The unification of Italy constitutes a saga of diplomacy and courage of the people of Italy.
In making a united Italy, Cavour played the most remarkable and paramount role. In the initial stages, Cavour banked upon negotiations and diplomatic maneuvering to achieve the aim of united Italy.
When the efforts yielded results not to his liking, he took recourse to what has been called direct and overt steps to make the Italy unified under a single ruler.
Count Cavour was a diplomat par excellence. Initially, he took recourse to diplomacy. He realized with considerable wisdom that Piedmont alone cannot achieve unification of Italy. This diplomatic effort thus turned towards enlisting the support of other nations of Europe and to isolate Austria for the unification of Italy. His participation in the European war and entry into the Congress of Paris in 1856 was results of his diplomatic move.
In yet another brilliant move, Cavour prompted Napoleon HI of France to sign an agreement known as the Pact of Plumbers by which Napoleon agreed to join Sardinia in the event of a war with Austria, provided that Austria turns out to be the aggressor.
Assured of the French support to Italian cause, Cavour provoked Austria of Sardinia and France captured Lombardy by defeating Austria. Then, just when the capture of Venice appeared within the reach of the allied forces, Napoleon III called a halt and arranged for truce at villa Franca between Italy and Austria in 1859. Italy could retain Lombardy, but war drew to close.
Thus, Cavour’s efforts at unification of Italy from the North could not be fully successful. As a result he planned to bring about the unification of Italy from South. As a logical step in this direction, Cavour promised Garibaldi and his lieutenants his unstinted support in Naples and Sicily. Cavour connived at the departure of Garibaldi’s expedition and gave him secret support. Garibaldi and his Red shirts won victories in Sicily and Naples.
Plebiscites were held in Sicily, Naples, Umbria and Marches which decided in favour of joining with the kingdom of Sardinia. In 1861, the first Italian parliament representing all Italy except Rome and Venetia met at Twin and Cavour’s policy of diplomacy and revolution proved successful.
The unification of Italy delivered the first solid flow to the iniquitous and reactionary order built so assiduously by the Congress of Vienna under Metternich.