Italian Unification History of Italy 1878-1896

Italy 1860-1876 Italy, 1896-1914

Foreign Policy . Domestic Policy . The Economy . Cultural History

Foreign Policy . The annexation of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, the Marches and Umbria (hitherto part of the Papal State) in 1860 (the Neapolitan fortress of Gaeta surrendered only in February 1861) completed the first phase of Italian Unification; the (enlarged) Kingdom of Piemont-Sardinia in 1861 was renamed Kingdom of Italy. In 1861 it ceded Savoy and Nizza to France.
Austria still held on to Venetia; French troops occupied Lazio. When Austria declared war on Prussia in 1866, Italy entered the war as a Prussian ally ( Seven Weeks War). While the Italians militarily were defeated by the Austrians, Prussia's army was victorious, and in the Peace of Nikolsburg, Austria ceded Venetia to Italy. When France declared war on Prussia in 1870 (Franco-German War 1870-1871), Italy remained neutral (Garibaldi volunteered to fight for the French). France withdrew her troops from Lazio, and Italian troops marched in, halting in Rome a few hundred meters from St. Peters' Cathedral (La Presa di Roma, 1870). With the annexation of Lazio, Italy's unification was completed.
Italy did not enter into a formal political alliance; relations with the new German Empire were good, as Italy had been able to complete her unification thanks to the successes of the Prussian (German) army.

Domestic Policy . Capital Turin (-1865), Florence (1865-1870, Rome (since 1870). Italy did not introduce universal adulthood male suffrage until after World War I; Italian democracy was restricted to propertied and educated classes. In the 1860es and 1870es, noblemen and ennobled persons figured prominently in Italian politics. Regular political parties would emerge from the late 1870es. Prior to that, Italian politics was dominated by conservative liberals (Destra) and progressive liberals (Sinistra). The masses of the poor were excluded from participation in the political process, because the literacy clause prevented them from voting; practicising Catholics were banned from taking office in the new Kingdom of Italy, from running in elections and even from voting, because the pope regarded liberalism an invention of the devil.
Italy's Mezzogiorno saw a lot of social unrest, labelled by the Italian administration as banditry and suppressed by the Italian army (Guerra dei Poveri, War of the Poor, 1860-1865).
The following measures were introduced to define the young Kingdom of Italy as a Liberal State :
(1) a Civil Code, based on the French Code Napoleon, was adopted in 1865.
(2) separation of church and state was instituted, although not as thorough as in some other European countries. Higher education became a state responsibility, marriages stayed a church affair.
(3) to establish a unified state, the historical provinces were replaced by departments, following the French model.
(4) believing in Free Trade, the state abolished existing tariffs (trade barriers).
(5) the Kingdom of Italy adopted the Savoyan constitution of 1848.
(6) communal property was confiscated and sold off.
Jews were granted full emancipation.
During to royal visit to Naples in 1878 an assassination attempt was made on King Umberto; while he was not harmed, PM Cairoli was severely injured.

The Economy . Savoy-Piemont-Sardinia had flourished under a liberal constitution pursuing a policy of Free Trade. The same policy since unification was implemented for all of Italy. By the 1860es and 1870es, Italy was still a predominantly agrarian economy; the politically influential holders of landed estates benefitted from such a policy, as exports and profits increased. The industries of Piemont and Liguria were accustomed to a Free Trade policy; exports of raw silk increased due to a rise in demand in France. The textile industries of Lombardy were competitive; the nascent industries of the Mezzogiorno, hitherto protected by import tariffs, suffered.
The Mezzogiorno was characterized by the concentration of land property in the possession of a few families (Latifundia) and large masses of landless poor. The leading politicians of unified Italy, in order to gain a majority in Italy's parliament, depended on the block formed by the representatives of southern landowners; thus, a land reform was not on their agenda.
The construction of railroads was intensified; the government believed that it would lead to the emergence of new industries; this expectation, however, was disappointed. Italy lacks coal deposits, coal being the quintessential source of energy in the early stage of the Industrial Revolution.
Italy joined the UPU (Universal Postal Union) in 1874 and was a signatory of the Metric Convention of 1875.

Culture . In 1871, Verdi's opera Aida was first performed.

Cronologia, Italian language site on Italian and World History
History of Italy : Monarchy, from Wikipedia
Il Regno d'Italia, 1860-1913, in Italian, rich source of information
Unification, from Windows on Italy
Notes on the Unification of Italy, from York Univ., from
Charles A. Venturi, History of Europe 1856-1865, chronological list of events in intenational affairs, detailed, from Societe d'Europe, Sardinia, Italy
Article King Humbert of Italy, from EB 1911
History of Italian Anarchism, from Anarchist Archives
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Italy
Historical Population Statistics : Italy, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Sources on Italy's Unification, from Modern History Sourcebook
Etsi Multa, Encyclical of Pope Pius IX, Nov. 21 1873, on the Church in Italy, Switzerland and Germany, posted by EWTN
Nullus Certe Verbis, Encyclical of Pope Paul IX, Jan. 19th 1860, regarding unrest in the Papal States, posted by EWTN
Ubi Nos, Encyclical by Pope Pius IX, May 15th 1871, on the Papal States, posted by EWTN
Respicientes, Encyclical by Pope Pius IX., Nov. 1st 1870, protest against the taking of the Papal State, posted by EWTN
Treaty between Hawaii and Italy, 1863, from Hawaiian Independence Home Page
Metric Convention of 1875, posted by USMA
REFERENCE History Book Reviews : Italy : Liberal State, 1860-1922

Article Italy, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia, Vol.22 pp.165-247, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.22
Christopher Duggan, A Concise History of Italy, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1994, pp.133-188
Luciano Cafagna, The Industrial Revolution in Italy 1830-1914, in : Carlo M. Cipolla (ed.), The Fontana Economic History of Europe, Vol.4 : The Emergence of Industrial Societies [G]
Article : Italy, in : Statesman's Year Book 1878, pp.295-324 (data on 1877) [G]
Article : Italy, in : The American Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events 1862 pp.535-538, 1863 pp.542-547, 1864 pp.440-443 [G]

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First posted in 2000, last revised on September 1st 2007

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