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First Italian War Of Independence




The First Italian War of Independence was fought in 1848 between the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Austrian Empire. The war saw main battles at Custoza and Novara in which the Austrians under Radetzky managed to defeat the Piedmontese.

First Italian War of Independence



The Piedmontese army was composed of two corps and a reserve division, for a total of 12,000 troops. Artillery and cavalry were the best units. On March 21 the Grand Duke of Tuscany also declared his entrance in the war against Austria, with a contingent of 6,700 men. The Papal Army had a similar sized force, backed by numerous volunteers. On March 25 the vanguard of the II Piedmontese Corps entered Milan and two days later also Pavia was freed.

After an initial successful campaign, with the victories at Goito and Peschiera del Garda, pope Pius IX, fearing possible expansions of Piedmont in case of victory, recalled his troops. The kingdom of the Two Sicilies too retired, but the general Guglielmo Pepe refused to go back to Naples and went to Venice to protect it against the Austrian counter-offensive. King Ferdinand II's retreat was mainly due to the ambiguous behaviour of Charles Albert of Piedmont, who had not clearly refused the proposal to obtain the Sicilian crown received from representants of rebellious island.

After the Piedmontese defeat at Custoza, an uneasy armistice was made in 1848 between Austria and Sardinia which lasted less than seven months, before Charles Albert denounced the truce on March 12, 1849. The Austrian army took the military initiative in Lombardy and heavily defeated the Piedmontese at Novara. After this victory the Piedmontese were driven back to Borgomanero at the foot of the Alps, and the Austrian forces occupied Novara, Vercelli, Trino and Brescia, with the road to the Piedmontese capital, Turin, lying open to them.

Charles Albert abdicated in favor of his son Victor Emmanuel, and a peace treaty was signed on August 9, 1849 and Piedmont-Sardinia was forced to pay an indemnity of 65 million francs to Austria.

The revolution of 1848



In 1848 revolutionary riots broke out in numerous places of Italy, as well in many other parts of Europe. Charles Albert in Piedmont and Leopold II in the Grand-Duchy of Tuscany had been forced to make concessions to the democrats. With Vienna itself in revolt, both Milan (in the Five Days) and Venice (the short-lived Repubblica di San Marco, reconquered by the Austrians in 1849), the main cities of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, under Austrian rule, revolted. Sicily, except Messina, expelled the Bourbon armies. Charles II of Bourbon also was compelled to leave the Duchy of Parma.

The Kingdom of Sardinia decided to exploit the apparently favourable moment, and declared war on Austria, in alliance with the Papal States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and attacked the weakened Austria in her Italian possessions.


The war marked the failure of Sardinia to defeat Austria singlehandedly. This caused Sardinia to seek allies against Austria and ultimately only with French (1859) and Prussian (1866) help would Sardinia be able to drive out the Austrians from Northern Italy.

First_Italian_War_of_Independence
Source: Wikipedia