Cavour and Bismarck

The unification of Italy and the unification Germany happened about the same time. Italy was made up of small city-states and Germany was divided as well. The emerging leader in Italy who pushed for unification was a gentleman named Count Camillo Benso de Cavour. In Germany it was a gentleman named Otto Von Bismarck. Cavour and Bismarck had some similar and different methods for unification. Ultimately, Cavour and Bismarck were successful in unifying their own areas. Count Camillo Benso de Cavour is a very important person in the history of Italy. He was one of the first people to do something about unification. He wasn’t the only one though. Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi had a significant role in the unification of Italy as well.

Cavour was the most interesting of the three. Cavour was the chief minister of a small city-state in Italy called Piedmont Sardinia. Unlike Mazzini, he was an advocate of real politik (what can we get done here? Reality of things). The interesting thing about Cavour is he sought to expand the influence of Piedmont Sardinia in Italy; he didn’t necessarily want to unify Italy. As Cavour is expanding Piedmont Sardinia power through Italy, he received help from Napoleon III and gained territories like Lombardi and Milan. He continued to move south through Italy because he feared Garibaldi’s success would weaken the power of Piedmont Sardinia. Garibaldi was a true hero in Italy because he wanted unification. Italian unification is exactly what Garibaldi achieved. Cavour and Piedmont Sardinia invaded the Papal States. They wanted to slow down Garibaldi’s success. Instead of fighting back, Garibaldi simply stepped down. The reason for this was because Garibaldi cared more about Italy being unified than himself being ruler of a unified Italy. Therefore, Italy was in complete control of the king, Victor Emmanuel, of Piedmont Sardinia.

Cavour led Piedmont Sardinia throughout Italy and ultimately unified Italy. Complete unification was in 1870 when the French left Rome during the Franco-Prussian war. Cavour and the Piedmonts led a constitutional monarchy in Italy after unification. Otto Von Bismarck was the leading force in German unification. He was a conservative who was appointed prime minister by William I in 1862. What he really wanted was to become more powerful and create a larger Germany. He wanted a strong monarchy, army and industrial base. He also wanted to diminish liberalism. The establishment of the Zollverein was verysignificant to his success. It was a group of German states that managed customs and economic policies within their territories. He participated in a series of wars to try and expand his power but also to try and gain allies. In 1867, Bismarck annexed several German states to create the North German Confederation (a form of a new government).

This played a big role during the most significant war, the Franco-Prussian war. A dynastic dispute over Spain brought tensions between France and Prussia to a head. Prussia and France started having intense negotiations over the future of Spain. Secretly, Bismarck didn’t want to deal with France, he wanted war. Through propaganda, Bismarck was able to make France declare war on Prussia. The Germans and the Northern German confederation defeated the French at the battle of Sedans. At the Hall of mirrors at Versailles, the new German Empire had been proclaimed in 1871. Bismarck wanted war because he was confident he would be victorious. He knew he would get more territory.

Germany got Alsace and Lorraine after they defeated the French. Because the Prussian army was the main military force, they became the German army. Prussia morphed into Germany after unification, but continued to rule the nation. There are a lot of similarities, and a lot of differences relating to the methods that Cavour and Bismarck used. Both Cavour and Bismarck led a movement towards unification. Both people didn’t set up big nationalistic movements to do so, it just sort of happened. Cavour and Bismarck both started their own movements towards unification after they were appointed high positions for their governments. Other than that, they didn’t have many similarities.

Cavour was the type of person who relied on diplomacy. Cavour discussed and planned how to do things, yet never really participated. Bismarck was the complete opposite. Bismarck was the man of the extremely powerful Prussian army. Cavour’s main opponents were the people and Garibaldi. Very few people actually supported Cavour. Cavour also had the Austrians as opponents. Bismarck’s opponents were countries like Austria and France. Cavour had a better location, yet not a ton of power because when Italy was unified, Victor Emmanuel took over. Bismarck had a ton of power but an awful location. The independent states, which are eventually Germany, were located in the middle of super powers of the world and Bismarck had the tough task of unifying all of them. Cavour and Bismarck were successful in unifying their own areas. Ultimately, Cavour was an opportunist who achievedunification through diplomacy. Bismarck was a very powerful man who played multiple sides throughout the unification of Germany, yet was able to unify it due to the ridiculously powerful Prussian army and the Zollverein. Cavour and Bismarck were great leaders, and they each accomplished something amazing.

What do you think?

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