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How And Why The Piedmont Sardinia Played An Important Part In Italian Unification

1752 words - 7 pages

How and Why the Piedmont-Sardinia Played an Important Part in Italian Unification

Piedmont-Sardinia played a colossal role in the achievement of
national unity in Italy. Piedmont’s determination and commitment to
the endorsement of its own interests, inadvertently paved the way for
Italian unification. After 1848, the ideas of Gioberti, Mazzini and
other such republicans no longer seemed feasible and Piedmont was
recognized as the hope of liberal Italy. After the 1848 revolutions
the old regimes had survived but they were still clearly vulnerable
and too dependent on the weakened Austria. On the other hand, Piedmont
had a constitution and a liberal government. Only in Piedmont had the
1848 Constitution survived, confirmed by the new King Victor Emanuel
II on his accession. Arguably, according to some, Italy was finally
united because the 1848-49 revolutions had produced only one
constitutional monarchy (Piedmont), instead of a series of them, which
thus had a greatness thrust upon it.

Throughout the years leading up to and following the 1848
insurrections, Piedmont took part in many undertakings that led to
economic progress and to the building of stronger ties between
progress of Italy itself but for its own interests. However,
Piedmont’s interests, be it economic or political coincided with those
of most other regions in Italy. One of the most significant
undertakings was the campaign for the building of railways. It was
clear to men like Cavour (who in the 1840s was active in providing
rails for the Turin-Genoa line, and in helping to found banks to fund
the operations) that railways would transform the Italian economy by
linking the various regions together and creating new trading
opportunities. Even D'Azeglio (prime minister of Piedmont before
Cavour [1852]) was noted to remark that railways, which started with
the Lombardo-Venetian line in 1835, “would provide stitching for the
Italian boot”. The campaign for railways was not only economical but
it was also political. Railways needed a common gauge, coordinated
timetables and so forth and it made the existing custom barriers seem
even more ridiculous: the trains could not stop every several miles.
As a solution, a Customs League was proposed for Italy and a treaty
was signed in November1847 by Tuscany, Piedmont and the Papal States.
If it turned out to be successful this Customs League would most
likely bring an end to the Austrian control over Italian economics and
politics. Through this agreement they hoped to achieve not only a mere
customs league but also an “eventual federation with a diet in Rome,
which not only coordinated common weights and measurements but also
exerted powers over foreign policy and defense”1. Unfortunately, the
goals of the agreement were short lived and were never realized mainly

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