Wednesday, 27 October 2010


After the battle of Solferino Austrian prisoners are rounded up by Besaglieri

But what of the Italian people, As we have seen in an earlier blog post there were many indifferent to the struggle and it has been said that the Italian wars of Independence were merely the middle classes trying to control the real estate, the same type of thing that has been said about the American war of Independence which was in reality a civil war about money .The ordinary Italian people were of course stirred up by the nationalists but one of the reasons why Italy could not put a great force into the field was the indifference of the peasants of whose rank armies of the period were made,The painters of the risorgimento documented much of the normal life of the Italians and in this post we can see what artists like Induno and Fattori showed, for, all wasn't just war. This is amazing documentary evidence of ordinary lives and makes us understand much more the reality of the times and thus the war.Bersaglieri in the Crimea , they were basically a group of mercenaries there paid for by the British who had an army that at a certaion point refused to soldier (different to mutiny)AUSTRIANS ON LAKE GARDA

To the Party of Action the chance seemed an unique one of hastening the progress of events. Unaccustomed as they were to weigh diplomatic difficulties, they saw the advantages but not the perils of a daring course. Meanwhile Napoleon threatened to occupy Piacenza with 30,000 men on the first forward step of Garibaldi, who, on his side, seemed by no means inclined to yield either to the orders of the Dictator Farini, or to the somewhat violent measures taken to stop him by General Fanti, who instructed the officers under his command to disobey him. It was then that Victor Emmanuel tried his personal influence, rarely tried without success, over the revolutionary chief, who reposed absolute faith in the King's patriotism, and who was therefore amenable to his arguments when all others failed. The general was summoned to Turin, and in an audience given on the 16th of November, Victor Emmanuel persuaded him that the proposed enterprise would retard rather than advance the cause of Italian freedom. Garibaldi left for Caprera, only insisting that his 'weak services' should be called into requisition whenever there was an opportunity to act.

The first was his wish, shared by all French politicians, that Italy should be weak. The second was his regard for the Temporal Power which proceeded from his still being convinced that he could not reign without the Clerical vote. The French prelates were perpetually giving him reminders that this vote depended on his keeping the Pope on his throne.

Before quitting the Adriatic coast the hero of Rome went one evening with his two children, Menotti and Teresita, to the Chapel in the Pine Forest, where their mother was buried. Within a mile was the farmhouse where he had embraced her lifeless form before undertaking his perilous flight from sea to sea. In 1850, at Staten Island, when he was earning his bread as a factory hand, he wrote the prophetic words: 'Anita, a land of slavery holds your precious dust; Italy will make your grave free, but what can restore to your children their incomparable mother?' Garibaldi's visit to Anita's grave closes the story of the brave and tender woman who sacrificed all to the love she bore him.

Domenico Induno - Giuseppe Garibaldi

In England Lord Derby's administration had fallen and the Liberals were again in power. Napoleon was so strangely deluded as to expect to find support in that quarter for his anti-unionist conspiracy. His earliest scheme was that the federative plan should be presented to Europe by Great Britain. Lord John Russell answered: 'We are asked to propose a partition (morcellement) of the peoples of Italy, as if we had the right to dispose of them.' It was a happy circumstance for Italy that her unity had no better friends than in the English Government during those difficult years. Cavour's words soon after Villafranca, 'It is England's turn now,' were not belied.

Napoleon's hurried journey to Turin on his way back to France was almost a flight. Everywhere his reception was cold in the extreme. He was surprised, he said, at the ingratitude of the Italians. It was still possible to ask for gratitude, as the services rendered had not been paid for; no one spoke yet of the barter of Savoy and Nice.

But Napoleon, when he said these words to the Governor of Milan, forgot how the Lombards, in June 1848, absolutely refused to take their freedom at the cost of resigning Venice to Austria. And if Venice was dear to them and to Italy then, how much dearer had she not become since the heroic struggle in which she was the last to yield. The bones of Manin cried aloud for Venetian liberty from his grave of exile.

When he resolved to cut short the war, Napoleon still had it in his power to go down to history as the supreme benefactor of Italy. It is said by some ungratefuls that he  chose instead to become her worst and by far her most dangerous enemy but this was not the truth, he had been the only monarch to take their side after all.
. The preliminaries of peace opened with the words: 'The Emperor of Austria and the Emperor of the French will favour the creation of an Italian Confederation under the honorary presidency of the Holy Father.' Further, it was stated that the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Duke of Modena would return to their states. Though Napoleon proposed at first to add, 'without foreign armed intervention,' he waived the point (Rome was in his mind) and no such guarantee was inserted.
 Here, then, was the federative programme which all the personal influence and ingenuity of the French Emperor, all the arts of French diplomacy, were concentrated on maintaining, and which was only defeated by the true patriotism and strong good sense of the Italian populations, and of the men who led them through this, the most critical period in their history.

 One thing should have made Napoleon uneasy; a man like Cavour, when his blood is roused, when his nature is fired by the strongest passions that move the human heart, is an awkward adversary. If there was an instant in which the great statesman thought that all was lost, it was but an instant. With the quick rebound of virile characters he recovered his balance and understood his part. It was to fight and conquer.piedmonts

'Your Emperor has dishonoured me,' he said to M. Pietri in the presence of Kossuth (the interview taking place at Turin on the 15th of July). 'Yes, sir, he has dishonoured me,' and he set forth how, after promising to hunt the last Austrian out of Italy, after secretly exacting the price of his assistance to which Cavour had induced his good and honest King to consent, he now left them solemnly in the lurch; Lombardy might suffice! Major Santi and the statue of him above. The Italian artists like no others diocumented the war as well ass the ordinary life of Italy at the time. The Induno brothers plus Fattori
And, for nothing to be wanting, the King was to be forced into a confederation with Austria and the Italian princes under the presidency of the Pope. After painting the situation with all the irony and scorn of which he was master, he gave his note of warning: 'If needs be, I will become a conspirator, I will become a revolutionist, but this treaty shall never be executed; a thousand times no—never!'

The routine business of the Prime Minister still fell to Cavour, as Rattazzi, who succeeded him, had not yet formed his cabinet. He was obliged, therefore, to write officially to the Royal Commissioners at Modena, Bologna and Florence to abandon their posts. But in the character of Cavour, the private citizen, he telegraphed to them at the same time to remain and do their duty. And they remained.induno

On one point there was a temporary lull of anxiety. Almost the last words spoken by Napoleon to Victor Emmanuel before he left Turin were:  'We shall think no more about Nice and Savoy.' The mention of Nice shows that though it had not been promised, Napoleon was all along set upon its acquisition. It is impossible to say how far, at the moment, he was sincere in the renunciation. That, very soon after his return to Paris, he was diligently weaving plans for getting both provinces into his net, is evident from the tenor of the articles and notes published in the 'inspired' French newspapers.

Two chief motives can be divined for Napoleon's determined opposition to Italian unity which never ceased till Sedan.
 For instance, Cardinal Donnet told him at Bordeaux in October 1859, that he could not choose a better way of showing his appreciation of the Blessed Virgin than 'en ménageant un triomphe à son Fils dans la personne de son Vicaire.' It would be a triumph which the Catholic world would salute with transport.
Hints of this sort, the sense of which was not hard to read, in spite of their recondite phraseology, reached him from every quarter. He feared to set them aside. The origins of his power were too much tainted for him to advance boldly on an independent policy. Thus it was that bit by bit he deliberately forfeited all title to the help of Italy when the same whirlwind that dashed him to earth, cleared the way for the final accomplishment of her national destinies.the risorgimento was always seen through the years as an Italian triumph but in 59 it was the French who really fought the war

Whilst Victor Emmanuel was more alive than Cavour to the military arguments in favour of stopping hostilities when the tide of success  was at its height, he was not one whit more disposed to stultify his past by becoming the vassal at once of Paris and Vienna. In a letter written to the Emperor of the French in October, in answer to a very long one in which Napoleon sought to convert him to the plan of an Austro-Italian Confederation, he wound up by saying: 'For the considerations above stated, and for many others, I cannot, Sire, second your Majesty's policy in Italy. If your Majesty is bound by treaties and cannot revoke your engagements in the (proposed) congress, I, Sire, am bound on my side, by honour in the face of Europe, by right and duty, by the interests of my house, of my people and of Italy. My fate is joined to that of the Italian people. We can succumb, but never betray.
 Solferino and San Martino may sometimes redeem Novara and Waterloo, but the apostasies of princes are always irreparable. I am moved to the bottom of my soul by the faith and love which this noble and unfortunate people has reposed in me, and rather than be unworthy of it, I will break my sword and throw the crown away as did my august father. Personal interest does not guide me in defending the annexations; the Sword and Time have borne my house from the summit of the Alps to the banks of the Mincio, and those two guardian angels of the Savoy race will bear it further still, when it pleases God.'d.induno the post boy

The events in Central Italy to which the King alludes were of the highest importance. L.C. Farini, the Sardinian Royal Commissioner at Modena, when relieved of his office, assumed the dictatorship by the will of the people. L. Cipriani became Governor of Romagna, and at Florence Ricasoli continued at the head of affairs, undismayed and unshaken in his resolve to defeat the combined machinations of France and Austria. In August the populations of Modena, Reggio, Parma and  Piacenza declared their union with Piedmont by an all but unanimous popular vote, the two last provinces placing themselves for temporary convenience under the Dictator Farini. A few days later, Tuscany and Romagna voted a like act of union through their Constituent Assemblies. The representatives of the four States, Modena, Parma, Romagna and Tuscany, formally announced to the great Powers their choice of Victor Emmanuel, in whose rule they recognised the sole hope of preserving their liberties and avoiding disorder. Delegates were sent to Turin with the offer of the crown.


Peace, of which the preliminaries only were signed at Villafranca, was not yet definitely concluded, and a large French army was still in Italy. The King's government feared therefore to adopt the bold course of accepting the annexations outright, and facing the responsibilities which might arise. Victor Emmanuel thanked the delegates, expressing his confidence that Europe would not undo the great work that had been done in Central Italy. The state of things, however, in these provinces, whose elected King could not yet govern them, was anomalous, most of all in what related to defence; they being menaced on the Austrian side by the Duke of Modena, and on the South by the Papal troops in the Cattolica. garibaldians v austrians
An armed force of 25,000 men was organised, of which the Tuscan contingent was under the command of Garibaldi, and the rest under that of the Sardinian General Fanti, 'lent' for the purpose. Garibaldi hoped not merely to defend the provinces already emancipated, but to carry war into the enemy's camp and make revolution possible throughout the States of the Church. No hope .Induno

After sitting for three months, the Conference which met at Zurich to  establish the definite treaty of peace finished its labours on the 10th of November. The compact was substantially the same as that arranged at Villafranca.
 Victor Emmanuel, who had signed the Preliminaries with the reservation implied in the note: 'In so far as I am concerned,' preserved the same liberty of action in the Treaty of Zurich. He still hesitated, however, in assuming the government of the central provinces, and even the plan of sending the Prince of Carignano as governor fell through in consequence of Napoleon's opposition.
His hesitations sprang from the general apprehension that a hint from Paris might any day be followed by a new eruption of Austrians in Modena and Tuscany for the purpose of replacing the former rulers of those states on their thrones. Such a fear existed at the time, and Rattazzi's timid policy was the result; it is impossible not to ask now whether it was not exaggerated? 'What statesman,' wrote the Prince Consort in June 1859, 'could adopt measures to force Austrian rule again upon delighted, free Italy?' Scenes from the Italian Campaign in 1859
If this was true in June was it less true in November? For the rest, would not the supreme ridicule that would have fallen on the French Emperor if he encouraged the Austrians to return to Central Italy after driving them out of Lombardy, have obliged him to support the principle of non-intervention, whether he wished it or not? England was prepared to back up the government of Piedmont, in which lay a great moral force. It is plain that the long wavering about what ought to be done with the central provinces is what cost the country Savoy and Nice, or at any rate, Nice. Art has also continued as regards the risorgimento.Here Garibaldi is seen in a children's comic of the sixties. Only in recent years has the feats of Garibaldi been diminished by those politicians who want Italy divided such as closet nazi Umberto Bossi. Bossi and his sybolism is similar to the Nazi. He derides Garibaldi at any given moment. Remember also his friend is Berlusconi and not just friend but political companion.
Napoleon did all in his power to prevent and to retard the annexations, especially that of Tuscany, which, as he said, 'would make Italian unity a mere question of time,' but when he found that neither threats nor blandishments could move the population from their  resolve to have Victor Emmanuel for their king, he decided to sell his adhesion for a good price. Compelled for the sake of appearances to withdraw his claim after the abrupt termination of the war, he now saw an excellent excuse for reviving it, and he was not likely to let the opportunity slip.

At this period there was continual talk, which may or may not have been intended to end in talk, of a Congress to which the affairs of Italy were to be referred. It gave an opening to Napoleon for publishing one of the anonymous pamphlets by means of which he was in the habit of throwing out tentative ideas, and watching their effect.
                                                                  Painting by a student of Fattori
 The chief idea broached in Le Pape et le Congrès was the voluntary renunciation by the Pope of all but a small zone of territory round Rome; it being pointed out that his position as an independent sovereign would remain unaffected by such an act, which would smooth the way to his assuming the hegemony of the Italian Confederation. The Pope, however, let it be clearly known that he had no intention of ceding a rood of his possessions, or of recognising the separation of the part which had already escaped from him. Anyone acquainted with the long strife and millennial manoeuvres by which the Church had acquired the States called by her name, will understand the unwillingness there was to yield them. To do Pius IX. justice, an objection which merits more respect weighed then and always upon his mind. He thought that he was personally debarred by the oath taken on assuming the tiara from giving up the smallest part of the territory he received from his predecessor. The Ultramontane party knew that they had only to remind him of this oath to provoke a fresh assertion of Non possumus. The attitude of the Pope was one reason why the Congress was abandoned; but there was a deeper reason. A European  Congress would certainly not have approved the cession of Nice and Savoy, and to that object the French Emperor was now turning all his attention.

At Turin there was an ignoble cabal, supported not so much, perhaps, by Rattazzi himself as by followers, the design of which was to prevent Cavour from returning to power. Abroad, the Empress Eugénie, who looked on Cavour as the Pope's worst foe, did what she could to further the scheme, and its promoters counted much on the soreness left in Victor Emmanuel's mind by the scene after Villafranca. That soreness did, in fact, still exist; but when in January the Rattazzi ministry fell, the King saw that it was his duty to recall Cavour to his counsels, and he at once charged him to form a cabinet.

That Cavour accepted the task is the highest proof of his abnegation as a statesman. He was on the point of getting into his carriage to catch the train for Leri when the messenger reached the Palazzo Cavour with the royal command to go to the castle.

 If he had refused office and returned to the congenial activity of his life as a country gentleman, his name would not be attached to the melancholy sacrifice which Napoleon was now determined to exact from Italy. The French envoy, Baron de Talleyrand, whose business it was to communicate the unwelcome intelligence, arrived at Turin before the collapse of Rattazzi; but, on finding that a ministerial crisis was imminent, he deferred carrying out his mission till a more opportune moment.Cavour felt betrayed by Louis Napoleon but Napoleon had been the only head of a European government who had put another country and its liberty above his own. The Italian lack of gratitude was wrong because as they say "shit happens" and Napoleon had the Prussians mobilising on his borders. This was basically the reason why Napoleon stopped the campaign in Italy even though victory was there for the taking. Cavour had been a great statesmen but he had let his personal needs for glory cloud judgement. It is said that the Italians could have gone on alone but if we look at their poor handling of the war before the French intervention this seems improbable.They were a nation then as now and  they didn't seem to understand reality and the moment when reality hits one in the face with a baseball bat.

1 comment:

  1. Villafranca is a common town name in Italy (originally where taxfree market was held). Your picture shows Villafranca Lunigiana whereas the correct Villafranca should be Villafranca di Verona