Sunday, 22 March 2015

German unification

The proclamation of the German Empire,
Hall of Mirrors, Versailles
18 January 1871

As well as the textbooks mentioned in previous posts,  I have used the Britannica CD ROM (2001),  Christopher Clark's excellent Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 (Allen Lane, 2006), Steinberg Bismarck: A Life (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Hannah Pakula, An Uncommon Woman: The Empress Frederick, Daughter of Queen Victoria, Wife of the Crown Prince of Prussia, Mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II (Phoenix Press, 1997).  Go here for an excellent  discussion on Bismarck in Melvyn Bragg's 'In Our Time'. 

The kings of Prussia

Frederick I of Prussia in his
coronation robes (1701)
Public Domain
From the end of of the 17th century Brandenburg-Prussia, under its Hohenzollern kings was the largest German principality after Austria. The monarchy can be dated from January 1701 when Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, was crowned Frederick I ‘King in [not yet 'of] Prussia’.  Under Frederick the Great Prussia had expanded its territory and during the War of Liberation in 1813 it had recovered its self-respect following its defeat by Napoleon.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Italian unification

This post owes a considerable debt to Robert Gildea's textbook, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2003) and to David Gilmour's very revisionist The Pursuit of Italy: A History of the Land, its Regions and their Peoples (Allen Lane, 2011.) I have also learned a lot from Giuseppe de Lampedusa's famous novel of the Risorgimento, The Leopard. You might be interested to learn more about the wonderfully operatic Italian national anthem, Fratelli d'Italia. Here is its history. You can hear it on youtube.   
Camillo Benso, Count di Cavour
one of the architects of Italian

In 1847 Metternich had famously called Italy 'a geographical expression'. Yet by 1861 the Kingdom of Italy had been created under King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont. In 1870 Rome was established as the capital. 

Cavour and Napoleon III

With Austria weakened by the Crimean War, Cavour, the Prime Minister of Piedmont,  aimed at expelling the Austrians from Italy and annexing the northern provinces of Lombardy and Venetia under Victor Emmanuel II. But neither he nor the king wanted a united Italy, which would be harder to control and might fall prey to democrats and nationalists. The man they most feared was Mazzini who commanded a revolutionary corps of conspirators, organizing a National Party in London in 1850. Nationalists increasingly recognized that Austria still remained a great power and could only be removed from Italy by military force, and that this would have to be under Piedmontese leadership with French assistance. In 1857 the veteran nationalists Garibaldi and Manin established the Italian National Society which cut itself off from Mazzini’s doctrinaire republicans.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Napoleon III

This post owes a good deal to James F. McMillan, Napoleon III (Longman, 1991)

Napoleon III

Early life 

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1808, the son of Napoleon’s brother, Louis King of Holland, and Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Josephine. After 1815 he was brought up in Switzerland but as a young man he settled in Italy and became involved with Carbonari politics. With the death of Napoleon’s son, the duke of Reichstadt in 1832, he became the heir to the to the Bonaparte dynasty.