England and Italy

England and Italy

England and Italy

England and Italy

Excerpt

In the spring of 1859 Italy still contained six sizable independent states, and in addition Lombardy and Venetia formed part of the Austrian Empire. By the spring of 1861 virtually the whole peninsula, except Venetia and a much shrunken Papal State, had been united under King Victor Emanuel of Piedmont-Sardinia. The unification of Italy amounted to a drastic remodelling of the European state-system; and the entire two years were one long international crisis, during which a general war might have broken out at almost any moment.

The Italian crisis has a specially prominent place in English history, on three main counts. First, England is commonly believed to have favoured unification, at least after June 1859, when the Whig-Liberal Ministry of Lord Palmerston succeeded the Conservative Ministry of Lord Derby; and this is usually regarded as the cardinal instance of her official sympathy with European nationalism. So the episode ranks as one of the most significant in the history of her foreign policy. Second, the making of English policy in this crisis was a peculiarly difficult task, because the mid-Victorian public took a lively interest in foreign, and particularly in Italian, affairs, and because the Court and the principal Liberal Ministers were at loggerheads about them. This is therefore a locus classicus for students of 'foreign policy and the democratic process'. Third, certain historians have claimed that England's Italian policy was the crucial issue in the General Election of 1859 and the subsequent Parliamentary struggle: that -- to state it crudely -- the change of Government occurred because the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.