Italy in the Seven Weeks War of 1866

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Italy in the Seven Weeks’ War of 1866


(Russian title, Austro-Italian War of 1866), one of the wars connected with the struggle for the liberation of Italy from Austrian domination and for the creation of a national state. As a result of the War of Italian Liberation of 1859 and of the Italian revolution of 1859–60, Italy was basically unified. However, Rome, which was under the authority of the pope, and Venice, still ruled by Austria, remained outside the Italian state. Italy was preparing for war with Austria for the liberation of Venice. Prussia, engaged in diplomatic preparations for war with Austria, made use of the situation and, through the mediation of the French emperor Napoleon III, effected an alliance with Italy. In return for Italy’s participation on the side of Prussia in the war against Austria, Italy was promised Venice.

The Seven Weeks’ War of 1866 began on June 17. The march of Italian troops into Venice on June 20 signified the beginning of Italy’s participation. Leaving behind a strong reserve in Mantua, the main force of King Victor Emmanuel’s Italian army (120,000 men; chief of staff, General A. La Marmora) began an offensive from the Mincio River toward Verona on June 23. The corps of General E. Cialdini (90,000 men) was to strike the flank and rear of the Austrian army from the region of Ferrara and Bologna. Forced to fight on two fronts, the Austrian command advanced the Southern Army, consisting of 78,000 men and fortress garrisons, against Italy. Commanded by Archduke Albert, the Southern Army was deployed to the southeast of Verona. It took the offensive on June 24 and the same day defeated the Italians in the Battle of Custoza. With 10,000 casualties, the Italian army retreated behind the Oglio River. But the Austrians could not exploit their success. On July 3 they were defeated by the Prussians at Sadowa and had to withdraw substantial forces from the Italian theater of operations and pit them against Prussia. This allowed the Italians to assume the offensive in Venice and Tirol, where G. Garibaldi was successfully fighting against the Austrian troops. On July 26 the Italians reached the Isonzo River. But on July 20, the Italian navy, attempting to clear the enemy from the Adriatic Sea and to seize Trieste, suffered defeat from the Austrian fleet near the island of Lissa. Nevertheless, Austria, after defeat in the war with Prussia, was forced to conclude an armistice with Italy on August 10. On October 3, Austria signed the Vienna Peace Treaty, according to which it ceded Venice not directly to Italy but to Napoleon III, who handed it over to the Kingdom of Italy.


Obzor voiny 1866 g. ν Gen, anii i Italii. St. Petersburg, 1891. (Translated from French.)
Trevisani, G. Dal primo al [Illegible]econdo Risorgimento (1796–1945). Milan, 1954.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.