|The Italian peninsula in 1861.|
Since the time of the first independence movements in the 19th century, the issue of the ineligibility of the political and spiritual authority of the pope arose. Napoleon III was approving the Italian unification and the restraining of the papal territories but in the same time as a leader of a catholic state he didn't want to see a pope growing weaker and weaker.Additionally the pope was the spiritual father of Napoleon's III son who would be the future king of France.
The Italians were discontent with the existence of the French papal guard in Rome and didn't cease to remind the issue of Rome to Napoleon III. Napoleon III was trying to find a consenting decision than would satisfy the Italians and wouldn't infuriate the catholics in his country and the catholic bishops.
|Napoleon III emperor of France|
Napoleon III worried about the reaction of the Italian minorities in France was tried to find a way to pay a compensation to Italy. He found a perfect pretext for this in the eve of the war between the Austrians and the Prussians. Before engaging into war with Vienna, Bismark enquired Napoleon III about his neutrality in this war. Napoleon III told him that he would keep his neutrality and in exchange he wanted Bismark to cede Venice to Italy in case of a Prussian victory.
The Austrians also worried by the prospect of an alliance of the French with the Prussians negotiated to cede Venice to Italy and in exchange if they were victorious they would annex Silesia. Therefore a new situation was created by which Italy would be favoured one way or another.
Once again Garibaldi led a new expedition in 1867 against Rome but Napoleon III under pressure of the French catholics sent a French regiment to Italy in order to stop Garibaldi. The French were successful at stopping Garibaldi and this triggered a series of tensions between the two nations. The French prime minister's speech in the parliament made the situation even worse. He said : Italy will never conquer Rome.France will never tolerate such a violence against its honor and catholicism. The day that Italy will attempt to take Rome France will stand and defend it.
However these words didn't seem to have much of importance as three years later when France was in the verge of war with Prussia and negotiated with Italy about a potential alliance. Although the French were not negotiating the Rome issue, after the French defeat in the battle of Sedan and the capture of Napoleon III by Prussian forces the French guard of Rome withdrew and after a parody battle the Italians captured Rome and Victor Emmanuel moved his capital there. Later via a referendum the Italian king ratified the annexation of Rome to Italy.
|Napoleon discusses with Otto von Bismark after being captured in the battle of Sedan|