Prologue
Introduction

By Andronico Barbero

At the present day, the Kingdom of the Italians (as the Greater Italian Federation is most commonly known) is one of the most fascinating and self-contradictory countries of the world. A constitutional monarchy made up of Kingdoms, Republics, Free Cities and Principalities, united in its multi-layers divisions, the only parliamentary democracy where the King is not only a mere figurehead, one of the world's economical and scientific powerhouses, home of the most brilliant world politicians in one of the most endemically corrupted political systems, the country where clear oxymora like Secular Catholicism and Individualistic Socialism are a real thing, Italy is a fascinating mystery to everyone- Italians included. As Massimo d'Azeglio once put it: "Joseph the Maistre wrote that any people has the government it deserves. It would seem that the Italians deserved many."
A common myth originated in the "Risorgimento", is that this was the Italians' destiny since the beginning of time, strengthened by the seeds of centuries of division and oppression. But is it so? It certainly was not in the eyes of the ones who lived in the many statelets in which the Italian peninsula had been divided by the Congress of Vienna. Back in those times, Italy was really "a mere geographical expression", as the (in)famous quote by Clemens Von Metternich goes. And, if many among the literates wanted a united Italy, there seemed to be no consensus on how (or even when) this unification was to be achieved: a radical Republic (as envisioned by Mazzini and Garibaldi), a Federal, somewhat liberal Kingdom (as Cavour desired), or a Confederation led by the Pope (as Gioberti dreamed)?
In the end, they all won, they all lost, and it can be said that the Italian Unification is the best example of the saying "a good compromise leaves anyone somewhat dissatisfied". This goes against the myth that portrays that generation of heroes that made Italy as a compact, united front. They were not. Some of them did not even ever met, some condemned others to death, and even the ones who had a strong relationship quarreled a lot (one could write a book just out of the fights between Cavour and Ferdinand I, despite their attested mutual friendship). It took a lot of pragmatism, blood, and sheer luck to forge all these differences into a nation.
But how could it happen? The purpose of this book is to give a partial answer to this question in a somewhat unorthodox way. We will try, as much as we can, not to tell History but the histories of the men of the "generation who made a nation". It is hard to describe "the history of a soul" but we have enough material to give it a humble try.
Of course, we will have to make choices. We will focus on the men who took actual decisions who shape the destiny of Italy. We will spend a great deal of time seeing on how pivotal were their changes of mind and moment of pragmatism, since, as Cavour wonderfully put it: "There is no principle, however just or reasonable, which, if exaggerated, cannot lead us to the evilest of consequences".
Unnecessary it might be, let us give them a brief introduction. First, we will have Ferdinand, last King of Sardinia and First King of the Italians, or, as he is usually referred to, the Gentleman King. What would have happened of him (and of Italy) had not his elder brother Victor Emmanuel tragically died in flames on September 16th, 1822 (just two months before Ferdinand's birth) is anyone's guess. Someone says that Ferdinand felt a cadet all his life and that this was one of the reasons for his strong and friendly relationship with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, First Prime Minister of Italy (a second son himself) who will of course also feature in this book. For him, we will highlight how a passionate and risk-loving man he was, in contrast with the cold-blooded, highly rational image that the later propaganda gave of him.
We will of course have Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Republican who gave his life to enlarge a kingdom. To give an account of the life of this man, who was a sailor, a spaghetti-seller in Brazil, Admiral of the Uruguayan Navy, one the best guerrilla warfare commander of all times, we would need a book of its own. Things being so, we will focus on his contribution to the Italian cause, and particularly, his last and fatal achievement, the Endeavor of Zara.
Finally, Giuseppe Mazzini, the man who made a King the Permanent President of a Republic (although, in one of history's most controversial resurrection of ancient titles, formally the King of the Italians is the Princeps of the Roman Republic).
These are the man who made the impossible possible, the Fathers of our Nation.

One of the first trauma in anyone's life is to discover that our parents are no superheroes: they cry, they hurt and get hurt, they contradict themselves, they changed their mind they make mistakes. Sometimes, it is their failures that make us better human beings, while some of their successes may make us weaker. But after the initial shock, we should ask ourselves: Is this a delusion, or a blessing?
We would say, a blessing and a warning. A blessing, because any of us may capable of great deeds and endeavors. A warning, for successful we might be, we will never be fully in control of the events, and may well end up being remembered for something we never wanted in the first place. And if so, (this is the core question we should ask ourselves), is it that bad?
 
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#2: Some OOC explanation
Hi everyone! Welcome to my second attempt at a timeline. It explores the path of a different Italian Unification. The POD is the early death of Victor Emmanuel, making Ferdinand the last King of Sardinia and the First King of the Italians. The general goal of this TL is to create a federal Italy, that is monarchical to the present day, and somewhat more successful than OTL. The chosen format is an in-universe book published in 2020 by a renowned historian modeled on OTL Professor Alessandro Barbero, whose online conferences and lessons greatly influenced my thoughts and knowledge on the subject. That being said, I am no historian, no writer, no native English speaker, so I welcome any constructive criticism and discussion. I hope you like it!
 
Hi everyone! Welcome to my second attempt at a timeline. It explores the path of a different Italian Unification. The POD is the early death of Victor Emmanuel, making Ferdinand the last King of Sardinia and the First King of the Italians. The general goal of this TL is to create a federal Italy, that is monarchical to the present day, and somewhat more successful than OTL. The chosen format is an in-universe book published in 2020 by a renowned historian modeled on OTL Professor Alessandro Barbero, whose online conferences and lessons greatly influenced my thoughts and knowledge on the subject. That being said, I am no historian, no writer, no native English speaker, so I welcome any constructive criticism and discussion. I hope you like it!

An interesting POD, and a plausible one since VE escaped quite fortuitously from the fire of the nursery while Carlo Alberto and his family were in semi-exile at the court of his father in law, Ferdinand III of Tuscany. There is an obvious risk: the death of his firstborn son might well send CA (who was already quite depressed after the failure of the liberal conspiracy in Turin) beyond the bend. He is going to believe that the death of his son is the punishment sent by God for his actions while he held the Lieutenancy of the kingdom of Sardinia, and it would be very hard for a fervent Catholic as CA was to go on living in these conditions.
However, for the sake of the narrative let's assume that the worst doesn't come to pass, and the birth just two months later of a healthy son will lift his mood (it's even possible that this would result in more children down the line: any dynast worth his salt would be worried when there is just a single chick, and should make some extra effort to produce a spare heir or two).
Ferdinand was certainly more intelligent than his brother, and was also much more bookish (one might say that Ferdinand was a 19th century geek, while VE was obviously a jock) and also more shy (but maybe this attitude was the result of being a second son: ITTL he might well become more assertive and sure of himself).
He will also marry earlier ITTL, possibly not later than 1840 or 1841, and this might be a good thing, since is life is not going to be very long, given his health condition (IOTL he died in 1855, 33 years old, and I don't think he's going to live longer ITTL).
Given the timing of his marriage (and the politics behind it), it is quite likely that he will end up marrying Maria Adelaide of Habsburg-Lorena, the same that IOTL would have married his brother VE (and was a niece of CA, and a first cousin of VE and F.). There is something spooky here, because both F. and MA were born in 1822, and both would die in 1855 (in the case of MA, it appears that she was debilitated by the continuous pregnancies - 8 children, 5 surviving in 15 years)

a Federal, somewhat liberal Kingdom (as Cavour desired)
Is this Camillo Benso count of Cavour? It is a peculiar and unusual way of describing his political aims :eek:
 
An interesting POD, and a plausible one since VE escaped quite fortuitously from the fire of the nursery while Carlo Alberto and his family were in semi-exile at the court of his father in law, Ferdinand III of Tuscany. There is an obvious risk: the death of his firstborn son might well send CA (who was already quite depressed after the failure of the liberal conspiracy in Turin) beyond the bend. He is going to believe that the death of his son is the punishment sent by God for his actions while he held the Lieutenancy of the kingdom of Sardinia, and it would be very hard for a fervent Catholic as CA was to go on living in these conditions.
However, for the sake of the narrative let's assume that the worst doesn't come to pass, and the birth just two months later of a healthy son will lift his mood (it's even possible that this would result in more children down the line: any dynast worth his salt would be worried when there is just a single chick, and should make some extra effort to produce a spare heir or two).
Ferdinand was certainly more intelligent than his brother, and was also much more bookish (one might say that Ferdinand was a 19th century geek, while VE was obviously a jock) and also more shy (but maybe this attitude was the result of being a second son: ITTL he might well become more assertive and sure of himself).
He will also marry earlier ITTL, possibly not later than 1840 or 1841, and this might be a good thing, since is life is not going to be very long, given his health condition (IOTL he died in 1855, 33 years old, and I don't think he's going to live longer ITTL).
Given the timing of his marriage (and the politics behind it), it is quite likely that he will end up marrying Maria Adelaide of Habsburg-Lorena, the same that IOTL would have married his brother VE (and was a niece of CA, and a first cousin of VE and F.). There is something spooky here, because both F. and MA were born in 1822, and both would die in 1855 (in the case of MA, it appears that she was debilitated by the continuous pregnancies - 8 children, 5 surviving in 15 years)


Is this Camillo Benso count of Cavour? It is a peculiar and unusual way of describing his political aims :eek:
Thank you for your feedback and insights! I really appreciate it. I personally prefer this kind of POD for two reasons. First, it almost happened OTL. Second, its effects start to show slowly until the completely change the world as we know it. The first and foremost are on a few people, obviously starting with CA and Ferdinand. As for CA, my broad plans are as follows (and I would really love to hear your thoughts on the matter). The death of VE sparks a serious depression at first, partially lifted by the birth of Ferdinand. For one thing, he will feel the need to prove himself, so he will go to Spain and might or might not end up severely injured (but he will not die anyway). For the other, he will be a better father to Ferdinand, particularly inclined to listen to his son (in particular, regarding the improvement of the Piedmontese Artillery and, but I am less sure of this, the creation of Piedmontese "Ulans", whatever they might be called). I plan for him to have further offspring, a daughter (who may end up marrying Francis II of the Two Sicilies?). An idea that came to my mind (not sure how plausible that might be) is to have Charles Felix pass the dynastic rights direclty to Ferdinand as he wished to do OTL with VE, with the agreement that CA will serve as Regent (or Lieutenant, hehe) until Ferdinand comes of age (could 18 be a good age? That would mean Ferdinand's effective ascension in 1840, and I like it for narrative purposes since he will marry that year with MA as you suggested). My guess is that CA would accept this compromise as rightful punishment for his actions, and he will be a better Regent than the King he was. Reagrding Ferdinand, I am keeping much of his OTL personality. Being raised as a future king (and effectively heir to the throne) will make him more assertive, as you pointed out, but the awareness of the circumstances that led him to be King will surely affect him, not entirely for the good. As a mathematician, I would like to explore more this part of Ferdinand, who will play quite a role in patronizing the Faculty of Science of the University of Turin. TTL Risorgimento will see some minor characters play a more prominent role, remarkably Luigi Menanbrea as scientific mentor to Ferdinand. Now, the tricky part: I have read that Cavour's personality was greatly affected by his "destiny" as a second son. So, I would guess that he would envy Ferdinand a lot for his "luck". At the same time, for narrative purposes, this could help to create a personal bond with the two of them despite the age gap of 12 years. Now, Cavour. I am (maybe on the few) particularly inclined to believe that he pretty much intended to stick to the Plombiéres agreement and creating a tripartite Italy, while he changed his mind following the course of action. Maybe I exaggerated a bit with that "somewhat liberal"? Of course, a POD when he is 12 can lead to some differences with OTL, especially if his "friendship" with the king starts soon enough.
 
A regency is always a tricky business, in particular when it is a longish one and it happens in a country which is bordered by Orleans France on one side and Habsburg Austria on the other one: it doesn't surprises me that Carlo Felice (for all his personal dislike for CA) ultimately relented. 18 years of age is anyway a good age for majority, but the bride for Ferdinand would have been already selected before he becomes king.
Looking at CA's personality, it is also possible that he brings the heir sooner into the core of government (and even muses on an early abdication, maybe around 1844 or 1845: it might be a worse turn of his health or more likely a desire to pray for his soul; I would however not suggest this path, which would demand too much of the young Ferdinand).
Cavour's personality was certainly be affected by the presence of an elder brother (who was a dour, over-Catholic reactionary who despised modernity): he became the man who he was because of his brother ;).
No one knows what Cavour really intended to do with the agreement of Plombieres, except for one thing: he wanted an expansion into Lombardy (and possibly was more interested in the duchies of Emilia than Veneto), to get this he needed an ally (and LN was the only possible ally), and he needed to get into a war with Austria as soon as possible (since Sardinia's finances were stretched). In order to reach his objectives, he would have made any promise which was required.
Note that he had his men in all the liberal or revolutionary committees in Parma, Modena, Tuscany and Sicily (and obviously Lombardy, while I believe he had less presence in Veneto), and his policy of collecting in Piedmont exiles from any part of Italy paid a very good dividend.
The only time he was truly surprised (and became very angry) was when LN unilaterally signed the armistice of Villafranca, but he was on the bench for just a short time, and effectively turned what might have been a sow's ear into a silk purse, not only once but two or three times at least: don't forget that the peace treaty with Austria called for the reinstatement of the ousted dukes, that annexing the Legations and Romagna was never mentioned before, that the cession of Savoy and Nice was necessary but it was a disaster in terms of internal politics (and pissed off at the same time Garibaldi and the king), and that Garibaldi's expedition to Sicily might have turned into an unmitigated disaster (or alternatively a success that would have come back to bite Sardinia).
 
A regency is always a tricky business, in particular when it is a longish one and it happens in a country which is bordered by Orleans France on one side and Habsburg Austria on the other one: it doesn't surprises me that Carlo Felice (for all his personal dislike for CA) ultimately relented. 18 years of age is anyway a good age for majority, but the bride for Ferdinand would have been already selected before he becomes king.
Looking at CA's personality, it is also possible that he brings the heir sooner into the core of government (and even muses on an early abdication, maybe around 1844 or 1845: it might be a worse turn of his health or more likely a desire to pray for his soul; I would however not suggest this path, which would demand too much of the young Ferdinand).
Cavour's personality was certainly be affected by the presence of an elder brother (who was a dour, over-Catholic reactionary who despised modernity): he became the man who he was because of his brother ;).
No one knows what Cavour really intended to do with the agreement of Plombieres, except for one thing: he wanted an expansion into Lombardy (and possibly was more interested in the duchies of Emilia than Veneto), to get this he needed an ally (and LN was the only possible ally), and he needed to get into a war with Austria as soon as possible (since Sardinia's finances were stretched). In order to reach his objectives, he would have made any promise which was required.
Note that he had his men in all the liberal or revolutionary committees in Parma, Modena, Tuscany and Sicily (and obviously Lombardy, while I believe he had less presence in Veneto), and his policy of collecting in Piedmont exiles from any part of Italy paid a very good dividend.
The only time he was truly surprised (and became very angry) was when LN unilaterally signed the armistice of Villafranca, but he was on the bench for just a short time, and effectively turned what might have been a sow's ear into a silk purse, not only once but two or three times at least: don't forget that the peace treaty with Austria called for the reinstatement of the ousted dukes, that annexing the Legations and Romagna was never mentioned before, that the cession of Savoy and Nice was necessary but it was a disaster in terms of internal politics (and pissed off at the same time Garibaldi and the king), and that Garibaldi's expedition to Sicily might have turned into an unmitigated disaster (or alternatively a success that would have come back to bite Sardinia).
Thanks for contributing and sharing your thoughts and knowledge. I read a bit about CF and I believe that TTL he will be slightly more convinced to pass the throne to CA (interestingly, OTL it was Metternich that eventually convinced him to relent, from what I gather). I remember you commenting about a specific episode that made CA dislike Cavour when he was a page in court, do you have a reference for that? I could use it TTL for narrative purposes.
 
Camillo was a second son, and as such he needed to make his own way in the world, since the main title and properties of the family would go to the firstborn.
His father, Marquis Michele, chose for him the traditional military career, and applied for a place in the Royal Military Academy of Turin. The application was accepted, and Camillo was enrolled on 30 April 1820, 10 years old.
Camillo had not been a studious pupil as a young boy, but this changed after his enrollment in the Academy, although his interests were in sciences and mathematics, rather than liberal subjects. What did not change much, however, was his intolerance to discipline, and his delight in irony and sarcasm, which were duly reported in his docket (however, the academy commander was Cesare Saluzzo, who was a family friend and always managed to protect him).
CA returned to Turin in 1824, and in the Savoy tradition always showed a keen interest in the Military Academy, often visiting and choosing 20 pupils as court pages.
Marquis Michele had always been close and supportive to CA even in the worst times after the botched liberal insurrection of 1821, and now started to cash in his favors (*) suggesting CA that Camillo should receive this honor.
The honor was granted, but Camillo was not impressed at all: when Marquis Sommariva, First Equerry to CA, congratulated him on his appointment, Camillo's answer was that he was not happy at all to have to wear a livery (Royal pages had to wear a bright red livery). Camillo was reprimanded, both by Sommariva and by his father, but nothing worse happened at the moment, and he went on as a page (although he never changed his opinion, the page livery was the same as a servant livery). On the bright side, Camillo's studies proceeded very well, and in 1826 he successfully took the final exams, graduating with the best marks: in September he was commissioned as lieutenant third class in the Army Engineering Corps (given his interest in mathematics and science, the choice was between Engineering Corps and Artillery), gaining also his freedom from both the Academy and his service as a page.
Unfortunately, on the very last time he served as a page, he was heard commenting that he was very satisfied to be finally able to get rid of that "lobster uniform".
When these words were reported to CA, his reaction was typical: not only Camillo was sent away from the court ("Young Camillo Cavour acted as a Jacobin, and I kicked him out of the door", wrote CA in his diary, but he also asked Carlo Felice to rescind Cavour's commission. Luckily CF never acted on this request, thanks also to the intervention of the commander of the Engineering Corps). Camillo survived his faux pas, although any hope of a court career had to be forgotten, but it is quite obvious that this episode is the starting point of a strong mutual dislike and diffidence between CA and Cavour which effectively voided any chance of future cooperation between them.

This is a brief summary of Cavour's adolescence, taken from Rosario Romeo's "Life of Cavour". It is a book I do recommend you to read, and should be available in most libraries (unfortunately, it has not been digitalized.

(*) Michele di Cavour was always a sharp cookie wherever the interests of his family were involved: he prospered under the Napoleonic empire, was made baron (the marquisate of Cavour had been abolished) and became the right hand of prince Camillo Borghese and his wife Paolina Bonaparte in Piedmont (Camillo and Paolina were godparents for the second son of Michele, which is were he got his Christian name), and took in stride the Restauration, getting close and supportive of CA, even when he was in the dog house.
 
Thank you so much! Unfortunately, I live outside of Italy, so it will be hard to find this book. The narrative I have in mind needs to butterfly this particular event, but it is nice to see that I am only, say, one sneeze away. I will soon release the second installment, which will focus on Ferdinand's early years (and so on CA as well).
 
You could order by mail. The price of the book is about 14 Euro, but I don't know how much is the shipment, depends where you live.
Anyway, if you need additional information, just let me know
 
The narrative I have in mind needs to butterfly this particular event, but it is nice to see that I am only, say, one sneeze away.
Avoiding this particular episode wouldn't be too difficult (even if Cavour had little restraint, in particular when he was young). The problem is that a Cavour who embarks on a career at court, like his father hoped, would come out of it a very different man, and probably a worse one (if he survives, I mean: irony and sarcasm are not exactly the best qualities for a courtier). He would not have his sojourn in Genoa, and the relation with Anna Giustiniani, he couldn't easily travel and stay in Geneva with his mother's family, and even his later trip to Paris, London, Belgium and Germany would not happen.
However, I am very skeptic on Cavour prospering at the court of CA: in particular the repressions post 1832 would never be condoned by Cavour, and his sympathies for the Orleans take over and with Guizot and his "juste milieu", which was the political philosophy Cavour embrace all his life (he wanted reforms, but gradual ones, and would have no compunction to enjoy the support of anyone who agreed with this approach) would not be popular at all with the king. The first years of CA's reign are no doubt the worse ones, aligning decisively with Austria and aiding and abetting their repression of insurrections in Italy
 
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You could order by mail. The price of the book is about 14 Euro, but I don't know how much is the shipment, depends where you live.
Anyway, if you need additional information, just let me know
I will try, although getting orders here in Brazil from abroad is always tricky (lots of funny stories at the Customs Department). Thanks for your help, really. The interest on this part history is recent for me and there are tons of things I do not know (I gave up the idea on using narrative chapters because of the many details about everyday life I am not aware of).
Avoiding this particular episode wouldn't be too difficult (even if Cavour had little restraint, in particular when he was young). The problem is that a Cavour who embarks on a career at court, like his father hoped, would come out of it a very different man, and probably a worse one (if he survives, I mean: irony and sarcasm are not exactly the best qualities for a courtier). He would not have his sojourn in Genoa, and the relation with Anna Giustiniani, he couldn't easily travel and stay in Geneva with his mother's family, and even his later trip to Paris, London, Belgium and Germany would not happen.
However, I am very skeptic on Cavour prospering at the court of CA: in particular the repressions post 1832 would never be condoned by Cavour, and his sympathies for the Orleans take over and with Guizot and his "juste milieu", which was the political philosophy Cavour embrace all his life (he wanted reforms, but gradual ones, and would have no compunction to enjoy the support of anyone who agreed with this approach).
I would just be happy with any reasonable way Cavour and Ferdinand get to know each other and develop a relationship of at least mutual respect at an early stage of Ferdinand's life. I am toying with the idea of Cavour being an "elder brother" to Ferdinand. After all, they had a lot in common (interests and the like) and I believe this could be of mutual benefit. It is enough for me to have CA not openly despise Camillo, with the latter spending some time at court at a later stage (say, when Ferdinand turns 15). I know the age gap between the two is relatively big (12 years), but it would be fun to see the two get on well together (maybe Camillo is part of the young Prince's retinue while the latter is traveling to Paris and London, around 1842, say?)
 
Good call. Away from Turin, somewhat freer than in Turin. It works even better for my TL. Thanks!
In London, Cavour is together with his boyhood friend Santarosa (a cousin of Santorre di Santarosa, and a good man for a future ministry), and the presence of the heir to Sardinia is a good opportunity for an introduction at court, and also to hobnob the upper crust of the UK. I'm pretty sure that Ferdinand will make a much more positive impression than his brother did IOTL (and will make a point of having the most famous British scientists introduced to him).
It might be also good to send again Ferdinand to London in 1840, for QV's marriage
 
In London, Cavour is together with his boyhood friend Santarosa (a cousin of Santorre di Santarosa, and a good man for a future ministry), and the presence of the heir to Sardinia is a good opportunity for an introduction at court, and also to hobnob the upper crust of the UK. I'm pretty sure that Ferdinand will make a much more positive impression than his brother did IOTL (and will make a point of having the most famous British scientists introduced to him).
It might be also good to send again Ferdinand to London in 1840, for QV's marriage
These are really precious pieces of information! Again, thank you. TTL it might be Ferdinand inviting Charles Babbage to Turin... I would expect Ferdinand and Victoria to have a relationship of mutual respect. I also think that Ferdinand would be greatly impressed by the differences between London and Turin and would start to lobby soon for modernization of Sardinia-Piedmont. Lots of potential for some (small) earlier improvements...
 
#3: Ferdinand, the early years (1822-1840)
Ferdinand, the early years (1822-1840)

To understand a person as complex as the first King of the Italians, one has to understand first the environment in which he was born and raised. Here, we will need a digression on his father Charles Albert, dubbed by some as the “grandfather” of Italy. The keyword to describe him, curiously, is not an adjective nor a nickname, but rather an adverb: “nearly”. Charles Albert was nearly a liberal (as far as royalties could be liberals back then) who then turned nearly a reactionary conservative; and, on that fatal date of November 13th, 1822, nearly a suicide. The death of his firstborn Victor Emmanuel in the mysterious fire of his nursery on September 16, 1822, summed with the delusion for having being identified as the culprit of the conspiracy (speaking of which, one could say that he was nearly a conspirator) brought the young prince on the brink of self-annihilation. The confirmation of his rights as heir to Charles Felix at the Congress of Verona in October 1822 did little to lift his spirit. He wrote to in his diary “If the child growing in Maria Theresa’s womb is not a healthy boy, it is a sign of God Almighty’s disdain for my actions. I could not bear it. Maybe the most sinful of sins could be my only possible atonement.”
Luckily for him, and, in hindsight, for the future of our Nation, after a relatively smooth labor, Ferdinand was born. Charles Albert took this as a sign: his mission was to prepare the reign of his son. He would say on many private occasions “Anyone calls me “your Majesty”, but I am but a mere Lieutenant wearing a crown”. This attitude was encouraged by the fact the young Prince soon proved himself a smart student, with a passion for mathematics and science. This is not to say that Ferdinand grew surrounded by affection. His education was a military one, particularly strict, and the more he proved himself capable, the more his father wanted from him. If Ferdinand suffered from this, he hid it very well. As he once said to his younger sister Maria Cristina (born in 1824, after Charles Albert international rehabilitation due to his participation in the repression of the Spanish rebellion of 1823): “I was not conceived to be a King, and yet, I was born to be one. I must work every day to become the best King our sacred Kingdom ever had. I owe this to God, to Father, and the ashes and blood of poor Victor.”
It is of course hard to tell which ones of the many anecdotes regarding the young prince childhood were true and which ones were later propaganda forgery. While the tale of the eleven-year-old Ferdinand pointing out a mistake in the computations of Luigi Menabrea, Lieutenant of the Army Corp of Engineers while supervising the reforming of the fortress of Bard in 1833 is probably a myth, it is unquestionable that Ferdinand actively lobbied his father to enhance the Artillery and the Army Corps of Engineers, whose budget was significantly increased since 1836. Menabrea became the scientific mentor of the Prince, and the two would spend hours studying together, tackling both theoretical and practical problems. Some members of the court urged Charles Albert to make Ferdinand dedicate himself to more princely activities, as the cavalry corps. General de Sonnaz, who as the first military instructor of the Prince had considerable leverage on him, cautiously suggested this to the Prince himself. Calmly, Ferdinand replied: “Ticino, Mincio, Adige, Piave, Isonzo.” “What of them, Your Highness?” “What good is a dragoon prince if our Army cannot cross them in points our enemy does not expect, or without the proper artillery barrage? It is past the time of kings that are knights in shiny armors. I want my army to shine instead.”
However, the burden of the studies and the first govern duties Charles Albert was slowly but definitely starting to entrust to his son was starting to take its toll. It was then decided for the Prince, at the young age of 16, to take his Grand Tour through Europe.
Of particular importance was his visit to London. There, the young Ferdinand would make a really good impression. As Queen Victoria would write in her diary: “Prince Ferdinand is the perfect match between the noble, glorious past of his House and our brilliant, scientific present. I do wish him the best for his future”. Ferdinand would make a point to personally meet, among others, Charles Babbage, and inviting him to Turin (visit that would later happen in 1840, during the Second Meeting of Italian Scientists). The glory of London and the British Empire made Ferdinand utterly aware of the need of modernizing his soon-to-be Kingdom, and that the gradual reforms of his father, while effective, were far from enough.
However, the most pivotal event of 1838 was the encounter with one of his father’s subjects, and Ferdinand’s future Prime Minister: Camillo Benso of Cavour. Due to Charles Albert's dislike of the fellow, Ferdinand was cautious at first, but out of the restriction of the Sardinian Court (from which Camillo was by all means banished, among other things) the relationship between the two became soon of a close friendship. Ferdinand wrote in his diary: “Camillo is a force of Nature. A second son, like me, with the wits and strength of a thousand firstborns. If there is someone that can help me in turning Turin into more aristocratic London, that is him, and only him.” We will get back later to this relationship, which had many ups and downs (mainly due to Cavour’s temper).
As soon as Ferdinand got back to Turin, it was decided that it was time for him to marry, and he dustily obliged by marrying his first cousin Maria Adelaide of Austria in 1840, the same year as Victoria of the United Kingdom whose marriage to Prince Albert Ferdinand attended. The occasion was taken to strike many deals with English companies for railways development in the Kingdom of Sardinia and the quiet purchase of military equipment. When word of this reached Maria Adelaide, the princess wrote to his groom-to-be against whom he wished to use them. Cryptical, Ferdinand replied “Against no one, my love. But as our Roman forebears put it: “Si vis pacem, para bellum”.

And, truth to be told, war was soon being prepared.
 
Nice start.
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Maybe the project for the Turin to Genoa railway can be anticipated by a couple years, at least the railway from Turin to Alessandria (from Alessandria to Genoa there is a difficult crossing of the Apennines, and the developers had to rely on Kingdom Isembard Brunel, the most famous British railway engineer of the time, to design it).
It would be interesting to use the second visit of Ferdinand to London to kickstart better the manufacturing of locomotives near Genoa: Ansaldo was founded in 1853, ITTL it might come to life 10 years earlier
 
Nice start.
You may be interested in this
Maybe the project for the Turin to Genoa railway can be anticipated by a couple years, at least the railway from Turin to Alessandria (from Alessandria to Genoa there is a difficult crossing of the Apennines, and the developers had to rely on Kingdom Isembard Brunel, the most famous British railway engineer of the time, to design it).
It would be interesting to use the second visit of Ferdinand to London to kickstart better the manufacturing of locomotives near Genoa: Ansaldo was founded in 1853, ITTL it might come to life 10 years earlier
Thanks! I will definitely have a look. I particularly like the notion of founding Ansaldo earlier. Since the usage of railways was so important in the Second Italian War of Independence, I am trying to give Ferdinand a good infrastructure when war breaks out TTL. However, I don't want to make anything too wankish nor implausible, so I need to study further the matter. On to another matter, I was wondering who might Maria Cristina marry. Do you have any suggestions? I was toying with the idea of a French match, but I am not sure yet.
 
I would say that a railway from Alessandria to Novara (which would come even more useful later on, when the line to Genoa is completed, to reach also Switzerland) is important for military purpose (it can shift troops quickly N-S on the Lombardy border).
The Turin-Genoa is also important, since Genoa is the main Sardinian port for goods and in case of war there is plenty Sardinia needs to import, but completing the Apennine portion might be touch and go, if the forecast for a war is still 1848 (remember the bad weather and poor harvests in 1846 and 1847, this is not going to be affected by butterflies).
However, even if there is the necessity to unload the goods, carry them by wagon for 30-40 km and then load them again on a train, it would still expedite transport by a significant amount.
The Genoa Docks need also to be improved and expanded. I would have liked early steam cranes, but it looks like the 1840s are a bit early (but mid-1850s is quite ok: Fairbairn cranes were patented in 1850).
Mark in your diary the London Expo of 1851, btw: Sardinia participated IOTL too, but this time I want Ansaldo locomotives and boilers in the exhibition.

As far as an husband for Maria Cristina, what about this guy

Of course, this means that the couple might end up living in exile after the French revolution of 1848, but....
what if the Sicilian insurgents still want a Savoy on the throne, and offer the crown to Maria Cristina? The Sicilian succession does not follow the Salic law. Henri de Orleans was a decent military man, which can always be useful. The beauty of the thing is that the son of the happy couple would have a claim on the throne of France, since he ended up as the titular head of the house of Orleans
 
I would say that a railway from Alessandria to Novara (which would come even more useful later on, when the line to Genoa is completed, to reach also Switzerland) is important for military purpose (it can shift troops quickly N-S on the Lombardy border).
The Turin-Genoa is also important, since Genoa is the main Sardinian port for goods and in case of war there is plenty Sardinia needs to import, but completing the Apennine portion might be touch and go, if the forecast for a war is still 1848 (remember the bad weather and poor harvests in 1846 and 1847, this is not going to be affected by butterflies).
However, even if there is the necessity to unload the goods, carry them by wagon for 30-40 km and then load them again on a train, it would still expedite transport by a significant amount.
The Genoa Docks need also to be improved and expanded. I would have liked early steam cranes, but it looks like the 1840s are a bit early (but mid-1850s is quite ok: Fairbairn cranes were patented in 1850).
Mark in your diary the London Expo of 1851, btw: Sardinia participated IOTL too, but this time I want Ansaldo locomotives and boilers in the exhibition.

As far as an husband for Maria Cristina, what about this guy

Of course, this means that the couple might end up living in exile after the French revolution of 1848, but....
what if the Sicilian insurgents still want a Savoy on the throne, and offer the crown to Maria Cristina? The Sicilian succession does not follow the Salic law. Henri de Orleans was a decent military man, which can always be useful. The beauty of the thing is that the son of the happy couple would have a claim on the throne of France, since he ended up as the titular head of the house of Orleans
That was exactly was I was thinking while reading your suggestion. I like it a lot. Henri could also take part in the first part of the conflict as a general on the Sardinian side. I need to flesh this part out a little more, though. Speaking of which, yesterday while I could not sleep I had this particularly wild thought...
I came across a study of 2014 that shows that Napoleon III could not be related on the paternal side to Napoleon. This was rumored back then but let's assume that OTL he was not aware of this. Somehow, TTL he finds out, and this devastates him. OTL He was in London in 1838 and for part of 1848. Say that, because of Ferdinand, the English public opinion is vastly supportive of the Italian cause. Mercurial as he was, Nappy gets enthusiastic as well, remembers of his youth in the Carboneria and of the oath he took to serve the Italian cause, and uses the wealth of his lover to fund and raise a small corp of volunteers to Italy he commands under the false name of Hamilton. Maybe the Republican French Provisional Governement is quick in implementing a law forbidding all the members of former Royal/Imperial houses to run for public office for good measure.
 
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