Prior to the unification of Germany and Italy, Europe was moving into a direction that inevitably would change the course of European history. In the year 1848 there were many revolts. Revolts were found in the following countries: France, Hungary, Italy, the Austrian Empire, Romania, and Germany. All of these revolts held similar characteristics. Each country had to withstand a rapid urbanization because of the Industrial Revolution. These countries also saw the doubling of their size along with the reduction of their food supply. Each country had to deal with the struggle of the working classes and also unemployment in the country. In terms of the government the people did not feel that they were fairly represented and they also feel that their governments were abusing their rights with the use of the secret police.
Italy as a peninsula has enjoyed its independence since the end of the Roman Empire. Their pride in their regions of their country has been a staple of Italian culture even up to today. It was self-pride that led to the Renaissance and the competitiveness of the regions. For many years, much of Italy did not wish to be united. During the French Revolution, Napoleon and the French had a major problem with Austria because of land and also their relationship with the dead Queen. Napoleon wanted to unite many kingdoms against the Austrians. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 was a key point in European history. The kingdoms of Lombardy and Venetia were placed in the control of the Austrians. Italians of these two regions did not like the idea of foreign rule.
Three men were at the forefront of the unification of Italy, Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Count Camilo Cavour. Their combined efforts help push Italy to unification. Giuseppe Mazzini helped create the Young Italy Movement in 1831. This organization was disliked by the Austrians. They even went as far as executing anyone they found as a member of the movement. Many were not executed because of the protection that Giuseppe Garibaldi was able to provide to these members. Giuseppe Mazzini himself was sent into exile because of his writing.
In the years 1848 and 1849 Italians staged revolts but both revolts failed. There were certain reasons why this occurred; first the rural people did not support the revolt because the revolts focused on the city people and middle class. They felt that their efforts would not benefit them in the end. The revolts were not united because of the element of the radicals. These radicals were too extreme for the revolt and people did not want to be associated with them. Lastly, there was little to no real leadership. At this point they did not have a strong enough leader to unite everybody.
Unlike other revolutions and revolts, the unification of Italy did not have a specific turning point or flash point like others. For example, the French Revolution is synonymous with the Storming of the Bastille, the American Revolution started with Lexington and Concord. Italy slowly, politically moved them self into unification. Count Camilo Cavour brought the French in for support in 1859 to lean on the other kingdoms and Austria. The Count is referred to as the Brain of Italian unification while Giuseppe Mazzini is considered the heart. Giuseppe Garibaldi was known as the sword. It was he who made the Italian "red shirts.' The red shirts fought against the Kingdom of the Two Sicily’s in guerilla warfare. The threat of violence and revolt help bring people to the negotiation table.
The overall path of unification looked like this:
1820-21 Carbonari Insurrection
1854-56 Piedmont-Sardinia send troops into the Crimean War
1859 Count Camilo Cavour meets with Napoleon III
1861 Italy is almost totally unified except for Venetia and the Papal States
1866 Venecia is given to Italy as a trophy of war. The Venetians were rewarded for siding with the Prussians who beat the Austrians.
1870 The French leave the Papal States leaving them to the Italians
Germany did not have a formal revolution, rather when the Germans had physical confrontation, they in the form of riots. The Germans failed at their riots for two reasons, one the people preferred Nationalism over unity, meaning they were proud to be German, but they were not willing to compromise their individual uniqueness. Secondly after the riots they negotiated with the nobility, they were promised concessions, but they left the nobles in power. Therefore they never followed through with their contracts.
Like Italy, Germany's fate started with the Congress of Vienna in 1814. During the reign of Napoleon he created the Confederation of the Rhine. This set-up was to help France with their Austrian problem, and being able to influence Austria from multiple sides. Later it was renamed the German Confederation. Prussia was given control of this area which made them the most powerful out of the German territories. At this time period, nobles and princes individually controlled their land without having to answer to a higher authority. During this time period, each independent kingdom would charge individual tariffs. This made trade between the territories very difficult. However by 1818 these tariffs were eliminated.
Time moved relatively slow in Germany but by 1844, the Zollverain who were German business people wished for a unified Germany. By this time period most territories were under the same work guild/association. Like other places in Europe, 1848 was a very eventful year. In Germany, Germans wanted to hear King Frederick Williams response to some political issues, before they could hear the King, his soldiers fired on the crowd. At this time period the Frankfort Assembly developed. The Frankfort Assembly wished for certain things; universal suffrage, they wanted to debate over the monarch, they wanted either the Habsburgs or Hohernzulles in charge, and there was issue with Prussia vs. Austria.
Otto von Bismarck (1815-1889)
Otto von Bismarck was born as a junker. Junkers in Germany were aristocratic landowners of Prussia. Bismarck wished to help create a government that would be parliamentary, but also he wanted the leaders to have authoritarian powers when necessary. Bismarck can be considered one of the greatest politicians of all time. He would deal and negotiate with groups for his end result. For example the liberals of Germany wanted to be unified; Bismarck would use this goal and move policy to obtain his ultimate goal. In this society, the bourgeoisie gained great benefit through the economy.
Bismarck first arrived in the political arena in 1847. He was a middle man and climbed the ladder until 1862 when he was appointed to lead King William I's cabinet. Once in the cabinet Bismarck's ultimate goal of Prussia uniting Germany started to come to fruition. With Prussia, Bismarck help build a country based on "Blood and Iron." By force and military might Bismarck would have his leverage to politic his goals to a united Germany. Austria caused a large problem in Germany. Bismarck had to be able to eliminate Austrian leadership in the German Confederation and also their influence in Southern Germany. He solved these problems by convincing France to stay neutral if war between Germany and Austria broke out. He then provoked Austria into war in 1866. Bismarck then provoked France to declare war on Prussia. Bismarck then convinced the southern states to side with Prussia leaving France in the cold. By 1871, Germany made William I the first 'Kaiser' (Emperor) of Germany and Bismarck was the first chancellor.
The overall timeline of major points:
1864 Danish War
1866 Austro-Prussian War
1867 North German Confederation
1870 EMS Dispatch
1870-71 Franco-Prussian War
For Germany and Italy this time period united them under one flag. For the rest of Europe the pride in their individual countries swelled to a fever pitch. Besides these minor 'wars' between European countries, they signed peace treaties aligning each other with other countries and against others. These treaties were called upon in World War I in 1914-1919. Also, the major and minor countries of Europe wanted to start aggressively obtaining colonies in Africa, Latin America, and Asia for their power and benefit.