What were the Causes of the Failure of the Unification of Italy till 1848?


Although the patriots of Italy had started national movement just after the Vienna Settlement, their efforts did not bear fruit, because:

(i) The patriots of Italy had no definite and specific programme. They worked for the national unity of Italy according to different methods and plans. Mazzini wanted to establish republic, the politicians of Sardinia-Piedmont were in favour of monarchy under their king, Charles Albert.

There was a group of people who wanted to establish a federation of the Italian states under the leadership of the Pope. Owing to the lack of a common programme, they failed to achieve their object.


(ii) There was no organisation or party at that time in Italy which could unite the patriots of all states. The Carbonari did not prove as an effective organization. The ‘Young Italy’ also failed because some people considered it as an organization of the republicans.

(iii) During the period from 1815 to 1848, there was no notable statesman in Italy who could understand the problems of the country and solve them.

Mazzini was the only leader who inspired the patriots to get ready for any sacrifice for the cause of their country. But he could not achieve anything as he lacked the qualities of a skilled and farsighted statesman.

(iv) The people of Italy failed to understand the true nature and scope of their problems. They thought they could easily take care of their problems. Therefore, they sought no help from other countries.


As a matter of fact, it was an international problem, because the national unity had been dissolved in the Vienna Congress.

To challenge the decisions of the Vienna Congress meant the dissolution of an international system. There was a need of assistance from a foreign power which might interfere in the affairs of Italy.

(v) The root cause of the failure of Italian campaign was the influence of Austria over Italian provinces. Lombardy and Venetia were included in her empire. The rulers of Parma, Modena and Tuscany were directly or indirectly related with the House of Hapsburg.

The ruler of Naples had concluded a treaty with Austria. The Pope of Rome was the supporter of Austrian policy. In this way, Austria was the real master of Italy.


Up to 1848, Metternich felt like maintaining status quo in these states. Owing to the influence and interference of Metternich, the national movement could not make any headway.

Although the war of independence could not give political and national unity and liberty to Italians, the people gained in experience from the failures of their efforts.

Owing to failures of the republicans under Mazzini and the Roman Catholics under the Pope, the people came to the conclusion that the national unity could not be achieved by democratic measures.

There was only one state of Piedmont in which was centred the only hope of the nationalists since 1848. They believed that Piedmont could lead the campaign because it was the only ideal state of Italy at that time.


Victor Emmanuel II, the king of Piedmont, was known as the honest king of the House of Savoy. He had unto himself the qualities of a brave soldier, a politician, a diplomat and a great and efficient administrator. In 1852, he appointed Count Cavour as the Prime Minister of Piedmont.

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