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War of Italian Independence
350px-Battaglia di Pastrengo

18 May 1831


2 January 1833


Northern Italy, Central Italy, Switzerland, Adriatic Sea


French victory, Italian border changes

Major battles:

Alessandria, Sondrio, Novi Ligure, Ferrara, Viterbo, Battle of La Spezia, Ravenna, Siena, Merano, Rimni, Vermiglio, Ceto, Trento


France France

Flag of the Kingdom of SardiniaSardinia-Piedmont
Flag of the Papal States (1808-1870)Papal States
Switzerland Switzerland

Flag of the Habsburg MonarchyAustrian Empire

Grand Duchy of TuscanyTuscany
800px-Flag of the Duchy of Lucca.svgLucca

Casualties and Losses



The War of Italian Independence was a major war involving France and Austria, and their Italian and south European allies. The war is seen as one of the pivotal steps toward the unification of Italy.
The war closely followed two sides; France, Sardinia-Piedmont, the Papal States, and Switzerland, against the Austrian Empire, Tuscany, Lucca, and Parma. Following the Austrian annexation of Modena and the increased influence over the Italian states this brought, France invaded Austria on 18 May 1831. The war would last for almost two years and take place primarily within Central Italy, Northern Italy, and parts of the Swiss border.


On 19 April 1831 the duchy of Modena was annexed by the Austrian Empire. This move was seen as an unjustified action by France, who at the time was largely in competition for dominance of the peninsula. France begin the mobilization of her armies almost immediately.


On 18 May 1831 war was officially declared between France and Austria, as French and Sardinian soldiers begin marching into Austrian Lombardy. The large Austrian garrison in Milan was ordered west into Sardinia-Piedmont, meeting an Italian force at the Battle of Alessandria. The Italians were sent into retreat back toward the French line.
The Austrians continued to advance toward Genoa, despite one of their supply lines in the north cut. The Austrian advance is finally halted at the Battle of Novi Ligure. The Austrian army, meeting the bulk of the French force tactically retreats into Parma.

Alps Campaign

A month after the outbreak of the war a secondary French army, heavily aided by their Swiss allies launched an attack on the Austrians from the north. For days the army marched despite the often cold weather. One 3 June the army emerged, taking the Austrians by surprise. The fleeing Austrian flank abandoned the city of Sondrio, creating a large gap between the front in the west and the nearest Austrian reinforcements in Trento. The French army would continue to harass the Austrian supply lines, succeeding in minor skirmishes across the Swiss border.
Following the failure of the Austrian Thirty Day Offensive, the northern army's next victory was against much needed Austrian reinforcements at the Battle of Merano. Austrian forces in central Italy are forced to fall back to Rimini.
As the new year began the French renewed their campaign, launching attacks closer to the stronghold at Trento. A large Austrian force meets the French at the Battle of Vermiglio on 4 January 1832. The French are crushed and the remaining forces retreat back into French lines, ending the Alps campaign.

Thirty Day Offensive

On 5 June the massive, Thirty Day Offensive was launched as North Italians under Austrian command begin a southern invasion with the goal of pacifying Rome, who up until this point has mostly been harassing southern supply lines and halting Tuscan advances. Four days later Ferrara had fallen. The city's lost was a massive blow to Papal morale, who had stationed a large portion of their forces within the city walls. The garrison retreated south, saving valuable artillery.
After almost two weeks of unsuccessful offensives and almost constant warfare, Italian troops from Rome break through Tuscan-Austrian defenses near Viterbo, advancing north. In an effort to surround Tuscany and aid the Italian troops in the south, France heads southeast. The Austrian army in Parma pursues them south, only to be surrounded by a smaller Italian army from the north. At the Battle of La Spezia the Austrian army is annihilated in a crushing defeat. On 13 June the Austrian campaign was renewed as the army in Ferrara continues its advance south along the east coast almost parallel to the French army in the west. The city of Ravenna is besieged by the Austrian army. With the French army on the outskirts of Florence, the Tuscans launch an attack against the enemy Italians in the south. At the Battle of Siena the Tuscans are finally pacified. The Papal forces continue the occupation of Tuscany as the main force east.
Following the northern victory at Merano, the French and Italian forces pursued the Austrians to Rimini. On 5 July the Austrians retreat from the city, officially ending the Thirty Days Offensive. The city of Ravenna is liberated soon after.

Advance Toward Trento

Following the defeat of the French-Swiss forces during the Alps Campaign three months earlier, on 4 April 1832 a second offensive was launched into northern Italy. The refreshed French forces first encounter the Austrians at the Battle of Ceto where they manage to rout the Austrian forces. On the 30 May the combined French and Italian forces begin the Siege of Trento. After a month of heavy artillery bombardments from both sides, poor weather, and non-stop fighting the city was taken.


On 2 January 1833 the Treaty of Rome was signed, officially ending hostilities between France and Austria. Tuscany and central Italy are annexed by the Papal States, up to and including the city of Ravenna. Austria annexes the former Papal States' territories north of Ravnenna including the cities of Ferrara and Bologna. Lucca is also annexed by Austria. The state of Northern italy is formed as a French vassal, encompassing Sardinia-Piedmont, Parma, and northern Lombardy.
The result of the War of Italian Independence would eventually lead to full Italian unification.

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