Short Essay on the Alliance between Count of Cavour and Napoleon III (1858)


At last, Cavour drew advantage from the Crimean War. He was in search of an ally which could help him against Austria. He considered Napolean III, the Emperor of France, as the most appropriate person to solve his problem. Cavour had already accepted this fact when he said:

“Whether we like or not our destinies depend upon France.”

Cavour proposed the offer of alliance before French Emperor and he gladly accepted it. An alliance was concluded between the two at Plombieres on July 21, 1858.


Accordingly, France promised to give military help to Piedmont against Austria, also that Lombardy and Venetia would be given to Piedmont.

It was further promised that states of Parma, Modena, and Tuscany would also be incorporated with Piedmont.

A confederation of the united states of Italy would be created under the president ship of the Pope. In return of this help, France would receive Savoy and possibly Nice.

Napoleon III took keen interest in the problems of Italy not because he wanted the unity of Italy; but, as a matter of fact, he wanted to prove himself the true representative of Napoleon I. In the words of an eminent historian:


For in taking the step he did, he was behaving in conformity both with the Napoleonic tradition and the Napoleonic legend. The voice from St. Helena told him that the first monarch to espouse the cause of the people would become undisputed leader of Europe.

He and France, by cooperating with history, could secure the mastery of Europe’s destiny; by a great act of moral leadership which was also a piece of shrewd international statecraft.”

In the same way, C. D. Hazen has expressed his opinion that Napoleon 111 took active part in the Italian question in order to “win glory tor his throne, and there was always the chance, too, of gaining territory.”

Whatever may be the cause, it is a fact that the alliance of Plumbers was a great success for Cavour. It opened a new era in the history of the unification of Italy.

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