State making: Italy’s struggle

By Lorraine Besnier

The Italian unification, also known as “Risorgimento”, the Resurgence, was the social, political and armed movement that consolidated the different Kingdoms of Italy throughout the 19th century. The exact period of this process is agreed to have started with the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and ended in 1871 with the proclamation of Rome as the capital of Italy.

When applying this study case too Tilly’s design, Italy falls in the category of a state created, and united by war. Indeed, Tilly states that “war made states and States made war”. As a result from a rising ideal of a united Italy, and the creation of groups of rebellion, the Kingdoms of Italy went through not less than three revolutionary wars.

The first step was the revolution of 1848, which merely was a cumulation of uprisings in several Italian cities. Despite the help of independent armies from various areas, the movement was unsuccessful and by 1849, the old regimes were once again in place. Yet, the failure did not break the increasing feeling of unity, and more people joined the trend. The second insurrection led to a unification between Piedmont-Sardinia and Lombardy.

With this successful outcome, the northern part of Italy voted in 1859 to join this Kingdom, and an additional army went marching in the South to rally the different areas. By the end of 1861, only Venetia and Rome were still outside of the unification.

In 1866, following a campaign against Austria, Italy won Venetia, and in 1870, Italy entered Rome, and both the city and Papal States were incorporated to Italy, thus completing the Risorgimento.

As Tilly proved, Italy became a state through war, but as a state, continued to make war - for instance through the first and second world wars. This design is helpful not only to understand international relations nowadays, but also the intra-national relations. Nothing binds people together like a common enemy.