Question :Unification of Italy was a one-man show but the unification of Italy was teamwork. Critically examine the statement. (10)
Answer: Historically significant events take place only after a lot of personal and impersonal factors align. Though individuals like Bismarck may be at the forefront, they alone can’t achieve monumental tasks like the unification of Germany.
Different phases of Italian unification were led by different personalities viz. Mazzini, Count Cavour, Garibaldi, etc. In each phase, these men spoke to a popular feeling i.e., Italian nationalism. Some of the stages of Italian unification were completed through referendum also. So, the people deserve more praise for a successful unification.
On the other hand, the moment we start reading about the unification of Germany, Bismarck starts appearing everywhere. Though Bismarck largely dictated how the German Unification will play out, a lot of supporting factors went into play.
- The sense of German nationalism was old and strong. Due to the actions of Napoleon and German romanticism, Germany was ripe for unification. It only needed someone to manage the process.
- Without the Prussian reforms movement and Zollverein that put Prussia at the forefront of the unification project, Bismarck would have been helpless.
- Bismarck was given a free hand by the Prussian monarchy.
- Bismarck only channelized the energy of German nationalism which wanted unification. Otherwise, it would have devoured the Prussian monarchy also.
Thus, we can say that both Italian and German nationalism succeeded mainly because of popular support. Without, favorable public opinion and conducive material conditions, individuals can hardly do much.