To what extent had the provisions of The Vienna Settlement (1815) relating to Italy been overthrown by 1849? In 1815 there was a meeting of the great powers – Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia and France – to consider the future of Italy after Napoleonic rule had ended. Metternich, the leader of Austria at the time, had various main aims regarding the situation of Italy, the majority of which revolved around stopping French influence and not allowing liberalism which could lead to wars and revolutions, or nationalism which he though would break up the empire.
Once established, the principles and aims of the congress focused on providing stability in order to prevent war, establishing a balance of power in Europe by limiting France’s power, retaining legitimacy of rule throughout Italy and stopping the spread of nationalism. In many ways, the states of Italy were returned back to their state prior to 1796 when Napoleonic rule began. However, by 1949 it could be argued that many of the provisions of The Vienna Settlement in relation to Italy had been overthrown due to the various revolutions that took place and the rise in a want for nationalism throughout the country.
Whether or not it was completely overthrown however, is debatable. One of the most prominent of all the provisions that The Vienna Settlement caused was the dominance that Austria had over Italy. Many of the reactionary rulers at the time had links with Austria, for example in Tuscany the ruler – Grand Duke Ferdinand III – was the brother of Metternich himself. As well as this, Austria’s Metternich was one of the three absolute and autocratic rulers that were part of The Holy Alliance which was set up in September 1815, along with Prussia and Russia. Their purpose was to stop liberal and nationalist revolutions, by lending aid to any monarchs under threat from revolutionaries. Throughout the period of 1815 – 1849, Austria did just that and crushed many of the attempted revolutions that began. For example, in the revolution in Sicily between 1820 and 1821, when the people wanted freedom from Naples after their forced unification in 1815, the provisional government set up by the revolutionaries was crushed by March 1921 by the Austrian army. This shows the large impact and control that Austria had at the time, and the prevalence that the provisions of The Treaty of Vienna had. However, in some of the later revolutions, Austria’s power seems to weaken, suggesting so too the weakening of the provisions that the treaty created.
For example, the revolution in Lombardy caused a great amount of trouble for Austria and crushing it was not as easy as those mentioned earlier. Austria and Radetzky – the leader of the Austrian army – had to fight against a coalition of anti-Austrian forces including Mazzinians, liberals, 100 priests and artisans. After Radetzky withdrew his troops, there was a political vacuum in Lombardy which the revolutionaries filled with a provisional government. However, Radetzky convinced the Austrian government to fight for Lombardy and the Battle of Custozza began. Despite the fact that the Austrians won against the Piedmontese, who had agreed to help Lombardy, it’s clear that in comparison to earlier revolutions, such a success on their part was not as easily won. This could signal a loss of control for the Austrians. Another provision of The Treaty of Vienna was the want from Austria to limit the power that France had in Italy after the ending of Napoleonic rule.
The Treaty allowed this as a way of balancing out power throughout Europe. Various measures were put in place in order to completely dispel the influence that French rule had in Italy, often leading to the regression of States. For example, the Papal States had tight censorship with the pope leading the states and armed forces were stationed there in order to retain the settlement that was imposed. In Sardinia Victor Emanuel even went as far as abolishing the gas lights and parks put in the state by the French. This highlights the great impact that The Treaty of Vienna had upon Italy due to lack of French influence that was allowed. However, the French did manage to have an impact on Italy at one point throughout the period of 1815 and 1849, in Rome. In February 1849 the Roman republic was formed led by the triumvirate – the head of which was Mazzini – and he was to rule the city for 100 days. However, the Pope who had lost power due to the formation of the Roman Republic appealed to the foreign powers of France and Spain as well as Naples, stating that he needed help to free Rome “from the enemies to our most holy religion and civil society”. France agreed to help and an army of 20,000 men were sent to the gates of Rome in order to destroy the Roman Republic.
Despite the efforts of Garibaldi who was one of the triumvirate members, the city fell to the French by the end of June 1849 and a French Garrison was formed in Rome with the intention of safeguarding the Pope, which remained until 1870. Although only in one state, the fact that French intervention had such a large impact on Italy at the time highlights one of the way in which the provisions of The Treaty of Vienna failed. However, such an intervention also meant that the pope was safeguarded as the ruler of Rome, which was in keeping with the provisions of the treaty which focused on rulers having a “right to rule”, even if those who made it possible were the French. After the Napoleonic rule in Italy ended, as another way of abolishing French influence, The Treaty of Vienna demanded the abolition of the code napoleon throughout Italy. The only place in which some, although very small amounts of it, remained was in The Papal States, although Marie Louise who was the ruler of Parma created something very similar. As well as this, constitutions in all states were abolished and the absolute rulers throughout Italy would not allow for new ones to be formed.
This was the reason behind many of the revolutions that followed, as Italian people longed to have once again the freedom that the French created constitutions gave them. For example, the revolution in the Papal states in February 1831 led to the creation of a provision government who put in a constitution reforming the finance system, an electoral assembly that would chose the cabinet and president and a fair judicial system based on that of the Napoleonic model. However, the constitution and rule did not last long as Metternich and the Austrian army crushed them. The fact that despite the hard work of revolutionaries, in such cases constitutions were not granted highlights the prevalence that the Treaty of Vienna had in terms of its provisions in Italy and upon Italia people. However, in Piedmont a constitution was granted in the form of The Statuto.
At first Charles Albert was unwilling to give into such liberal demands, but he was persuaded that it would be better to give into the limited demands than to risk revolution. As a consequence, he passed the Statuto in March 1848. Although it did not grant a full parliamentary system as the King still had the right to sanction laws and to appoint the members of the upper house of parliament, it was very much improved to that of the earlier. It also created a constitutional monarchy and granted civil liberties for Piedmontese citizens such as right to religious toleration. As a consequence of the granted of The Statuto, many liberals were inspired to attempt to have the same done in their states. The Pope found it extremely hard to resist calls for a constitution in The Papal sates, and although it was extremely limited, he too granted a parliament, although with less power than that in most states. As well as this, in Lombardy where Austrian refusal to respond to reform angered those inspired by the granting of the Piedmontese constitution, the Milanese stopped smoking as the Austrian government held a monopoly over the sale of Tabaco. This acted as a form of protest and highlights how influential the work towards getting a constitution in Piedmont was in terms of liberal idealism.
However, it must be noted that despite the spreading of ideas, such a constitution was only granted in one of the many Italian states. One of the most outwardly obvious provisions of The Treaty of Vienna was the division of states from three to roughly eight regions after the end of Napoleonic rule in Italy. This acted as a huge obstacle towards Italian unification as the geographical separations among Italy meant that people became more focused on the welfare of their towns and states instead of Italy as a whole. However, despite this state separation, as time progressed in the period of 1815 – 1849, idea of nationalism and a want for unity began to grow. This can be seen through the creation of national groups such as the Congress of Science. It was created in 1839 and delegates from various regions attended the meetings that were held up to 1847.
The meetings focused on many topics regarding Italy including medical innovations and agriculture. Future Risorgimento heroes often attended The Congress of Science. The fact that the group was national and wide reaching, spreading the Italian language, highlights that although physical separations existed, the want for nationalism was still prevalent among some Italians. However, the group was only accessible to the well-educated middle classes, meaning that for the peasants of Italy – who made up roughly 90% of the population – the provisions regarding state separations were still extremely prevalent. The rising want for nationalism is also visible through various art forms in Italy at the time, for example in literature and operatic. Verdi, created many operas which became synonymous with anti-Austrian messages and encourages nationalists. As well as this, Gioberti, Balbo and Cattoneo all published books regarding the road to unification.
Gioberti argued for a federation of states led by the pope, Balbo wanted unification led by Piedmont and Cattoneo thought that unification would come through reforms and education. As well as this, Mazzini ran an influential nationalist scheme, setting up Young Italy who would make attempts towards unification through revolution. For example, in the Naples revolution in 1832. Although his ideas were too radical for most Italians to accept, he inspired many to fight for unification within Italy and even to join his cause directly. The fact that people publicly voiced their want for nationalism, even if hidden among the story line of an opera, shows that regardless of the fact that nationalist ideas were greatly discouraged and states remained separated, the provisions of The Treaty of Vienna did not affect the mentality of all Italian people by 1849.
Overall, the provisions of The Vienna Settlement of 1815 relating to Italy had not been overthrown by 1849. Although nationalist ideas were gaining support, the actions that resulted due to them were not usually successes and revolutions tended to only weaken Austria’s power as opposed to getting rid of their dominance entirely. Progressions such as the creation of constitutions were also only limited to individual states such as Piedmont. As well as this, any attempts at getting rid of the reactionary rulers that the treaty put in place though right to rule, failed which is highlighted in the way that the Pope regained power in Rome with help from France. In general, any successes seemed to be extremely minor in comparison to the tightly controlled provisions put in place by The Treaty of Vienna.
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