Italian and German Unification: Nationalism 1848-1880

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Italian and German Unification: Nationalism 1848-1880
Nation States saw a major resurgence during the post industrial revolution period of the 1860’s and 1870’s. The key factor in this, inspired by the Revolution in France and Napoleonic age was the feeling of nationalism. The nations of Italy and Germany will use these sentiments to forge their own unification, not so much indepdence. The movements will be lead by two fierce nationalists Italian Prime Minister Camilo di Cavour and Chief Minister Otto Von Bismarck.
The Unification of Italy: 1861

  • Italy before unification: Separate States.

    • The Kingdom of Naples (Two Sicilies) was made up of Sicily and the Southern half of the Italian Peninsula.

    • The Papal States in the Middle of the Kingdom.

    • Lombardy and Venetia Industrial provinces in the North ruled by Austria.

    • Kingdom of Sardinia: made up the island of Sardinia and the northwestern provinces. Ruled by the monarchy Victor Emmanuel II and his prime minister (1854-Cavour). The only independent state

    • Power Politics: brought Sardinia on the side of France during the Crimean war of 1856…he then petitioned Napoleon III to aid Italy in a war for independence against the Austrians. He agreed as the emperor was interested in weakening Austria. They struck a land deal that would give Napoleon III the French speaking Italian provinces while Cavour and Emmanuel were allowed to annex Northern Italy. In the middle of the War…Napoleon pulls out, for fear of Prussian intervention! However, Austria allowed the several of the northern Kingdoms including Lombardy to declare independence and unite with Cavour.

  • Giuseppe Garibaldi: along with his redshirts at the urging of Cavour will invade Sicily and a French force protecting the region. Garibaldi’s men illustrate the power of nationalism, their force of but 1,000 defeated armies 10x their size! They conquered Sicily in the name of unification with Cavour with Emmanuel II as the leader of the throne. (Picture in text)

  • Final unification: the last group to be subdued, albeit peacefully were the Papal States who despite misgivings of the Pope will be joined in the unified Italy. Unification came with limits however as the people had few freedoms in terms of political participation.

The Unification of Germany:

Germany’s unification began with a dramatic increase in the wealth and prestige of the German states. Germany began intertrading amongst its states and the results were prodigious. Economically, Germany was unified. The largest Germanic state Prussia dealt closely and forcefully with Austria. Austria stood to lose greatly, economically and for fear of German might should they unify.
The Frankfurt Assembly of 1848 led by the aggressive Hohenzollern family failed to unite Germany so afterwards they are determined to do it by force. Austria also a Germanic kingdom did not desire unification. Prussian liberals desired a unification of the 38 independent states ruled by a constitutional monarchy. Conflicts raged in Prussia as King William IV promised certain liberal reforms that were too much for conservatives and too little for liberals. The workers wanted socialism, the conservatives refused. The problem was two provinces Schleswig and Holstein that were claimed by the Danish. When the war with Denmark brought victory Fredericka William the King of Prussia began discussions to make him a divine right empire of Germany…Austria balked, deal off.
Otto von Bismarck and Realpolitick:
Bismarck the ultimate Machiavellian was appointed chief minister/chancellor to push through military expenditures in the name of King (Kaiser) Wilhelm I. Like Metternich he had no interest in reform or democracy his concern was power, power in his mind came in the form of “Blood and Iron”.
In his mind blood and iron were the only things capable of unifying Germany, it had to be achieved through planned industrialization and warfare. He used three wars to chip away at resistance and strengthen Prussia. End justifies the means!

  1. Danish Wars: beginning in 1864 the allied Prussia and Austria (fake alliance) defeat he the Danish over the disputed provinces. Nationalism feelings are high with the convincing victory. Quickly arising the issue…who get’s what between the two kingdoms.

  2. Austro-Prussian War: broke out in 1866 after the Danish wars also known as the 7 weeks war. Land issues from war 1 were unresolved so Austria along with a large alliance of the remaining German states declared war on Prussia. The superior Prussian force drubbed them. Surrender terms lenient so Bismarck could use Austria in war 3. 21 of the 38 states were unified in Bismarck’s new North German Confederation under the leadership of the Prussian King. The body had a two-house legislature known as the Reichstag and Bundesrat.

  3. Franco-Prussian War: broke out over a disputed the dynastic throne in Spain. France and Prussia disagreed. Bismarck and France engaged in intense diplomacy which Bismark altered (Ems Dispatch) and made public. The comments were embellished and inflammatory and inspired great nationalism in Prussia. Napoleon III bowed to the public opinon in France which was equally nationalistic and declared war on Prussia. The result was an absolute route, in less than four months the Prussians had defeated the French and taken Napoleon III prisoner! The French were punished very harshly by the peace terms laid out by Bismarck. Many southern states joined the war effort and ultimately the empire. Treaty of Frankfurt in 1871 gave the very wealthy territories of Alsace and Lorraine to the Germans.

The victories sparked intense nationalism and rekindled the desire for a unified German state under Prussian rule. Immediately after victory #3, the four southern (Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, and Wurttemberg) states not in the empire joined the German confederacy. Germany had been united with Bismarck as its Chancellor and Kaiser (emperor) Wilhelm its monarch. However, this relationship is confusing…it is similar to Richelieu and Louis XIII. Bismarck had complete control over Wilhelm.

Democratization: Reichstag elected by universal suffrage had little real power. The chancellor and his cabinet of ministers held most of the power. It was a façade of democracy. His nemesis the National Social Democratic Party (Socialists) were a rising powerful force that Bismarck couldn’t defeat…so as in the English case of Gladstone/Disreali…he joined them and took their initiatives of workmen’s comp, pensions and medical insurance. Wilhelm’s son Kaiser Wilhelm II finally dismissed Bismarck in 1888. Wilhelm knew that Bismarck dominated politics and wanted to rule autocratically which he did until the end of WWI when it was he who dominated politics.

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