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Jape

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Oh god its another Jape AAR!

Will it survive past the second update? Will he bother to back up his saves?

WHO KNOWS!?

This is an Italian history book AAR starting with the 1861 scenario. I'll be posting the first update tomorrow. Although my American history did die of natural causes I'm excited to be playing a European country once more because it means more wars, more colonisation and parliamentary shenanigans.

Italy might be my favourite country to play, just big enough to be a solid contender to make Great Power status but always the little guy punching above his weight. Plus it has a fascinating, dramatic political history to draw upon.

Fingers crossed!
 
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Ab Ovo

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Lovely! Looking forward to this.
 

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loup99

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Subscribed!
 

Jape

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Chapter I
New Beginnings



Camillo Benso, Conte di Cavour (1810-1861)

The sudden death of the Conte di Cavour only months after the creation of the Kingdom of Italy caused great consternation in the Palazzo Reale and the country at large. Cavour was arguably the singular architect of a united kingdom under the House of Savoy. Faced with the vested interests of France, Austria and the Papacy, as well as the popular revolutionary forces of Mazzini and Garibaldi, he had used cunning, ruthlessness and bald opportunism to manipulate them all and secure Italy for Vittorio Emanuele II and by extension himself. Though March 1861 had seen new elections throughout Italy under a new flag, little effort had been made to create a new system of government.

The capital remained in Turin, the legislature still governed by the Statuto Albertino [1] with much of the state’s power resting with the King and his Sardinian court. It seemed Cavour was content to continue on as he had before the unification, balancing royal influence with an authoritarian grip over the shifting factions in the Chamber of Deputies. Some new deputies from the southern and central provinces, the euphoria of risorgimento [2] fading, had begun wondering fearfully if Savoyard Italy was not simply to be a ‘Greater Sardinia’ run for the personal aggrandisement of the Conte and his liege.

The need to cement the new union was not the only concern for the Italian government. Cavour had not defeated the radical nationalists, merely co-opted them. While the dedicated republican Mazzini had been sidelined Garibaldi, in his earnest desire for one Italy, had submitted his Redshirt movement to the machinations of Turin, effectively handing over the Two Sicilies to the Sardinians. Vittorio Emanuele II and many others were well aware that in the eyes of the people Garibaldi not the King was the true father of la patria.



Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy before Parliament, 27 March 1861

Though avowedly loyal the revolutionary posed a threat to stability on the peninsular. The government had traded Nice, Garibaldi’s birthplace, to France in return for support against the Austrians in 1859. They had also agreed to accept Papal sovereignty over Rome and Latium under the protection of Napoleon III. In the eyes of many Italian patriots both regions, primarily the latter, were integral to the Italian nation and by the summer of 1861 there were already whispers of Garibaldi raising a new expedition to march on the Eternal City.

Such an invasion would cause uproar in Paris and Vienna and could even trigger war with both powers, undoing all that the Conte di Cavour had accomplished. Opinion in the halls of power were divided on how to handle the issue. A minority supported Garibaldi, whether cynically or not, believing the Crown could continue to ride his wave of populism to the gates of Rome. Others believed the time had come to crush Garibaldi and his independent power base.

While no doubt privately more popular in Turin, this approach demanded open confrontation with a national hero who commanded the loyalty of untold thousands, many of them serving within the ranks of the Italian military. Notably even Cavour had been uncertain in his final days as to the correct course of action, leaving few eager to take up his mantle. Into this grave situation stepped a grave man.

A minor nobleman, Bettino Ricasoli had made his name promoting a united Italian kingdom in his native Tuscany, culminating in its peaceful ascension to the union in 1860. His efforts had earned him the governorship of the new province and powerful allies in Turin. Possessed of a cool, calculating demeanour and reputation for austere, effective government that earned him the epithet the “Iron Baron”, he had become a late addition to Cavour’s inner circle prior to his death.

The King turned to Ricasoli for his intelligence and his image as ostensibly an outsider to the Sardinian establishment to help secure Savoyard Italy. Ricasoli’s distance from the pre-unification politics of Turin certainly existed. Within Cavour’s party the Destra Liberale, or simply the Right, major figures like Luigi Carlo Farini and Marco Minghetti loomed, wary of the Tuscan. The leader of the opposition Left, the Sinistra Liberale, Urbano Rattazzi continued at pains to overcome his parliamentary minority by presenting himself as the only bold, decisive figure able to lead the country.



Bettino Ricasoli

Despite this and the issues before him, Ricasoli found himself initially very secure. The Right’s majority in the Chamber was overwhelming with most deputies from beyond the Sardinian heartlands eager to support the prime minister. His colleagues and possible rivals in the cabinet like Farini and Minghetti were hindered from any disruptive action by this grassroots support and also by Ricasoli’s allies in the military.

During the 1859 War he had helped raise Tuscan regiments for the new Royal Italian Army, bringing him into contact with one of her leading generals, Leopoldo Valfrè di Bonzo. A member of the Senate and close confidant of the King, di Bonzo had been influential in securing the premiership for Ricasoli due to his support for a large standing army.

The matter of the army had several elements. In July 1861 Italy had 180,000 men under arms, a sizeable force for any nation of the time and nearly 5% of the adult male population. Ricasoli quickly discovered the military budget needed just to keep the army supplied was bleeding the nation’s coffers dry. A classical liberal, Ricasoli was horrified by the mounting deficit but was unwilling to demobilise large sections of the army, ignoring calls by many of the more financially prudent members of the Chamber.

This was not simply to satisfy di Bonzo or his own sympathies. Despite the hopes of Italian nationalists, unification had not created an economic miracle, with the country along with much of the rest of Europe stuck in a recession. Unemployment already rising, Ricasoli informed his cabinet and the King he felt it unwise to release thousands of battle-hardened soldiers who if left idle could become prime candidates for a new Garibaldian adventure.

The nation’s finances, as with so many other things it seemed, were bound up with Garibaldi and by extension the question of Rome. The prime minister was aghast for both emotional and practical reasons to censure the great revolutionary and hoped to deflate the situation by incorporating the Pope’s lands into Italy through negotiation, as he had with Tuscany. One of his first acts in office was to send his foreign minister the Conte Pasolini to Rome to discuss a settlement.



As both the natural capital of the nation and seat of the Pope, Rome was a delicate matter for the devout people of Italy and her government

Offering the Church major concessions regarding their influence in Italian religious and education policy, tentative progress was made only for talks to collapse due to French interference in August [3]. Hearing of the diplomatic mission, Napoleon III bluntly informed the Italian minister in Paris that any efforts to undermine Papal sovereignty (as it was seen by France) would be considered a violation of the Plombières Agreement [4], necessitating a “serious response”. Unwilling to antagonise Italy’s main benefactor any further Turin recalled Pasolini.

Shut out of Rome, Ricasoli scrambled for an alternative outlet for Italian nationalism. Tunisia seemed attractive. The declining Ottomans were suffering yet another bout of rebellions in their Balkan provinces and Tunis was home to several large European communities, Italians by far the largest. Over decade before the ‘Scramble for Africa’, the example of France’s Algerian adventures in the 1830s played heavily on the prime minister’s mind [5]. The other, much more popular but difficult option was Venetia.

Unquestionably a core component of Italy and ancestral home of the Serene Republic, the only issue was its owner: Austria. Despite the fanfare and prestige of the risorgimento, the war of 1859 would certainly have been doomed without French aid. The Pasolini Mission having gravely injured relations with Paris, their support in another conflict so soon was highly unlikely and despite her impractically large army, Italy stood little chance alone against Vienna.

Already by September Ricasoli was losing ground in the Chamber of Deputies. Word reached the prime minister that Farini had begun to court support for an internal coup, while Rattazzi had gained several defecting deputies thanks to jingoistic demands for an immediate march on Rome. A man unaccustomed to the cut-throat world of Sardinian politics, Ricasoli only stepped back from a pre-emptive resignation due to the pleas of di Bonzo.



The Austro-Prussian War would present new opportunities for Italy - and a life line for Prime Minister Ricasoli

The General proved prescient. On 1 October Prussia and her North German allies declared war on Austria. Bismarck had been quietly courting Turin for some time as an alternative friend to Napoleon. Ricasoli did not hesitate. Soon missives were flying back and forth between the two nations as thousands of Italian troops marched to the Venetian border. Facing only a token border defence as the Austrian threw their finest against von Moltke’s advance into Bohemia, 100,000 Italians readied for invasion.

On 10 October the Austrians received an ultimatum demanding the release of Venetia. Vienna proved surprisingly confident that the demand was an empty bluff. The Italians had proven a less than formidable opponent in 1859 while the same day word arrived in the capital that Radetzky had soundly defeated the Prussians at the Battle of Pressburg. Turin received no response as the forty eight hour deadline approached.

With no formal alliance in place and the reversal at Pressburg, some – primarily Pasolini and the Foreign Ministry – feared Berlin would accept a quick peace and Italy would be left alone against the Austrian giant. Ricasoli and di Bonzo had no such qualms, or at least not publicly. The build-up to war had energised Italian patriotism and hoping to co-opt populist feeling the government had given Garibaldi an official commission and command of an entire corps, composed almost completely of Redshirt veterans. To back down now after the Rome debacle would infuriate the public and certainly doom the prime minister’s tenure.

At 6am 12 October the ultimatum expired. Twenty minutes later a thunderous cannonade against the Austrian forts along the River Po signalled the beginning. Italy marched to war.




Italy, October 1861

__________

[1] Constitution introduced by King Carlo Alberto of Sardinia-Piedmont in 1849. Designed to appease liberal nationalists it nonetheless retained major powers for the monarchy. In-game Italy is Prussian Constitutionalist.

[2] Because I'm too lazy to give a detailed prologue on Italian unification, have a wiki link.

[3] I had begun building influence in the Papal States and was swiftly expelled by France who controlled her as a client in-game.

[4] Franco-Sardinian plan for the division of Italy. Though much of the Agreement was made obsolete by the fast moving events of 1859, Napoleon III ensured the Pope remained independent under French protection.

[5] Tunisia both historically and in-game will be a prime target for Italy in coming years.
 
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stnylan

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Well now, a violent start for the new nation, but a necessary one.
 

loup99

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The Roman question and looming conflicts with France over Tunisia having been put aside, a good old war may be what galvanises and unites the population in a common nationalist fervour. That does however require a victory, for a defeat against Austria-Hungary would be such a shattering blow to the young nation that it could result in revolution.
 

Jape

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Well now, a violent start for the new nation, but a necessary one.
Italy needs an ally, or at least co-belligerent to have a decent chance against Austria at this point. I had hoped Prussia would hold off for a while (I'm not sure what the trigger for the Brothers War is but I've seen it start as early as July 1861 and as late as 1869) but Italia must take this opportunity. There's also the other side of the war, invading Venetia helps the Prussians because an Austria that also dominates Germany will make unification with Venetia all but impossible into the near future. Hot irons and all that.

The Roman question and looming conflicts with France over Tunisia having been put aside, a good old war may be what galvanises and unites the population in a common nationalist fervour. That does however require a victory, for a defeat against Austria-Hungary would be such a shattering blow to the young nation that it could result in revolution.
A defeat would be a disaster as the doves at the Foriegn Ministry are keen to point out but one of the hawks' motivations, to avoid Garibaldian adventures is not guaranteed in victory, if anything it might ramp up jingoism for those other areas of interest.

_________

Update this evening.
 

RossN

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I'm personally biased against Cavour for his Thoughts on Ireland: Its Present and Its Future in which he essentially told Ireland to take one for the team in the greater interests of European liberalism. Having him die at the beginning is an excellent start, even if it is down to historical accuracy. :D

Speaking of excellent starts I'm already hooked Jape. :) 1861 is a very interesting starting date and Italy is a fascinating country to play. You made a bold move siding with the Prussians so early but as someone who has had to deal with an unexpectedly strong Austria I agree you have to seize opportunity when it arrives!
 

Jape

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I'm personally biased against Cavour for his Thoughts on Ireland: Its Present and Its Future in which he essentially told Ireland to take one for the team in the greater interests of European liberalism. Having him die at the beginning is an excellent start, even if it is down to historical accuracy. :D

Speaking of excellent starts I'm already hooked Jape. :) 1861 is a very interesting starting date and Italy is a fascinating country to play. You made a bold move siding with the Prussians so early but as someone who has had to deal with an unexpectedly strong Austria I agree you have to seize opportunity when it arrives!
It does make for a nice jumping off point I agree. I don't like Cavour myself, he jumped on any bandwagon he could and lucky for him as great a man as Garibaldi was also humble enough to basically hand over his popular movement (not to mention half of Italy). Bismarck he is not, even if you can't discount the results he got.

Thank you, glad to have you on board. I won't lie I was mortified when Prussia started the war so early. My lack of preparations and Italy's poor military tech in 1861 will show in the next update.
 

Jape

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Chapter II
Venetian War (1861-1862)




General Leopoldo Valfrè di Bonzo
The opening weeks of the Italian invasion of Venetia proved a stunning success. The arrogance of the Austrian government led by Archduke Rainer Ferdinand after Pressburg had seen little effort made to strengthen their positions along the River Po. In October 1861 there not a single signifiant Imperial force in the region. General Valfrè di Bonzo, given overall command of the invasion due to his ties with the King and Prime Minister Ricasoli, took full advantage of his enemy’s inaction. Personally leading 33,000 men along the coast towards Padua, with the intent of seizing Venice itself, di Bonzo was increasingly confidant he could make the fall of Venetia a (relatively) bloodless fait accompli by the end of the year.

Two other Italian armies marched unopposed alongside di Bonzo. Advancing on Verona, Lieutenant-General Carlo Mezzacapo was amazed by the complete lack of organised opposition. “It is incredible”, he wrote to his commander a week into the war, “the only explosions we encounter are fireworks, the only hindrance to our advance the thronging crowds who wave the tricolour”. To Mezzacapo’s north Garibaldi led 30,000 Redshirt veterans (many still wearing their distinctive uniforms) through Trentino, his goal to seize the Alpine passes to secure the invasion’s flank [1]. Though the area’s German minority meant he did not receive the unanimous public celebrations given to his fellow generals, here as elsewhere the revolutionary could be forgiven for thinking it would all be over by Christmas.

By November, the prize of Venice only several days march away the Italians’ grandiose hopes were dashed as news arrived of thousands of Austrian troops pouring into the city. The initial panic in the halls of Vienna had subsided, Archduke Rainer Ferdinand being swiftly dismissed by his uncle Emperor Franz Joseph who took direct control of the war effort [2]. Though the Battle of Pressburg had certainly not beaten Prussia, it had given Austria breathing room to redeploy forces south and raise new regiments. General von Gablenz, a former adjutant of the great Radetzky and veteran of the 1859 War, led 115,000 troops into the province. Securing Venice was a key objective but the Emperor had been clear as to his ultimate goal; “Bring the Italians to open battle… annihilate them”.



The front, November 1861

Suddenly outnumbered in-theatre, di Bonzo’s swagger vanished. Messages demanding reinforcements flooded into Turin as the Italian advance ground to a halt. Lieutenant-General Enrico Cialdini was already en route with 27,000 men with more marching north to join the campaign. After the initial shock, di Bonzo was as eager as von Gablenz to fight the enemy in a decisive engagement. Though an artillery commander di Bonzo was a chief proponent of aggressive Jominian principles in part due to the major French influence on the Sardinian military in the previous decade. Hoping to test the Austrians, he ordered Mezzacapo’s recently enlarged corps to march on Treviso, the central province of Venetia and the regional hub of transport and communication.

On 17 November outside the small town of Spresiano, Mezzacapo encountered von Gablenz and the majority of his forces. Outnumbered almost two to one and known as something of a ditherer, the Italian commander found himself quickly outflanked on the rolling plain. Superior Austrian rifle and artillery fire inflicted serious casualties, Mezzacapo amongst them. Taking command, his second Giuseppe Pianelli ordered the retreat before his forces could be encircled. Though a thorough defeat the Battle of Spresiano had concentrated the Austrian forces into a known position. With Italian armies to the south, west and north of von Gablenz, including tens of thousands of newly raised conscripts, di Bonzo ordered an all out attack on the province.

The ‘Battle of Treviso’ though focused around the province’s eponymous capital was in fact a series of brutal encounters that began at Vedelago on 28 November and would not end until 2 January at Montebelluna. Again and again di Bonzo’s aggressive style would see the Italians suffer major casualties on the enemy gun line but new regiments and the Austrian’s determination to end the war with a final destructive set-piece ensured the Italians a strategic advantage. Forced to fight numerous engagements against several enemy armies, von Gablenz found his army’s morale and numbers slowly being whittled away. However the final breaking point would be the Austrian general’s own death (groundless rumours claiming at the hands of a sniper in revenge for Mezzacapo), breaking what little will remained to continue the slaughter.



The Battle of Treviso ends, 2 January 1862

The short Treviso campaign was horrific and could only find contemporary comparison in the meat-grinders of the American Civil War. Poor medical support, countless suicidal charges against modern rifles and artillery and the elements left 96,000 Italians dead, wounded or unaccounted for, almost as many men as had took part in the original invasion. Entire regiments had ceased to exist, others were reduced to a single battalion or even less. Having secured the approaches to the Tyrol, the majority of Garibaldi’s Redshirts had marched south in December, their zeal and courage proving their undoing. Of the revolutionary’s 20,000 men, well over half lay dead by the new year.

The enemy had fared little better. Alongside their commander there had been 71,000 casualties. Though less than their opponents, the Austrian counter-attack into Venetia was spent. Following Pressburg the Prussians had rebounded, advancing deep into Bohemia and threatening Vienna itself. Taking command of the survivors Graf Franz von John marched west to recuperate, his mission now not to crush the Italians but contain them so as to retain the focus on repelling the Prussians.

Efforts were made to mask the sheer scale of the bloodshed in Turin. A jingoistic press subject to censor and the fact Treviso was a definitive (if pyrrhic) victory helped matters. Mutterings about di Bonzo’s conduct were similarly silenced by his influence at home. The general, arguably more skilled as a politician than as a soldier, understood the need to follow up the sacrifices of Treviso with newsworthy gains. Gathering those regiments still relatively in tact, di Bonzo was soon marching south to seize Venice.



Charge of the Austrian Ulhans at Udine, 12 February 1862

The Austrian garrison in danger of being cut off and lacking the iron determination of von Gablenz, casualties at the Battle of Venice on 19 January proved thankfully light. The Italians suffered 6,000 to the Austrians 5,000 before the defenders beat a hasty retreat to link up with Graf Franz. The Austrian fleet having given up control of the Adriatic on the arrival of Admiral Carlo di Persano’s squadron in late December, King Vittorio Emanuele II entered Venice unmolested by ship on 28 January 1862 to a carnival-like atmosphere.

For the next two months Italian and Austrian columns would battle across western Venetia and into the Tyrol however no encounter would come close to the slaughter of Treviso. At Udine on 12 February, Pianelli repulsed a tentative advance towards Venice, securing the city and Venetia in the process. Two weeks later reports reached di Bonzo of an Austro-Bavarian army mustering for a desperate offensive through the Alpine passes [3]. Commanding the high ground with dug-in artillery, di Bonzo defeated his enemy with ease at the Battle of Innsbruck on 20 March, ending any hope of a new offensive and with it any hope of Austrian victory.

On 29 March word arrived that the Emperor was willing to give in to Italian demands in return for peace. The King and Prime Minister Ricasoli happily accepted the offer. After six months and nearly a quarter of a million casualties, the Venetian War, or Third War of Italian Independence as it was known to the nationalist press, was over [4]. The Royal Italian Army had, with much sacrifice, proven its ability to defeat the hated Austrians in battle. Honour won, the foreign minister Conte Pasolini hoped in correspondence to the King that the end of hostilities would allow peace and prosperity in the region. Little did he or anyone know that this “poca guerra” [5] would have serious ramifications for Italy, Austria and the entire continent.



Peace and Victory, 30 March 1862

__________


[1] Garibaldi has been given the north flank because of his elite unit the “Hunters of the Alps”, arguably the forefathers of the famous Arditi. However its also to keep him away from heavily populated areas like Venice. Di Bonzo is media saavy.

[2] Archduke Rainer Ferdinand was one of several relatives Franz Josef gave power to only to quickly boot out of office before taking personal control. He is also notable for his first marriage to Elisabeth of Savoy, Vittorio Emanuele’s aunt.

[3] By March 1862 Bavaria was Austria’s only remaining ally in the war.

[4] The revolutions of 1848-9 being deemed the First, the War of 1859 the Second and amongst some commentators (notably during the Fascist regime) 1915-18 was the Fourth.

[5] “Little war”
 
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RossN

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Treviso gives me unpleasant memories of some of my own 'victories', though it likely saved Italy. I assume Prussia is still at war with the Austrians?

Gaining Venice so quickly is an impressive achievement, though that last sentence is ominous!
 

stnylan

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Yes, as they saying goes - with many more victories like that... !

But it all worked out in the end, though one wonders as the news of the battle filters out after teh fact if the general's reputation will start to tarnish.
 

loup99

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Well, it is a victory nonetheless, even though it came at such a significant cost. Italy has expanded, and Austria has been defeated. However if the impact stretches beyond the territorial changes, the victory could end up being even more pyrrhic.
 

Jape

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Chapter III
Treaty of Schönbrunn




Schönbrunn Palace
Across the country millions celebrated as news spread of the armistice ceding Venetia to Italy. It had been a hard earned victory against the armies of Austria. As much as Emperor Franz Josef had been loathed to give up the territory it would soon to be seen as just a first step in the decline of the House of Habsburg. Prussia too had paid in blood and continued to even as di Bonzo led his forces from Innsbruck back across the new frontier. Bismarck and King Wilhelm I had originally only demanded Austria accept their primacy amongst the German states.

Vienna’s continued resistance, partly encouraged by their defeat at the hands of ‘little Italy’, leading to costly battles at Brno in April and Linz in May hardened Prussian intentions. An offer to accede to the demands of the previous October was rebuffed by Berlin. In June, von Moltke marched through the streets of the Austrian capital ensuring the Emperor and his people knew they were well and truly beaten.

The humiliation continued. In August diplomats gathered from across Central Europe at the Habsburg summer residence Schönbrunn Palace to officially settle the peace. The choice of setting was in clear imitation of the Treaty of Fontainebleau that had ended Napoleon’s reign thirty-eight years prior. Graf Johann Bernhard von Rechberg und Rothenlöwen, the Austrian foreign minister who had previously opposed confrontation with Prussia, led the Imperial delegation. Franz Josef though present at Schönbrunn refused to take part in the proceedings save a private audience with King Wilhelm.



End of the Austro-Prussian War, 7 June 1862

The Austrians were forced to accept Prussian domination. A North German Federation was established, replacing the old Confederation. Much to the irritation of his erstwhile ally King George of Hanover, Wilhelm was granted presidency of the new bloc in-perpetuity [1]. Vienna would also officially recognise Italian control of Venetia at the conference. Prime Minister Ricasoli attended personally alongside the Conte Pasolini to great fanfare at home, the Tuscan already quietly preparing for a snap election.

Most shocking however was the presence of the Hungarian delegation, led by Ferenc Deák, leader of the popular passive resistance to Austrian rule. While many Hungarian nationalists had fled in the aftermath of the failed 1848 Revolution Deák had remained, walking a fine line between the Empire and radicals calling for a new revolt. The latter had taken great interest in the Italian risorgimento with the recent war leading to protests and marches carrying images of Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele II in solidarity [2]. The comprehensive defeat of Austrian imperial hegemony and the deaths of thousands of Hungarian conscripts in its defence had awoken grievances buried for over a decade, leading Deák and his supporters to reach out to the Prussians.

Bismarck had insisted upon Deák being given a seat at the discussions with firm support from Ricasoli, a final insult to the Emperor who almost prematurely ended the conference in disgust. The Prussians demanded without negotiation the right of the Hungarian people to self-determination and the right for them to choose their own monarch. The Austrian army shattered and Prussian troops occupying Vienna, Franz Josef bitterly accepted via Graf Johann Bernhard.

Negotiations regarding Hungary’s future would continue well into the following year. In theory Budapest could choose to retain a relationship with Vienna and there were certainly many Hungarians, even amongst the nationalist exiles, who believed a reformed Empire was worth preserving [3]. However in forcing them to sit down as equals with people they had crushed as traitors only years earlier, Austria's standing in Europe suffered yet another serious blow [4].



Otto von Bismarck, Minister-President of Prussia and Chancellor of the North German Federation

Back home in Turin, Ricasoli received a standing ovation in Parliament on his return and was made a knight of the Ordine Supremo della Santissima Annunziata, Italy’s highest honour. The victorious Venetian War and the Treaty of Schönbrunn cemented his control of the legislature and his cabinet, with all word of usurpation by Farini quickly vanishing. For the King and many at court the Prime Minister’s most important success was the one left unsaid. Generals di Bonzo and Pianelli had been the faces of the war, winning accolades as loyal officers of the Royal Italian Army. Meanwhile Garibaldi had been sidelined with no major victories to his name and the Redshirts all but annihilated at the Battle of Treviso. Though still beloved his star was waning and suffering his own personal injuries from the war once more retired to the small island of Caprera off the Sardinian coast [5].

Amongst the military there was a less definitive sense of victory. The sheer number of dead and wounded made many, particularly younger officers led by Pianelli, come to the conclusion that Napoleonic ideas of battle based on limited artillery and bold charges had seen their final days. Firepower, technology and organisation had almost won Austria the war and though few would admit it, Treviso could have easily ended in disaster for Italy as much as it had for many of her soldiers.

There was however little interest for tactical reform at the top. Di Bonzo’s close ties with the King and Ricasoli combined with genuine successes at Venice and Innsbruck masked his failings to the public making him and his ideas all but untouchable. The general would support new fortifications along the Venetian border to hold any surprise Austrian invasion but he remained adamant in his aggressive philosophy. At a party in his honour at the Palazzo Reale in April, the general cheerfully informed Prince Umberto [6] that his motto was always “Attack! Attack! Attack!”.

Riding a wave of patriotism, Ricasoli announced a spring election scheduled for March 1863. He intended to use the fervour to mask the country’s continuing problems. The economic issues that plagued Italy had not vanished after the six month conflict (although Venetia’s silk farms and iron mines proved a notable boon) and the cost of fighting had seen the national debt grow exponentially. A dedicated free trader, Ricasoli studiously ignored growing voices amongst the opposition and even within his own party for tariffs to plug the deficit. A strong showing in the election would shore up the Prime Minister’s power.



Central Europe, January 1863 (Note: prior to the conclusion of the Hungarian National Covention)


__________


[1] IOTL Hanover fought alongside the Austrians in 1866 and were directly annexed into Prussia as a result. In-game however Hanover sided with Berlin, guaranteeing them some semblance of independence if nothing else.

[2] Similar events took place in 1859 and 1866 IOTL

[3] Notably Gyula Andrássy who shifted IOTL from a radical nationalist in 1848 to the reactionary foreign minister of the Dual Monarchy by 1871.

[4] Note at this point in-game the Austrian Empire remains intact, I added the bit about Hungary in preparation for certain events that take place in the coming years.

[5] Which doesn’t mean he’s gone for good...

[6] The King’s eldest son, heir apparent.
 
Last edited:

Jape

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Treviso gives me unpleasant memories of some of my own 'victories', though it likely saved Italy. I assume Prussia is still at war with the Austrians?

Gaining Venice so quickly is an impressive achievement, though that last sentence is ominous!
Treviso was certainly an all-or-nothing battle which I find a rarely historical event (sans the insane casualties) in V2. Prussia is but its winding down, this update deals with the immideate post-war settlement.

Yes, as they saying goes - with many more victories like that... !

But it all worked out in the end, though one wonders as the news of the battle filters out after teh fact if the general's reputation will start to tarnish.
It hasn't helped di Bonzo's standing amongst the grunts and some of the other commanders are shocked he went through with it but as I said above arguably Treviso had to be won plus his political connections and public feeling and he's ok, little dirty but still Italy's leading general. Will it stay that way?

Well, it is a victory nonetheless, even though it came at such a significant cost. Italy has expanded, and Austria has been defeated. However if the impact stretches beyond the territorial changes, the victory could end up being even more pyrrhic.
Its important to note in 1859 and 1866 OTL Italy basically relied on France and then Prussia to beat the Austrians, giving a poor showing themselves. Having proven their own power while the Prussians are fighting a six month (instead of six week) campaign into heart of the Empire is going to have serious effects on Vienna an its standing. And from there further out, butterflies flapping...
 
Last edited:

RossN

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Intriguing. Clearly in this timeline Bismarck has written off the Austrians as a significant factor in the future - that or political pressure at home forced his hand in making a hard peace with Austria; as you noted the war went on much longer and was certainly bloodier than in OTL.

Somewhat sorry to see Garabaldi go, though I am interested in seeing what will happen this election.
 

loup99

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The executive managed to sideline Garibaldi due to him facing the harshest situations, although as you say him returning to the scene is still a possibility, which could be quite the upset.

How the election will now fare is interesting, as it could be decisive to determine the future political landscape of Italy for the years to come. A decisive victory would strengthen Ricasoli, but anything other than that would be highly concerning.
 

guillec87

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