War of Italian Independence, 1848–49

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

War of Italian Independence, 1848–49


(in Russian, Austro-Italian War of 1848–49), war for the liberation of Italy from Austrian rule, closely connected with the spread of the bourgeois revolution in 1848–49 in the Italian states. In March 1848, as a result of the victorious popular uprising in Lombardy and Venetia, which had been under Austrian rule since 1815, the Austrian troops were driven out. The same month the Sardinian (Piedmont) king Charles Albert started war against Austria, which he hoped would benefit the interests of the Savoy dynasty. In April 1848, the Piedmont army (about 60,000 men) launched an offensive in the direction of Verona. Especially successful were the operations of the volunteer detachments of Garibaldi. However, the treacherous conduct of the ruling circles of the Italian states and of Charles Albert himself, who feared the spread of the revolutionary movement, resulted in victory for Austria. On July 25, 1848, the Austrians defeated the Italian army at Custozza; on August 6, the Austrian forces of Field Marshal Radetzky entered Milan, and three days later Charles Albert concluded a truce that aroused the indignation of the broad masses since Lombardy was again annexed to Austria.

In the light of the revolutionary fervor of the Italian states and of the demands for the resumption of war against Austria, Charles Albert was forced on Mar. 20, 1849, to break the truce and start military operations. However, the poorly trained Piedmont army (about 88,000 men under the command of General Chrzanowski) that was strung out from Novara to the River Po suffered defeat as early as March 21 at Mortara and on March 23 was utterly beaten by the Austrian army (about 70,000 men) in the decisive Battle of Novara. This defeat was due in part to the irreso-luteness and mediocrity of the Piedmont generals. Charles Albert fled from Italy. On March 26 his son Victor Emmanuel II concluded a truce with Radetzky. Austrian troops again occupied the Lombardy-Venetia territory. On August 6 a peace was signed in Milan, according to which the Kingdom of Sardinia paid Austria an indemnity of 65 million francs.


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