The Velvet Gentleman
- Jun 29, 2008
Chapter IV: A Requiem for the Habsburgs
Italian factionalism had died with the end of the Neapolitan War; in a few short years, the course of Italian history had changed irrevocably. With control of Italy divided between two powers, it seemed to be only a matter of when, not if, the situation would escalate; for beneath our cordial relations with the Habsburgs there lay a festering hostility, brought on by conflicting claims over Northern Italy.
For the meantime, though, such a terrible conflict would be set aside. Neither Austria or Venice could survive such a war, and so we continued aiding each other. However, the aid we gave seemed to be determined solely by a race for control of Italy. This sentiment is clearly shown by the war that is known as the First War of Italian Unification.
Diplomacy of the First War of Italian Unification.
Though the belligerents in the war, we were motivated by the protection of the now fragmented states; they would not be safe unless annexed into the Republic. Among these states were the Patriarchate of Aquileia as well as the Kingdoms of Sicily, Savoy and Naples, but most importantly, the Papacy itself. This war represented the final break with the Papacy and dealt a huge blow to the Pope's power; with the Pope in exile, he would have little sway over Catholic affairs any longer.
As expected, there was little resistance from the states and they all soon fell. Unsurprisingly, the strongest resistance came from the Papal States, but it was futile all the same. The dream of a unified Italy came one step closer with the annexation of Naples, Aquileia and the Papal States as well as the seizure of Savoy's coast. We allowed the Kingdom of Sicily to become a vassal to the Republic, rather then overextend our resources and face more revolts in an area that had always been troublesome.
Not very favorable to our international reputation.
With Southern Italy firmly in Venetian hands, it seemed that any further expansion in the north would require a direct confrontation with Austria. Such a war would ruin our already shaky economic situation, and so no plans were made for an attack. Instead, our plan was to stabilize the economy and the country. In addition, we would try to regain some of our international prestige and reputation.
Inflation should be dealt with.
Nothing would be new for the Republic, however, and we never had that chance at stabilization. Instead, all of Italy would brought into turmoil by the disastrous War of the Alps. Named so for the invasions over the Alps into Austria and Venice, this war saw the end of an empire.
The coalition against Austria.
This war had been planned for several years, but ended up being a total failure in execution. Austria had underestimated the power of the German minors, and thought that the states of the Holy Roman Empire would be easily subdued and brought under the wing of the Habsburgs. The first signs of disaster came as Bavaria's army, near equal in size to the Austrian, marched into Austria unchecked and bypassing the Alps.
The true call to arms for the Republic came as German armies invaded over the Alps into Venetian territory unopposed. All our forces were brought from Southern Italy and barely held off the invasion as nationalists in the south began an open revolt. We knew that the war had to end as quickly as possible, or we would fall along with the Habsburgs. Austrian diplomats came to us, begging for aid as more countries declared war on Austria. Though initially we upheld the alliance and fought against Milan, when we received word that Burgundy, Aragon, Savoy, Lorraine and Hainaut had joined the war, there was no choice but to sever ties and abandon our former ally. As Austria crumbled from invasion on nearly all fronts, we were able to force the Germans out of Venice and sue for peace.
We could only watch as Austria made concessions to the German invaders, only to have the Bohemians completely occupy the country in their place. Our attention was soon turned from Austria, though, as matters grew worse in Venice. Nationalists ran freely throughout Southern Italy, and for a brief period set up an independent government. Fortunately for us, we had been mostly able to hold the Germans at the Po, and we were able to deal with any rebellion - unlike the Habsburgs, who had for a time lost all control over their territory.
March 22, 1449. This is near the beginning of the war.
August 22, 1452. For Venice, the war has finally ended.
Our fears of a terrible confrontation with Austria would appear to be unfounded. The Habsburgs were finished, and we were set back years - the next decade would be spent dealing with rebellions brought on by the War of the Alps.
Religion in 1458. The east is unstable as ever.
Europe in 1458.
The world in 1458. England has discovered a new land to the west.