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Italian Unification- Part I

In the beginning of 19th century, Italy was mere a geographical entity as it was divided into number of small principalities. The state of Piedmont was the only native state in Italy and other states were under foreign rule. North Italy was under Austria, the central parts were under the control of Pope and the southern Italy was under Bourbon dynasty of France. In the opening years of 19th century nobody ever thought of Italian unification and one rule could ever be established in whole of the state. The military campaigns of Napoleon played an important role in bringing about the unification of Italy. He was not looking for creating unified Italian kingdom but his works hold the course of the unification in an indirect manner. He defeated the powerful gentry in various parts of Italy. The large number of smaller principalities was amalgamated into three political entities. Napoleon established republican system in these political entities and started number of reforms in accordance with the ideals of the Revolution of 1789. The concept of equality was established and rule of law was implemented.Napolean also wiped out the feudal elements from Italy and this led to the weakening of traditional system. He also undertook steps for economic reforms. He abolished the restricted trade guilds and freed the trade and commerce from medieval restrictions.

Napoleon also helped raising the level of popular awareness in Italy. He glorified the past of Italy. When the rule of Napoleon turned despotic it undermined the rights and privileges of common citizens and resulted in reactionary reactions. It gave birth to Italian nationalism. This spread of nationalism continued to strengthen over the period of time and played a significant role in the politics of the state. The Vienna order of 1815 was inspired by reactionary ideals. The order was the product of absolute monarchies which restored the pre 1796 status in Italy. Characterized by the principals of legitimacy and balance of power the Vienna Order restored the old ruling houses in different parts of Italy. The House of Savoy was reestablished in Piedmont Sardinia. The rule of Austrian princes was restored in states likes Tuscany etc.The authority of Pope was recognized over Rome and Papal States of Central Italy. The Naples and Sicily of Southern Italy were placed under Ferdinand II of Bourbon dynasty of France. The authors of Vienna Order made efforts to wipe out the liberal and progressive ideals spread by Napoleon in Italy. The feudal elements and class privileges were restored.