First Italian War of Independence

The First Italian War of Independence pitted the Kingdom of Sardinia, defending the Republic of Rome, against the Austrian Empire, defending the monarchy. Historians divide the war into three phases. The first phase is from 23 March 1848 to 9 August 1848. After the Five Days of Milan (18-22 March 1848), King Charles-Albert of Sardinia declared war on Austria. With the help of the Papal States, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, King Charles-Albert defeated the Austrian Marshal Radetzky in Pastrego on 13 April, in Verona on 6 May, and in Peschiera on 30 May. However, during the Battle of Custoza (23-25 July 1848), the Austrian Army defeated the Sardinian army and king Charles-Albert capitulated on 5 August. The second phase is a truce from 9 August 1848 to 20 March 1849. The third phase is from 20 March 1849 to 24 March 1849. On 20 March 1849, King Charles-Albert declared war on Austria. The Austrian Army defeated the Sardinian army during the battle of Novara (22-23 March). The Armistice of Vignale, signed on 26 March, put an end to the war. Thus, Lombardy was once again ruled by Austria. It was also invaded by other conservative leaders. For example, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte sent ten thousand French soldiers to Civita Vecchia on 25 April 1849 to overthrow the Roman Republic. 

Image: Field Marshal Radetzky and His Staff at the Battle of Novara on March 23, 1849, 1855, by Albrecht Adam. This image is part of the public domain and is available on Wikimedia Commons.

Additional Readings

Coppa, Frank J. The Origins of the Italian Wars of Independence. Routledge, 1992.

Smith, Denis Mack. Modern Italy: A Political History. University of Michigan Press, 1997. 

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

23 Mar 1848 to 22 Aug 1849