with the aim of advancing as much as possible and fomenting the revolt on his path.

    On April 1st the 2nd Corps was in Veneto, headed for Padua and then from there to Venice. Simultaneously with these maneuvers Von Westmeath had reorganized his 30,000 men and had moved them to Pavia to encircle Venice and cut the city out of the mainland, when his scouts had warned him of the ford of the Mincio by the Piedmontese. Von Westmeath then decided to give up Venice and concentrate his body against the Savoy to slow them down, or rather beat them decisively as soon as they entered the Veneto and stop their advance. So it was that the Austrians began to converge at the crossroads of Legnago, preparing defensive positions in view of the imminent arrival of the Piedmontese.
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    On 2nd April 1848 the 2nd Division of the 2nd Corps, commanded by Mario Broglia and supported by a battalion of Bersaglieri under the command of Alessandro La Marmora was at the center of the Piedmontese line headed towards Legnago and its bridge from which they would cross the Adige. The rest of the Corps was split in two directions, one towards Verona and one towards Rovigo; from these positions they would have converged on Padua and then on Venice, but this was not feasible without crossing the Adige and establishing a bridgehead.

    The day before the 4th Division of Von Westmeath's Army had established fixed defensive positions around the town: potholes with sharp poles, ditches, artillery positions and a few barricades in the city, while the sabotage of the bridge had not yet begun. The town was not heavily fortified and the Austrians were attested in mainly improvised positions, but from which they could have inflicted devastating blows to the charging Piedmontese infantry.

    Broglia decided to take the city head-on, being impossible to flank. The infantry would attack from the center while what little cavalry was present would shield the flanks. La Marmora insisted for his men to be placed in a position to intervene when necessary as reinforcements, instead of being deployed as a reserve. The Piedmontese cannons thundered around 11 am and after a short bombardment the infantry began to advance under Austrian fire while the royal hunters skirmished on the left flank with the scarce Austrian cavalry. Legnago would prove to be an infantry battle due to the "static" nature of the enemy fortifications and the lack of cavalry, concentrated mainly on the wings of the 2nd Corps.

    The Piedmontese center was constantly under fire from the Austrian batteries on its side but the right one was taken by a Bersaglieri, charge which managed to drive away the gunners and resist a counterattack, turning the cannons against their former masters. With the release of the right flank, the infantry could charge without fear of being overwhelmed by the fire and in less than half an hour the improvised fortifications had been cleaned up by the enemies who had started to fall back towards the bridge together with the rest of their cavalry.

    In the next hour the Piedmontese managed to repel the Austrians beyond the Adige when, around 3 pm, the Austrian cavalry led a counterattack across the bridge, followed by infantry and covered by three cannons that were placed in the rear. The Austrians broke through the Piedmontese center at first causing panic among the soldiers on their flanks who were about to be surrounded by the enemy infantry when, at running pace and trumpet blast, La Marmora and its bersaglieri, with their iconic moves, counter-charged the Austrian cavalry routing them and, without stopping, continued towards the bridge overwhelming the Austrians and taking back the bank, trapping hundreds of enemies on the wrong side.

    Having avoided the danger, Broglia ordered an assault across the bridge supported by cannons and at 4 pm the Piedemontese had control of Legnago, the bridge and a territory of about 4 km inland. In 6 hours of battle the Piedmontese had suffered 1400 victims, the Austrians 3000 including 800 prisoners. The battle had been a blazing Piedmontese victory and had led to the true baptism of the fire of the Bersaglieri, who with the heroic deeds of their commander had prevented the collapse of the front and brought the victory home. The battle of Legnago would have repercussions throughout the peninsula.
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    Legnago's victory would have had a great resonance in the Italian peninsula: it was the first time that an Italian army had defeated a foreign power since Napoleon and the victory did nothing but strengthen and swell the ranks of those who openly sided for intervention in the war in favor of their northern brethen.

    In Tuscany, Grand Duke Leopold had been sympathetic to the Milanese insurgents and rather favorable to the Savoy cause, allowing a group of volunteers to march north and join the Piedmontese army. Legnago erased any doubts about the intervention and in the aftermath of the news the Grand Duke declared that the weapons of Tuscany were at the service of Carlo Alberto, notifying the Austrian ambassador that a state of war now existed between the Grand Duchy and the Habsburg Empire. The Tuscan army was not as large or well trained as the Piedmontese, but it was nevertheless a professional force which was not lacking in volounteers and joined with the Parmense and Modenese armies it would make an excellent expeditionary force.

    In the Papal States the news of Legnago were received much more cautiously: Cardinal Antonelli, Secretary of State of the Papacy, was at the head of a mixed government of clergy and lay people with a decidedly reformist but conservative imprint that intended to keep the Papal State intact and above all unharmed by the revolutions of 1848. The idea of a war with Austria and a "unified" Italy by a secular power were not attractive to the pope, but nontheless the population was very favorable to the Italian cause, pressing to send an expeditionary force to the north and Legnago did nothing but strengthen those patriotic calls to a level that could compromise the tightness of the executive. It was in that climate that Antonelli consented to the requests and ordered to set up an expeditionary force of 14,000 men under the command of General Giovanni Durando and to send him to Romagna where he would join the rest of the Sardinian army.

    In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies the situation was complicated: the kingdom had been the first to be affected by the uprisings with the expulsion of the Bourbons from Sicily and the creation of a revolutionary committee which, after the victory, was uncertain about the future decision of the island, divided between Mazzinians and liberals. On the continent, riots had prompted King Ferdinand II to promulgate the constitution and to hold elections in mid-April, in which the liberal faction had promised that, if successful, it would "upset" the constitution. The war to the north, although distant, was considered important for the kingdom, as the king was sympathetic to the cause of the Savoys regarding the expulsion of the Austrians from Italy, while colder to the idea of a single kingdom. So the king decided to send a contingent of 16,000 men, mainly composed of selected troops, to support the Savoy.

    With the army winning it's first major victory of the war, Carlo Alberto decided that he could no longer stay in Milan to endear himself to the population and the opposing factions in the Provisional Government as a unifying figure. Craving military success the king had left the city along with much of his entourage to reach the frontlines, leaving in the city Cesare Balbo.

    Cesare Balbo was the Sardinian prime minister, called by the king himself to the city after the Five Days to broker a truce between the two factions and ensure that the future of Lombardy would be with Piedmont. This idea was supported by the "popular" faction led by the current podestà Casati, which also included Count Martini, who aimed to create a new duchy incorporated into the kingdom of Sardinia of which it would become an integral part. This idea was opposed by Cattaneo's "democrats", who wanted to give Lombardy a more autonomous character, perhaps even create a state separate from Piedmont and linked with it through commercial and military ties; the biggest dispute between the two factions was the political structure of the new state, with Cattaneo proposing a "democratic" state with strong Mazzinian influences, a republic on the model of the French one, proclaimed a month before the Five Days, while Casati who had the support of the nobles thought of a monarchical structure.

    Days into the negotiation Balbo proved to be quick to act to mop up the mess. He understood that the council was divided and a middle ground had to be found if he were to close a deal quickly and to present it to the kingdom's parliement as soon as possible, so he started negotiations with both parties. Piedmont had a strong hand in the negotiations: their interventon had proven pivotal to prevent an Austrian retreat and turning it into a dashing victory and they were the only ones with the weapons capable of defending Lombardy. Using this points and some careful diplomacy, Balbo was able to broker this deal: Lombardy would be annexed by the kingdom of Sardinia as a duchy, dynastically linked to the house of Savoy through the coronation of the current king of Sardinia, Charles Albert, as Duke of Lombardy. The Albertine Statute would have been extended, giving the population the rights that Cattaneo wanted. The elections that were about to be conducted in Piedmont in April were extended to Lombardy, granting the upper classes the right to vote and elect their own representatives. From now on the King of Sardinia will also be the Duke of Lombardy, strengthening the ties between the two regions and finalizing the dream of the house of Savoy

    Both parties, having participated in the negotiations, agreed to the deal which satisfied them both, even if in part. With the future of Lombardy secured and the people cheering to the news, Balbo departed as soon as possible from the city, intending to deliver the proposal to the Piedemontese parliement and approve it.

    Charles Albert was at the head of a 25.000 strong army along with general Bava, heading towards Vicenza were he intended to join his forces with De Sonnaz and other Italian allies, from where he could put himself at the head of the combined armies and organize an invasion of the Venetian plain which was going to be the main battlefield in the next phase of the war, with Austrian troops shocked by the rapid Piedmontean advance but reorganizing. One good thing was the Venetian insurrection that had managed to evict austrian forces from the Adriatic coast and thus cover the flank of the army. The main problem remained the two fortresses of Verona and Mantua which citadels were occupied by determined Austrian soldiers and had tied down some Sardinian forces and presented a dagger pointed at the back of the Italians
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    The duchies of Parma and Modena were in full revolution with the local dukes fleeing from the rebellous population who was becoming restless from the lack of liberal reform and unwillingness to join the cause of Piedmont, even if the duke of Modena promised a statute when he was going to return. After the expulsion of the restauration loyalists a more moderate executive took power and declared for Piedmont sending their armies along with the Tuscan ones to Vicenza, where Carlo Alberto was rallying his forces.

    On the 10th Carlo Alberto met General Giovanni Durando in Vicenza, commander of the papal expeditionary force. During the meeting Durando took off his hat at the sight of the king and greeted him with "Majesty" making a bow of the head. The event will be immortalized by Risorgimento painter Hayez and considered a founding moment of what will be called "The spirit of Forty-eight"

    "The spirit of Forty-eight" was that general feeling of euphoria that accompanied the war on the peninsula, which permeated all sections of the population, which pushed men to enroll and soldiers in battle. It was also an idea of national awakening, the return of a common identity of the Italian peoples that had been dormant for some time, woken up with Napoleon and who was now rising. The struggle against the Austrian foreigners who had occupied the north for centuries was galvanizing kings and peasants into the rebellion against the order created by Vienna. The liberal movements of the Forty-eight or specifically the War of Independence were a historical moment that had the opportunity to question everything and people felt it. For this reason, after some hesitation, they threw themselves into the fraternal struggle against the foreigner.

    Foreigners were beaten but not defeated. Von Westmeath had sent requests for reinforcements to the imperial court which promptly ignored them. The situation in Hungary was requiring more resources than necessary and Vienna remained the main target of the reaction. Fortunately for revolutionaries, Italy was a periphery for the empire. However, a body of 12,000 men from Illyria under the command of General Nugent had been redirected to the Veneto, which the Austrians intended to keep to protect their flank. In total, 34,000 Austrian troops were still gathered in Veneto, against at least double the number of Italians. With the empire paralyzed, Von Westmeath could only spare his strength and avoid getting involved in a pitched battle he couldn't win.

    Venice was now free from the Austrians and the provisional government led by Daniele Manin had already started the first steps to create a functional state granting individual freedom to it's citizens and freedom of press, lifting many restrictions which were imposed by Austria. Nontheless the revolution was not smooth: the bourgeoisie and the nobility were opposed to a radical republic and Manin tackled the problem inviting them to participate to the government to ease their fears. The Serenissima was a marittime nation but had no fleet: the Austrian navy was docked in Pola, even if most of their sailors were Venetians and thus Niccolò Tommaseo, one of the main revolutionaries, commandeered a fast ship with some volunteers and sailed to Pola to incite the sailors to rise up. Miraculosly, he was not spotted by picket ships and penetrated in Pola's harbour where he gave the news to the crews who, after learning of the uprising, joined in mutining against their Austrian commanders and starting a riot in the city. Using the confusion Tommaseo, along with some ships, managed to flee and return to Venice which had now gained it's navy. The Serenissima sent envoys and messengers to the Terrafirma aiming to gain the support of the main cities which had revolted and expelled the Austrians. Manin was a traditional venetian, having few respect for the mainland but understood the need for unity in this moment; to sweeten the deal he proposed to abolish some taxes such as the personal one. This, along with the Piedimontese advance, was enough for major cities like Treviso, Padova and Rovigo to accept the deal in order to have a stronger hand in future diplomacy.

    On the 13th of April Carlo Alberto, generals Bava, De Sonnaz and Durando and their staff had a meeting in Vicenza where the main HQ of the Italian Armies was located and started planning a final offensive to end the war: the main objective was the expulsion of the Austrian army from the Venetian plain and, from there, secure the border and squash any resistance remaining behind Italian lines such as the fortresses of Mantua and Verona.
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    The revolts of 1848 were not confined to the Italian peninsula and the empire of Austria, but overwhelmed the entire continent except for Russia. In France, the July monarchy had been overthrown by a republican liberal insurgency that the king had not felt he could repress with force, leading to his fall. From the first moment the republic was divided between its liberal and conservative factions, between those who favored a new monarchy and those who were in favor of the continuation of the republican experiment, those who wanted to "isolate themselves" to build a stronger state and those who wanted to export the revolution as in 1789, in Belgium and Germany. The power of the lower classes frightened the French elites, bringing them former supporters of the monarchy to organize a conservative network, aimed at keeping the populace under control and countering every move aimed at reducing too much the traditional power of the upper classes. In doing so, French society became even more polarized, leading to ever higher social tensions which risked exploding into a new revolution.

    Germany was also going through its revolutionary period, starting with the liberal riots of Vienna which spread throughout the German Confederation throwing the absolute monarchies of Prussia, Saxony and Bavaria into chaos. The people demanded more political rights, an end to censorship and freedom of assembly, with more radical voices calling for German unification. In the past 8 years, German territory had been affected by "liberal" revolts and similarly-shaped movements, such as the Gottingen Seven and the weavers' uprising. Now, with chaos in Italy, France, Austria and Prussia, nationalist leaders realized that this was too good a chance to be wasted and, meeting in the parliament of Frankfurt, they summoned elected representatives from all over Germany for May 12th to discuss the future of the region. The call created many problems in Austria, inflamed by the riots, but also divided on the issue of the vote, with those who wanted to confine it to Austria proper and others who wanted to extend it at least in Bohemia while in Prussia, still fresh from the attempted revolt in march, the king and Junkers accepted the call of parliament but managed to send pro-Prussian conservative delegates instead of pro Germany. The parliament had not yet met but future fractures were already visible inside it, although many hoped that this time in 1848 things would be different.

    The Russian Empire remained impassive to the rebellions: the Napoleonic invasion had lasted much less than the rest of the continent and together with it the diffusion of Enlightenment ideas was limited, the illiterate population was chained with serfdom. Russia was not a feudal state, but it was very close and the elites who could educate themselves and "express" their thoughts were strongly hostile to the liberal ideas that were being propagated in the rest of the continent. The nobility and the army were the two conservative pillars of Russia on which the Tsar leaned to reach his vast empire, a bastion of stability and reaction in this increasingly dangerous world. The Okhrana was very efficient and managed to isolate and break the rebel movements especially in areas inhabited by minorities such as Poland and the Caucasus. The insurrection in Hungary worried the Tsar who was unwilling to witness the collapse of the Austrian empire with impunity which had seemed so stable with Metternich but which had now proved to be a house of cards but Russia could do little at the moment: it was not certainly ready for a foreign operation and had to find resources and materials as well as a call to arms by Austria, with which was allied through the Holy Alliance.

    England was the nation that suffered less from the uprisings of 1848: having granted its inhabitants a great deal of political power since the 1215 Magna Carta, the United Kingdom was much more liberal than its peers on the continent and , apart from a few riots in Ireland that did nothing but reduce the population even further after the famine and the flight of millions of people overseas, leaving room for future waves of Scottish and English settlers. More than worrying about its domestic policy, the UK looked outside according to the concept of the balance of power it had held up to then. Republican France posed a great danger to balance, after all the last time France had become a republic Napoleon had appeared shortly after and he had destroyed the continent. Currently the divisions within the national assembly represented a block to potential French destructive behavior but in London one wondered how much would have taken for a leader to emerge in that chaos. The other British dilemma was the imploding Austrian empire: the sudden end of a central European giant and the need to keep Prussia and Russia balanced was not something that British diplomacy was willing to see and overtures were made to the court in exile by offering money and loans to suppress rebellions and restore order. Not that England was a reactionary power, but they preferred the continent as they knew it than a radically new one.

    Regarding the Italian question, it represented one of the many moments of 1848 and therefore the great powers were either involved in their very own insurrection or too far away to worry about it and take a position on it. The only nation that seemed interested in it was Great Britain: one of the first Napoleonic campaigns had been in Italy which, disunited, had not been able to resist him and had been seduced by his nationalism then, the creation of a state in the north that would act as a buffer between France and Austria just as Belgium separated France from Prussia, it could have reduced British fears of a new revolutionary campaign in northern Italy. Therefore, with the blessing of Queen Victoria, British diplomats began to make contact with the Savoy court, feeling the ground for a negotiated solution.

    On April 13th the first war council of the Italian General Staff was held with members from all over the peninsula. The first instance was to choose a name for the army and the choice fell on "Army of Italy" unanimously. Once the name problem was solved, the organizational problems were addressed: the Piedmontese army was the largest and best trained of those present, making it the spearhead of the Army; so it was that Carlo Alberto was appointed commander in chief of the Italian Army and general Bava chief of staff, while the Italian allies were, on paper, treated on a par with the Piedmontese even though it was not always the case, being treated as secondary actors in a campaign which, although animated by the nationalist spirit, was mainly a Piedmontese affair.

    Once the initial questions had been resolved, planning started. The situation was clear: the Italians controlled the territory from Vicenza to Venice and the rest of the Venetian plain appeared ready for rebellion. Not much was known about the Austrians except that they had withdrawn and were concentrating their forces between Castelfranco and Treviso awaiting reinforcements from Illyria which, however, had been delayed by the insurrection in Pula, which had led to the self-sinking of numerous ships by of sailors surrounded by soldiers. A contingent of about 35,000 men was in command of Von Westmeath and annihilating it was the only way to take control of the plain, and then take the citadels of Verona and Mantua.

    General Bava, who until then had coordinated the occupation of Lombardy, leaving the front line to De Sonnaz, was anxious to fight, as was Carlo Alberto, who came specifically from Milan looking for that great victory that would crown his dreams of military glory. The king immediately announced that the army would seek confrontation and beat the enemy in a pitched battle. Bava announced his support for the king's idea, suggesting to capitalize on the Savoy numerical advantage to overwhelm the enemy before they could retire again or meet the reinforcements. De Sonnaz very gently expressed his opposition: for him the best strategy was an encirclement of the enemy army near Treviso, taking advantage of the passage along the Adriatic offered by the Venetians and a second route towards Bassano del Grappa, from which it would have curved towards Treviso closing Von Westmeath in a pocket, forcing him to surrender or in a battle that he could not win.

    Both plans had their pros and cons but in the end the king weighed his desire for a big victory to the point that De Sonnaz could not help but consent to the wishes of his king. Bava was commissioned to formulate the plan for the advance which, in its final form, was like this: The Italian army would advance directly on Castelfranco quickly to catch the enemy by surprise and chase or force them into a battle. The main force would have been covered on the south flank by De Sonnaz and the Venetian allies while a division was sent to the north to screen the area. At the center, together with 30,000 Piedmontese led by Bava and Carlo Alberto, there would have been about 15,000 troops from Tuscany, the Papal States and Emilia, led by Luigi Durando.

    Von Westmeath was confused in the meantime. The loss of Milan, Radetzky, the Quadrilateral and the insurrection in Pula had begun to weigh on the shoulders of the general who for the moment had not been able to cope with the Piedmontese. The loss of his commander during the Five Days had been a severe blow and his men continued to decline and the reinforcements that were arriving were less and less, sucked by the court for the attack on Vienna or dispersed to suppress rebellions that now seemed the norm in Austria. His forces were camped between Castelfranco and Caposanpiero, 35,000 men and still had cannons, horses and a fair amount of ammunition. Together with his lieutenants, the general decided to create a strategy to fight the Sardinians. The best way would have been to concentrate his forces against small Piedmontese detachments and beat them, the problem was to divide the Italian forces which now amounted to more than double his. The city of Fontanaviva had an important bridge over the Brenta and it was decided to take advantage of this bottleneck: the Piedmontese would slow down their advance and reduce their strength in crossing the river, leading the general to order to place forces around the village of Cittadella, from which the Piedmontese would attack and throw them back behind the Brenta.

    On April 20th, exactly one month after the start of the war, the Italian-Piedmontese 1st Corps led by Carlo Alberto was wading the Brenta along the Fontaniva bridge. The army had arrived the evening of the day before and sent light units to the other side to secure the passage, while the bulk of the army camped along the shore to cross the next day. Making 45,000 men wade the bridge would not have been a quick feat and according to Bava's calculations it would have taken at least two days to wade the river. However, the troops proceeded quickly that morning, with about 10,000 men who had crossed the bridge by early afternoon.

    The king had been among the first to cross the bridge, to symbolically put himself at the head of the army. The town closest to the ford was that of Cittadella, a village surrounded by medieval walls and Carlo Alberto sent General D'Arneaux, together with 6000 men, to the forefront. After all, they were not so far from Castelfranco where, according to the information in the possession of the Piedmontese, the Austrians had camped.

    When the 6,000 Piedmontese arrived a kilometer from the city they were greeted by gunshots and cannons: the Austrians were already in the city and had entrenched themselves: D'Arneaux's troops were caught off guard, had not seen an Austrian for weeks, and panicked under enemy fire, preventing the general from rearranging his men and retreating. The arrival of the enemy cavalry that mowed the flanks of the division did not help and the general was forced to retreat not even twenty minutes after first contact. The Piedmontese withdrew in a disorganized way, many leaving backpacks and rifles on the spot, running towards the bridge to save their lives while being chased by the bulk of the Austrian army.

    Carlo Alberto had established a command post in Fontaniva from which he could follow the ford of the army, when his attention was captured by the sounds of battle he heard not too far away, followed by the sound of retreat. The king rushed out of his tent to see the smoke on the horizon and the men who ran along the straight road that connects Fontaniva with Cittadella, running for their lives. Horrified, the king took his sword and sent for Bava, ordering him to prepare a defense, but it was too late: the Austrians hit the city like a swollen river and the Piedmontese defenders fought like lions to repel the enemy, while brigade after brigade crossed the bridge to throw bodies to oppose the enemy. At dusk the Italians had been rejected 500 meters from the bridge and would have been driven back over the Brenta if Giovanni Durando and the 8000 papal volunteers had not launched a bayonet charge on the left side of Von Westmeath. Aided by darkness and ferocity, the Austrians believed they were under attack by a wider force and broke the attack, retreating with the favor of darkness towards Lazzaretto.

    Surprised by the ferocity of the attack, Bava decided to transport as many soldiers as possible to the other side by ordering the troops to wade the bridge at night and sleep what they could: it was essential to bring the Piedmontese numerical superiority to the other side in order to use it as an advantage rather than as a disadvantage. Von Westmeath would have driven the Sardinians behind the Brenta if it had not been for Durando. The next day the two armies would face off against each other: the Piedmontese had 30,000 men, another 10,000 were still wading the river, while the Austrians had a similar number, but they were better attested. The second day proved to be inconclusive, if not to inflate the numbers of the losses: the Piedmontese had pushed three times towards Cittadella but had been repulsed all three times, without causing serious damage to the enemy army.

    On the third day, while Bava and Carlo Alberto prepared the men for a new assault, major of Sanfront, head of the cavalry units of the carabinieri, proposed a plan to the king and the general: while the infantry occupied the Austrians by distracting them, the cavalry would have gone down along the river, wading in Carturo and would have gone up again taking the enemy off guard. The king approved the plan and so while the Piedmontese and Tuscan soldiers assaulted the Austrian positions, mowed by cannons and rifles, the carabinieri crossed the river and galloped back, overwhelming the first Austrian line on the south flank and creating disarray between the men who were swept away by the ferocious knights. With the first line broken, the Austrians began to retreat with the Piedmontese infantry galvanized by the success that followed them. The Austrians retreated to Tombolo and Bava decided that for that day it was enough, stopping the army and camping.

    The fourth day was the decisive one: the Piedmontese had suffered serious losses between dead and wounded, mainly due to the Austrian artillery, but the Austrians had not been able to drive them back beyond the Brenta and had consumed many supplies. Early in the morning a messenger on horseback arrived and informed General Von Westmeath that the 2nd Piedmontese Corps had waded the Brenta further south and was marching towards Mirano to cover Venice. Time was against the Austrians, they had to drive Carlo Alberto back to the other side now otherwise De Sonnaz would have advanced far enough to shut down the escape route. The Austrian plan was simple: resist where they were by inflicting as many casualties as possible on the enemy and then carry out a final assault led by cavalry that would wipe out the exhausted troops, a bit like the Carabinieri did yesterday. Throughout the day, Bava and Carlo Alberto observed the waves of troops in dark blue coats crashing against the white-black rocks that always retreated in order to the next established line, leaving very little equipment but inflicting serious losses. The Bersaglieri of La Marmora had been kept in reserve for a final assault that at the moment seemed impossible. Around 5 o'clock the soldiers were tired and unhappy about being sent to the massacre against the lines, a state of mind that the Austrians noticed and the cavalry was ordered to overwhelm the Piedmontese. The Austrian dragons launched themselves against the Sardinian infantry, defeating it and paving the way for Carlo Alberto's command post. The king said "La Marmora, save us!" to which the colonel replied "I obey!" throwing his bersaglieri at the charge down the hill. The dragons found themselves in front of a flood of screaming men who fearlessly charged the horses. The Charge of Tombolo would enter the history of the Bersaglieri as one of the fundamental moments of the unit. The Bersaglieri routed the dragons and the rest of the army, seeing this feat of great courage, regained confidence and charged one last time following La Marmora with a drawn sword. Unfortunately for the colonel during the clashes an Austrian officer managed to shoot him in the face before being killed by the blade of La Marmora, who was seriously injured in the cheek and taken away, but the position was taken together with thousands of prisoners while Von Westmeath and the half of his men had managed to withdraw.

    With the victory in the battle of Cittadella, the Piedmontese had routed the Austrians who would no longer seek confrontation with the Italian armies now that they were running out of men and supplies. Von Westmeath was fleeing to Treviso and then from there Gorizia where he would meet the reinforcements but during the escape he ordered his men, those who had not deserted at least, to set fire to fields and villages to deny supplies to the enemy, starting the Looting of the Veneto.

    Carlo Alberto had won his great battle but at great cost: about 10,000 Piedmontese remained on the field, most as injured but there were also many dead, observers will describe the battle of Cittadella several times as a real massacre in which it came to the melee very often. If it were not for the courage, skill and resourcefulness of Luigi Durando, Alessandro di Sanfont and Alessandro La Marmora, the Piedmontese would have been badly defeated. Cittadella is one of the examples in which a man can make the difference between victory and defeat and these future heroes of Italy will be celebrated by their king.

    On April 27th, 1848 there was the first election of the Kingdom of Sardinia, in which 1.7% of the total population could vote and of those people 65% went to the polls and elected the first Sardinian government giving a large majority to the political exponents who will be renamed centuries after "Historic Right", monarchist conservatives but with some liberal ideas. The chamber elected Cesare Balbo as first prime minister because of his central role in negotiating the Lombard compromise.

    The first act of the Balbo government was in fact to put to vote the annexation of the Duchy of Lombardy to the kingdom of Sardinia. After a full day of discussion spent evaluating the pros and cons of the annexation (the pros from the Historical Right, the cons from their rivals, the Historical Left), the decision was postponed to the 29th when it was approved by the majority before noon, making Lombardy is an integral part of Piedmont. The extension of the Albertine Statute to Lombardy made it necessary to organize elections also in the region to allow its inhabitants to enjoy the same rights as the Piedmontese and therefore a new Lombard election was inserted in mid-May.

    Lombardy was a rich and populous region, Milan was the pride of Lombardy-Venetia: most of the northern heavy and metallurgical industry was concentrated there, with a highly developed textile sector and more organized agriculture than in Piedmont. The annexation of Lombardy made Piedmont the economic power of the peninsula even though it was still behind the Two Sicilies which, however, had a more agrarian economy than the North.

    The news of Von Westmeath's defeat came quickly to Vienna, causing a panic attack to Ferdinand I who was now convinced that it was a matter of time before he lost his empire. The emperor had never been mentally healthy enough to rule the empire and this news only worsened his state of health, even leading him to propose abdication, which horrified Prince Schwarzenberg: Franz Joseph was too young and inexperienced to rule and would lead to the ruin of the empire while it was better to have a mad but under control emperor. The prince did not want to take brutal control of the empire but wanted to save it and could have done it better with an emperor unable to rule. In his study he had begun to receive British ambassadors who asked questions about the Italian question and its future. Until then he had stalled them, but now he could not take time anymore, with Von Westmeath defeated there was no more time to waste and sometimes to save the body it was necessary to cut a leg.

    The Sardinian Navy sailed from Genoa, before the elections, to Venice: it had been decided to deploy naval forces to give a show of strength to the Austrian navy which lay on the bottom of the port of Pula or scattered throughout the Adriatic, to entice the Germans to remain in port and not to challenge the hodgepodge of sailing and steam ships that was traveling towards the Serenissima. The presence of a naval team in the Adriatic would have given Venice the protection on four sides that it needed and would have pushed it further and further into the orbit of Piedmont, to which it owed its safety.

    The military situation in Italy had attracted the attention of the great powers of Great Britain and France who had mobilized to find a rapid resolution to the conflict that did not alter too much the balance of power within the European continent. The French constituent assembly was determined to be sensitive to the maintenance of the European order and not to be a revolutionary time bomb ready to explode like the First Republic, so they queued in good order to the British in their undertaking aimed at containing the revolutions of the 1848. After the victory of Cittadella it was obvious that the Austrians had been driven out of the peninsula and that the Piedmontese were the new masters of the North. The troops besieged in Mantua and Verona had the hours counted and the diplomats of the two powers were already at work in Turin and Vienna to organize a peace conference in London in the summer; in both courts these offerings found ears willing to listen to them and supporters who made efforts to make preparations for their respective delegations and to end the war.

    Pope Pius IX had by now abandoned the idea of continuing the war: the idea of being against a Catholic power and of seeing the Italian order of the last forty years defeated only because of a revolution in Milan no longer seemed worthy of a war. He also knew that the population was in favor of a unification of the peninsula and opposed any proposal to withdraw or reduce support. The task of a pope, however, was not only to deal with souls but also that of his legitimate dominion in the earthly world and he could not compromise the unity of the papal state.

    In Naples King Ferdinand had lost the revolutionary and reformist vigor that had characterized the last part of his reign. Sicily in revolt occupied much of its time and the war in the north was too far away to have serious repercussions on its reign. The Sicilian revolutionaries had decided to give their state a monarchical form and had thought of Ferdinand of Savoy as a possible king, finding support from the British and French for the proposal. The king was baffled: the Savoys had become the favorite Italian house by the great powers who had taken a more active attitude towards the Italian situation. If Ferdinando di Savoia had the support of the British, how could he hope to stop him, unless he had brought order back to Sicily. That was the thing to do. The king summoned his troops, ordering them to go down to Sicily.

    Meanwhile in the north Carlo Alberto, Bava and De Sonnaz had advanced far beyond the Piave river encountering little enemy resistance. The great battles like Cittadella or Legnago would no longer happen during the campaign and now the objective of the advance was the Tagliamento behind which Von Westmeath had hidden, together with reinforcements finally arrived from Illyria, leaving a few thousand demoralized men to lead a rearguard action. Once they reached the Tagliamento, they would propose a truce to the Austrians and, if Minister Balbo was right, the war would soon end with the English interest on the Italian question, but there was another problem that disturbed Carlo Alberto: the other offer, of Sicily to his son Ferdinando, this was a great opportunity not to be missed and if he hadn't misunderstood it was supported by France and England. His son, however, did not want to leave the artillery, being convinced that it was his place as an officer and prince but, with the end of the war in sight, it was better to think of the future rather than the present. Sicily, however, was still formally part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies which had sent a corps in support of the Piedmontese, an army that had failed to materialize when needed. Carlo Alberto did not want to do wrong to an ally, but this Sicilian situation seemed too big an opportunity to pass up, just like the Five Days.

    The month of May was spent by the Army of Italy chasing General Von Westmeath and what little remained of his army. The Austrians had withdrawn, setting fire to everything that was in their way to make the supply of their enemies ever more complex. The supply lines had extended dangerously during the spring and were now about to reach their limit with the current organization. Venice was doing everything possible but it was not enough, the army would have to stop sooner or later and the stop would arrive on the Tagliamento at the end of the month, when they found 30,000 Austrians on the other side waiting for them. Generals Bava and De Sonnaz had used white flags to parliament with Von Westmeath who had agreed to a truce on the river. On June 1st the cannons stopped firing for the first time in three months.

    The liberation of much of the north east from Austrian troops led to the creation of "Unity Committees", local clubs, mainly in cities, whose goal was to push for annexation to the Kingdom of Sardinia following the Lombard model that had represented an interesting precedent of amalgamation of territories. The committees found fertile ground among the newly rebelled population but the biggest problem remained the future political structure of Veneto and Venice, always divided between republican and monarchical sympathies. The Balbo government organized a meeting in Venice in June between the two sides, mediated by the Piedmontese delegation to find an answer to the question.

    The Emilian territories, the duchies of Parma and Modena, had driven out their sovereigns after a popular uprising that broke out in conjunction with the Piedmontese advance through Lombardy. The revolutionary governments had immediately taken sides in favor of the revolution while their dukes fled, promising however that if they were put back on the throne they would grant the constitution. Now the two dukes, Charles II and Francis V, were in exile in Turin and were in contact with Balbo who now, more than thinking about the internal affairs of the kingdom, was working to effectively reorganize the territories controlled by Piedmont. The dukes found ears willing to listen to them regarding their restoration behind the granting of the constitution and their annexation to what was expected to be the future Kingdom of the North.

    With the army on the verge of stopping, Carlo Alberto had convinced his son Ferdinando to accept the offer of the Sicilian crown, reasoning that it was an excellent prospect for his second son, a crown was no small feat and a king was always a king, not it matters how small his domain. So it was that, two weeks before the armistice, Ferdinand reached Venice together with General D'Arneaux (assigned to the prince as a "punishment" for the defeat of Cittadella) and 4000 men. Most of the Sardinian fleet was anchored in the city, which had sailed weeks before to take control of the Adriatic which had not been contested by the Austrians. With the sea and Venice safe, the fleet left some vessels in Veneto while the bulk of the fleet had sailed for Palermo, where the Sicilians awaited their new king.

    Not all events were good, however: during the advance, Pope Pius IX had sent a messenger to the army to inform General Durando that his place and his men were no longer north but were in Rome. On hearing this news Durando, very calmly, replied "Tell His Holiness that I am here to make Italy and that until that happens I will not return". With the pontifical order disregarded, the situation inside the peninsula worsened: the pope had always been hesitant about the forty-eight adventure and now he had found the courage to withdraw the army, a courage not shared by his commanders and by the population who, as soon as he knew in fact, riots began in the main cities, with the most serious in the Romagna legation in the cities of Bologna and Ravenna. The withdrawal and riots had profoundly shaken the neo-Guelph federalist idea of Carlo Alberto, given that the pope had withdrawn from the cause of Italy, the population would have struggled to recognize him as a possible leader of a confederation, making it necessary to look for a new figure who would could hold this position.

    The withdrawal of the Bourbon troops would follow shortly thereafter, partially as a consequence of the arrival in Sicily of Ferdinando di Savoia where he was crowned as king Alberto Amedeo I. The reactionary period of Ferdinand was in full swing with the strengthening of the royal authorities and the partial suppression of the rights granted with the constitution, a gesture that created several discontents among the southern liberals who followed with great interest the exploits of Carlo Alberto in the north and who wanted to develop a stronger union between the nations of the peninsula. The privy council had indicated the suppression of the Sicilian uprisings and their newly crowned king as the first objective of the restoration, but some members of the council had aimed at the financial straits of the kingdom and the remoteness of the bulk of the Bourbon army, in transit through the Papal States, pushing to delay the operation. These indecisions plagued the council by paralyzing the kingdom as the Sardinian navy sailed in Sicilian waters and D'Arneaux began training Sicilian patriots. The English ambassador came to court and proposed to Ferdinand to mediate the Sicilian situation at the congress in preparation for London, a proposal to which the king consented.

    With the end of the fighting in June, it was also time to start peace talks in London. The British diplomatic initiative with tacit French support had brought two delegations, one from Piedmont and one from Austria, together with observers from the other Italian states affected by the war, to meet in London under the auspices of the Foreign Office to find a solution to the situation in the north Italy. The Piedmontese delegation was led by Vincenzo Ricci, foreign minister of the Balbo government. Together with him was a newly elected Piedmontese deputy, Camillo Benso, count of Cavour. The young count had lived in France and England, spoke fluently English and his experience as well as political acumen (and a recommendation from Cesare Balbo himself) had made him one of the members on the list approved by Carlo Alberto to go to London to discuss the future of the Northern Italy. Diplomats were awaiting a busy summer spent discussing, among many others: the future of northern Italy and the kingdom of Sardinia, the situation in the rest of the peninsula which had to be stabilized in a satisfactory way, the question of Sicily (which would have been discussed between Piedmontese, Neapolitans and British) and the revolution underway in Austria. The diplomats began immediately in early June, with the Anglo French arbitrage, of the future of Northern Italy.
    13. SUMMER 1848
  • 13. SUMER 1848

    The summer of 1848 was as interesting as the rest of the year: great changes had taken place in a Europe that was increasingly feeling them: the Italian war, the parliament of Frankfurt and the French Republic. The old order fought for survival against the new one that pushed to get out of oblivion but these conquests will only be local: 1848 did not lead to a total upheaval of the continental structure but introduced new players into the arena and questioned some dogmas that stood before the French revolution.

    Germany had been affected by a liberal-nationalist revolutionary wave, which had seen the ideas of a German nation, touted by the time of the Enlightenment, rise to the fore with the support of the bourgeoisie and educated middle-high classes who wanted a true change, freedom and rights, to which many nobles were opposed as they saw the source of their power in the current status quo. In mid-May the Frankfurt parliament had finally met after the debate on the election of the delegates and their number but had quickly fallen into factionalism with the three main blocs: conservatives, liberals and democrats, each with a different vision for the future of Germany. The only issue that seemed to unite the delegates was the Schleswig-Holstein issue that would have been the location of a small war between Prussia and Denmark during June, which ended in a stalemate due to the threat of intervention by Tsar Nicholas I. The military failure had not been political, however, because it had shown that the various German nations were more or less willing to cooperate with each other against external opponents. The parliament had already started an ambitious project for the drafting of a constitution for the "German Empire" entrusted to a special commission, while the delegates continued throughout the rest of the year a series of more or less effective battles such as the extension of Zollverein to the whole confederation which was approved, not without difficulty, in late summer; the creation of a German navy and the embryo of an army which were both downsized to a symbolic force and the definition of what Germany was and who was German, given that the two most powerful nations, Austria and Prussia, had territory and subjects outside the Germanic confederation belonging to different nationalities and the nationalist state-nation mentality imposed on delegates the need to "fix" the borders of Germany and here too the parliament was divided between the proponents of Greater Germany and those of Lesser Germany . Although agreements was found on some things, the Frankfurt parliament always seemed divided between its factions fighting for power.

    In France, the second republic was threatened by the same problems it had been tasked with solving: unemployment had shot up after the February revolution and about a million French people were out of work and out of money. This consequently led to the discontent of the extremist factions in the assembly who demanded a democratic crusade and social rights for the workers, who were gradually radicalizing themselves more and more. To respond to this radicalization, the moderates had formed an alliance with the conservatives of which the nobility and the upper industrial bourgeoisie were part. After the failed insurrection in May and the consequent radicalization of the workers of the national factories, the government ordered its closure to avoid further problems but the workers rebelled in Paris, supported by the radicals in parliament, starting the June Uprising. With France engaged in high-level negotiations in London for Italy's future, the government felt compelled to respond as intensely as possible to this rebellion to reconfirm the role of Republican France as a major European power and therefore General Cavignac was ordered to stiflle the revolt and was placed in command of 100,000 regular soldiers. The rebellion was wiped out in four days, with peace returning on June 28th. On the same day Cavignac was made president of Council of Ministers with semi dictatorial powers as a token of gratitude until the December elections, giving him almost absolute control over the nation. Elections were set in winter and the assembly started debeating on the method of election fo the president with delegates arguing for the majority of votes and others for a vote by the assembly. Karl Marx observed that the insurrection of the Parisian workers was a symptom of the class struggle which would only worsen with the progress of industrialization and the exploitation of the less fortunate.

    London hosted throughout the summer the peace negotiations between the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Empire of Austria, concerning the future structure of the Italian peninsula. The other peninsular states had been invited to participate and of these, the Venetians, Tuscany and Two Sicilies sent representatives.The papacy refrained from sending a legate because of the aversion of Pius IX to a dominant Sardinia and because of the antipopal revolts that had spread to Imola and the Marche. The first question to be resolved was that of the war in northern Italy: the Piedmontese army had won and managed to expel the Austrians from the Veneto plain, forcing them to repair behind the Tagliamento. Apart from the fortresses of Mantua and Vicenza, there were no longer any Austrians in the Po valley, therefore the negotiations were easier and the parties came to the July Treaty: The Kingdom of Sardinia would annex all the territories from Lombardy to the Tagliamento that it would become the new border, the Austrians would have to evacuate Mantua and Verona, they would lose all influence on the peninsula, have to return the Iron Crown and Piedmont would become the dominant power in Italy and be renamed Kingdom of Northern Italy. Austria should compensate Piedmont for the looting of Veneto during the retreat.

    Once the question of the war had been resolved, the bulk of the Austrian diplomats returned to their homeland, leaving some observers for peninsula matters. It was decided that Tuscany would fall into the sphere of influence of Piedmont, that the duchies of Parma and Modena were annexed by Piedmont with the internal arrangements that it deemed necessary. The absence of the papal delegation favored a secret negotiation between Cavour and his Anglo-French counterparts regarding the riots in Romagna and Marche; Cavour obtained that, in the event of an aggravation of the revolt, Sardinia could intervene and annex the regions with the favor of the great powers. The kingdom of Naples was practically forced by the British to recognize the independence of Sicily in the Piedmontese orbit. Ferdinando did not yet have the strength to attempt an invasion while the island was becoming increasingly militarized with the expansion of the national guard and continuous imports of weapons from Western Europe; it was enough for the British to make these points clear and the delegation had to yield to Her Majesty, recognizing the existence of the Kingdom of Sicily and the coronation of Alberto Amedeo I.

    Behind the scenes there were also negotiations between Piedmont, France and Great Britain regarding commercial treaties and foreign investments in the nascent Italian industry, especially in Lombardy, Piedmont and Tuscany. Sardinia would have been elevated to the rank of respected middle power, under slight French influence and with the favor of Great Britain which now considered the existence of a strong buffer state in northern Italy essential to maintaining the balance of power. Vague allusions were also made to a future political unification of the peninsula and to an unspecified Piedmontese free hand in doing so.

    The fading of papal support had killed the neo-Guelph cause: now the idea of a peninsula led by an Italian but unpatriotic pope was unthinkable even for the religious masses and the withdrawal of Two Sicilies from the campaign had killed the idea of a peninsular confederation. This brought a lot of sudden water to the mill of civil confederates like Carlo Cattaneo and Ricasoli. Although a peninsular confederation was unthinkable at the moment, an alternative idea, a North Italian Confederation made of Piedmont and the other north Italian states influenced by it and Sicily, begun to spread creating fertile ground for the proposals of these statesmen who presented them to Prime Minister Balbo and to King Carlo Alberto, Winner of the Austria, in the fall.
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    14. THE END OF 1848
  • 14. THE END OF 1848

    With the war over, the nations of the peninsula began the demobilization of the armies and the long process of returning home for many of them, a home that had changed radically in the meantime during their absence. The peace of London had given Savoy a free hand in the administration and internal reorganization of their new possessions as well as an overwhelming influence in the other remaining states such as Tuscany and the Emilian duchies where, before proceeding with their reorganization, Balbo saw it necessary allocate a Piedmontese division in each, both for defense and to remind them of who was in charge at the moment.

    Cesare Balbo was grappling with the reorganization of the territories obtained after the victory over Austria and their future political order: they were a heterogeneous mass of monarchies and republics, each with unique history and traditions, typical of the Italian peninsula in which a short distance changed radically culture and way of being. If someone wanted to create a stable union, he had to enhance these differences, channeling them into a non-regionalist but "Italian" externalization in itself. Cattaneo's ideas came to the aid of the prime minister, also supported by the Tuscan prime minister Capponi who in a meeting at Palazzo Madama persuaded the prime minister and the king to call a constituent assembly that would lay the foundations of the North Italian Confederation which was convened for on February 10, 1849 and was elected according to the electoral methods of each state.

    About the Kingdom of Sardinia, an internal reorganization was necessary: the annexation of Lombardy had been successfully completed, while the Venetian Unity Committees had organized a vote in August regarding unification with the rest of the north and had won with 99% of the votes. During July, the government brokered a provisional agreement with the republican and monarchical factions of Veneto: Venice would remain a republic and would have possessed the old territory of the dogado while the mainland would have entered into a personal union with Sardinia as the Duchy of Veneto in which the elections for the Turin parliament were to be held in November. The duchies of Parma and Modena were abolished and replaced with the United Provinces of Emila, whose king was Carlo Alberto. The small states underwent some territorial changes such as the exchange of Piacenza for Guastalla between the provinces of Parma and Modena. Internal elections were organised and the Statuto extended to the United Provinces, along with the arrival of many Sardinian army units and bureaucrats to reform the internal affairs of the region.

    Tuscany and Sicily had remained nominally independent but under strong Piedmontese influence: Savoy troops were stationed in Tuscany and Sicily, where there was a detachment of the fleet as a guarantee against any strange idea of Ferdinand II. These states were not incorporated in the north but were linked to it through the creation of a Customs League that broke down the commercial borders between the three states, a right of free movement with minimal controls and a unique system of weights and measures with the adoption of the universal and metric system, which would come into effect on January 1, 1849. In both elections were called for the creation of the Confederation; although Sicily was not geographically in Northern Italy, the dynastic and military ties with Piedmont were too important and Alberto Amedeo worked to organize the elections together with the Sicilian government to organize the elections Inn the meantime the Government with the help of the king had approved the Sicilian constitution, of English matrix, which was very liberal and advanced for the period, making the island a full-fledged constitutional monarchy.

    Meanwhile in Rome the situation was out of control: after the withdrawal of the papal troops from the northern countryside a succession of governments and ministers had fallen because they were unable to satisfy the isolationist pontiff and the patriotic population, culminating with the assassination of Pellegrino Rossi, first Minister, on November 15, 1848 which was followed the day after an armed revolt led by Ciceruacchio and Carlo Luciano Bonaparte surrounded the Quirinale asking for a democratic government. Realizing the seriousness of the situation Pius IX fled the city disguised as a priest for Gaeta, under the protection of Ferdinand II, leaving the city under the control of the revolutionaries who, including the situation, formed a provisional government on December 12 and constituent assembly to decide the new state structure. The pope's escape to Gaeta proved to be the occasion for patriots in Romagna and Marche to rise up and expel the bewildered papal garrisons. As a result of the secret agreement of the Treaty of London, the Piedmontese army, reinforced by the III Corps established from 40,000 soldiers enlisted in Lombardy and from 14,000 men from Durando, was stationed in Emilia and Veneto and as soon as the insurrection drove the soldiers the Sardinians crossed the border pointing towards Bologna and Rimini, which were reached at the beginning of December. The papal soldiers could not resist the Piedmontese advance led by Durando who at the head of his troops in pontifical uniform marched with the Sardinians towards Ancona, only the winter slowed the advance.

    Outside the peninsula the confrontation between Hungary and Austria was directed towards a direct confrontation: taking advantage of the disasters in Italy and the insurrections in Vienna and Prague the Kossuth government had expanded the army with both local volunteers and Hungarian soldiers returned to their homeland; expanded its borders with the addition of the Transylvanian regions that had joined by plebiscite, causing clashes between the non-Hungarian and Hungarian populations; sent diplomats to London and Paris in the hope of getting some sign of diplomatic help as had happened for Italy, with the empire distracted in the repression that Prince Schwarzenberg had planned to begin in the autumn with the reorganization of the forces coming from Italy and Croatia which had pacified the Dalmatian coast in the summer, due to Italian patriotic insurrections in Zadar and Rijeka which were repressed. An army of 50,000 men was organizing against Vienna and one of similar size was headed for Prague. It wasn't even all the Austrian army and the Hungarian forces were already in a 1: 2 ratio.

    Russia was waiting in the meantime. Nicholas I was still engaged in suppressing the remnants of the nationalist agitation in Poland and mulling over the question of serfdom that he could not stand as an institution, but on which the basis of the power of the Tsar was based, which depended on the nobles to control the vast empire. A nascent urban high society in Moscow and St. Petersburg had begun to express moderately liberal, Western-inspired ideas, along with various artistic figures. The situation in Austria seemed to stabilize with Schwarzenberg's assurances that Vienna would fall with Prague and that the Congress of Vienna would be maintained. The Austrian ambassador, however, had suggested to the emperor that an intervention in Hungary would be very welcome if the situation came to that.

    In the United States, General Zachary Taylor of the Whig party became the 12th President of the United States: using his popularity as a general during the Mexican-American war it had been easy for him to defeat his opponent Lewis Cass, launching a campaign in which he used the his charisma and his military successes to convince the population to vote for him, avoiding too complex discussions on the party's program.

    In France, discussions continued in the constituent assembly on the method of election of the president of the republic, divided between the direct method and the assembly method. During the debate, a motion was brought forward which banned Napoleon's descendants from participating in the elections, to which Louis Napoleon opposed in one of the most famous speeches in French history. The deputies saw firsthand what a Bonaparte could do and they realized that if he could campaign among the population he would certainly have collected their vote and won the elections. Thus it was that the Liberals and Democrats forced the motion that was approved by Cavignac, banishing Bonaparte's descendants from the presidency. The assembly finally decided on the assembly method and Cavignac, due to its reputation among conservative and liberal circles, without underestimating the support of Adolphe Thiers, became the 1st president of the 2nd republic on December 10, 1848, inaugurating a new era of moderate republicanism with a government that rested on his person and his charisma.
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    15. 1849 (January-July)
  • 15. 1849 (January-June)

    1849 promised to be another year of patriotic struggle across Europe from 1st January, politically like in Germany or military like Italy and Hungary.

    The proclamation of the Roman Republic and the Pope's escape to Gaeta had created a power vacuum in the center of the peninsula that the Savoy were moving to fill with the army that reached the border with Two Sicilies at the port of Ascoli, while the Durando's army accompanied by the 1st Corps of Bava had turned towards Rome, the target of the campaign. Roman and Umbrian patriots had already come to meet the army, welcoming them with all the feasts possible just as happened in Veneto six months ago, to lead them to the city while revolutionary ambassadors were already at the Tuscan and Piedmontese court to obtain guarantees and support for the newly proclaimed state. General elections were held on January 21 and the republic led by the triumvirs Mazzini, Armellini and Saffi was proclaimed on February 8, the first of which was by far the most important. Although deeply averse to the monarchy and a republican in his heart, Mazzini understood that at this moment the power and prestige of the monarchy were too high to be overthrown and an attempt to resist the monarchical armies would only worsen the republican situation so, as months ago had happened in the north, he was convinced that it was time to collaborate with the Savoys to make Italy for which he sent messengers to Bava and Durando inviting them to enter the city to protect it from the papal reaction and a letter to Carlo Alberto, his great rival, in which he asked for the entry of the Roman Republic into the North Italian Confederation which was being built in Milan.

    On February 1 there were confederal elections in all Italian territories influenced by Sardinia and the election had led to the establishment of a constituent assembly in the city of Milan with the aim of defining the internal structure of the new state. There were various factions within the assembly including the expressions of the Historical Right and Historical Left that were in agreement on many aspects, a small group of Republicans who proved to be very rowdy, some regionalist groups such as the Venetians and Sicilians and the ever-present liberals. The assembly opened with a speech by Carlo Alberto who stressed that arms had expelled foreigners and that it was now up to words to create Italy. The first months of discussion, dominated by the historical Right and Left, led to the following points:

    • The title of president of the federation would have belonged to the king of Sardinia who could transmit it by inheritance
    • The creation of a Confederal parliament based in Milan and members of the whole Confederation elected with the Sicilian model, i.e. all males over the age of 21 who knew how to read and write (it was not written that census was still important for counting votes ) and a parliament that should have represented the requests of individual states within the Confederation, also based in Milan, but for a law the double approval of the Confederal and Regional Parliament was not necessary, the consent of the chamber which had proposed it was sufficient.
    • The President of the Confederation had a veto over the laws that could be overcome with the consent of the majority of 2/3 of the parliamentarians of the chamber who had proposed the law, the President could make proposals for the law and appointed the Prime Minister who governed for His Majesty.
    • Freedom of movement for all citizens within the Confederal territory without the need for passports or passes and the adoption of a single passport and document system.
    • The elimination of all internal customs barriers and the conferment of trade regulations to the confederal parliament, the mandatory adoption of the universal measurement system.
    • Freedom of worship, which affected Jewish and Protestant minorities in Italy who had been in favor of the revolution.
    After the first rapid progress due to the euphoria of unification, the assembly ran aground on the military question and the requirements of the army, divided between those who proposed a central army and those who proposed several national armies and a decentralized command; the question of the law and civil, criminal and commercial codes. Before August the Roman Republic was incorporated into the federation together with the Marche and Romagna, where hasty elections were organized to send delegates.

    The Roman Republic had sent messages to the Pope to Gaeta from the moment of his birth, inviting him to return to the city and to assume his role as bishop of Rome and spiritual leader of Catholicism, requests that the pontiff had always categorically rejected with the utmost insistence: Pius IX was unable to realize that the Papal States was a relic of the past that had no place in the modern world and stumbled upon the recovery of Rome, sending messengers to Catholic powers such as France and Spain, but the former under the Cavignac government was not willing to embark in foreign military adventures because of his internal hardships and good relations with the Kingdom of Sardinia that had occupied the papal state while Spain was enveloped by a civil war between Carlist and Bourbon pretenders who had paralyzed the peninsula. The Two Sicilies were the only state that had responded to the Pope's call but Ferdinando II did not want to risk a clash with the richer and more powerful north that had control of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Sicily and central Italy. The Bourbon army would emerge defeated and the king simply sent a note of protest while the pope had to resign himself to a long exile in Gaeta while waiting for a change in Rome.

    In Hungary the revolt had resulted in an open war between Austria and rebels. Ferdinand I had finally abdicated, having lost the last bits of clarity that remained due to the loss of Italy and the riots in the main cities of the Empire. Prince Schwarzenberg easily managed to maneuver the young emperor Franz Joseph, crowned in Vienna after the abdication of his uncle and the renunciation of his father, and maintain his post as Prime Minister of the Empire. The Hungarian armies had meanwhile expelled the Austrian presence from the nation, although an imperial army occupied Buda, the rest of the national territory was free and the Austrian armies that had crossed the borders had suffered numerous defeats. Arthur Görgey began a victorious campaign in the spring aimed at expelling once and for all the Germans from the Magyar lands, repeatedly defeating Prince Alfred. This succession of military victories gave a confidence injection to the Hungarian parliament meeting in Debrecen which proclaimed the independence of the nation on April 14 in response to the Austrian Constitution of March which had relegated Hungary to an insignificant province. The continuous military successes, however, hid the difficulties of Hungarian life, made up of privations and sacrifices: there were no nearby ports or allies with which they could trade, but only Russia that was massing its armies on the borders of Galicia. Once they took control of the country, the Hungarian armies split into two: one would protect Budapest from the Austrian advance in the summer while the other army would protect the Carpathians from any Russian raids but one thing was clear: unless some power intrudes in the revolt would have ended before 1850.

    In France Cavignac had been elected first president of the republic thanks to his great fame within the constituent assembly which had meanwhile become a national assembly. Although reborn, France was not without its problems: the memories of the days of June still caused widespread discontent among urban proletarian classes, especially Parisian ones, who had seen their requests for rights repressed in blood. Something had to be done before the Democrats had managed to channel this uneasiness of the masses into electoral votes that would have led to a new revolution, so the government's job would have been to heal the social divide and build a vibrant and compact republican society. Cavignac's first year was devoted entirely to resolving internal issues such as unemployment and expanding the social rights of the population traumatized by last year's revolution. In this climate of "isolation" international adventures were not well seen also because the money of the army (the strongest on the continent) could be spent on the economic recovery rather than squandered away from France, so when the Pope's request came Cavignac refused to participate in the expedition. The government also proposed incentives and privileges for all French who would emigrate to Algeria to colonize the land and bring civilization, starting the trend of mass European immigration to the colonial territories of North Africa with the consequent expulsion of the natives and local insurrections that would plague the region until the twentieth century.

    In the German area, the parliament of Frankfurt had finally come, after months of debate, to adopt the solution of Greater Germany than the Small one, this meant that Austria and Bohemia would be an integral part of the united German nation, instead of being excluded from the union as provided for in the Small solution. MEPs had finished drafting the constitution in late March, an imperial but highly liberal constitution that aimed to transform the myriad of ted states in a single state, free, democratic and protected by one of the great German ruling families. The candidates for the role of leader of the Empire were Austria, Prussia and Bavaria. Although Austria had lost a lot of prestige with the expulsion from Italy it had managed to regain control of Vienna and Prague (but Hungary was still in revolt) and Prussia had humiliated herself with the defeat in the Slesvig war, leading delegates to believe that the Habsburgs, former presidents of the Confederation, could accept the crown and sent a delegation to Vienna which was received by Prince Schwarzenberg. The prince refused to make a decision on the crown until the delegates provided assurances about the continued Viennese hegemony over Confederal affairs and the future of the rest of the Habsburg empire outside the Federation. While parliament again divided between for and against the proposal, a delegation of proposing deputies from Little Germany went to Berlin asking for an audience with Frederick William IV, offering him the imperial crown that the reactionary king refused, unable to accept a crown from below. With this refusal and the impossibility of reaching an agreement on the concessions requested by Austria the idea of a united German empire died in the Paulkirche but, the successes of the previous year in deciding the extension of the Zollverein to the whole Confederation and the creation of the Confederal Fleet convinced the deputies to try a third time to create a compromise that would not lead to a united nation but that would tighten the bonds between the members of the Confederation, strengthening its structure.
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    16. 1849 (July-December)
  • 16. 1849 (July-December)

    The Roman Republic was admitted to the Constituent Assembly as a full-fledged member of the federation on 7 July 1849 by sending elected deputies in a flash election, often on the recommendation of Mazzini who saw his as the only true republic, Venice was only an oligarchy, to the Assembly of Milan where they quickly made a name for promoting ultra-democratic and republican ideas that earned them the hostility of the rest of the assembly, more on monarchist positions. No European power had come to the rescue of Pius IX who according to information was throwing repeated curses on the Republic and Italy, risking to alienate Catholics in Italy. The Balbo government, which at the time was de facto the Confederal government, hesitated to promulgate laws concerning religion for fear of alienating the masses and pushing them towards papal rhetoric which saw the constitution of a unitary Italian state the end of its temporal power and was making efforts to turn the people against the sovereigns of this united Italy, propaganda immediately found ears in the Neapolitan court, eager to transform the Pope's stay in Gaeta into a blow to international politics, placing itself as the new seat of Catholicism after the fall of Rome. No army was ever organized and the situation in Italy remained stable until the end of the year with the division of the peninsula in North and South. Giuseppe Garibaldi was appointed war minister of the Roman Republic and together with Giovanni Durando he worked to reorganize the army Roman on the Piedmontese model; Garibaldi was also a proponent of a single, centralized army for the confederation, believing that a central command would organize a war more functionally.

    In Hungary the situation had become very fluid. The Hungarian National Army had been able to defeat the imperial army several times on the field inflicting losses of prestige such as to push the rest of Europe to consider the Austrian army subpar compared to their view the series of defeats suffered by the Italians and Hungarians. With the approval of the European powers, Kossuth sent messengers to Vienna proposing a conference to resolve the Hungarian question. Anglo-French representatives to the Habsburg court pressured the prime minister to accept the offer and organize a conference on the matter; as soon as the Russians learned of Schwarzenberg's intentions, they too wanted to participate to prevent the Congress of Vienna from being wiped out. So it was that in August a conference was organized in Paris with representatives of the four great powers and Hungary. Austrians and Russians made it clear immediately that they were ready to resume hostilities with the rebels if they had not obtained an at least satisfactory agreement and this pushed the sides to commit themselves to finding an acceptable compromise. Consensus was finally reached by proclaiming Hungary an "autonomous" region within the empire, in control of its internal and monetary policy even though the guilder was linked to the Austrian crown; Hungary would become a constitutional monarchy with the emperor of Austria as head of state and an imperial representative who sat in the Budapest parliament as a guarantee and had the veto power on subjects on a list. Foreign policy and defense would have been due to Austria but Hungary had to contribute to fielding its own army. Every 5 years there would have been a conference between the two crowns called Ausgleich in which the representatives would have reviewed the treaty and if they would have modified it if it had been incomplete.

    After the failure in crowning the Emperor of Austria or the Prussian King the delegates spent the whole summer working out a new solution for Germany's dream and the result was the Confederal solution: The Frankfurt parliament would become the representative body of the Confederation, making official the end of the Confederate Diet, and each state German would have elected representatives by its own method even if the preferred one was to grant the vote to "independent" adult males, a definition that varied from country to country. There would have been a confederal budget to which the various states would have had to contribute with a small percentage of their collections; the Reichsflotte was officially created and its direction given to Prince Adalbert of Prussia while it was decided to maintain the armies of individual states instead of a common one but it was established that in case of war a unified command would be created. The archduke of Austria would remain president of the confederation by virtue of the Habsburg prestige and parliament would conduct an internal policy aimed at uniting the confederation, among whose objectives we can find: the adoption of a single system of measures and documents, complete economic integration and basic social networks desired by radicals; any conflict within the confederation would have been resolved in parliament. Soon after learning of this massive increase in power by the rdical Parliement, opposed by most of the larger states, their monarchs strongly protested, with the Austrian and Prussian ones retreating their delegates. Without the support of the major German powers soon the other princes retreated their delegates and soon there were only a handful, not enough for the assembly quorum. In this dire situation the radical republicans took over and moved the Parliement to Stuggart to evade Confederate troops that were rumored to be coming to close the Parleiment as Prussian troops were restoring order in all northern Germany. Here a more radical repubblican constitution, inspired by both the French and American model, was drafted but soon after learning this the Duke of Baden ordered the Parliement closed and the delegates dispersed as it happened in the fall. Whth the crushing of the Parliement and it's liberal ideas the German Confederation with it's old borders was reinstated and many of the conquests of Frankfurt were cancelled such as the Reichsflotte and a severe reduction in the trade privileges for the Zollverein

    The period 1848-1849 led to great changes in Europe: the abolition of the monarchy in France was the first, followed by the realization of the Italian Independence and the partial success of Frankfurt which, although it had failed to achieve a Reich, had managed to strengthen the Bund. The supporters of the congress in Vienna, Austria and Russia were experiencing two different situations: the first was humiliated and exhausted by the revolutions and withdrew into itself, while Russia emerged unharmed. In two years the Congress of Vienna had been undone and history changed forever.
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    The years between 1850 and 1860 were years of great economic, political, commercial and military development throughout the peninsula, especially in the north.

    In 1850, after two years of constituent assembly, the Italian Confederation (IC) was proclaimed in Milan with the proclamation of Vittorio Emanuele II president of the Confederation inside the cathedral of Milan in an elaborate ceremony that would mark the birth of the first truly modern Italian state. Turin would have remained the capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the largest state of the confederation, but Milan would have become the capital of the IC since the structures to house the Confederate Parliament and the Confederate Senate were already present as well as the various ministries of the institution and the Sforzesco castle was renovated as a residence for the king when he visited the capital.

    Cesare Balbo resigned from his position as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia citing the stress of managing and reorganizing the new territories and the new power that Piedmont found itself with. While resigning from his post he advised king Vittorio Emanuele II to pick Camillo Benso of Cavour as the successor of Balbo, citing both his exploit in the London conference and his very successful tenure of the ministers of commerce and finance during the premiership of Balbo. The king approved the decision and so Cavour was made Prime Minister of Sardinia and de facto premier of the Confederation in 1850. One of the first acts of Cavour was the foundation of the Liberal Federalist Party in Turin along with his political associates from various factions that decided to throw their lot along with the cunning new Prime Minister, to politically legitimize their rule by creating the first modern political party in Italy. With Sardinia Piedmont being the most powerful and richest state of the peninsula it was obvious that the Confederal Parliement would come under the dominance of the Piedemontese government, which now included many Lombards and Venetians like Carlo Cattaneo which became Minister of Confederal Affairs in the Cavour government; this dominance was not an oppression: the other states still retained some kind of political freedom and control on their internal affairs but were all oriented towards the north which was the guarantor of the Confederation.

    Cavour's first action as Prime Minister was a diplomatic outreach to European nations to establish political, diplomatic and commercial ties: Cavour's idea was of an rapprochement with France and Great Britain as guarantors of the Confederation against Austria, showing Italy as a reliable commercial partner and indispensable ally. Strong ties were established especially with the French Republic which agreed to a bilateral trade agreement to lower tariffs, especially on products such as coal and iron, while the London financiers showed themselves willing to provide loans at very low rates by virtue of the bonds that Cavour had established in the British Empire during his summer stay. The main enemy remained Austria. The Confederation began to spread all over the world with embassies in Europe, America and the Middle East.

    With secured access to raw materials and capital, the government concentrated its efforts on the industrialization of the country on the English model, with the construction of numerous railway lines such as Turin-Venice and Turin-Rome which helped to bring them closer and closer. the population. The construction of railways facilitated trade and the concentration of industries in large production centers especially where the industrialization process was already underway as in Piedmont, Lombardy and Tuscany: Milan, Turin, Florence and Genoa became industrial and commercial centers interconnected thanks to the large railway network; the agrarian reform functionally reorganized the land ownership in an integral and capitalist way, according to which the countryside had to efficiently produce the resources to be allocated to the cities that would transform and ship them abroad to be sold, leaving masses of peasants who migrated to the cities where they became the first urban proletariat. In Milan the Confederate stock exchange opened, an institution already present since the times of the Austrians, in which the first debt securities and the first listed companies on the market such as the railways were treated, this financial concentration would lead Milan to become the economic center of the Confederation.

    Industrialization and economic growth had given rise to social changes that had to be addressed quickly by the government which had the constitutional duty to provide education to its citizens. Of course, this education was a basic and not yet complete education, addressed to the literacy of the population and the spread of Italian culture with the adoption of Confederal teaching methods. The increase in literacy also gave impetus to a cultural change, a transition from the old local dialects to a language which, although still in training, was taking on definite and universal characters as well as an ever wider understanding by the population; this was followed by the production of literal works, the most famous of which is undoubtedly Alessandro Manzoni's Promessi Sposi, which became one of the best-selling books in the Confederation, which will be worth the title of the "Book that made Italy". The cultural flourishing was not only literary but also artistic, scientific and philosophical concentrated in the cities of Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome which confirmed to be great Italian cultural centers.

    After half a decade Cavour became interested in the issues of the urban proletariat after there were some signs of Marxist worker unrest in the main national factories. The count intended to protect the masses from the red spectre, directing their ideology towards a post unitary patriotism that saw the Confederation as the center of Italy's political and social life. So it was that to avoid a widespread anger of the working classes against the government and the industrialists who were making a great contribution to the progress of the country, Cavour issued the "Labor Code" one of the first codes on the matter, in which employers were obliged to ensure a minimum wage (even if low) to their employees, together with minimum safety conditions, child labor was restricted to certain not excessively dangerous professions, reiterating that children had to go to school and not to the factory and the creation of the first labour unions was allowed, subject to control by the Carabinieri to avoid the infiltration of red elements. The Labor Code relaxed the situation and prevented social unrest, making the count gain prestige among the masses.

    Carlo Alberto died of liver failure in 1849. The last years of his life had been blessed by the victorious war against Austria but cursed by the clash between the state and the church that greatly anguished the monarch. At his death a monumental funeral was organized in Turin in which dignitaries and foreign leaders participated thanks to the enormous prestige that the man had accumulated and his body was sent for a tour of the main cities of the Confederation before being buried in the chapel of the Savoy. Vittorio Emanuele II was crowned king of Piedmont and president of the Confederation on the death of his father. At the coronation Cavour suggested to the king and his wife, Maria Adelaide, to start a tour of both the Confederation and the European courts to present the Savoy family as probable masters of Italy; the initiative had great success especially in Great Britain where Vittorio Emanuele II made a good impression with Queen Victoria. The departure of the king allowed the Prime Minister to implement his plan of separation between state and church, commissioning Giuseppe Siccardi to draft the famous "Siccardi laws" aimed at the abolition of the medieval privileges of the clergy, the suppression of the mendicant monastic orders and the expropriation of most of the church's land and real estate properties which were used as collateral for new loans taken from London. Only medical orders were spared and the inability to reach an agreement with the conservatives prevented the promulgation of civil marriage laws. The pope and the prelates loyal to him responded with encyclicals and excommunications while the lower clergy and some bishops, especially in the north, were in favor of this reorganization feeling the need of the church to be an ally of Italy rather than an antagonist, creating a fine division within the Italian Catholic community. When Vittorio Emanuele II returned from his tour in Italy and Europe he demanded to review the laws but never threatened to fire Cavour, the man was too important for his own sake.

    The reorganization of the armed forces also began. The first act was the establishment of the Italian Confederal Navy, obtained through the merger of all the pre-unification naval forces and the start of a naval industry in Genoa, La Spezia, Piombino and Palermo aimed at the construction of steamboats with which to replace the old ones sailing ships. The Confederal Army was also created on paper, while in reality the real creation of a unique combat force would come years later: the Italian armies were divided: there were the Piedmontese who had the best equipment and training, the Tuscans, the Sicilians and Romans, each trained and armed in their own way with particular strategies and tactics. The creation of a central command was necessary to begin the organization and General Bava became the first chief of staff. Given the success of infantry specialties such as the Bersaglieri Alessandro LaMarmora was commissioned to expand the body to two divisions that would become the army's spearhead and Giuseppe Garibaldi was contacted by the army to train guerrilla units of which he was an expert.

    In 1859 the Rattazzi Law was issued, the first Confederal administrative reorganization that established 7 constituent states of the Confederation: the Kingdom of Sardinia, made up of it's original territory and the two duchies of Lombardy and Veneto/Verona which were annexed following the victorious war in 1848, the military and industrial powerhouse of the peninsula; the Republic of Venice, along with much of the old dogado, a bit bourgeois and focused on trade in the Adriatic and promoting it's charme as an island city; the United Provinces of Emilia and Romagna, a still minly agrarian republic established after the escape of the rulers of Emilia outside Italy and the revolts in Romagna, its landowners hold much sway over the population but the throught land reform has reduced their influence, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, notoriously the only state still ruled by a Von Habsburg in Italy, on it's way to become an industrial region; the Principality of Adria; the Roman Republic, which was the main opponent of Sardinia's dominance thanks to the influence of Mazzini and not much else since the region is underdeveloped and the Kingdom of Sicily, one of the most important areas of the Confederation due to it's strategic location and the energy of his king Ferdinand who survived a grave illness and was on it's way to recover.


    Italy in 1860 following the Rattazzi Law, courtesy of @Drex


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    The Victorian era was in full swing and the British Empire sat on the throne of the world: an empire that went from Canada to New Zealand via India and the Cape, absorbed in its splendid isolation. Queen Victoria, loved by her subjects together with her husband Albert, reigned over an empire on which the sun never set. Industrial, scientific and naval development had allowed the United Kingdom to take a position of advantage over other European powers and thanks to the superiority of the royal navy it dominated the sea and trade, the lifeblood of the empire with precious Chinese, Indian and African goods that flowed into London, transforming the city into an unparalleled cultural and industrial center, where Victorian high society, dominated by conservative religious and social morals of the time, had turned into a global model and, helped by the vastness of his empire, he easily spread cultural, political and industrial ideas.

    The French Republic experienced the decade as a period of stabilization and settlement following the revolution, during which the republican institutions consolidated, also helped by the charisma and moderation of Cavignac who remained president until 1857 when he died in office leaving the government to Adolphe Thiers and his alliance between conservatives and liberals who marginalized the Democrats who had been in opposition since the beginning of the republic. Despite growing consensus among the urban proletariat, France still possessed an agricultural economy with the countryside a conservative stronghold that allied with the urban bourgeoisie that with Cavignac's interventionist policies had increased its power and wealth by expanding the French industrial base. Occasionally this social division had escalated in more heated situations with urban clashes between political opponents but never of the levels of the June Days, the population remembered what had happened when the army arrived. These clashes shook the republican structure but it remained standing thanks to the moderate policies of the president who was able to regn in his coalition inspired in part by the United States from which inspiration was taken for some institutions such as the Supreme Court. France did not embark on foreign adventures, preferring to focus on her internal problems; this does not mean that the armed forces were not a pillar of the republic which was also led by a general, receiving substantial investments which made them the first on the European continent. French military interest was concentrated in Algeria, a place of gradual colonization and for the moment limited to the coasts and in Egypt where Prosper Enfantin had established a company to dig a canal in the Suez area. Recognizing the usefulness of the project but also the costs, France invited the Italian Confederation and the United Kingdom to participate in the project. The Italians agreed quickly while the British hesitated for a few years until they entered the company and construction began in 1859.

    The German area had been deeply shaken by the events of 1848-1849 with the experience of the Frankfurt Parliament which would represent one of the highest points for German liberal history and the beginning of a serious discussion on the need for a unified German state. Although it had been suppressed by reactionary weapons, the seeds of unity had been widespread among the minds of the bourgeois and the major thinkers of the time who began to compose songs, paint paintings, create statues and architectural works aimed at glorifying the German spirit. Austria had been heavily defeated by the revolutions with an internal instability caused by political and national reasons with the spread of liberal ideas and the unrest of minorities who asked for a reform based on the Hungarian model. Franz Joseph and Schwarzenberg refused to take these requests into consideration and fell back on a return to reactionary absolutism by repressing any anti-imperial demonstration. In this repressive climate, Franz Joseph was assassinated by a Hungarian patriot in 1853, angered by the emperor's failed concessions to his people. Schwarzenberg died in 1852 and with them gone the Austrian reactionary age came to an end with the coronation of Maximilian I, just twenty-one but of liberal ideas: he had opposed repressions during the revolution and in the early years of his reign he worked to reform its domains with freedom such as that of the press, the establishment of an imperial parliament elected with requirements of census, age and education, the beginning of the promotion of other nationalities in their local bureaucracy and the impulse to industrialize Austria, starting from Vienna and Prague and later spreading throughout the empire. Led by his nobility of mind and great cunning Maximillian did everything possible to improve the life of his subjects and restore Imperial prestige, moving away from the Balkans and focusing on Germany recovering the influence lost in the south, one of the most prominent examples was the marriage in 1856 between Maximillian and Elisabeth Von Wittelsbach (“Sissi”). Prussia, after the experience of the war for Schlesweig and the defeat, was getting back on its feet: military reforms followed the defeat, aimed at transforming the Prussian army into one of the best in Europe since after the Napoleonic wars relative continental peace had made the military fall into a state of quiet, but also an economic boom in the Rhineland area gave a strong boost to the Prussian economy which began the slow process of industrialization, favored by the control of the Rhine and the surrounding areas rich in coal and iron which allowed Prussia to develop a large and well-stocked industrial base. In this decade the division of Germany began to emerge in the North (led by Prussia which influenced most of the states and of the Protestant religion) and South (Led by Austria and composed of the southern Catholic kingdoms); outside the courts and in elegant living rooms ideas of German unity were spreading, not of a monarchical but republican nature, since the kings had refused the crown when they could take it meant that they were not interested in seeing a united Germany and then the bourgeoisie would have had to take matters in hand.

    The "Sick man of Europe", the Ottoman Empire, was in the midst of the Tanzimat era, a series of reforms aimed at modernizing the decadent Islamic empire which, after its peak in the seventeenth century, had begun a slow decline with the gradual erosion of its power in Africa and in the Balkans, with the growth of local nationalist movements which were strongly opposed to the Turkish domination which continued from the fifteenth century. The long period of peace enjoyed by the empire favored the implementation of reforms and modernizations among the population, such as the reform of the way of dressing that went from a Turkish to a Western style, the release of the first banknotes, the creation of a ministry of education and the Ottoman national bank among many. Slowly the empire was starting to rise after the decline of previous years, trying to solidify its foundations in order to be able to rise again. On the other side of the Bosphorus, however, the Slavic populations were conspiring against Constantinople: seeing Greece as an example of success thanks to European aid, Romanians and Serbs, who already owned their states, were spreading discontent among their compatriots under the yoke Ottoman, giving rise to acts of civil resistance and some small local revolt, crushed by the new imperial army. Realizing that they would not be able to defeat the Turks alone, the Slavic peoples turned to the only power that would listen to them: Russia.

    Russia, the giant of the east, had avoided the collapse of the Austrian empire and returned to its semi-isolation from Western European affairs, absorbed in the consolidation and extension of the empire. The most important event of the decade was the death of Nicholas I and the succession of his son Alexander II. Tsar Alexander II was a reformer: he had seen firsthand the vastness and backwardness of Russia, based mainly on subsistence agriculture and serfdom and had understood that the motherland would not have had a future without change. So he embarked on the most ambitious reform campaign since the time of Peter the Great, touching on subjects such as justice, the economy and civil society but strangely not the army, not much loved by the pacifist Tsar. During his reign, the foundations were laid for a nascent Russian industry in major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg and the emergence of an urban middle class as a consequence of industrialization, literacy campaigns began among the rural masses by means of public tutors and religious ones to recover the abyss of development that existed with western countries and censorship was removed, promoting the reformist political discourse among the upper classes who no longer had to fear the secret police by proposing reforms. Alexander II also laid the foundations for the future emancipation of serfs which was declared in 1861, putting an end to the centuries-old tradition of tying farmers to the land and allowing greater mobility between cities and countryside, thanks also to the reduction of secret police checks. The liberal wave of the decade fully fulfilled the Russian Empire and its Tsar was its main proponent. A sector that underwent few interventions was that of the armed forces: the navy began to use the first steamships while the absence of a war to verify the preparation of the ship to no reform was considered except the expansion of ground forces and a principle of modernization of their equipment.

    The Great Qing Empire experienced the decade as an era of turmoil and social disorder that Emperor Xianfeng could not remedy. Humiliated by Great Britain during the First Opium War, China had not modernized and neither taken an interest in Western ways of doing it, falling further and further behind the rest of the world, absorbed in a splendid isolation that had been broken by British weapons. General discontent, coupled with frequent famines, inflamed the hearts of the population that arose for the duration of the decade, the biggest of these insurrections was the Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuan, a theocracy that united traditional Chinese religions and Christianity. Unable to suppress the rebellion in a short time the entire empire was engulfed by a civil war aggravated by the Arrow incident which was the spark for the second opium war which saw Britain join Russia, interested in the Pacific coast of Outer Manchuria, France, involved after the execution of Catholic missionaries and the young Italian Confederation who sent an expeditionary force together with their allies. The war lasted four years and, in the context of the Taiping rebellion, was relatively civil, the only particularly violent act was the burning of the Summer Palace by the Anglo-French troops. The war ended with the concession of Kowloon and the delta of the pearl river to Great Britain, External Manchuria to Russia and the opening of China to Franco-Italian traders as well as reparations in gold and silver. In return, Westerners helped the empire to suppress the Taiping rebellion which by 1862 would finally end after tens of millions of deaths mainly due to hunger and reprisals.

    Across the Chinese sea, Japan was slowly being dragged out of its isolation since the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853, leading an American fleet with the aim of opening up Japanese ports to foreign trade. The Shogun had, for 214 years, applied a policy of closure from the outside that had isolated Japanese society from the global events and technological progress that was taking place outside its borders. Perry's arrival in Edo and the subsequent treaty of 1854 were a shock to many Japanese who had negative views towards foreigners, spreading some discontent towards the Shogun who had succumbed to the "barbarians" and had opened the country , leading to a "return" to the imperial court of Japanese noble families who, after the failure of the Shogun, had begun to see the Emperor not only as a religious leader but also as a potential political leader. The arrival of modernity in Japan was not all roses: foreign trade increased as did foreign diplomats in Edo who offered to modernize the nation behind fruitful concessions but the Japanese economy suffered from a too unbalanced exchange rate between gold and silver: 1: 5 instead of 1: 1.5 as in the rest of the world, leading western traders to exchange silver for gold and bring the precious metal out of the country, making a fortune and decreasing gold reserves of the country with natural consequences on the economy such as the depreciation of the currency. This, coupled with the percived aggression on traditional Japanese culture, made the Emperor's camp more numerous and unrest against the Shogun started to increase.

    The United States experienced the post-war period as a period of growth and internal reorganization especially of the huge territories they had obtained after the war with Mexico. The discovery of gold in California in 1849 created an unprecedented gold rush on the east coast with thousands of people abandoning everything to go and seek fortune in California, contributing to the development of the state. The annexation of new territories and the growing division between slave and non-slave states gave rise to the 1850 compromise. The compromise was the result of long discussions between northern and southern politicians: the former wanted to admit New Mexico and California as they were free while the southerners feared that this would unbalance congress in favor of the north and threaten their institution. So it was that Senator Bell proposed dividing Texas in two: Texas proper in the north, and the state of Rio Grande in the south, organizing New Mexico as a territory and also dividing California in two: Northern California and Southern California, plus other provisions such as the obligation of the northern states to return the fugitive slaves. The compromise was seen by politicians as a useful move to avoid complications but the population, especially the northern one inflamed by the liberal ideas of the 1848 revolutions, considered the compromise as a surrender to the slavery power of the south, even going so far as to denounce the United States as a "slavocracy", the most daring proponents of this thought were the "free soilers" and what would become the Republican party which, among its objectives, had abolitionism. Among the many points of the 1850 compromise, that of popular sovereignty in determining the extension of slavery in the annexed territories, created many problems, especially with the opening of Kansas and Nebraska to colonization by abolitionist and slaver gangs that clashed regularly giving birth to the "Bloody Kansas" period. In the background, the country was rapidly industrializing, especially in the north, taking advantage of the huge natural and human resources (thanks to the emigration from Europe that was starting to increase) to build factories and railways, starting a new phase of American capitalism. The uprisings of 1848 in Europe had also raised public interest in other issues such as women's rights and workers' rights (the Labor Code promulgated in the Italian Confederation greatly affected them), leading to a general awareness of the American public , shaken by the decision of Dredd Scott V Sanford, who excluded African Americans from constitution protections. The decision of the Supreme Court ignited the abolitionist forces that led a radical campaign in 1860. The Democratic party understood that if they were divided they would lose to the Republicans and therefore in the convention of 1860, which will be remembered as one of the most eventful and heated in history , the northern and southern factions both compromised their positions by marginalizing the radicals, appointing Stephen Douglas as president and John Breckenridge as vice president. The democratic ticket won the elections mainly thanks to the compactness of the party which thanks to its unity prevented Lincoln from obtaining all the votes of the north. Stephen Douglas died in 1861, leaving the presidency to his deputy, John Breckenridge.