Villafranca Armistice (July 11, 1859)

Villafranca Armistice:

In July 1859, Napoleon III met Emperor of Austria Francis Joseph at Villafranca and settled the conditions of the armistice. Those terms and conditions were as follows:

(1) Lombardy will be given to Sardinia but Venetia would remain with Austria.

(2) It was decided that the rulers of the Central Italian states of Parma, Modena, and Tuscany should be restored.

(3) Italy will be converted into a federation under the Presidency of the Pope and Venetia will become a part of that Italian federation.

This Armistice shattered the hopes of the Cavor and Italians. Lipson has correctly evaluated this position in these words-

“This country had hardly touched the glass of triumph with its lips than it fell and turned into pieces”. Austria maintained its sovereignty over Venetia because of the treaty which was detrimental to Italy. Shocked Cavour advised Emperor Victor Emmanuel to reject the treaty and fight alone. But Victor Emmanuel did not take a hasty decision. Cavour tendered his resignation. Victor Emmanuel too was displeased with that treaty. But he was wise enough to anticipate the end of Austrian dominance over Italy created by means of the Vienna Treaty. Emmanuel was wiser than his meritorious premier and could assess the gravity of the situation clearly. Piedmont could not translate its hopes into reality, although it gained certain benefits. He held that when European powers had approved the right of Italy over Lombardy, Italy had moral right over Venetia too.

On November 10, 1859, Emmanuel in company with Austria and France signed the Zurich Treaty. Villafranca Armistice was ratified by way of the Zurich Treaty. It established the legal right of Piedmont over Lombardy. With it, the first phase of the unification of Italy came to an end.

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