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Day 23 – Q 4.Compare and contrast the history of unification of Germany and that of Italy.

4. Compare and contrast the history of unification of Germany and that of Italy. 

जर्मनी और इटली के एकीकरण के इतिहास का तुलनातमक विश्लेषण करें।


Nationalism emerged as a major force in Europe in the aftermath of Vienna system as a result of which there is rise of Germany and Italy as new powerful nations after their unification process during the mid-19th century period which changed the geo-political scenario in Europe.


The unification of Germany and Italy as new nations had its genesis in the common cultural background and linguistic similarity which helped in the process of building a national identity. The process of unification of Germany and Italy can be seen from the following points:

                  German Unification                  Italian Unification
  1. Efforts of Napoleon in the form of Rhine federation and propagation of ideals of french revolution laid the basis for future course in 1805.
  2. Vienna Congress of 1815 tried to undone changes done by Napoleon but were not completely successful. Thus, Napoleon completed the first phase German unification.
  3. Burschenschaft and Zollverein were organisations which helped in the formation of a national identity in german states.
  4. The Zollverein was a  Customs Union launched by Prussia in 1818 and it contributed to making Prussia the most economically progressive German state.  
  5. The 1848 revolution failed to bring liberty or unity to Germany, as it had failed in Italy. Only in Prussia did the king grant a constitution, but it was far from what the liberals had wanted.  
  6. Bismarck became Minister-President of Prussia in 1862. He was far more a strong leader of the autocratic type, masterful, anti-democratic and scornful of liberals. His “blood and iron” speech and his unscrupulous treatment of the Prussian liberals vividly revealed his nature as a Junker leader.
  7. Unlike Cavour, Bismarck was able to achieve German unification without foreign assistance and more with the use of military force. With the helpful assistance of his military leaders, Bismarck had at his disposal a powerful military machinery.
  8. In 1866, he defeated Austin by first isolating her diplomatically from possible allies, then overwhelming her with superior arms. It enabled the Bismarck to annex some German states to form a North German Confederation, and to drive Austrian influence out of Germany.
  9. Bismarck completed German unification himself by another war against France from 1870-71. The Prussian victory over France aroused strong nationalist sentiments and induced German states to unite in the name of a German empire, under the leadership of Prussia. Thus, Prussian militarism had unified Germany unaided.
  1. Napoleonic measures of establishing Swiss alpine republic and reforms in accordance with the ideals of french revolution triggered growth of awakening.
  2. Vienna Congress restored pre-napoleon conditions but unknowingly strengthened Piedmont-Sardinia state which in the long run lead the process of Italian unification.
  3. Carbonary and Young Italy were associations in Italian states which helped in the growth of nationalism and the spirit of fraternity.
  4. In Italy, no customs union comparable to the Zollverein aided the movement towards unification. Only Piedmont implemented some economic reforms that made the country the most economically advanced Italian state.
  5. In 1848, revolts broke out in every Italian state for the sake of liberty and unity. The Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia also declared war on Austria to fight for Italian unification. Despite some initial successes, the revolutionary movement failed as revolts were ultimately suppressed by despotic rulers
  6. In 1852, Cavour became Prime Minister of Piedmont. He contributed greatly to the cause of Italian unification. He strove to modernize Piedmont’s economy and government once he was in power.  
  7. Cavour used diplomacy to secure the help of France and Great Britain in the cause of Italian unification through measures like help in Crimean War.
  8. With the help of French military assistance, Cavour gained Lombardy and then later took advantage to gain central Italy and Naples-Sicily with the help of Garibaldi.
  9. Between 1861 and 1870, Italian unification was completed not so much by Italian efforts as by Prussia’s defeats of Austria (1866) and France (1871). In the first instance, Italy allied with Prussia and seized Venetia – from Austria. In the second case, when French garrisons at Rome returned home to fight Prussia, Italian forces marched into the city despite the Pope’s opposition. By then, the Italian unification had finally been completed.


Italian unification owed much to the leadership of Piedmont and Cavour, and to French and Prussian military role.  Yet, forces from below were also important, especially the liberals and nationalists who raffled to Cavour and Garibaldi.  On the other hand, “unification from above” was clearly the pattern in Germany. It was achieved mainly by Prussia, her army, her ruling class, and the leader Bismarck.

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