Cavour, Count Camillo Benso di

Cavour, Count Camillo Benso di
   Italian statesman and prime minister of the Kingdom of Piedmont (1852–60) and the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Cavour was a Piedmontese aristocrat who became the leading statesman of Italian unification. In 1847, he started a respected patriotic journal, Il Risorgimento, which brought him to the attention of the government. During the revolutionary outbursts of 1848, it was Cavour who urged King Charles Albert to not only promulgate a constitution but also lead a national struggle for liberation. The war failed, but the new king, Victor Emmanuel II, remained steadfast to unification and constitutionalism, and asked Cavour to become Prime Minister in 1852. Despite his idealism, Cavour was a realist prepared to lead his country to a new nation. Cavour immediately recognized that no amount of reform would prevent Austria from defeating Piedmont unless he had an alliance with another Great Power. He seized the opportunity to do so by aiding the Allies during the Crimean War. Afterward in July 1858, he concluded a secret alliance with Napoleon III and manipulated the Austrians into declaring war in April 1859. By July the Allies had control over most of northern and western Italy, but the cities in central Italy revolted and received protection from the armies of Piedmont. In the south, Cavour permitted Giuseppe Garibaldi to seize Sicily and Naples. When the war concluded, all of these territories except for Rome and the Venetia were annexed to Piedmont and approved by plebiscite. On March 17, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, with Turin as its capital. Cavour died on June 6 having created modern Italy.
   See also <>; <>.
    Hearder, Harry. Italy in the Age of the Risorgimento 1790-1870. New York: Longman, 1983.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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