To what extent did France promote the unification of Italy from 1848 to 1870?
During the Italian Unification, France was one of the most prominent countries present as the revolutions played out. However, it is arguable whether France helped or hindered Italy during its unification. It is true that the Franco-Sardinian alliance provided Italy with protection against one of their biggest enemies, Austria, and that France bore the majority of the fighting before the Peace of Villafranca. However, most of the agreements and treaties made between France and Italy were agreed upon because Napoleon III believed that these agreements would give France more influence over Italy. Furthermore, Napoleon III decided to suddenly end the war with Austria, causing Sardinia’s prime minister Cavour to label him as a traitor. So, although France provided military support, they promoted Italy’s unification barely to an extent, as they were supporting Italy for their own gains.
France was one of the greatest factors at the start of the unification. In particular, they provided Italy with a strong ally against Austria, who held a large amount of control and influence in the Italian states (Rich 80). Napoleon III agreed to help Sardinia in the fight against Austria through the Pact of Plombieres. France would assist in driving out the Austrians from Italy, and they would also support the idea of Italy being reorganized thereafter. Later, both of these countries go to war with an isolated Austria. France bears the majority of the fighting, and the two countries succeed in defeating Austria for two major battles. Due to Sardinia giving Austria an ultimatum and Austria declaring war instead, Austria is labeled as the aggressor from then on. The war on Austria, with France’s extremely important help, also liberates the Italian state Lombardy (Rich 82).
France’s support for Sardinia was an extremely important part of Italian unification. However, Napoleon III did not simply decide to do so because he had a heart of gold. From the start, Napoleon III was mostly indifferent to...