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Table of Contents
The Third Italian War of Independence was the war between the newly declared Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian Empire from June to August 1866. The war ended with Austria surrendering Venetia to France, which was later turned over to Italy through a plebiscite.
See the fact file below for more information on the Third Italian War of Independence or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Third Italian War of Independence worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
AFTER THE SECOND WAR
- The Kingdom of Italy was declared on March 17, 1861, at the Piedmontese capital Turin after the Franco – Austrian War, or the Second Italian War of Independence, ended in October 1860. They proclaimed Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy as the King of Italy.
- The unification was not complete as Rome was still under the Papal States, and Venetia was in Austria’s hands. This situation caused tension in domestic politics and became the foundation of its foreign policy.
- Giuseppe Garibaldi, a prominent figure during the Second Italian War of Independence, initiated claiming Rome from the Pope in 1862. He gathered 1,200 men but was wounded and held prisoner along with his troops by fellow Italians.
- Austria and Prussia had a growing tension over the “German Question,” the best way to achieve Germany’s unification. The tension became an open war between them.
- The Italian government allied with Prussia On April 8, 1866. They intended to engage Austrians on the Southern Front led by General Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora.
- Austrians offered Italy the Venetia as an olive branch. As securing Venetia was one of Italy’s goals in their alliance with Prussia, La Marmora stalled his attack on Austria.
- Prussia could not wait and invaded Austrian territories on June 16. Italy finally joined the battle on June 23.
THE THIRD ITALIAN WAR
- Italy’s forces during the Third War of Independence were divided into two. Victor Emmanuel II and La Marmora led the first one. They planned to attack with two different military interventions in the Lombardo and Veneto.
- However, poor communication and lack of coordination weakened this grand plan. The king and his general were defeated at the Battle of Custoza on June 24. They retreated across the Mincio river.
- General Enrico Cialdini led the second Italian forces. He did not make any offensive moves towards the Austrians, only deciding to make a few shows of force. They ended up failing to besiege the Austrian fortresses in Borgoforte.
- After their defeat at Curtoza, the Italians reorganized their battle plan to prepare the presumed Austrian’s offensive against them.
- The offense did not happen as Austrians had been losing to Prussians, especially in the decisive Battle of Königgrätz on July 3, 1866.
- The Italians had never won any battles against the Austrians, but on July 5, 1866, Napoleon III of France took over and persuaded Austria and Prussia to enter into a settlement.
- Italy’s failure to score a victory against Austrians did not look good on the bargaining table. As Austrians kept sending troops to Vienna to secure it against the Prussians, La Marmora took advantage of the situation and devised a new war plan.
- On July 14, during a council of war held in Ferrara, they decided on three points.
- First, La Marmora with his 70,000 men would halt the Austrian forces in the Quadrialetro, while Cialdini would lead his 150,000 troops through the Venetia.
- Second, Garibaldi and his army volunteers called the “Cacciatori delle Alpi,” reinforced by a regular infantry division, would march to Trentino to capture the province’s capital, Trento.
- Third, the Italian Navy, with its commander Admiral Carlo di Persano, would sail from Ancona to seize Trieste.
- La Marmora and Cialdini successfully crossed the Po on July 8 and advanced to Uldine on July 22 without encountering the Austrians.
- Garibaldi, on the other hand, won the Battle of Bezzeca on July 21, and prepared to invade Trentino
- The Italian Navy, however, was defeated at the Battle of Lissa on July 20, overshadowing the first two’s success.
TREATIES THAT ENDED THE WAR
- As Napoleon III negotiated to end the Austro-Prussian hostilities, Italy joined the peace table to avoid being attacked by Austrians and suffer another defeat.
- The settlement ordered Garibaldi to abandon Trentino, which he obeyed by sending a telegram stating “Obbedisco,” or I obey, which became a famous quote in Italy.
- On August 12, the Armistice Commons ended the hostilities between Italy and Austria. The Treaty of Vienna followed on October 3, 1866, ending the Third Italian War of Independence.
- The treaty forced Austria to give up Venetia to France as they refused to give it directly to Italy, citing that the latter did not defeat Austria.
- Italy was humiliated to accept Venetia as a gift from France. The Italian government demanded to conduct a plebiscite on October 21 and 22 1866, which had an overwhelming result of Venetia joining Italy.
- After the reclaiming of Venetia, Italy wanted to secure Rome as part of Italy. France kept the pope in power in Rome, but when the Franco Prussian War broke out, France pulled out its army from Rome. Italy took advantage of this and marched in to take over the Papal State. Rome became the capital of Italy afterward.
- Prussia also attained its objective to secure German unification after their victory in the Battle of Königgrätz.
- It was not until World War I that Italy would be wholly united, but the Third War of Independence had become a crucial step on the path for unification.
Third Italian War of Independence Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Third Italian War of Independence across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Third Italian War of Independence worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Third Italian War of Independence which was the war between the newly declared Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian Empire from June to August 1866. The war ended with Austria surrendering Venetia to France, which was later turned over to Italy through a plebiscite.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Third Italian War of Independence Facts
- An Italian Hero
- The Third War Battle Dates
- After the Second War
- The Battle Plan
- Behind the Third War
- The Third War Timeline
- Nationalist Ideals
- Fact or Bluff
- Politics Behind Unification
- The Third War Chronicles
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