Italy's Debt To France: The Meeting At Plombieres.

1677 words - 7 pages

In 1870, with the onset of the Franco-Prussian War, France was forced to withdraw its troops from Rome where they had secured the Pope's authority since 1849. With the absence of the French soldiers, Rome came under Italian rule and this same year was declared the new capital. With this addition to the state, the task of Italian unification was complete. Finally, after eleven years of plotting, war, and compromise Italy was one. But, would any of this been possible had it not been for one crucial meeting? A meeting that resulted in the alliance of France and the Italian state of Piedmont that gave Piedmont the force it needed to run the Austrians off of the peninsula and make way for unification. This meeting at the French spa of Plombieres between Camillo Cavour and Louis Napoleon III was most definitely the catalyst that sprung the Italian unification. In this paper I plan to dissect the occurrences of the meeting, as well as display its importance and unveil the underlying factors that molded the decisions that were made. (Cohen p. 818) Cavour knew that if there was any chance of a united Italy that it would require more effort and force than Piedmont could provide. Knowing this, Cavour entered Italy into the Crimean War on the side of the Allies in order to get a seat at the treaty talks and in turn meet with Louis Napoleon of France and Lord Clarendon of England. After meeting with both men at the Congress of Paris, Cavour was convinced that it would be the French that he would rely on for assistance (Orsi p. 219). It is no surprise that the French were willing to aid Italy in their attempt for unification, in fact there are several reasons. Primarily for the reason that France and Napoleon were viewed as the protectors of nationalism in Europe, which had been the case since the revolution. Also, because France and Austria were natural enemies and any loss of ground experienced by the Austrians was considered a bonus for the French. And lastly, because of Louis Napoleon's desire to regain France's authority in Europe and in the Mediterranean as it had been under his uncle (Smith p. 234). Now that Cavour had made France's Emperor aware of Piedmont's intentions, the next step was to make contact with the Emperor and devise a plan. The first contact was made on May 6, 1858 and it was in a letter from Cavour to Louis Napoleon's physician, Doctor Conneau, who often served as a secret negotiator to allow Louis Napoleon to conduct foreign affairs without the knowledge of his Foreign Minister. Cavour suggested that Conneau should come to Turin to discuss the situation, "...under the cover of one of your usual visits..." in order to avoid rousing the suspicions that would arise if Cavour were to go to Paris. Three days later Cavour received a cipher telegram from his personal representative in Paris. The telegram stated that the Emperor found the proposal to be of "maximum importance" and that he would send Doctor Conneau to...

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