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The Sicilian War was a war fought at first over the control of the Sicilian region of Apulia. Though there was much more involved. The United Kingdom wanted to put Sicily under their sphere of influence and Italian Nationalism was on the rise in Sicily. Sicily saw this war as vital to keeping Sicilian independence.
The war began when Italy and the United Kingdom declared war on Sicily, Sicily's allies of Russia, Austria, and the North German Federation all declared war on Italy and the United Kingdom. The first battles took place in Sicily where unprepared Sicilian troops were losing badly but emerged victorious in the end. While Russian, Austria, and the North German Federation stormed into Italy from the North. Italy was fully occupied and during this British troops were losing in Northern Germany as well. The war reached its end not long after a successful battle on the island of Great Britain.
It ended in a disastrous defeat for Italy and the United Kingdom. And also with the collapse of Italy's power it left Sicily unrivaled in their location, making them a recognized Great Power. This also stopped British attempts at gaining influence over Sicily and getting exclusive trade rights.
Italy’s intentions were obvious to Sicily, Italy wanted to annex Sicily, and Apulia was only the start and at the same time Britain wanted to put Sicily under its sphere of influence getting exclusive trading rights which would destroy the Sicilian economy, as tariffs were Sicily's main source of income. Sicily didn’t want this at all. Because of Sicily’s friendship with the other European Great Powers and Sicily’s strategic location in the Mediterranean. They came to support Sicily. Countries such as Austria, which owned some Italian lands, also did not like the idea of a united Italy, considering it as a threat. However Sicily's ally France, in the end did not support Sicily nor Italy. Mostly because of Sicilian intentions to annex Egypt making them hesitant to keep their alliance with Sicily and because of the amount of support for Sicily from the other Great Powers making them afraid to support Italy. France remained mostly neutral, only giving slight aid to Italy by allowing British troops military access.
At the time of the war the Royal Sicilian Army and the Royal Sicilian Navy outnumbered Italy, especially Naval wise. Sicily also had carved out an empire in the Mediterranean while Italy was just a newly formed state. Italy was certain that they would need help. Italy turned to all their European allies, but the only one to help them was Britain. However, when Italian forces began to invade Sicily, Sicily faced heavy losses while Italian losses were minimal. This was mostly because of Sicily’s industrial boom. The majority of Sicily’s money was spent on investments leaving the military underpaid. Sicily still remained unoccupied by Italian forces, forces from the North German Federation defeated Italian forces invading Sicily. This secured the Sicilian homeland. Sicily also moved all of their Fleets to the Strait of Gibraltar to prevent British forces from reaching Sicilian territory. Italy ended up fully occupied by German, Austrian, and Russian forces. Despite all this, Britain did not surrender because of demands made by the Russian Empire and the North German Federation. Because of Britain's refusal to accept German and Russian demands, Sicilian Allies planned an invasion of the island of Great Britain. Sicily did not take part in the invasion. The forces only consisted of North German, Russian, and Austrian soldiers. Sicilian Allied forces crossed the Strait of Dover and began to occupy British Provinces. This was alarming to the British, as this was the first time foreign forces occupied the British homeland in a very long time. The British still put up heavy resistance, this still brought the British closer to surrender. The attacks on the island of Great Britain were considered a success.
Garibaldi’s Redshirts were rebels trying to unify Italy with Sicily. These rebels had already made several rebellions before the war, one in which they even occupied all of Sicily, this was known as the Second Redshirt Rebellion. In the Second Redshirt Rebellion most of the redshirts were killed and Sicily was re-taken. The rebels that fought in the Sicilian War were not very successful and were defeated quickly.
Sicily in 1880
At around the time of the war, Sicily was just going through an industrial revolution, being behind most of the European countries in industrialization they wanted to modernize. Factories were being built all over Sicily. Sicily considered industrial progress important, and diverted money from military forces to work towards building industrial capability. This proved to be a big mistake, for if it wasn’t for the North German forces Sicily would have lost the Battle of Naples and would have been occupied by Italian troops. In 1880 Sicily had also expanded, recently taking the region of Konya from the Ottoman Empire, and also had plans of annexing the last provinces of Egypt. Which France greatly opposed, causing an end to the Franco-Sicilian Entente and leading to France's support of Italy and the United Kingdom. Though France declared neutrality.
Though Italy only declared war for Apulia, they wanted to annex all of Sicily in the end. Italy thought they could do this, for many reasons. One of them being that Italy expected the Great Powers to be on bad terms with Sicily. With the rapid expansion being done by Sicily, Italy thought this angered the Great Powers of Europe. Especially France and Russia. For Russia recently fought a war with France and Sicily ending in a stalemate, and the previous war between France and Sicily over Algeria which ended in a humiliating defeat for France. But despite all this, Sicily and Russia managed to end their hostilities and ended up forming an alliance. France also formed an alliance with Sicily though it was certain this alliance would break and the two countries would end up at war because of conflicts in Egypt. Sicily also allied with Austria, who greatly opposed a united Italy, mostly because Austria owned many Italian provinces and assumed they would be next if Sicily fell. Sicily also got on good terms with the North German Federation and formed an alliance with them. Italy was allied with France and Germany, but neither came to support Italy, France feared Sicily’s allies so they remained neutral but broke their alliance with Sicily. Germany seeing that Russia fully supported Sicily, came to Sicily's aid.
Italy thought that the only European powers that would consider supporting Sicily were the North German Federation and the Austrian Empire, as they were the only countries that didn't have previous conflicts with Sicily. Italy knew Austria wanted to support Sicily but also knew the North German Federation would be unsure who to support. In a worst case scenario, the North German Federation and Austria would support Sicily but the superior armies of France and Russia would be able to defeat them, not to mention that the United Kingdom would give Naval support which could counter the Sicilian Navy that was much superior to Italy's. Italy’s predictions were far off which proved to be disastrous.
The Sicilian front took place in of course, Sicily. Italian troops moved in towards Sicily attacking Naples. Sicily, being unprepared for the assault suffered heavy losses. In the battle of Naples Sicily had 58,000 troops, but when it ended only had 17,000. Italian troops still lost because the North German Federation helped Sicilian troops and crushed the Italian forces. Italy failed to launch any more attacks on Sicily after this, as all Italian troops were busy fighting the German, Russian, and Austrian invaders from the North.
The largest and most destructive front in the war was in Northern Italy, Italian forces were greatly outnumbered, and because Sicily blockaded the Strait of Gibraltar, British forces couldn’t send help. All of Italy’s military forces were destroyed and Italy was occupied completely by German, Russian, and Austrian forces. During this Italian infrastructure was destroyed and Italy’s status as a Great Power was lost due to the devastation of its economy and military.
Though France was neutral in the war, they allowed British troops military access, British troops managed to reach the North German Federation but were defeated, after this Britain took a completely defensive approach, refusing to surrender because of demands made by Russia and the North German Federation. This was met with an invasion of the island of Great Britain. Russia, Germany, and Austria all considered this a risky move. 124,000 troops all Russian, German, and Austrian passed the Strait of Dover. They managed to occupy some territory and won some battles against British forces. Sicilian troops did not take part in this invasion, all Sicilian troops were kept in Tunis and Suez in case France or the Ottoman Empire broke their neutrality. Though the invasion was successful at first, Britain had more forces to use against the invasion and was fairly confident they could repel the invasion. Soon enough though the allies of Sicily were able to make peace with Britain ending the war.
Blockade of the Strait of Gibraltar
Sicily wanted to defend the Sicilian homeland at all costs, in a risky move Sicily sent all of their ships to the strait of Gibraltar blockading so British troops could not reach Sicily. This proved to be successful, though no fighting took place, it kept the British away from Sicilian territory. Britain instead invaded from the North, entering the North German Federation, some armies were sent to fight in Italy but never made it there being defeated by Austrian and Russian Armies also on their way to Italy.
Because of this war, Sicily secured its independence and Sicily’s main rival Italy was destroyed. Sicily was finally recognized as a Great Power in the world. This ended Britain’s attempts of putting Sicily under their sphere of influence and greatly improved Sicily’s power in Europe. Sicily was known as the ruler of the Mediterranean. This also caused a rise in Sicilian nationalism getting rid of Sicilian desires to become part of Italy. Sicily, after decades of expansion and wars had finally given itself a name as a world power.