German and Italian Unification

What were some of the main differences between the processes of unification undertaken in Italy and Germany? What were some of the similarities? Is there one unifying theory or concept that was necessary to both processes?

Wed 2/29

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52 Responses to German and Italian Unification

  1. Emma M says:

    In the processes of both German unification and Italian unification, revolutionary leaders used fighting and war between countries to their advantage. These leaders, Bismarck in Germany and Cavour in Italy, were cunning and played countries against each other to get the freedoms they wanted for their own countries. The specific ways these countries became unified were much different. Germany became a nation one section at a time, beginning with the North German Confederation. On the other hand, Italy became a nation all at one time. There were also many more small wars occuring during the unification of Germany. In both cases, popular support was an advantage to the country seeking independence.

    • Timur F. says:

      I agree with the leadership aspect. The leaders of the nations made the unification of Germany and Italy possible and were the turning point of all conflicts. They, Cavour and Bismarck, were both cunning in their own ways. Although I only approve of Cavour actions, Bismarck was also a very well-rounded politician who made everything happen in his own way.

      • Mark VH says:

        Both cunning, and both clearly militarily based. The difference was that Germany could back themselves up and used clever politics to position their wars correctly, which the italians used clever politics to make other nations do their fighting for them. Both got them where they wanted to be, but I think a unified Germany was much stronger then a unified Italy, if only because Germany didn’t see nearly as much of a contrast between their combined areas as northern and southern italy.

      • AlecMWINTERISCOMING says:

        Agreed, and agreed with mark too. The strength in Germany has been the power of nationalism, i mean, you remember the gymnastics, right? Freaking germans do work.
        But throughout the years, Italy has shown some weakness, because of the culture shift between north and south, mainly, it loses a lot of benefit from unifying. Even today, you can see how Italy has been made weaker by the feuding city-states of the past and the ripples of unifying too late

      • Tori Mo says:

        They were definantly both cleverly cunnning at leading. Like Emma said they played countries against eachother for personal use. Which kind of amazes me because you would think countries wouldn’t “fall” for that. It’s just that countries could not have favored the unifications because those are two more united fronts threathening other major powers. So it was very amazing to think how clever theses guys had to be.

      • Brendan C. says:

        All these characteristics are common in almost every European revolution of the time. They all had leaders, they all had cunning, they all had motivation, and most importantly they all derived from the working class. As the working class developed into a respectable force and the majority of the population governments had to adapt to their need as seen in Britain later on. In Italy and Germany, leaders like Bismark and Cavour were just figureheads to a revolution that was going to happen no matter what.

    • Andrew G says:

      I agree with the idea that both leaders used the same ideas and events going on to their advantage in uniting the countries. They, however, used different tactics to achieve their goal of united nations. As you said, Germany became a nation on section at a time, beginning with the North German Confederation. The nation then began to piecemeal its way together until it was a completely unified single country. Italy was different from that, and was able to achieve unification all at one time. Germany used wars more to their advantage to achieve this than the Italians did. But, as you said, in both cases popular support was an advantage to the country seeking independence.

      • Maggie M says:

        Popular support… It makes you wonder how cunning and intelligent these men must have been to get support and encouragement from the people of their countries. Bismarck purposely began a war with another country, and the majority of people were okay with it? Unless, of course, they didn’t know. It’s quite possible that these men hid their true intentions and showed only their best work and the public’s interest when he was in public. How else would these men get support for using one another’s conflicts to solve their own issues?

      • Coby S says:

        Yes exactly I totally agree with you with the fact that the unification of Germany and Italy were somewhat different. Germany had to take one section at a time while Italy was like BOOM…….. unification!!!!! I mean, sure getting Rome to join the Italian states took a little bit longer but still!!!!!! I also beleived Bismarck just wanted what was best for him and Prussia… that’s about it. He used the power of foriegn aggression to his advantage to put his name in the history books and put fear into the minds of his enemies.

      • Brian VD. says:

        I agree that the leaders of both countries used simslar tactics tounfify their nations. both of the used austria as a common enemy, pitting all the different states against an slighly infringing empire. they differened because the Itailians already had a long standing grudge against the austrians while the germans proved austria by being obnoxiuos.

    • Coby S says:

      I also agree that the leaders of both nations used warfare and military influence to unify their respectable countries. Again like you said, they wanted to unify their coutnries in order to be more prosperous and effiecient. One thing that I didn’t notice until you said it was the fact that popular support played a key role during this proccess. This is so very true because most citizens sought to have a more standard way of life throughout the region in where they live and wanted themselves protected against foriegn aggressors. Both Germany and Italy acted as battlefields before their unifications so most people were getting tired of this idea of their backyard being fought for.

    • Tyrus M, says:

      I agree with you becuase they both played other countries into conflict with one another, but hey also had unified differently. With Italy’s big sweep of all the nations combining and Germany’s small little unifications to all come together in the end. Each of the leaders of the unifications had their own ideas on how to carry out the plan, and in both cases they were successful. Bismark of Germany and Cavour of Italy both had a planthat they wanted to achieve,(the unification of their countries), and they both aquired the goals they had been striving to get.

    • Caitlyn C. says:

      In both areas, a strong leader was vital to the unification of the city-states. This is for nationalistic reasons- people would be a stronger, unified state if they had one leader to look up to- and for governmental reasons. When establishing new policies, it was best to have one figurehead. A strong, centralized leader was vital to both the German and Italian Unification.

  2. Timur F. says:

    From my point of view, both Italian and German unifications were successful in achieving their goals, but the means were very different. Both nations had great leader, Cavour and Bismarck, both nations used allies such as France and Spain and both nations got where they wanted to be. However, I think that Italians were more fair and playing by the rules while the Germans were backstabbers and opportunists. Germans used France to start a conflict with Austria, but then turned around and fought the French up to the point of taking Paris. The Italians, on the other hand, asked France for help and repaid it with land. The results were the same, but the German way caused later issues like WWI and WWII. Both ways were necessary, but only the Italian way was truly good and led to non-violent lifestyle (not gonna mention Mussolini, that was the result of Germans, not Italians).

    • Maggie M says:

      I agree that while they had the same ideas and tactics, the Germans lacked what the Italian had in fairness and morality. Bismarck purposefully started a conflict that resulted in the loss of millions of lives, while Italians used an already iccuring conflict as a means of spreading their word and ideas. While they both seem a little twisted and backwards, the Italians were definetely the better group of the two.

      • Brian VD. says:

        I don’t think the methods the germans used were that much of a problem for the moment, i didi put them in a good position. they became a gargantuan superpower, while the allies turned enemies were in weaker positions around them. without the might to fight a war, these nations stood no chance. while the itailians did what was morally “right”, they too could have become a supe power if the took advantage of their allies, as did the germans. the could have also taken more advantage of austria while they were in reatreat. f they had followed up correctly, Itails could have annexed peoples within the austrian empire and gain control of southren and eastern europe. even if the territories could not be annexed , they could have at least split the empire up and disentegrated any norhern powers , proteting them from future conflicts

    • Emma M says:

      I agree that the Germans used much more fighting to their advantage. Bismarck was very cunning when it came to turning people against each other. He did everything he could to make countries fight with each other as long as it would benefit him and his country. It was as though he was a backstabber, because it seemed as though he wanted good for all people. Bismarck made friends with other countries, then played them against each other for his own good. It was in this way that German unification was different than Italian unification. Cavour was not as much of a backstabber from a general standpoint. Bismarck was cunning in a more selfish and evil way.


      While your point is very good, and you are correct, the incredible leadership in both nations led them to increase power by leaps and bounds, the only thing is that I feel Germany did it much more efficiently and was much more successful. Don’t get me wrong, both countries were successful in their own way, but the execution and effectiveness of Germany’s unification (turning them into a superpower and all) made them really stand out

  3. Andrew G says:

    There were things that were similar in the unification of both Italy and Germany. In these countries, leaders used wars going on and revolutions to try and unite the countries. The great leaders, Bismarck in Germany and Cavour in Italy, used these things intelligently to try and get their countries united. However, there were also several things that were different among the uniting of each country. The Italians asked for help from France in order to unite the country, and once they did achieve this, they paid France back with land. The Germans were different and were more cunning in their operation. They tried to push France into a war with Austria, and succeeded. Once France was battered they fought them in order to unite the country. There were several things that were both similar and different in the unification of Germany and Italy.

    • Melissa U says:

      I agree that there were many similarities in the unifications, most notably the cunning and intelligence of the leadership. Cavour showed his intelligence with his acquisition of allies, especially with France. Sending troops so that he was able to participate in the conference held later was a stroke of genius – without that, he would have never been noticed. Bismark was already noticed, and since he held power, he didn’t search for more permanent allies. However, he did need allies, so he got them just like Cavour!

      • Molly says:

        Melissa’s right. Cavour was an extremely intelligent leader and he was resourceful at trying to unite his country back together. Gaining allies was definitely a smart choice for both Cavour and Bismark!

    • Molly says:

      I agree with you Andrew. They were very tactiful in their approach to uniting their countries. Italy definitely allied with France to get achieve their desired goal and Germany used a tactic incorporating much more military advances.

  4. Melissa U says:

    The main difference was how Bismark and Cavour treated their allies once they had them. Cavour treasured them, and used them accordingly. Bismark seemed to feel only contempt for the sad, poor, non-german countries. He therefore made them all help him attack each other, then turned on them when they were weak. Such a true German!

    • Tori O says:

      Thats a really good point, I never thought of that ! I think Bismark was a lot more manipulative and he was really good at getting people to do what he wanted.

    • Noah F says:

      Mallissa, i love that last part. i think you have the right idea. Although i must say, Cavor did use Giribaldi’s taking of The Kingdom of Naples, as a scapegoat for his own invasion of the south of Italy. So in more ways they are the same.

    • Mark VH says:

      Totally true! Both were very shrewd politicians in their own right, but the differences in their ways of going about getting what they needed is actually really interesting. You can see the cultural backgrounds playing with the stereotypes with the Germanic milatarism, and the Italian mafia style manipulation.

      • Caitlyn C. says:

        It’s very interesting to see how the tables turned once each leader gained what they wanted… One used previously gained allies to further themselves and their country. On the other hand, one tossed previous allies aside to then dominate new lands and peoples. I think Mark is right, that their cultures and upbringing as countries influenced their actions politically and characteristically.

  5. Heather Gahler says:

    The differences between German and Italian unification are basically based on the people who lead them. There was no differences besides the choices that the leaders made and the way they handled relationships with other countries, especially France. Bismark decided to do things the real German way, by making allies, using them until they stopped being useful to him, and then dumping them. Cavour did things the friendly Italian man way, which is he made friends and stuck with them. It’s kind of cute, that blind nativity. But I digress.

  6. Heather Gahler says:

    The similarities between the unifications were based on how the two sides felt about each other. The separate parts of each country pretty much hated the other. They were bound only by the ties of language and some cultural aspect. Governments prior to this couldn’t have existed because of the enmity.

  7. Tori O says:

    I think both the unification of Italy and the unification of Germany were very similar. Although, they happened differently, the leadership played a big role in both. I feel like Bismark was almost more manipulative, and that led to more wars to unify Germany. And even though Italy was a lot of small states, I thought it was cool that it was all at once. They did ask for outside help, while Germany was more coy getting France and Austria to fight a war

  8. Danielle C. says:

    One of the biggest similarities in the unification of Italy and Germany were the stong leaders that piloted the movements. Bismarck and Cavour were very talented and wise men in the tactics they used. Both knew which countries to ally and which to avoid. Even though they are very similiar with the people who led them, unification itself was diverse. Italy’s nation state formed rather quicky as a whole due to Cavour’s planning and the leadership under King Freddy. On the other hand, Germany was piece mealed together and pretty reluctant. Either way both nation states unified and lived happily ever after.

    • Kelly S. says:

      I agree with you that both the leaders of Italy and German unification were very strong and acted intelligently. Both Cavour and Bismark were strong politicans and used this to thier advantage any time they could. And while both these leaders shared some of the same qualities, they both used extremely different tatics, treated thier subjects differently, and overall took much different lengths of time to unify, Italy was super quick, while Germany took alot of time and attention to fully unify.

  9. Morgan C says:

    Fighting and war between countries led to aid the leaders of both unification. Bismarck in Germany and Cavour in Italy, pinned countries against each other to get the freedom they wanted.The way they came together was different. Germany pieces their country together bit by bit. Italy’s unification happened all at once. Smaller wars also helped led to unification in both countries.

  10. Danielle C. says:

    The only thing that I believe is necessary to both processes of unification in Germany and Italy would be the strong leadership figure. Without Cavour and Bismarck to spark the ideas of togetherness, neither formings would have occurred. They both had followers who believed in them and supported their mission to unify the countries. The lack of popular support would have also led to both of the unifications failing. Besides, if niether man stepped up to begin the process there would be no organization in doing so. If that’s the case, Germany and Italy might as well be anarchist.

    • Sarah B. says:

      I agree, both Cavour and Bismarck were very strong and smart leaders who knew how to get what they wanted. Without them, the movements in each of their countries may not have ever gained significance. Both proved to be well respected buy their peers and their people.

    • Tori Me says:

      I agree with both Danielle and Sarah. Without leadership, it is hard for people to band together for a common cause. They need someone to help remind them what they are fighting for. This is exactly the role that Cavour and Bismarck took on.

  11. Noah F says:

    Germany’s unification was one of more brute force and use of outside players to provide a common enemy for all Germanic people. They (as in Bismark and the Prussians) used France and Austria to provide the basias to rally the germanic states and bring them under one banner. Italy’s was more of an interior matter. Giribaldi and Cavor used their stregths to help unify Italy by means of Diplomacy, and force. Giribaldi was a scapegoat for the taking of most of the south by Peidmont. So in ways, both countries used scapegoats and force to unify their contry, wether by using domestic, or forign ones.

  12. Aaron B. says:

    One unifying factor that led to the unification was leader ship. In Germany it was Bismark. In italy it was Cavour. Both of these guys united these countries through strong leadership and cunning ability. They both where strong patriots for their countries and united them.

    • Josh B says:

      I completely agree! Bismark was particularly crafty. He knew exactly what he had to do and how to do it. He was a man on a mission and he got it done. One thing that particularly stuck out to me was how methodical Bismark was. That was a key factor in German unification.

  13. Aaron B. says:

    German unification was based on Austria. Bismark used Austria and its political/milatary powers to help unify Germany. Bismark new that if Austria and Prussia wanted unification that all the other German states would follow.

  14. Sarah B. says:

    Both the leaders in Germany and Italy used warfare and military influence to unify their countries. By unifying their country, they hoped to be more efficient in pretty much every aspect – economically, politically etc. Also, both nations had the benefit of the support of their people-for the most part-for these revolutions that were pushing for unification.

    • Kelly S. says:

      I defintely agree with you about the similarity between the unification that both countries used warfare and military influence to unify thier countries, especially Bismark! He was really good at starting wars between the countries he wanted and when he wanted.

    • Tori Me says:

      Military definitely unified the people of this time. The more success people saw, the more they wanted to join the cause. One unified nation is stronger than ten little city-states trying to fight for the same cause but still conflicting with one another.

    • Tim R. says:

      I agree with Sarah when she says that Germany and Italy were alike in that they both used their militaries to unify there countries, but that’s where the similarities end. Bismarck was very underhanded and opprotunistic in his strategy, where Cavour was much more loyal to his allies.

  15. Tori Mo says:

    I agree that the leaders; their tactics, characteristics, and even the popular support was very similar. Like Timur suggested they were both cunning (cleverly) and they each had inside support for unification (not to mention the non-support from outside countries). They played countries against eachother . But Italy came together all at once and Germany united in pieces starting in the north and kind of reluctantly.

    • Tyrus M, says:

      I agree that the playing of other countries agianst each other is cunning. They each had support in different ways as well. One creating allies to keep and have help protect. And the other to hold onto the ally until their usefullness was no more and then just turned on them.

  16. Brendan C. says:

    The revolutions in Italy and Germany differed b/c they had to adapt to different cultures, geography, and enemies. For example Germany had specific problems and eventually war w/ the Austrian Empire later to become Austria-Hungary. Essentially each revolution had to cope w/ its own nationalistic properties. Another example of this is of the non-unified Italian City-States and how they need to overcome their differences.

  17. Josh B says:

    The main difference in how Italy became unified and Germany became unified was that Italy basically had a big set of battles and was unified all at once. Germany had many smaller battles and slowly became unified piece by piece. The main similarity was that they both were revolutionary acts with strong leaders and violence.

  18. Heather G says:

    I think that the unification of Italy and Germany were similar in how the two parts of each country felt about each other. North Germany and South Germany didn’t really like each other or want unification. North and South Italy didn’t like each other either, and were almost dramatically different. However, both Germany and Italy gained independence by going to war.

  19. Heather G says:

    Germany and Italy were different in the leadership that they had. Cavour was the prime minister of Piedmont, which was a tiny state IN Italy. Bismarck, however, was prime minister of Prussia, a large country. Cavour also stuck with his allies until the very end, while Bismarck tended to use them until they stopped being useful, and then crushed them.

  20. Tim R. says:

    I think that the unification of Italy and Germany were very different. Bismarck was very clever in his plans to unify Germany with most Germanic countries, excluding Austria. Also, Bismarck really only used the allies he made until he didn’t need them anymore. After that, he would simply go to war with and put down his former allies. Cavour, on the other hand, was very faithful to his allies. He did not destroy them when he didn’t need them, but stuck with them until Italy was united.

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