The Franco-Austrian War of 1859 over Milan

Also referred to as the Second Italian War of Independence

A.) The Diplomatic Pre-History of the War

LORD CAVOUR, prime minister of Savoy-Piemont, had arranged for a secret FRANCO-PIEMONTESE ALLIANCE, signed in January 1859. On April 23rd 1859 Austria, in a humiliating ultimatum, demanded Piemont to demobilize its troops. Piemont did not respond, and on April 26th Austria declared war. France stood by its alliance.

B.) The Military Course of Events

French forces won the BATTLE OF MAGENTA (June 4th 1859) and the BATTLE OF SOLFERINO (June 24th 1859).
At Solferino alone, there were 40,000 casualties.

D.) The Peace of Villafranca; the Legacy of the War

The preliminary PEACE OF VILLAFRANCA was signed by France and Austria on July 12th 1859, according to which Austria ceded Milan to France. The peace conditions foresaw, that the Dukes of Tuscany, Parma and Modena, expelled by revolutionaries, would return to the throne. An armistice followed in August; the PEACE OF ZÜRICH (Nov. 19\0th 1859) brought definitive peace.
France, again, ceded Milan to Piemont, in exchange for SAVOY and NICE (the population of which, by plebiscite, opted for annexion by France in 1860); in violation of the Peace of Villafranca, patriotic administrations continued to rule Parma, Modena and Tuscany, which soon were annexed by Piemont.
The Franco-Austrian War marks the beginning of the process of Italian Unification.

Second War of Italian Indepencence, from
Philip Kearny : An American soldier's gallant fight in the Battle of Solferino, from Life Stories of Civil War Heroes
The Battle of Magenta, from Italian Museum of Risorgimento, Milan
Article Piedmont from Catholic Encylopedia 1911 edition
Charles A. Venturi, History of Europe 1856-1865, chronological list of events in intenational affairs, detailed, from Societe d'Europe, scroll down for Austria, France, Sardinia
DOCUMENTS Henri Dunant : A Memory of Solferino, from ICRC
Image : Battle of Solferino, from Bilddatenbank Chronik 2000, German language comment
New York Times, July 1859 : The Battle of Solferino, from Hillsdale College
Franco-Sardinian Alliance, secret treaty, Jan. 24th 1859, from Modern Italy at Dickinson College
Armistice at Villafranca, between Napoleon III. and Franz Joseph II. 1859, from Modern Italy at Dickinson College, bilingual
Guerra Franco-Austriaca 1859, from Uniformes Militares del Mundo, in Spanish

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 19th 2004

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