(1) What were the key steps in the process of Italian unification?
Up until the 19th century, Italy consisted of a series of independent states. Of all the states involved in the unification of Italy, Piedmont was the most influential. Two prominent statesmen, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, had been attempting to unify Italy for a long time, but the Prime Minister of Piedmont, Count Camillo di Cavour, played the biggest role during the 1850s. During the Crimean war, he sent 15,000 troops to anti-Russian side in an effort to gain France as an ally when time came to oust the Austrian overlords of Italy. Napoleon III supported Cavour with the condition that they would only fight as long as Austria would fire the first shot. After many failed attempts to provoke Austria into attacking, Napoleon finally gave up and began to demobilize his army. Viewing the retreating French army as an easy target to finally be rid of once and for all, Austria finally lashed out. But, the French armies were victorious and Lombardy was added to the new unified states that made up Italy at that time. However, the unification of Italy was not yet complete! Garibaldi the famous general, entered the scene again and conquered the southern part of Italy, including various Vatican territories, for Piedmont, who was ruling over the states forming Italy. In 1861 Cavour died, never seeing the full unification of Italy to which he had devoted his life. Nevertheless, one by one, more states were conquered, with the exception of the Vatican which remained independent, forming the Italy of today in 1870.
(2) What were the key steps in the process of German unification?
The Holy Roman Empire and the German Confederation led by the Austrian Hapsburgs controlled most of “Germany.” Conservative Prussian Statesman, Otto von Bismarck, believed that Prussia was superior to all European states, but mostly Austria. Bismarck amorally pushed the cause of German unification lead by Prussia. In 1862, he became the Prussian Minister-President. In 1864, the German Confederation and Prussia allied in a war with Denmark over two German duchies that Denmark held. Because Austria and Prussia acquired these territories from the war, they decided to co-administer the new lands. But because Prussia wished to gain this land solely for the purpose of German unification, Bismarck fomented war against Austria in 1866 (The Seven Weeks War.) Victorious Prussia added all northern German states to itself, independent and Austrian controlled alike. France, nervous about Prussia’s rapidly accumulating power, rallied their forces and attacked Prussia. Amazingly, Prussia took the gold prize,–Lorraine and Alsace–which left a bitter taste in France’s mouth for years to come. Prussia was definitely marching towards total German unification. However, the Southern German states were still independent. Fear of Prussia, Bismarck’s propaganda, and a nationalistic fervor combined to unite all of Germany under under William I– the Prussian king turned German Emperor–in 1871. Austria was on it’s own.