Unification of Germany and of Italy

Unification of Germany

Social & Economic conditions

  • Landlords were called Junkers, who dominated the affairs of the state.
  • Economically, the division of Germany into multiple states resulted in poor economic development because of restrictions these states brought on free movement of goods.
  • The backward socio – political system also contributed to the poor economic situation.

Role of French Revolution & Napoleonic Wars

  • Germany was divided into many states in 18th century. The Napoleonic wars ended the artificial boundaries of many states and united them, only 38 states remained.
  • Prussia become the most powerful and biggest of them. The movement of nationalism enthused the Germans for unification of these states. All these currents resulted in formation of the German Confederation in 1815.
  • It included parts of Austrian & Prussian Empire and some German states. But large parts of Prussia and Austria were not included in the Confederation.

Failures of German Confederation:

  • Each of the constituent state tried to assert its independence and did little to meet the anti-feudal aspirations of the people.
  • In 1848, revolts started in all German states for overthrow of the present political system of Monarchy rule and the rulers were forced to grant a democratic form of government.
  • But the Prussian King refused to the proposal of a constitutional monarchy for united Germany.
  • Competition between Austria and Prussia for dominating the affairs of the German Confederation.

Unification under Bismarck

  • Bismarck was the military commander of Prussia and his policy was “Blood and Iron”.
  • His aim was to unite Germany under the Prussian Monarchy and this required bringing down the German Confederation.Germany Unification

Unified Germany

  • Bismarck‚Äôs Prussia first fought a war in 1864 in alliance with Austria against Denmark to annex most of the territory of German Confederation.
  • Then he allied with Italy in 1866 to defeat Austria and removed it from the German Confederation. Therefore the Confederation was ended.
  • In 1867, Bismarck formed the North German Confederation. It united 22 German states but excluded the Southern German states like Bavaria, which remained independent.
  • The constitution of this Confederation made the Prussian King the hereditary head of the state.
  • The Southern states followed a pro-Austria policy but were forced to unite after the German victory in Franco-Prussian war of 1870.
  • The Franco-Prussian war in 1870 led to final unification of Germany.
  • The French King Louis Bonaparte declared war on Germany in 1870. He wanted to use a war victory to divert attention of the public and to use the consequent war gains to lend credibility to his regime.
  • On other hand, Bismarck was also partially responsible for provoking the French for war.
  • Finally France was defeated and it declared itself republic in 1871.
  • The war and the consequent German victory allowed Bismarck to absorb rest of the German states into a united Germany (1871).
unification-ItalyUnification of Italy
  • The Unification of Italy was a 2 step process. In the first step, it had to gain independence from Austria.
  • In second, it had to unite the consequent independent Italian states into a single unit. Mazzini and Garibaldi were 2 revolutionaries who played an important role in this process.
  • Mazzini had formed an organization named Young Italy in 1831 for unification of Italy.
  • From 1831 onwards, Young Italy repeatedly attempted revolts against the Monarchy but all of them failed to establish a democratic and united Italy.

Role of 1848 Revolts

  • The 1848 revolts were led by intellectuals and liberals who were against the reactionary Austrian control and wanted a liberal government.
  • These revolts did usher in democratic reforms, but neither did these result in independence from Austria nor the consolidation of the states into a united Italy.

Unification under PM Clavour

  • After the 1848 revolts, attempts at unification of Italy were made by the Prime Minister Clavour of the Italian State of Sardinia.
  • His policy was similar to that of Bismarck. In 1859, Sardinia allied with France in a war against Austria, which freed many states of Italy from Austrian rule.
  • Most of the states were united under the Monarch of Sardinia. Except some states like Venetia, Sicily, Naples and Papal States (capital Rome) etc….
  • Sicily and Naples were liberated from the rule of Ferdinand II by the revolutionary fighters led by Garibaldi.
  • The Kingdom of Italy was established in 1860. Venice was annexed by Italy in 1866 by taking advantage of Austro -Prussian War of 1866.
  • Now only Rome was left. The Pope had the protection of the French troops.
  • After the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the French could not support the Pope anymore and in 1871.
  • Finally Rome was annexed and made the capital of Italy, thus completing the process of unification.

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