Download This Sample
This sample is exclusively for KidsKonnect members!
To download this worksheet, click the button below to signup for free (it only takes a minute) and you'll be brought right back to this page to start the download!
Sign Me Up
Otherwise known as the Franco-Austrian War or the Austro-Sardinian War, the Second Italian War of Independence (1859-1861) was considered to be the most significant of all the four wars. The French Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia fought against the Austrian Empire, which ultimately resulted in the unification of Italy and the establishment of its kingdom that consisted of all parts of Italy, excluding Venetia and the area around Rome.
See the fact file below for more information on the Second Italian War of Independence or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Second Italian War of Independence worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- In 1848-1849, the First Italian War of Independence took place, which resulted in the defeat of Piedmont-Sardinia.
- Following this, Italy remained divided into various kingdoms, while the Austrian Habsburg Empire still ruled the Italian states of Lombardy and Venetia, which became their puppet states.
- To the north, Piedmont was ruled by King Victor Emmanuel II from Sardinia. To the west, France was ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Emperor Napoleon III.
- Even though the First Italian War of Independence rendered no success, the Italian Risorgimento movement continued to flourish in popularity and gained further support from across the European states.
- This movement aimed to expel Austria’s control of the north and establish a more compassionate government that could offer freedom and rights to Italians. Its supporters also wanted to unify all parts of Italy.
- Consequently, Count Cavour was assigned to be the chief minister of Piedmont in 1852. Cavour thought that for Piedmont-Sardinia to defeat Austria and take control of northern Italian states of Lombardy and Venetia, it must have powerful allies.
- As a result, the Piedmontese chief minister allied with Napoleon III of France to strengthen their ambition of defeating the Austrian Empire. In July 1858, this allegiance was finalized in secret at Plombières.
- France eventually pledged their support to Piedmont against any aggression launched by the Austrian Empire as long as the Austrians were the first ones to initiate attacks, which meant that Cavour had to think of a way to provoke Austria to declare war for the French support to materialize.
- The chief minister ordered the army of Piedmont to mobilize and conduct a series of operations along the borders of Lombardy. Austria reacted by issuing an ultimatum that if Piedmont were to continue its operations, they would declare war—a perfect opportunity that Cavour wanted.
- On April 26, 1859, Austria declared war on Piedmont-Sardinia due to its failure to take orders of demobilizing its troops.
- During this time, the Austrian Empire was already losing international support, forcing them to rely on their own army.
- France declared war on Austria in support to Piedmont on May 3, 1859. Shortly after, Austrian forces advanced to Turin, the capital of Piedmont, on May 7, 1859. However, as more French allies went to Piedmont, the Austrian advance was stopped.
- In the first weeks of the outbreak of the war, the Austrian forces had the chance to defeat Piedmont-Sardinia before the advance of the French army to the kingdom. Contrary to this, Field Marshal Ferenc Gyulay, the Austrian commander, did not act quickly to take advantage of the situation.
- Moreover, the Austrian advance to Piedmont’s capital, Turin, was halted because the Sardinians flooded the rice fields, where the troops would travel.
- On May 9, 1859, the Sardinian forces, along with some French allies, successfully stopped the Austrians to take control of the Po river crossings around Casale Monferrato.
- The defensive tactics of the Italians were successful, which caused the failure of the Austrian forces to strike back against an early blow to them.
- On May 12, 1859, Napoleon III, emperor of France, finally arrived at the port of Genoa. He led the command of the tens of thousands of French forces that were already in Piedmont.
- On May 20, 1859, the Battle of Montebello took place, the first major clash of the war. The French and Sardinian armies were heavily outnumbered, but despite this, they managed to force the Austrians out of the village and eventually retreat.
- Meanwhile, Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi aided the Sardinians in northern Italy by forming his own army corps. His troops included men who successfully escaped Lombardy that was in control of the Austrian Empire to help liberate Italy. They were also called Hunters of the Alps.
- Following this, the Battle of Varese took place on May 26, 1859, where Garibaldi led his Hunters to defeat the Austrians. Shortly after, they won the Battle of San Fermo. They also captured the city of Como easily since Austrian forces had already retreated eastwards.
- In the south, the reinforcements of the Franco-Sardinian army made an advance to cross from Piedmont to Austrian-held Lombardy.
- On May 30-31, 1859, the Battle of Palestro happened, in which French allies successfully captured border towns and drove the Austrians out of the area through the help of their North African Zouaves. Sardinian King Victor Emmanuel likewise led additional Italian troops to back up the French forces.
- On June 4, 1859, the French army, through the command of Napoleon III, successfully crossed the Ticino river and outmanoeuvred the Austrian forces, known as the Battle of Magenta.
- On June 16, 1859, the Austrian commander resigned and was replaced by Emperor Franz Josef due to the defeat of Milan and Lombardy.
- The battle that happened on June 24, 1859 at Solferino was the most decisive one, where the French army pushed through the centre of Austrian troops. The Austrians withdrew to the Quadrilateral fortresses.
- In June 1859, a significant number of revolutions took place in Parma, the Papal Legations, and Modena. People were clamouring for unification with Piedmont.
- Following this, France and Austria signed an agreement, known as the Peace of Villafranca on July 11, 1859, where Lombardy came under the control of Piedmont, while Savoy and Nice were ruled by France.
- From April to May 1860, another uprising took place against the Bourbon rule in Sicily. By October 1860, the Bourbons were conquered in Sicily and in the Kingdom of Naples, through the help of Giuseppe Garibaldi from the mainland.
- Piedmont controlled these states along with other central Italian states, excluding Lazio and Rome. Venetia, meanwhile, remained under Austrian rule.
- Ultimately, the Kingdom of Italy was declared in Turin on March 17, 1861.
Second Italian War of Independence Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Second Italian War of Independence across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Second Italian War of Independence worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Second Italian War of Independence (1859-1861) which was considered to be the most significant of all the four wars. The French Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia fought against the Austrian Empire, which ultimately resulted in the unification of Italy and the establishment of its kingdom that consisted of all parts of Italy, excluding Venetia and the area around Rome.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Second Italian War of Independence Facts
- Locating Italy
- Find the Words
- Fact or Bluff?
- Second Italian War of Independence: A Timeline
- Napoleon III
- Giuseppe Garibaldi
- Historical Significance
- In a Nutshell
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as Second Italian War of Independence Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, December 3, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.