THOMAS NELSON PAGE
ITALY AND THE WORLD WAR
ITALY ATTAINS HER UNION
AFTER Novara (March 23, 1849) there was little hope for the revolted states. Ferdinand, who had moved his court to Gaëta, was able to suppress the revolt in Sicily, and the Pope, after having refused to receive a mission from Rome, asking him to return as the spiritual head of the church, called on France, Austria, Spain, and Naples to restore him to his supreme authority.
The Pope returned to Rome from Gaëta the following April, maintained in his restored temporal power by the troops of France in Rome, and those of Austria elsewhere.
The old ideas of liberalism had been irreparably shaken, and thenceforth he who had in the beginning been looked on as the rising star of the liberals was sustained in his sovereignty only by the arms of foreign invaders, whom he had called on to restore him to his temporal power---arms stained with the blood of those who had acclaimed him in his accession as the deliverer from Austrian dominion.
The progress of liberalism among the people, however, was not stopped. Over 30,000 Romans had signed an address asking the withdrawal of the French corps of occupation. And the Italian Chamber (March 27) declared Rome to be the capital of Italy, asserting that the Pope could exercise his sublime office in a freer and more independent way guarded by the affection of 22,000,000 Italians than guarded by 25,000 foreign bayonets.
After his father's abdication the first labors of King Victor Emmanuel on coming to the throne were to make terms with conquering Austria and to suppress a revolt in Genoa, which on learning of the armistice had declared for a Republic. He performed both labors, not acceptably at the time, perhaps, but wisely; and when he had done so he had established his position as a King who kept his word. Against the warnings of Austria he stood by liberal government; swore to observe the Statute (or Constitution) given by his father, and became later, in consequence of his observance of his oath, first King of Italy. The government fell; the Parliament was dissolved; the King appealed to the people with success; and a liberal ministry came in, who stood for the people against both Austria and Rome.
The Prime Minister, D'Azeglio, proceeded to put through ecclesiastical and corporate reforms, which brought him into conflict with the Vatican. But he won.
Into this new Ministry came a man who was to prove Italy's greatest statesman, and probably the first statesman of his time: Count Camillo Cavour.
His public career, brief in time---for he died early---but most brilliant in its accomplishment, placed him in the first rank of statesmen. Representative of an old and noble Genoese house, he was representative also of Italian aspiration for Liberty, which is as much as to say hostility to Austria.
Like many others, he had undergone exile or imprisonment at Bard for his liberal views, and, with far-sighted wisdom, he struck at the root of the trouble, irrespective of whether his acts were popular or not.
He reorganized the finances of the Kingdom of Sardinia, impaired by two unsuccessful campaigns; and in the face of Excommunication he passed laws regulating clerical corporations, which asserted the supremacy of the State. Determined to place Italy among the Great Powers he, with far-sighted sagacity, joined England and France, and sent a contingent of 15,000 troops to the Crimea. It was a bold and apparently groundless "play to the galleries." In fact, however, it placed the Kingdom of Piedmont, as representative of Italy, before Europe as an integer in European politics. He secured her a place in the Congress that settled the questions of the war, and got the affairs of Italy discussed before the congress---though only informally.
In all this, though he moved but a step at a time, and often but slowly, he was moving against Austria. To this end he worked up an alliance with France, and to secure it he made sacrifices which cost him his popularity but eventually led to Italy's freedom and union. The conference which he had with Napoleon at Plombières, at the latter's instance in 1858, disclosed to him Napoleon's aims, including his desire to ally his house to the House of Savoy through marriage between his cousin and the Princess Clotilde of Savoy with an eye to future Italian interests----certainly including the throne of Tuscany. But he did not flinch nor did King Emmanuel. On the eve of the outbreak of war against Austria, in which France---or Napoleon III---had agreed to join---for a compensation---Cavour played a bold game and assented to the suggestion of a European congress to settle Italian affairs. Austria refused, as, of course, he was satisfied she would, and poured troops into Italy, which was arming eagerly.
On April 23, 1859, the Austrian Commissioner, Baron von Kellersberg, handed Cavour Austria's ultimatum: "Unarm in three days, or War." Cavour looked at his watch. At the same hour three days later he handed the Austrian Commissioner his reply: "Sardinia had no further explanations to make."
On the 29th the Emperor Francis Joseph declared war, and Austrian troops invaded Piedmont. Garibaldi had been offered a command by Victor Emmanuel, and to him rallied the forces of freedom. "Badly armed and worse equipped," they yet represented Italy, fighting under the banner of Italy borne by the House of Savoy, and led by the most popular patriot in Italy.
Napoleon, with his eye on both Tuscany and, as is now known, the Sicilies, brought his armies into Italy---one of them landing at Leghorn in Tuscany. And on the 31st of May the allies won the battle of Palestro, and on the 4th of June the battle of Magenta, forcing the evacuation by the Austrians of Lombardy. Modena and Parma rose in revolt and joined Piedmont.
Map. 1. THE UNIFICATION OF ITALY.
On the 24th of June the French won the battle of Solferino and the Sardinian-Italian army won the battle of San Martino above Lake Garda.
Then on the 6th of July Napoleon, to the amazement of the Italians, secretly sent a messenger to the Austrian Emperor, asking for an armistice. Prussia, with six army corps, it is said, was about to move to Austria's aid.
Napoleon leaned to a Confederation of Italian states under the nominal Presidency of the Pope. He was far from desiring a United Italy. Cavour, in desperation, resigned office, declaring that Napoleon had dishonored him by getting him to allow his King to go to war to release Italy and then leaving him in the lurch.
The revolutionary spirit of Italy, however, was not to be appeased by such an experiment as a Confederation. Modena, Reggio, Parma, Piacenza, having driven out their Austrian scions, voted in August for union with Piedmont. Tuscany and Romagna, through their Constituent Assemblies, soon followed the example. Notice of their choice was given to the great powers by Modena, Parma, Tuscany, and Romagna, and delegates went to Turin to offer the crown to Victor Emmanuel. His government, in view of the dangers incurred by such action, with three armies, arrayed against them---for the Austrians were backing the Duke of Modena; the papal troops were in the field; and, above all, Napoleon's army was ready to march---deferred acceptance of the tempting offer. Garibaldi headed a popular army that was raised in Tuscany; but, Napoleon threatening to occupy Piacenza should he advance, Count Ricasoli, the patriot Dictator of Tuscany, opposed him, and finally Victor Emmanuel satisfied him that the cause of Italy would best be subserved by prudence, and be reluctantly yielded. The Peace of Zurich was signed November 10, 1859.
Cavour had resigned in rage when Napoleon asked an armistice after Solferino. King Victor Emmanuel could not resign. He had, as he wrote the French Emperor, joined his fate to that of the Italian people, and therefore he declined to second the French Emperor's plan for an Austro-Italian federation. He wrote as follows to Napoleon in answer to a letter from him:
If Your Majesty is bound by treaties and cannot revoke your engagements in the [proposed] congress, I, Sire, am bound on my side by honor in the face of Europe; by right and duty, by the interests of my house, of my people and of Italy. My fate is joined to that of the Italian people. We can succumb; but never betray. Solferino and San Martino may sometime redeem Novara and Waterloo; but the apostacies of princes are always irreparable. I am moved to the bottom of my soul by the faith which this noble and unfortunate people has reposed in me, and rather than be unworthy of it, I will break my sword and throw my crown away, as did my august father. Personal interest does not guide me in defending the annexations. The sword and time have borne my house, from the summit of the Alps to the banks of the Mincio, and those two guardian angels of the Savoy race will bear it farther still, when it pleases God.
The idea of a Congress to settle the affairs of Italy, which Napoleon III promoted with a view to securing a sort of Confederacy of Italian states, with the Pope as honorary head and the Temporal power limited to a small territory about Rome, fell through. The scheme might have been impracticable in any event, and certainly the Pope opposed it.
In January Rattazzi's ministry fell, and Cavour was recalled to power just as Napoleon announced his demand for Savoy and Nice as the price of his acquiescence in the annexation of the central states that had offered Victor Emmanuel their thrones. It was bitter; but it was necessary, and Cavour and Victor Emmanuel accepted it. Garibaldi never forgave Cavour for it. Victor Emmanuel also lost the birthplace of his family. It was Napoleon's aggression here which contributed to arouse Prussia, and later bore such grievous fruit.
Garibaldi was soon after elected by the Niçois as their representative in a popular plebiscite, held before the one arranged by France, and he was on the eve of going to Nice and starting a revolution to counteract the French Government's moves in relation to the formal plebiscite set for the 15th of April, 1860, when a larger and more far-reaching enterprise presented itself to him: the liberation of Sicily and the uniting of southern Italy with northern Italy. Mazzini, who had sent Francisco Crispi to Sicily, among other agents, had long been at work with this end in view. On the 24th of March Count Rosalino Pilo, a Sicilian patriot, had gone as an advance courier to Sicily with a small cargo of arms, which he landed near Messina on the 19th of April, a few days after the government had sacked a monastery at Palermo, which was a secret arsenal for the revolutionists. Pilo wrote letters back to Genoa which decided Garibaldi to turn from Nice to Sicily. He was farsighted enough to know that a republican uprising could not secure the great prize, and his cry was, Italy and Victor Emmanuel.
On the night of May 5 Garibaldi embarked from Quarto, near Genoa, with 1,072 men---known as the "Thousand"---on two boats, the Piemonte and the Lombardo, for Marsala, Sicily, where he landed safely. Cavour gave orders that he was not to be meddled with on the high seas, but should not, in view of the ministry's orders, be allowed to land in a Sardinian port.(8)
The result of the enterprise is one of the most astonishing chapters in history. By sheer audacity and courage, united to skill, in union with the sentiments of the people of Sicily, Palermo, though defended by 18,000 regular troops, was captured by Garibaldi's little force, swelled now by local volunteers to perhaps some 5,000 men. He became Dictator, and, sweeping on, soon conquered the island. Having expelled the Neapolitan forces therefrom, he turned his attention to Naples.
His progress in Sicily was such as to excite apprehensions in various quarters and of various kinds. Cavour and Victor Emmanuel had possibly some question as to how far this a-conquering knight-errant could be controlled---and certainly as to whether he might not by an unsuccessful throw lose the great stake he had won. It was even suggested that should the King of Naples consent to give up Sicily, he should be let alone by Garibaldi. Mazzini and the extremists thought he should address himself next to the conquest of Rome, and a force of 8,000 volunteers was gathered to undertake this step from Sardinia.
The King of Naples, to escape the impending convulsion, yielded too late to persuasion, granted an amnesty, promised a Constitution, hoisted the Tricolor with the Bourbon arms in it, and offered 50,000,000 francs and the Neapolitan navy to help secure Venice for Piedmont---all to no purpose. Garibaldi induced the volunteers in Sardinia to join him, and, crossing the straits into Calabria, which was breaking forth into revolution, captured Reggio; passed on victoriously till he frightened the king and court out of Naples and, entering the city almost alone, assumed the title of Dictator, and as a first step handed over the Neapolitan navy to the Sardinian Government.
The statesmen of the Sardinian, or, as it was now called, the Italian Kingdom---the King and Cavour---had, meantime, recognized the fact that they must not longer remain at the window as mere spectators, but must take an active part in the movements going on in southern Italy or else the fruits of it might be gathered by others or lost altogether. They decided to invade the Papal States, and, in the face of threats from nearly every European continental Power, the step was taken. Austria, France, Spain, Prussia, and Russia broke off diplomatic relations with them. France threatened to intervene. And from France, Belgium, and Ireland flocked, at the call of the Pope, volunteers to defend the Temporal power. But Cavour and Victor Emmanuel kept on; for the stake was Italy. An offer made to the Pope to leave him Rome and the nominal Sovereignty of the Papal States, which were, however, to be administered by the King of Italy, was declined or ignored, and on the 11th of September the forces of King Victor Emmanuel crossed the frontier. They captured quickly Perugia and Spoleto, and after a victory over the papal forces at Castelfidardo, attacked Ancona, which was taken on the 29th of September, opening the road to Naples, where Garibaldi lay on the Volturno, facing the still large army of King Ferdinand, which was burning to wipe out the disasters of Southern Italy; and where Garibaldi had fought and won a battle on October 1, a few days before Victor Emmanuel crossed the Neapolitan frontier.
On the 11th of October the Piedmontese Parliament authorized the King's government to accept the annexation of those States or Provinces which desired to become a part of the Kingdom.
On the 26th of October the King of Sardinia and Piedmont, at the head of his army, reached Teano, where Garibaldi awaited him. The Dictator dismounted and advanced to meet the King, and, taking off his cap, hailed him as "King of Italy." On the 7th of November, 1860, the plebiscites of the two Sicilies were handed him.
The seizure and capture of Gaëta in January (15), 1861, completed the conquest of Southern Italy. For years, however, under the fostering influence of the Roman Government, whose guest, Francis Joseph (son of Ferdinand II), expelled from Naples, now was, Revolution, degenerated into sheer Brigandage, was kept alive until finally put down with a strong hand.
Only Rome and Venice still remained outside united Italy; the former supported by France, the latter possessed by Austria.
The initial act of the first Italian Parliament, which met in Turin on February 18, 1861, was to confer on Victor Emmanuel and his heirs the title of "King of Italy." The new kingdom was recognized by England in a fortnight, by France in three months, by Prussia in a year, by Spain in four years, but never by the Pope.
Among the difficulties of the new situation was that relating to Garibaldi and his volunteers. The great patriot had rendered immeasurable service to the country-such immeasurable services that they could not be estimated. He declined the Dukedom and Honors offered by Victor Emmanuel, and retired, like Cincinnatus, to his little farm, to Caprera. Naples elected him a representative and he took his seat in the Chamber, where he was soon in conflict with Cavour, whom he erroneously held responsible for the ingratitude shown the Garibaldians. In fact, Cavour had done his best for them.
Cavour's course was almost run. A little later he passed away, completely exhausted by his vast labors for Italy. Happily the King had already brought him and Garibaldi together. Garibaldi, however, was not always easy to lead. He had one aim only, and he pursued his course steadfastly ---to free Italy and make her one. He knew one means only ---by arms. With Venice still under Austrian dominion, and Rome excluded from Freedom, he could not rest. No protests nor warnings availed. Venice first drew his attention; but in view of the vast difficulties and enormous dangers to be encountered in that enterprise, it was deferred for the time being, and after a visit to Sicily, where he preached a crusade against Napoleon III, he, on August 22, crossed the straits into Calabria at the head of some 1,000 volunteers, with the war-cry, "Rome or Death." For the King of Italy to permit him to pass meant war with Napoleon, and probably the undoing of all that had been done. Garibaldi was proclaimed a rebel; his expedition was presented as "an appeal to rebellion and civil war" (August 3, 1862), and his way was barred at Aspromonte (August 28, 1862) by the troops of Victor Emmanuel, who fired on the Garibaldians, wounding Garibaldi as he was walking down his lines endeavoring to hold his volunteers in check and prevent their firing on the royal troops. He seated himself and awaited capture by the royal commander, who approached bareheaded, and he was borne off in a litter to Verignano, where later he was released under a general amnesty.
Garibaldi's arrest created a situation impossible to sustain and the Ministry fell promptly.
In 1864 the situation was somewhat improved by a Convention under which France agreed to withdraw her troops in two years. Italy was to protect the papal confines from invasion, not to protest against the papal army, and to move her capital to Florence within six months. From this last Napoleon expected certain results to ensue. One was to embitter Piedmont. Another was to fix Florence as the permanent capital in central Italy and eliminate glances at Rome. Mazzini characterized the Convention as "Aspromonte in permanence."
Meantime, a new factor had entered into the European problem. Bismarck, who was the dominant statesman of his time, controlled the destinies of Europe from his rise to power in 1862 until long after his downfall at the hands of the young Emperor, William II in 1890. It, indeed, might be said that he has controlled those destinies down to the present time. He had conceived and he now nourished the idea of a great German Empire, headed by Prussia, with the King of Prussia to rule over it as Emperor. Having in the reorganization of the Prussian army a fine instrument and one which he deemed adequate to his purpose, he, in 1864, drew in Austria to act with Prussia and take from Denmark the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. To carry out his plans it was necessary to curb France. At one time he coolly considered helping Austria seize Piedmont and beat France, should the latter intervene. Another method of obtaining his aim, however, attracted him more and he saw in Italy's hatred of Austria and fear of France an important aid to the first steps in his ambitious and far-reaching scheme. He accordingly felt out the Italian Government, where he found its head, La Marmora, favorable to Prussia as against Austria. A commercial treaty was negotiated in 1865, and General Govone, whose influence was very potent in Italy, was invited to Berlin, where a treaty was arranged in March, 1866, and signed in April.
Then, having quarrelled with Austria over the division of what may be termed the booty of the war with Denmark, and having secured from Napoleon III the guaranties of benevolent neutrality in exchange for vague promises of permission for French expansion along the Rhine, and bringing Italy to his aid with the lure of the unredeemed provinces of Venetia and Trentino, Bismarck made war on Austria. The treaty of April 8 provided that both parties should make war on Austria simultaneously, and that neither should make peace without the other. Italy observed her agreement and refused Austria's offer of the Veneto if she would remain neutral; thus placing herself in peril of having to fight Austria alone; as Bismarck notified La Marmora that he would not consider the treaty operative should Austria attack either party before both made war on her. Italy had proposed the year before to Austria the cession of Venetia in consideration of 50,000,000 francs, an offer which Austria had promptly rejected.
Austria soon after proposed to cede Venetia to Napoleon III, for Italy, in consideration of a guaranty of Italy's benevolent neutrality. It was too late. Italy had made her alliance and stood to it. A little later Austria agreed secretly with Napoleon to give him Venetia---bordered, indeed, by certain lines destined to play an important part half a century later---to be handed over to Italy. She retained Trent, Eastern Friuli, Istria, and Dalmatia---all Venetian or Italian territory and Italian at heart.
On June 20 Italy declared war on Austria. Prussia, whose armies had on the 16th invaded Hannover and Saxony, declared war on the 21st. Garibaldi was, of course, in the field, but at Lake Garda with a badly equipped force of volunteers.
On the 24th of June, 1866, a battle was fought at Custozza in which, though their losses were heaviest, the Austrians at the close of the day held the battle-field, and at most it would be considered a drawn battle. The stars, however, were with Italy.
On the 3d of July, at Sadowa, near Königgratz in Bohemia, Prussia won a battle over Austria which eventually made her the head of the German states and led to changes which but yesterday were being fought out by half the world. Two days after this defeat Austria ceded Venetia, or a part of it, to Napoleon III for Italy. It was a manoeuvre which had in view two things: to diminish the value of the territory ceded by rendering permanent a confine which favored Austria; and to secure a benefit from France by enabling her to place Italy under obligation to her.
Italy well understood the grounds of the concession, and it looked for a time as though she would stand on her original claim and fight her way through. Austria, however, won successive victories, both by diplomacy and by arms, and Italy, abandoned by Prussia, was forced to make peace.
Napoleon, after the armistice, demanded of Prussia, as recompense for his part, German territory on the left bank of the Rhine; but abandoned the claim on Bismarck's firm refusal. Later, however, his representative, Benedetti, treated with Bismarck for an extension of German power over the South German states, and the extension of French territory to take in Luxemburg and Belgium. Bismarck did not sign this, but kept a copy of the proposal in the handwriting of Benedetti, and in 1870 published it, with great effect both on the German states and on England and Russia.
After the battle of Custozza, Garibaldi was recalled from the Trentino, where he was successful, to help "cover the capital" from an apprehended Austrian invasion, and when this danger passed he went back to fight his way through to the position he had left. A stiff battle on the 21st of July left him master of the field, though it was a Pyrrhic victory. On the 20th the Italian fleet, which had been ordered to attack and capture, if possible, Trieste, an order which was disregarded, was, owing to incompetent handling, completely defeated near Lissa, off the Dalmatian coast, which it was trying to seize. On the 26th Prussia made peace with Austria, leaving Italy to fight on alone, and an armistice was the result. Garibaldi, ordered to retire when but a few miles from Trent, replied laconically:
"And now to Rome," said his disgruntled followers.
"Yes, to Rome," he said. But the way was yet long and rough.
Thus ended Italy's third War of Independence.
In December, 1866, the withdrawal of the French garrison from Rome was concluded under the September convention of 1864.
Ricasoli, who had succeeded La Marmora, endeavored to come to an understanding with the Vatican as to a modus vivendi; but found himself balked by the intractableness of the Pope, even on such questions as a customs union, a postal agreement, and common action against brigandage. The Pope refused to treat. The hopes of those who had trusted to see Rome the capital at that time were revived.
The rumors that the Romans were ready to rise had started a movement for an invasion of papal territory which had been quickly suppressed (June, 1867) by the royal troops. But to prevent a more serious movement, France mobilized 40,000 men at Toulon to prevent the realization of Italian aspiration. Garibaldi, however, was not to be daunted.
Garibaldi made ready to move on Rome, but was arrested September 23 at Sinalunga by the Italian Government and sent to Caprera, whence he escaped in an open boat and eventually made his way to the Tuscan coast to join the volunteer bands which were raised by the Republicans to capture Rome. But it was too late. French intervention was decided on, and on October 17, 20,000 French troops landed at Civita Vecchia, the Italian minister's decision to send troops to Rome was half-hearted---and, in any event, was too late, as Victor Emmanuel recognized. An attack on Rome by a small force under the Cairoli brothers, with a view to starting a Revolution, failed; but Garibaldi, having joined the volunteers, changed the situation. On the 25th of October he stormed and captured Monte Rotondo, above the Tiber, a dozen or so miles east of Rome. It was too late. On the 25th the French arrived---and Garibaldi was compelled to retire from the gates of Rome to Mentana, ten or a dozen miles away. Here he was attacked by the papal forces on the morning of the 3d of November. These he was driving back when the French arrived on the scene and defeated him. He was later arrested by the Italian troops and once more was confined in Varignano.
France, with "chassepots that performed wonders" at Mentana, was to reap a bitter harvest from that sowing. She had for some time viewed with natural anxiety the growing power of her warlike neighbor beyond the Rhine, strengthened as Prussia was by her victory over Austria in 1866. In 1867 the dispute over Luxemburg brought her to the brink of war with Prussia, and the next year she would not have been averse to entering into treaty relations with Italy and Austria could she have arranged acceptable terms.
The King, indeed, never forgot what Italy owed to France for assistance rendered in earlier days; but the Italian public was still suffering deeply from resentment over France's action regarding Rome, and her victory at Mentana still rankled. Moreover, Rome, as the capital, was a sine qua non, and this Napoleon was not ready to concede.
France had not only returned to Italy and defeated her aspiration for Rome as her capital, but in the debate in the French Chamber, Rouher, the premier, declared that "Never should Italy have Rome," and he was sustained by an overwhelming vote. This "never" had sunk deep in the Italian heart.
The battle of Sadowa had further-reaching consequences ---as the German chancellor intended it to have---than the mere primacy of Prussia among the Germanic states. He looked forward now to a great German Empire. But the powerful South-German states---Bavaria, Baden, and Würtemburg---were jealous of Prussia, and it was necessary to bring them around. To effect this there must be a National cause which should appeal to a National spirit. France furnished this in the affair of the Spanish marriage. In Prussia the long-headed chancellor, with his eye fixed on the future, was casting about to circumvent France, whose growing power might frustrate his far-reaching designs. He went to work on Italy. He took up Mazzini, with whom he had one thing in common: to prevent Italy's entangling herself with France. It was clear enough to him that Italy must have, if not then, in the course of events, aspirations along the Mediterranean. He dangled hopes of Tunis before him. The Mediterranean should become an Italian lake. France and Italy must always be rivals, often foes, he declared. He even referred to Trieste. So it went on.
Meantime, Napoleon was trying to get Italy and Austria into an alliance with him. The obstacle was Rome. Rome was the natural capital of Italy. As for Napoleon, with his troops garrisoning the Eternal City and himself supported in France by the Clericals against the Progressives of every stripe, it was impossible for him to yield to the claim of Italy.
Napoleon's policy was beginning to make itself extensively felt. The annexation of Nice and Savoy by France had aroused the suspicion and the apprehension of more than one of her neighbors. Napoleon's attitude to some extent kept up the apprehension. Bismarck, looking about to strengthen the Hohenzollern House, put forward a member of that house, Prince Leopold, as a candidate for the throne of Spain. France opposed and, indeed, resented this idea.
Napoleon, who had been intriguing as to the matter with both Austria and Italy, felt strong enough to demand of Prussia an official confession of the failure of the German plan. Events hastened. Bismarck presently felt ready. The story of Napoleon's despatch is known. Bismarck, in transmitting the despatch to the public, altered it sufficiently to make its positive tone appear yet more peremptory, and published both the Emperor's despatch and the King of Prussia's refusal. The situation was one which rallied the German states to the side of Prussia. Napoleon on the 15th of July declared war on Germany, and the result of the war united the German states under the King of Prussia, defeated France, took from her Alsace and Lorraine, created the German Empire, strengthened the primacy among the Germanic states already taken from Austria, and changed the course of European history. The besides those mentioned, was the immediate consequence, increased prestige of the Imperialistic Powers.
Two days after the fall of Napoleon III the dogma of Papal Infallibility was declared by the Ecumenical Council in Rome---and Pius IX was declared infallible. Napoleon had done his best to get Italy to come to his aid, withdrawing his garrison from Rome in early August, and Austria was sounded, but the latter deemed the time for intervention passed.
Sedan occurred on the 2d of September, 1870, and two days later the French Empire fell.
Italy's opportunity had come. It was the hour for which she had waited so long.
The way to Rome was now open, and the aspiration of the Italian people who had suffered and undergone so much, was too ardent to be withstood. Lanza, the Prime Minister, conservative as he was, moved with deliberation, it is true; but, though Mazzini was arrested, he knew what the will of the people was. And on August 29 Visconti Venosta, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced to the European powers that Italy would take possession of Rome immediately. The King wrote a letter to the Pope begging him to accept the love and protection of the Italians rather than insist on a sovereignty which existed only by the support of foreign arms. The Pope declined; he wrote to William of Prussia, but the letter reached him when Victor Emmanuel was in Rome.
On the 11th of September, 1870, the Italian forces crossed the papal frontier, where they had been concentrated awaiting developments. On the morning of the 20th of September negotiations for the pacific surrender of the city having failed, an attack was made at several points; and about eight o'clock a breach having been battered in the wall a few hundred feet from the Porta Pia, the Italians, under General Cadorna, rushed in. A sharp fight took place between the Italian assailants and the defending Swiss Guards and French Zouaves in the Papal service, who defended the Porta Pia, but the issue could not be doubted, though the Zouaves did not lay down their arms until late in the day. The Diplomatic Corps urged upon the occupying forces the immediate restoration of order; for the situation appeared critical. Thee Leonine city beyond the Tiber, however, was not taken possession of until a request for protection had come three times from the Vatican.
A plebiscite was set for October 2 and the Leonine city was not included; but the people there set up an urn of their own, and delivered it first of all the urns at the capitol that evening. The total vote stood 133,681 for, and 1,507 against, the new government. So Rome became the capital of a once more United Italy, and Victor Emmanuel could say: "Here we are, and here we shall stay."
Italy's position, following the last step by which her union had become established "from the Alps to the sea," was a peculiar one and, quite apart from military conditions, not free from perils. To gauge it accurately and get a clear idea of her condition then, and her progressive action since, a brief glance must be given to the European powers about her at the time when she entered on her new career, and to their situation and aspirations, and another glance must be directed to the internal situation within Italy herself, and especially within Rome.
The keys of St. Peter are not the only keys held by the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. Holding these, he has also the keys of the solution of many a far-reaching problem.
It is difficult for one exempted by heredity, birth, and training from the teachings of the Church of Rome to realize the power that it exercises over the minds of those subjected from birth to its profound influences. And the Head of this power is the Pope. The power exists in all lands, extends to the uttermost parts of the earth; and the centre of it all is the Pope, encircled and surrounded by Curia and Hierarchy---the most completely organized, cohesive body on Earth to-day, or that has ever been on Earth. It is not an individual question of an individual. The Pope is doubtless himself as much bound by the traditions of the Holy See as, and possibly even more than, any one else. This is why the situation of the new government in Rome found its first, most difficult and perplexing if not perilous problem in Rome itself---the problem which is known there as the "Roman question."
It had been so from the beginning of the struggle for Italian unity.
Even before the claim to Rome as the capital of Italy had been advanced, and while the devoted Catholic, Charles Albert, was King, the Pope, Pius IX, then in the first flush of his early liberalism, had found himself shackled by his bonds. He wrote the Austrian Emperor exhorting him with fatherly affection to withdraw voluntarily from Italy. The letter has a curiously familiar sound to those familiar with the encyclicals of the present occupant of St. Peter's chair. He exhorted the Austrian Emperor "to desist from a war which, powerless to reconquer the hearts of the Lombards and Venetians, only leads to a dark series of calamities." "Nor let the generous Germanic nation," he proceeds, "take offense if We write it to abandon old hatreds and convert into useful relations of friendly neighborliness a dominion which can be neither noble nor happy if it depend only on the sword. Thus, We trust in the nation itself, justly proud of its own nationality, to make no longer a point of honor of sanguinary attempts against the Italian nation; but rather to feel that its true honor lies in recognizing Italy as a sister."
It was to this letter that the reply was given that the same treaties which gave the Pope his Temporal power gave to Austria Lombardy and Venetia.
ITALY BETWEEN FRANCE AND AUSTRIA
AUSTRIA, having so long been the premier power on the continent of Europe---a premiership broken only for a short period by the a-conquering Napoleon---found it difficult and, indeed, impossible, so far as her own views and policy were concerned, to face the challenge which modern Progress presented to her in the rise of new states bent on Independence and Liberty. The diminution of her conquered possessions by the events of 1859-60 and 1866, and the usurpation of the primacy among the Germanic states by Prussia in the latter year, followed later by the signal triumph of Germany over France, left her reduced in extent and power; but not a whit in spirit or aim. The House of Hapsburg had been too long intrenched in unlimited power to relinquish any part of what it regarded as a Dynastic possession.
The Franco-Italian victories of Magenta and Solferino (1859), which cost Austria Lombardy and gave it to Italy, served also to open the way a few years later to the establishment of the dual system with Hungarian equality after Sadowa in 1866, when Austria found it necessary to cultivate Hungary's good-will in her plan for revenge on Germany and for the recapture of Austrian primacy among the Germanic states. This plan was disposed of later by Germany's victorious war with France, and Austria promptly turned her aspirations southward and southeastward, where a few years later the Balkan states, between the Adriatic and the Ægean Seas, became the Naboth's Vineyard of her desire.
The gibe of the abdicated Emperor, Ferdinand, after Sadowa, that his abdication seemed unnecessary, as he also could have lost battles and provinces, may have spurred on his successor and nephew, Francis Joseph; for the latter's policy was steadily set to obtain compensation in other directions for the territory he had lost, and as early as 1876 he secured the consent of the Russian Emperor to the acquirement of the Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Austria's cession of Venice to France to be passed on to Italy left Italy with a northern boundary-line which Austria laid along the slopes of the Alps, which left in Austria's hands not merely the Trentino and the Isonzo region, but left her in possession of confines, possessing which she could not only easily defend herself, but could readily march down on Italy. The Trentino extended like a wedge far down into Italy which could be readily invaded on her long flank through the passes and valleys which Austria had retained. Thus, holding at once the northern heights above Italy and the Istrian and Dalmatian coasts across the Adriatic, with their long internal waterway, ports and harbors, Austria was strategically in a position to command Italy's border from the Swiss line half-way to the southern outlet of the Adriatic.
The conformation of Italy obliged her, in the view of the Italians, to control the Adriatic, at least, to the extent of maintaining therein a power superior to that of any other state or combination of states. The eastern coast of the peninsula is low and sandy. It has no harbors of any importance from Venice down to Bari or Brindisi; whereas, on the other side of the Adriatic are a long series of protective islands beyond which are numerous ports and harbors on the Dalmatian coast and long internal waterways. The fleets of the country in possession of these control that coast in security and threaten the opposite Italian shore, either from the north or from the south. The Italians recognized the necessity of holding and controlling that coast and Venice had established cities and factories along the coast and settled it with Italians hundreds of years before, and it was not until the treaty of Campo Formio, when Napoleon Bonaparte, for his own reasons, turned Venice and Dalmatia over to Austria, that the Dalmatian coast had been less Italian than the western shore of the Adriatic. He had, after his victory over Austria, taken back the gift he had bestowed on her, but in the partition of his dominions after his fall, Austria, as we have seen, had promptly availed herself of the title, which he had temporarily assumed, to assert her right to permanent possession of a part and control of the rest.
Throughout the period of Austrian possession there had been a large element in the cities of the regions expropriated by Austria who claimed Italy as their mother country and aspired to become once more united with her. They had, against all discouragement and repression, preserved their Italian spirit and kept alive, even when at times abandoned by the mother country, the hope of being rescued from their servitude to the Hapsburg House and becoming once more free Italians. They preserved the Italian tongue and cherished Italian traditions, and they kept alive and poignant in Italy herself the memory of the wrong that had ravished them from her embracing arms.
Italy, then, was united from the Swiss border to the southern end of Sicily, but her position was difficult. Misgovernment, Revolution, and War had exhausted her resources and impoverished her. The Government itself was overburdened with debt. The public debt had increased in ten years from £120,000,000 to £328,000,000 sterling and the taxes were enormous. She began her new life steeped in poverty, overburdened with debt, with the deep hostility of her nearest neighbors on one side and the envy of her neighbors on the other side, and with internal difficulties to surmount rarely equalled in the history of a state. That out of these difficulties she was able to emerge triumphant is the proof either of remarkable ability on the part of her statesmen or of the unspeakable evils of the rule to which she had previously been subjected.
Map. 2. ISTRIAN AND DALMATIAN LITTORAL WITH ANCIENT VENETIAN BOUNDARY.
During the decade following the final union of Italy the great actors whose names were a seal of union passed from the scene, one by one. One only remained till 1882, Garibaldi; but his name was a symbol of liberty, and as such it still survives.
The necessity to meet the expenses of the government, together with the enforcement of order and the substitution of law for the exercise of private action, brought so much hostility to the Government that the Conservative Ministry fell and the Conservative Party was driven from power after its long tenure of office covering a generation. In its room came by a great majority the Liberal Party under Depretis. Its programme was a transformation, its leaders were men who had followed Garibaldi and looked to the utmost freedom. In this change the South of Italy came into power, supplanting to some extent the old Piedmontese and Lombards who had formulated Italy's policy for over a generation.
Naturally the people who had been fed on promises looked for an amelioration of conditions, especially of Taxation, and for an era of prosperity and freedom. But the conditions did not admit of it and, once in power, the new party found it impossible or at least impracticable to make any radical changes. The result was dissatisfaction and danger to the new system, to which all Italy had looked as a sort of specific for all evils from which it had suffered so long. Besides this, certain apparent and very real dangers from without stared the new kingdom in the face. Italy was at daggers-draw with Austria; France had been by turns her friend and her foe as occasion arose, and England, however more friendly to her than the others, had a record not wholly beyond question in her relations, to her.
The Depretis policy, which began March, 1876, was a marked change from that of the Right, which had been guided by the older conservative element represented by the North. It was necessarily based on concessions to those whose votes were needed in the Chamber, and this led to the formation of numerous groups, all of whom had special or local interests to subserve, and it led to government by Blocks. This process, which was termed Transformation when, about 1882, abandoning the Republican element, he called in the old Right to adjust the balance of his former support, changed Italy's political methods essentially. Depretis abolished certain taxes on grain, and enlarged the suffrage from about 600,000 to about 2,000,000 votes. He also (in 1877) made elementary education compulsory for children between the ages of six and nine. The internal conditions in Italy came in for more attention, and her foreign policy was relegated to the second place. This led to matters of local concern supplanting often those of more general concern, and to an increase of rivalries and recriminations among the representatives whose expression was at times of incredible bitterness. On the other hand, there resulted a system of secret combinations, which had a tendency toward debasing the political system into one of secret intrigue and "log-rolling."
Depretis went down for a time in 1878 before the new situation, which had developed and culminated in the Congress of Berlin. He was succeeded by Cairoli, who reversed his preference for Germany and sought friendlier relations with France, while a fresh spirit of irredentism, directed against Austria, sprang up in Italy which was never afterward quite laid.
The issue of the Berlin Congress, in which Italy got nothing, shocked and enraged the Italians, and brought down Cairoli, sweeping Depretis back into power; which he retained until 1887, when events forced him to yield the reins to Francisco Crispi, whose career is generally considered to give him rank next to Cavour in the list of Italian statesmen.
For a time Italy attempted to carry out her high-sounding but not wholly practical doctrine of "Farà da se." The result was not wholly satisfactory. One after another of her Ministers tried the method of aloofness, with the result that she found herself isolated and cut off, not only from practical support, but from the friendship of those who had formerly shown friendship---and it is necessary for even States to have friends.
Poverty and possibly the spirit of enterprise had turned the eyes of the Italians toward both the eastern shore of the Adriatic and the southern shore of the Mediterranean. To Tunisia, which is almost in sight of the Sicilian coast, the tide of emigration had set in so steadily that there were something like 50,000 Italians settled in this ancient province of Rome. Libya had once been called "the soul of Rome," and the arrival of the Grain-fleets from North Africa was in ancient times celebrated as a great -national festival. Seeing the success of France in Algeria, Italy was looking forward to the occupation of Tunis at no distant date. At the Berlin Congress she had a chance to carry out her aspiration in this direction, but missed it.
France was also recuperating from the blow which she had received in 1870 and was meditating her "revanche," looking to extend her colonial possessions in North Africa. Four wars had been required to bring about German internal unity and German Imperialism. The first was the revolution of 1848, when the King of Prussia refused to acknowledge any right in the people to bestow the crown, or any theory save that of the grace of God and the Princes.
The second was the war of 1864, when, with the aid of Austria, the Schleswig-Holstein Duchies were wrested from Denmark. Then came that of 1866, when, with the aid of Italy and France, Austria was defeated in the contest for the primacy among the Germanic states; and a half-dozen states, including Hannover, were seized and absorbed in Prussia, nolens volens.
And finally, the war of 1870-71 with France, when Bismarck, having manoeuvred successfully to get an issue formulated that would arouse German racial and national sentiment, though to do so he garbled the despatch of the French Emperor, united all the Germanic states outside of Austria in a common cause and, having beaten France completely, wrested from her the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, and crowned the King of Prussia Emperor of Germany in a way that he believed would appeal to the sentiment of the entire German race and make him the undisputed successor of Charlemagne and thus the successor of the Roman Emperors themselves.
It was not long, however, before Germany awoke to the consciousness that she had crushed her enemy only temporarily, and that before the scars of war were half healed France was on her feet again and was steadying herself for whatever the future might hold. Thus it was that the question presented itself to Germany: should she spring upon her and crush her decisively and finally before France had recovered completely, or should she wait? The question was answered by the other powers of Europe. Russia and England lined up with France and the peril was averted.
In this state of the case Bismarck sought to isolate France. The Three Emperors' League was already failing and he cast his eye southward, where Austria, beaten by Prussia, Italy, and France ten years before, lay gnashing her teeth over her lost opportunity for revenge, and where Italy was isolated. The way to relieve the situation was to turn Austria's thoughts southward to the Balkans as a field for exploitation and bring Italy to consent to it.
Meantime, new questions were arising in Europe----new-old questions destined to play an important part in the future struggle for supremacy among the Great powers. The importance of the East, the possibilities of colonial expansion began to excite them. England's colonial possessions not only kept her Mistress of the seas, but incidentally also Mistress of the marts of Commerce and the centres of finance. She held the gateways of traffic to the East; and above one of these gateways, the Balkans were a strategic point which substantially commanded it.
The Balkan question was now becoming one of the important questions of Europe. Mainly Slav in their populations, though having large sections of other peoples, the Balkans were historically and ethnically related to Russia more closely than to any other country. At the same time they stretched across southeastern Europe, bordering the Mediterranean from the Adriatic to the Ægean, and thence across to the Black Sea, a position which potentially furnished the key to the control of the highways to the Orient.
As a result of the Franco-Prussian War, Russia, which had shown a benevolent neutrality toward Prussia, was drawn into closer relations with the new Empire; and later Austria, to whom Bismarck suggested compensatory expansion in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was brought also into friendly relations.
The three Emperors had exchanged visits and formed the Drei Kaiser Bund, or Three Emperors' League, in the summer (August) of 1872, which it was thought would enable them to control Europe. Their conflicting ambitions, however, were too great, and Russia and Austria formed, in 1876, a secret agreement known as the Treaty of Reichstadt, looking to an expansion in the direction of the Ottoman dominions, which still included sovereignty over the Balkan states extending to the Adriatic. A Bulgarian revolt, which Turkey crushed ruthlessly, brought Russia into the field against Turkey in the War of 1877. She had arranged with Germany and Austria in advance; but on the eve of the completion of a victorious campaign Great Britain, who, in 1875, had bought a controlling interest in the Suez Canal, the gateway to her possessions in the Orient, intervened and Russia was stopped almost at the gates of Constantinople, and was forced to content herself with the advantages already gained by the preliminary Treaty of San Stefano, March 3, 1878. Russia's aim was a great Bulgaria under her suzerainty and an independent Roumania and Servia, bound to her by ties of Nationality.
Austria, looking to the possession of the Balkan provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and England, apprehending Russia's advance across her line of communication with her eastern provinces, united in a secret Agreement (May 30, 1878), which would balk Russia's aim, and the Congress of Berlin, promoted by them, assembled (June 13, 1878), and negotiated the Treaty of Berlin, July 30, 1878, with a view to establishing an equilibrium in Europe.
Meantime, England had negotiated a Secret Treaty with the Porte on the 4th of June, 1878, by which England was to have Cyprus and the Porte was to grant needed reforms in his European and adjacent possessions. The Agreement, knowledge of which was not known, at least to Italy, until it came out through the press, aroused so much excitement in France and Italy that Lord Salisbury suggested to Italy expanding in the direction of Tunis or Tripoli---which Bismarck later also suggested to Italy.
By the Treaty of Berlin Bulgaria was divided---like all Gaul---into three parts; Roumania, Servia, and Montenegro became independent; Russia got back Bessarabia, lost by her through the Crimean War; Greece got Thessaly, without Epirus, however, which she coveted; and Austria got authority to occupy and administer Bosnia and Herzegovina, though they were still under Turkish sovereignty.
The Congress of Berlin, which undertook to re-establish the Equilibrium of Europe --- or its consequences---has been considered by European statesmen to have deferred the outbreak of any general European war for nearly a generation; and, although there were wars fought elsewhere in which the Powers signatory in that congress participated, and on several occasions a General war seemed imminent, the great conflagration was postponed until the great World conflict burst forth in August, 1914. But the fires were always there---simply banked, never extinguished.
The period which followed the Berlin Congress was an era of Diplomacy, in which the statesmen, like jockeys before the dropping of the flag in a great race, spent their time in "jockeying for position."
Bismarck, who had quarrelled personally with his Russian rival, Prince Gorchakov, presently saw that Germany's true policy was to cultivate good relations with Russia, and steps were taken to draw the three Emperors once more closely together.
The Powers, having laid down the confines in Europe of the several countries, were obliged to look elsewhere for their future expansion.
The great Ottoman Empire, left stagnant and undeveloped---became the nearest and most alluring field for future exploitation. And to it turned the eyes of all the expanding Powers of Europe. Turkey would have been possibly a dangerous fraction of the Ottoman dominions to assail directly. All Islam might be aroused by such an attack. Moreover, she subserved the double purpose of a buffer state and of an almost inexhaustible field for financial exploitation. That portion of it known now as the Balkan peninsula had been practically disposed of by the Treaty of Berlin and its consequences, and the rest of it that lay most convenient to Europe was the North African littoral, which immediately became the object of European covetousness, and from this time was the field of European rivalry and intrigue.
Austria had secured the mandate to occupy and administer the coveted provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Russian consent was obtained at Reichstadt in 1876. England's consent was assured in a convention, signed June 6, 1878.
The desire of the Austrian Emperor was for immediate annexation, as it gave Austria a new outlet on the Adriatic, and the possession of the islands and the inner waterways along the eastern Adriatic coast, which would enable her to control both shores of that sea---Italy's as well as Montenegro's and Albania's. The expression of this intention, however, met with such manifestations of opposition in various directions that, for the time being, Austria was forced to content herself with mere Occupation and Administration. Even this was quite sufficient to arouse intense opposition in the provinces themselves, where the situation became little short of war. Italy immediately manifested her expectation of receiving "compensation" in the direction of the Trentino---a claim which, however, Austria had no mind to admit. But a more potent obstacle than these was the opposition of the Hungarian Magyars and of the Austrian Germans, who for different reasons opposed the infusion of so large a body of Slavs into the Austrian body-politic. An equally earnest opposition was interposed by Turkey and likewise by the Slavs, not only of those provinces, but of Servia and Montenegro, who---especially the former---had begun to dream of some sort of confederated union which would have a racial basis more consonant with their future liberty than they could hope to obtain under the Austrian yoke. In face of this general and far-reaching opposition, Austria was fain to content herself with an Occupation and an Administration which she made sufficiently vigorous to give a foretaste of what her rule would be when she should be ready to annex the provinces permanently.
With a view to guarding herself on the other side and to relieving herself from Russian interference in her expansion policy, Austria entered into a secret convention with Russia in 1878 (July 13) which assured her against the latter's intervention should she occupy the Sanjak of Novi Bazar (Old Serbia), she, on her part, engaging to support Russia diplomatically in realizing the provisions of the Berlin Congress. These restored to the latter what she had lost in the Crimean War. Russia, however, was not reconciled to the translation of administrative occupation into annexation, which would open the way for Austrian supremacy in the Balkans and German supremacy far beyond them. This attitude remained an abiding factor throughout the ensuing years, down to the time when the final move was made which opened the titanic struggle in the World War. The evidence tends to show that Bismarck, in his boasted character of "honest broker," fomented if he did not suggest the plan for Austrian occupation of the Turkish Slav provinces, having in view the absorption of both Austria and Russia in questions which would keep them embroiled and therefore diverted from matters which Germany was conducting.(9)
The following year (1879) saw the "Dual Alliance" between Germany and Austria-Hungary concluded, based probably on very different motives on the part of the two signatories; for Germany had her eye on France; but one motive was common to both---the apprehension of Russia and of Russian intervention in matters which the two Empires felt might mature before very long. The Dual Alliance, however, did not prevent Germany's negotiating in 1884 a secret treaty with Russia, which has been well termed a Reinsurance treaty, designed to insure Germany against any interference on the other's part should trouble arise with France, and conversely to insure Russia should trouble arise between her and Austria-Hungary.(10) This treaty remained in force until 1890, after Bismarck's fall; but was not known to the world until disclosed by Bismarck's former organ in 1896, October 24.
The following year an agreement was reached between the Austrian and Russian Emperors in regard to the Balkans, and on April 29, 1897, the two governments issued a statement that the Emperors were determined to maintain the General peace, the Principle of Order and the Status quo. This was further confirmed by a despatch issued by the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, containing the information that "the two powers principally interested in the Balkans" had arrived at an agreement to repudiate all Conquests and maintain the Status quo.
Peace and Order, however, were not so easily maintained as the Status quo, and the next years were filled with wars and rumors of wars.
THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE
AT the Congress of Berlin Italy had got nothing. During the session of the congress Bismarck, with an eye to the future, and desiring doubtless to raise serious questions between Italy and France, suggested to Count Corti, the Italian representative, that Italy might occupy Tunisia. This Italy undoubtedly looked forward to doing some day; but at the time there were several reasons why it appeared too inconvenient, if not too hazardous, to take the step. She was burdened with debt, and to attempt this at the time was almost certain to bring a clash with France as well as with Turkey; and even England, notwithstanding that Lord Salisbury's taking over Cyprus became known, would not have looked with favor on this step by the aspiring young kingdom, which would have made her a bar across the Mediterranean. Italy, therefore, was fain to content herself with the assurance of France that she contemplated no step toward occupying Tunis, and of England that she would not consent to any change in the Ottoman Empire beyond that provided for by the Berlin Congress.
Thereupon Bismarck, who was now ready for a period of peace in which the new Empire which he had created might build itself up internally, declared that Germany was "satiated" and turned the attention of France to Tunis, probably thinking that with this outlet for her ambition and energies she might forget the rape of her provinces on the Rhine, and that this would estrange, if not embroil her and Italy.
The story of the movement is not without obscurities. Certainly Bismarck foresaw that France's occupation would disturb, if not destroy the good relations with Italy. In any event Italy, if not outwitted, was overreached.
England also, or her statesmen who represented her, played a secret part not reconcilable with the replies they gave to Italy. France and Italy both had been much disturbed by the discovery that Beaconsfield had secretly got Cyprus from Turkey, and to appease France's resentment, her representative, M. Waddington, was quietly given to understand that England would not object to her moving on to occupy Tunis, which she greatly coveted. Lord Salisbury had also given one of the Italian representatives to infer from his "veiled utterances that Italy might dream of expansion in the direction of Tripoli or Tunis."(11)
In 1881, on a change of her ministry, notwithstanding a promise made to Italy that she would do nothing in this direction without consulting her, France took advantage of disturbances between the Kroumirs---tribesmen in western Tunisia---and some of her Algerian tribes, to cross the border and march on Tunis.
The Dual Alliance and the Reinsurance Secret Treaty with Russia were followed three years later by the renewal of the Three Emperors' League. Bismarck, however, was far from contenting himself with this. He had no illusions as to France, whose recuperation after the Franco-Prussian War had astonished the world. He knew what France would do should she become strong enough. Accordingly, he turned to Italy, which just then was discovering many difficulties in her new position as a Great Power, and was herself looking around to secure her position. And from this conjunction came the Triple Alliance.
The sudden move of France into Tunisia and her occupation of the Regency under the Treaty of the Bardo, notwithstanding the assurances given by France that beyond defending her interests she had no intention of changing the political status of the Regency, together with the disclosure of the way in which the Italian statesmen had been overreached, aroused great excitement in Italy, and the Cairoli ministry fell.
Italy suddenly found herself stared in the face by complete isolation. France, who had been on occasion friendly to her, had now dealt her, as she deemed, a deadly blow; England, on whose friendliness she had ever counted, had failed her. She not only saw her natural aspirations frustrated by the act of France; but foresaw the possibility of losing Sicily, which had not so long before been under the rule of those who claimed France as their mother country: viz. the Bourbons. Riots growing out of the situation took place, and the tension between her and France was strained well-nigh to the breaking-point. Moreover, there was danger that France and even Germany might step in and once more reopen the Roman Question.
Bismarck's evident intention was to keep Italy in just the condition in which she should be most dependent on Germany and most useful to her. Just so much leash would he give her and no more.
England, on the revolt of Arabi Pasha with the design of expelling her from Egypt, seized the Suez Canal August 25, 1882; landed troops at Ismailia under Sir Garnet Wolseley, who won the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, September 11, and pushing forward seized Cairo and captured the garrison there, September, 1882; and has since extended her power to the southern point of the continent.
From this time England has occupied and virtually been the mistress of Egypt. Her occupation of Egypt, with France's occupation of Tunisia, closed Italy in almost completely---and the latter's position was undoubtedly one to excite what is termed in Italy "preoccupation."
Thus, altogether, Italy's position was far from as happy as it had appeared to be prior to the Berlin Congress, when, building up her fleet, she apparently stood a chance of holding the balance of power in southern Europe. France now held Tunis, and England and France together were administering Egypt under a dual control, and she found herself, as she said, "closed in by a ring of iron." There was danger of the Roman Question being reopened not only by France, where the Clerical party was strong and aggressive, but even by Germany, who had sent a Minister to the Holy See, made overtures to the Catholic Centre, and began to testify a new interest in Roman matters. It appeared necessary for Italy to look about her if she did not wish to remain isolated and run the risk of being pared down by her powerful neighbors. Accordingly, she turned toward the one state in Europe where she could hope for sympathy and assistance: Germany. Whatever the first steps were, Bismarck, it is said, informed her that the road to Berlin lay through Vienna, and that Italy and her King should come by way of Austria. As the necessity was obvious, proposals were made for the exchange of visits between the King of Italy and the Emperor of Austria, the first suggestions coming---it is said, at the instance of the Italian ambassador to Vienna---from the Vienna press.
Accordingly, in October (27), 1881, the King and Queen of Italy visited the Emperor Francis Joseph, it having been arranged that the latter should in due time return their visit. As transpired, however, the Italian ambassador, in arranging for this exchange of visits, had omitted to stipulate the place where the return visit of the Austrian Emperor should be paid, and as the Pope objected to its being paid in Rome, which would have been an acknowledgment of the Royal authority in the Eternal City, it was never repaid at all. This, it appears, came near preventing the object of the visit of King Humbert to Vienna being carried through. Eventually, however, the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, who desired to get rid of the perpetual menace of Italy's aspiration to get possession of the irredentist provinces, opened with the Italian Government a discussion as to the advantages which each would derive could they forget old dissensions and unite in defense of their common interests.
Out of this, with many hitches and lapses, came, fostered by Bismarck's sedulous care, the Triple Alliance, signed May 20, 1882, though not acknowledged by Italy until March, 1883, when the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs alluded to it in a debate in the Chamber.
The terms of the Treaty of the Triple Alliance have never been completely known. It was not until after the outbreak of the World War that certain of its important specific provisions were published.(12) It was only known that it provided a defensive alliance against attacks by enemies on the parties signatory, and that Italy stipulated that she should not be called on to fight England.
The chief object of the Alliance was protection against France on the one side and Russia on the other. Another object undoubtedly was, so far as the Empires were concerned, the abandonment by Italy of her Irredentist policy, so that their aspirations looking toward the Balkans might have an opportunity for development.
One of the principal reasons for this secrecy was the apprehension of the attitude of the Italian people toward a treaty, even one limited to measures of defense, between Italy and her overbearing foe, Austria. The rumor that floated about of such step caused great opposition and some excitement in Italy. This opposition found a concrete expression of reflection of this feeling in the act of a young irredentist student named Guglielmo Oberdan, who, inspired in part, perhaps, by the many antique examples in Roman history of self-immolation to a patriotic instinct, took occasion to avail himself of a contemplated and much-heralded visit of the Austrian Emperor to Trieste, to make an attempt on his life. Having provided himself with explosives, with this intent he left Rome, only to be arrested immediately on his arrival in Trieste territory, where the explosives, being found in his possession, he was immediately tried and convicted. Great efforts were made to save him, and petitions asking clemency were signed by thousands of women. Victor Hugo appealed personally to the Emperor. But the House of Hapsburg's long régime had not been established on clemency, and Oberdan was promptly hanged. The legend grew up in Italy that he was convicted on manufactured evidence, and that the bombs attributed to him were placed in his valises by Austrian agents. He became immediately a popular hero, and during all the days in which Italy's decision hung in the balance Oberdan's name was to be found scribbled on walls and gates and even on the pavements of the streets throughout Italy.
Notwithstanding this strong, if unsystematized opposition to an alliance with the nation ruled over by him whom the Italians stigmatized as the "Emperor of the Hangmen," the advantages to Italy of such an alliance, in face of France's attitude toward her, were sufficiently apparent to enable the Italian Government to maintain the treaty in force for thirty years, and to extend it by successive renewals which, indeed, were agreed on before the period already provided for had expired.
ITALY AND THE BALKANS
NONE can appreciate the situation of Italy in connection with the Triple Alliance who does not endeavor to unravel the complexities of European relations and get hold of their original causes.
An attempt has already been made to present the age-long relations between Italy and Austria, resulting in the bitter antagonism which culminated in the Italian revolutions and wars of independence of 1848-49, 1860 and 1866, that left Italy, overreached by the diplomacy of France and defeated (at Lissa) by Austria; baffled of her aspirations to redeem her regions of the Trentino, Trieste, and Istria; obliged to sit in humiliation and see herself dominated along half of her border---from the Swiss line to the southern point on the Adriatic coast---by her potent and prepotent enemy.
To give some appreciation of what this meant to Italy an effort has been made to show how the Italian spirit, with whatever it contains of good or bad, of admirable or the reverse, has grown up through ages of stress and struggle -and also to show the internal conditions of Italy, and their relation to the external conditions in which she has found herself placed since 1866, when her new geographic boundaries were fixed; and especially since 1878, when the Congress of Berlin apportioned the continent of Europe by metes and bounds as the final partition among the powers; and, while Austria was given regions like Bosnia and Herzegovina, which brought her the control of the eastern shore of the Adriatic, Italy found herself the Cinderella of the sisterhood, left to lament at home---alone.
To understand the "Aspirations of Italy," which became almost a catchword of the period preceding her entry into the war, it is necessary to have some knowledge of that which is vaguely known as the Balkan Question. And to have any proper idea of this, at best, mysterious subject, one must know, at least in outline, the history of the Balkans. The term, as generally used, includes all that region that extends from the eastern shore of the Adriatic to the shores of the Ægean and around to the Black Sea. On the north, they may be said to have included Bosnia and Herzegovina, taking in the Istrian and Dalmatian coasts, and stretching eastward, they reached well into what is now Russia. Originally, in the term might also have been included Slavonia, Banat, and Transylvania to the west of the present Moldavian province of Roumania; and to the eastward of Moldavia they included Bessarabia and Crimea.
All of these Balkan provinces, originally settled by Slavs who had pushed southwestward and dispossessed the Avars and others, were, on the stopping of the great tidal wave of the Ottoman Turk's sweep into Europe, left in his possession as a part of the Ottoman Empire. Apparently hopelessly abandoned to the Ottoman Power, with its tyranny and incompetence, the elements of racial and religious differences served to preserve the national, or at least racial, spirit. This spirit found a champion and a refuge in Austria to the northward; and then along the Adriatic, in Venice, and to the northeast, in Russia. It has been well said that Austria, under the House of Hapsburg, with all its tyranny and intolerance, stood for two centuries as the chief champion of Christendom against the Ottoman Turk and Mohammedanism. Poland aided her, and presently Russia, under the great Rulers: Peter and Catherine, entered the lists, and soon the Balkans were become subject to "spheres of influence." Russia's power was based on racial and religious unity, which gave her a vast advantage.
Then came the Napoleonic idea of Nationality, which, with the Illyrian State formed by him as an example, began to change the Balkans, in however small a degree, from what they were before to what they are now. It may not appear that they have yet attained a condition to boast of; but, whatever they may be to-day, this much may be said: that it is an advance beyond what they were in the past.
Servia attained her own independence. She is called the Peasant Kingdom, because her upper class was extirpated by the Turks and the peasants fought themselves free. Then came the Greek independence, sung by poets, with Byron at their head, and aided by the sympathy of the Great Powers. And in this movement, at least among the Greeks, was a dream of a new Greek Empire, the successor of the old Greek Empire, with Constantinople as its capital---a dream which has possibly been floating vaguely in some minds even in these latter days. Then came the Roumanian nationality, working out its independence with France as a sort of godmother to the Latins of that region, and later on came Bulgaria's opportunity to free herself from the heavy Turkish yoke.
It has been said that "Servian Liberation was achieved without the great powers, Greek independence through the great powers, and Roumanian unity in their despite."
Finally came the liberation of Bulgaria, which is said to have been the only Balkan state which virtually had no share in its emancipation. This emancipation was accomplished by Russia.
A discussion of the Balkan question in any detail would require far too much space and lead the reader away from the main theme.
Having become the field of exploitation of the Great powers, the Balkan peninsula was, in a sense, a Naboth's Vineyard for them, while, on the other hand, it was---to use a different simile---a brand, ever in danger of setting a fire which might flame into a conflagration. And the Balkan states have played an important part in the present crisis, and it was from one of them that the spark came which set off the loaded magazine and resulted in the explosion of Europe. Surrounded on three sides by the seas, and blocking the outlet of Germany and Austria to the southward and eastward and of Russia to the westward, they constitute a vastly important strategic position on the eastern Mediterranean and, consequently, affect the vast questions of colonial expansion and power which lie at the basis of the World War. In their age-long struggle, both racial and religious questions had become intensified by perpetual antagonisms among themselves until these had become, in a sense, almost fundamental.
These in turn were crossed by geographical conditions which became grave factors in the rivalries and conflicts which existed among them. Separated and weakened by these, the Balkan states became mere pawns in the long game fought by the powers for their own interest---especially in the game between Austria and Russia. And it was only in latter times that the rise of national feeling enabled the Balkan peninsula to stand forth with the assertion of a claim to be something more than a congeries of mere pawns in a game played by intruders, even though the game they substituted for it was to end in a bitter war among themselves and intensify their inter-Balkan rivalries and hatreds.
The diffusion of Knowledge was such that in time it extended even to the Balkans; and the movement of modern life reached and permeated them also. They had had in the past an heroic history and an heroic literature, and their peoples were of warrior blood, even though they had not been able to fling off the yoke of foreign subjugation. They had more recently accepted the rule of Kings, partly or wholly foreign, at the hands of the Great Powers, because it appeared the best way of loosening the yoke of Turkey; but they were not deceived as to their own powers, and they knew the value of their own growth. The chief obstacle in the way of their development was their rivalry and hostility among themselves.
The Congress of Berlin (1878) left the Balkan states mainly in the hands of Turkey; but, as has been related, took the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina---Serb and Croatian as they were---and by giving Austria the permission to occupy and administer them, practically gave them to her, in despite of the sympathies and aspirations of the Serb states of Serbia and Montenegro. In 1908, after a period of internal preparation, Austria simply took them and added them to her Empire---nolens volens---and against the wishes of all other parties in interest, save Germany. Backed by Germany she braved the danger of lighting a fire which should set all Europe aflame; and although she was able, with Germany at her back, to take the step without starting up the conflagration, she only deferred it and she aroused the other Balkan states to a step which in turn was a stride toward the World War. By annexing permanently the Serb-Croatian provinces, whose aspiration had been toward Serbia, she cut Serbia off from the Adriatic and extinguished the aspirations of the Serb-Croatians and kindred branches of the race for a Serbian kingdom, far-stretching as of old. This turned of necessity Serbia's ambitions toward the Ægean Sea; brought her in conflict with the Bulgarians over Macedonia, and placed her as a bar across the way to the East. And the East and the roads to the East were now become the prizes of the nations to which all eyes were turning. Thus the Balkans had become a live factor in the great International game for supremacy.
To the other factors which made the Balkan states the centre of political strife was added the ever-efficient cause of discord: religious and racial affinities and antagonisms. The greater part of the populations were Slavic or of Slavic origin; but there was a sufficient infusion of other races to keep alive a certain antagonism, though it was not dominant. Added to this were the antagonisms between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, with, in some parts, sufficient Mohammedanism to hold a sort of Balance, if not of Power, of Unrest.
It suffices to say that all played their part in the seething that has gone on so long and all have been useful to one party or another among the greater powers in the intrigues and the struggle for the supreme control in this strategic Keep of Southeastern Europe.
This occupancy of the Jugo-Slav provinces bordering the Adriatic gave Austria a position of power in the Adriatic to which Italy could not be indifferent, as it placed her at a disadvantage greater than ever regarding Austria, which thenceforth held the commanding position, not only along the Italian Alpine border, but along Italy's whole undefended seacoast.
It had been aptly said by Bismarck that, "Italy and Austria must be enemies or allies," and this situation emphasized this fact.
Italy's greatness had, as already stated, been acquired as a Sea power, whether in Ancient times or in the Middle Ages, and had ever been associated therewith; and her command of the Adriatic was an essential for her independence and, indeed, for her existence. Unable to maintain her growing population at home, she was obliged to see them cross the seas in great numbers to distant lands, where, owing to easier conditions, many of them remained permanently. Thus, she looked with favoring eyes to their emigration to the Balkans as well as to the North African coast where, hardly a day's sail from the southern point of Sicily, Tunisia furnished an outlet for her Labor, not subject to the danger mentioned of her losing it permanently.
France's unexpected occupation of Tunis in 1881 caused profound feeling against her throughout Italy, and would have precipitated war had Italy been strong enough at the time. Her act left Italy closed in on the west and south by France, which held the former Italian territory of Savoy, Nice, Corsica, and now Tunisia, where Italians outnumbered many times the French. At the same time Austria held the Trentino, and Trieste; was occupying Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was extending her influence southward in a manner which threatened substantially to close Italy in. England had already substantially occupied Egypt.
Thus, Italy was driven to turn to the only European Power that apparently had interests similar to hers, and in any event would not be able to assert any political interests inimical to her.
The Triple Alliance, signed in May, 1882, and renewed by successive governments in 1887, 1891, 1902, and 1912, lasted in name until it was formally renounced May 3, 1915. But it had meantime become definitely restricted, first by amendments, the last of which, known as Article VII, provided expressly against any advantage being gained by either Austria or Italy in the Balkans which would tend to change the status quo, without prearrangement with the other as to compensation therefor, or, as Signor Tittoni termed it, "a balancing of interests."
This treaty led to a tariff war between France and Italy which lasted until 1898, when, Italy having recognized the French Protectorate over Tunisia in 1896, it was terminated and more friendly relations began, and a secret treaty was negotiated in 1902 between the two powers, providing that Italy would not join in an attack on France should the latter be attacked or herself be provoked to attack.
Meantime, Italy had, with a view to opening a field for the utilization of the overplus of her laboring element, embarked on a colonial policy in East Africa, which in the outset proved disastrous, but eventually, though far from remunerative, contained other compensations for her. It gratified the pride of her people; gave to her interests outside of her borders, which distracted them from internal troubles; and furnished a field for the exercise of Italian ambition to become once more a Sea power. New elements had also entered into her relation to the Adriatic question. In 1896 the Hereditary Prince, the present King of Italy, contracted a marriage with the Princess Helena, daughter of the King of Montenegro, which gave Italy a point d'appui on the eastern side of the Adriatic; added greatly to her force as an Adriatic power; and tended to oppose a barrier against the steady extension of Austrian interests and influence to the southward along the Adriatic, which had threatened to draw both Montenegro and Albania within its engulfing sweep.
This, however, by no means prevented Austria from pressing southward to eclipse Italian influence in Albania, and Italy and France began to cultivate more friendly relations, which led to Italy's recognition of French interests in Tunisia and later to the Secret Treaty of 1902. Italy, indeed, was in a situation of much difficulty. France had established an entente with Russia, and Russia was tending to take greater interest in a Pan-Slav movement which would extend her influence across to the Adriatic, and might traverse Italy's interests in that direction as much as Austria. The Southern Slavs of Serbia and the Turkish provinces were as unamenable to Italian influences as the Magyars themselves or the Austrian Germans, and in their relations with the Albanians had shown themselves as hostile to Italian interests as the former. Italy found herself obliged to preserve the equilibrium which had come about in the Balkans, and to do this to lend her influence toward maintaining the status quo. Any great expansion of the Pan-Slav idea was as likely to shut her out from great influence beyond the Adriatic as was the undue expansion of Austria-Hungary. Albania became of more and more importance to her as extending along the eastern shore of the southern Adriatic and including Valona, which was almost the key to the Adriatic. A great competition sprang up between Italy and Austria for commercial advantages in Albania, and eventually, in 1907, an arrangement was arrived at by which it was agreed that Albania should be converted into an Independent principality. This, however, by no means signified that the rivalry between Austria and Italy for the control of Albania was at an end. Austria, as lying closer to Turkey, was able to come to an arrangement with her more readily than Italy, and in 1908 Austria secured from Turkey a railway concession under which she was able to join her Bosnian railway to the Turkish railway to the port of Salonika, which gave her an outlet to the sea to the east of Albania. The accession to power of the Young Turks opened to Austria yet greater opportunities for extending her influence in the Balkan dominions formerly belonging to Turkey, which she promptly availed herself of to Italy's great concern, as every step toward Austria's greater aggrandizement decreased the chances of Italy's ever redeeming her irredentist provinces, and increased those of her losing yet more.
The Triple Alliance which began with the Dual Alliance between Germany and Austria in 1879, and was expanded into the Triple Alliance by the adhesion of Italy in 1882 (May 20), when Italy was suddenly aroused to her isolation by the unexpected act of France in occupying Tunis and assuming a protectorate over Tunisia, was the chief factor which influenced the Diplomacy of Europe for the next twenty years. However it may have been regarded by others, the Italian statesmen charged with the responsibility of Italy's security and progress have ever taken pride in its achievement.
It appears a fact that Bismarck had no great regard for Italy, but he accepted her, believing that she would be likely to side with Germany rather than with Austria should any questions arise between the two, and Italy's antagonism against France would be a support of Germany should the latter be attacked.
Bismarck had written to Mazzini in 1866, when he was endeavoring to array Italy against France: "Italy and France cannot associate to their mutual advantage in the Mediterranean. This sea is an inheritance that cannot be divided between two kindred nations. The empire of the Mediterranean belongs indisputably to Italy, who possesses in this sea coasts twice as extensive as those of France. The empire of the Mediterranean must be Italy's constant thought, the aim of her ministers; the fundamental policy of the Florence Cabinet."
This had long been a tenet in Italy. Mazzini himself had declared that "Northern Africa is Italy's inheritance," and thus, when France moved into Tunisia and took possession of it Italy was alarmed and incensed into turning to Germany and even accepting an alliance with Austria.
This alliance, however, was, as has been seen, simply defensive, and after a period of hard feeling and unhappy incidents, both the French and Italian Governments, in recognition of the mutual disadvantages accruing from their continued estrangement, and of the advantages to be derived from their instituting more useful rapports, suppressed their bitterness and drew closer together for their mutual benefit. Each government, after the Franco-Italian agreement, vied with the other in expressions of satisfaction over their changed relations, and, although there were periods when each appeared ready to question the perfect faith of the other, the relation that had existed stood the test when the time came; and when Austria and Germany plunged into the war, which Italy had vainly tried to prevent, Italy maintained her neutrality. If she did so without taking the trouble to publish to the world the incontestable proof of the correctness of her position, only she herself has suffered therefrom.
The effects of the treaty between Italy and the Central Empires on Europe were enormous and, indeed, fundamental. It resulted in eventually dividing Europe into two camps, which it pleased its advocates to call the Equilibrium, and to eulogize as the guaranty of European Peace.
A direct result of the alliance was the consequent counterbalancing Entente between England, France, and Russia.
A further result was the earnest and quickened contest between the two balanced sides of the Equilibrium for the acquisition of the important fraction of Europe left out of the Equilibrium: the Turkish Empire and the Balkan states, with the preponderant control of the two great routes to the vast regions of the Orient: the Mediterranean and the parallel land-route to the southeast. One further unknown quantity was Russia, whose power was yet unutilized and, indeed, was unknown in its unorganized state; but if organized was easily foreseen to be immeasurable. To the acquisition of these as yet unexploited and unexplored factors, the two sides of the by no means stable Equilibrium addressed themselves in the manner of the Old Diplomacy. Italy's field was in the Near East, where ancient Italian traditions still lingered to some extent, and which was nearer to Italy by the open sea route than to any other country.
The marriage of the Prince hereditary of Italy, the present King, to a Balkan Princess naturally reinforced Italy's influence in the Adriatic, and the problems into which the Balkans entered became a greater concern of Italy's than previously.
Not only Montenegro, but Albania became a field for the exercise of Italy's interest. She was shut off by France from the regions of the North African littoral immediately to the south of her; but a long strip still remained unexploited between Tunisia and Egypt, which England had occupied, and Italy kept her eye on it, with equal apprehension directed toward her western neighbor and her own allies.
Austria's part in the future disposition of the Turkish dominions in the Balkans lay in the same direction with Italy's so far as the Balkans were concerned; but extended further to the southeastward where she encountered a power as all-absorbing as herself and which had interests directly contrary to hers. Thus, in the western Balkans she ran counter to the interests of her ally, and to the eastward to those of a powerful member of the Entente. It was to meet this situation that Article VII was inserted in the Treaty of the Triple Alliance by Italy. Germany for her part took a wider range and shaped her policies so as to stretch beyond her ally's sphere of aspiration and extend her influence and power over regions formerly wholly under Turkey, but more recently under the influence of England and Russia, and which, could she supplant the latter, would open to her a vast field for the development of her power. It was this prodigious and far-reaching scheme of Germany which caused the creation of the counterbalancing plan of the Triple Entente. It was not, however, only toward the southeastward that she extended her interests. By different, but not less effective methods she extended her influence through other channels, commercial and financial, into Italy, where it became in time strongly established.
The Triple Alliance, however, though established by a treaty, was not based on any unquestionable community of interest save that of mutual defense against those outside of the Alliance, and this was so frankly recognized that the principle of "reciprocal compensation" was specifically embodied in it to meet the probable event that one party or the other might endeavor to secure some further advantage in regions in which the other had interests. And, in fact, it was the violation of this counterbalancing arrangement which eventually brought about the destruction of the Triple Alliance, to which Italy, as a whole, only reconciled herself because she confided sufficiently in the leaders to believe that they would never negotiate a treaty not greatly to Italy's advantage, and also because Italy was somewhat flattered at being recognized as an equal to Germany and Austria. Yet, notwithstanding these reasons, it was only a grudging acquiescence that Italy as a whole gave to the treaty with her prepotent neighbor, and whenever any difficulty arose the Opposition press was wont to taunt the government with its slavishness to the "Emperor of the Hangmen." Nor was this bitterness wholly without excuse. For Austria conducted herself with scarcely, if any, less overbearingness toward her ally after the treaty than before it was signed. This attitude, emphasized by Austria's frank assertion of her power through formal and firm expression of her objection, on occasions such as have been mentioned, of the selection of an irredentist Italian for a portfolio in the Cabinet, was signalized at times by more far-reaching acts. Such was Austria's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose inclusion as an integral part of the Austrian Empire changed essentially the "Adriatic Equilibrium," and eventually had a strong influence in causing the World War. There seems little doubt that Italy would have gone to war at that time to recover her irredentist provinces from Austria-Hungary had she felt equal to the contest.
Germany, having secured by the Triple Alliance the assurance of assistance from Austria and Italy should she be attacked, applied her diplomacy to the task of allaying the ill-will of Russia and France, while she sedulously kept both at odds with her allies.
Thus, for a time France was encouraged to gratify her colonial aspirations in Africa, as though Germany were more friendly to her than was England or Italy. Russia was given to understand that she would maintain a sympathetic attitude toward her policy regarding Manchuria. Austria, Hungary was encouraged to look forward to absorbing the Turkish provinces at the head of the Adriatic. Italy was reassured by German financial and commercial penetration if not assistance in the development of great enterprises in North Italy; and even England was spoken fair and for a time was drawn into relations of more convenience than formerly; and all the while these Powers, which had so many things in common, were kept in a state of suspicion toward each other; and all the while Germany throve and built herself up economically.
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