IGCSE History Component-2: Specimen Questions with Answers 5 - 5 of 6

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Liberalism & Nationalism in Italy & Germany, 1848 - 1871

The Problems of Italian Nationalists

Read the sources and then answer both the parts of the question.

Source A
  • It is not from outside that we fear that we shall see obstacles put in the way of Italian Independence. Alas! It has to be said that it is Italy itself which now, as always, manages to produce her own most cruel enemies and to raise almost insurmountable obstacles to the achievement of the long and painful process of her freedom. These obstacles are the absence of any bonds of unity. There is a antagonism which continues between provinces and even between towns. There is the lack of patriotic feeling and the impossibility of achieving united action. There is also a situation that always calls in the foreigner to re-establish peace and order. The enemies are the political parties and enthusiasts, victims of impossible and wild dreams who willingly sacrifice the interests of their country to their hatreds or fantasies. Such men abandoned the army of Piedmont when it faced Austria.
  • The Belgian Ambassador reports the situation in Rome in his journal, September 1848.
Source B
  • You will find full proof of Austria՚s programme to have a undue influence over the internal affairs of Piedmont. She wishes to cripple Victor Emmanuel and his government and make them powerless in the future. The plan calls upon the king, by a simple royal order, to cancel laws passed by the Parliament of Piedmont. If the king agrees to Austria՚s demand he would violate the Constitution that he had promised to maintain at the very beginning of his reign. The Austrian demand is an obvious attempt to crush a young king when he has problems. I hope that Britain and France, by acting firmly, can quickly prove that they have the power and willingness to resist oppression. This will be the best way of avoiding war breaking out again.
  • The British Ambassador in Piedmont reports to the British Foreign Minister, April 1849
Source C
  • In Sicily, Garibaldi has let himself become intoxicated with his success. Instead of carrying out the annexation of Sicily by Piedmont, he dreams of conquering Naples and unifying all of Italy. It would be very helpful if moderate advice came from Britain, for which he has great respect. I know that you cannot make direct contact with Garibaldi but you could seek the help of others. The annexation of Sicily by Piedmont would get out of an embarrassment because it would bring back Garibaldi into a regular situation. If annexation is delayed, I predict the greatest difficulties. As for Naples, I do not know precisely what to say. I f Naples did really agree to surrender Sicily and would help us to free Rome, I believe that we could come to an agreement.
  • Cavour՚s letter to Piedmont Ambassador in Britain, July 1860.
Source D
  • The work to which we consecrated our life is accomplished. After long trials, Italy has its capital. Our people after centuries of separation, find themselves for the first time solely reunited. We have proclaimed the separation of Church and State. Having recognized the independence of the spiritual authority, we are convinced that Rome, the capital of Italy, will continue to be peaceful and respected seat of the papacy.
  • Economic and financial affairs claim our most careful attention. Now that Italy is established, it is necessary to make it prosperous by putting its finances in order. Good finances will be the means of re-enforcing our military organization. Our greatest desire is for peace.
  • A vast range of activity opens before you. I hope that the national unity which we have gained will make less bitter the struggles of parties that we have seen in the past. A brilliant future opens before us.
  • King Victor Emmanuel 2, speaking to Parliament at the declaration of a United Italy, 1871.

Question 5 (1 of 2 Based on Passage)


Describe in Detail


How far do Sources A and D agree that Austria was the greatest problem faced by the Italian nationalists? [Marks 15]


  • Context: Austria was a problem of greater or lesser importance for Italian nationalists from 1815 to 1866. After 1815 and the Congress of Vienna, Austria was the great power which dominated the politics of Italy, even if France tried to limit that power, as in 1830 – 32. Not only did Austria control two of the wealthiest states of the peninsula, Lombardy and Venetia, but it exercised indirect control over most, if not all, of the remaining states.
  • A conservative power ruling over many nations, Austria was threatened by any widespread expression of liberal or nationalist ideas, whether in print or on the streets. When, in 1848, revolutions spread from south to north in Italy, Austria was inevitably affected as well; its longstanding political leader, Metternich, was forced to stand down. Subsequently there were revolutions in Lombardy and Venetia. In Milan, the people forced the retreat of the Austrian army under Radetzky. Austria though weakened, remained a problem for the nationalists, however. The so-called war of independence of 1848 – 49 against Austria, led by Piedmont under the cautious leadership of Charles Albert, resulted in an Austrian victory at Custoza.
  • Many Italians refused to join the war effort because they thought that Charles Albert wanted to expand Piedmont rather than unite Italy. In 1849, at Novara, Austrian forces defeated a second attempt by Piedmont to defeat Austria, which then went on to reassert Habsburg authority in Lombardy and Venetia. The revolutionary Roman Republic was crushed by French forces working on behalf of the Papacy. In the 1850s, Austria remained an obstacle to Italian unity. Only the military intervention of France on the side of Piedmont in 1858 – 59 forced the Habsburgs to give up Lombardy. Only the war with Prussia in 1866 forced the Habsburgs to give up Venetia to the new Italian state.
  • Analysis: Source A briefly mentions Austria at the end of the extract. Even then, the reference is used to reinforce the Belgian ambassador՚s main point, namely the disunity of Italian nationalists, rather than emphasize the obstacle that Austria provided. Disunity explains the defeat of Piedmont in 1848 according to Source A, a defeat which allowed Austria a few months later to make the demands on Piedmont contained in Source B.
  • This second source supports the assertion that Austria was the greatest problem faced by Italian nationalists, if the state of Piedmont could be seen as nationalistic, which is doubtful. Source C illustrates the most famous of divisions between nationalists, that between Cavour and Garibaldi in 1860. Of the two, Garibaldi was more clearly the nationalist, Cavour being firstly a Piedmontese politician and secondly an Italian nationalist.
  • The text refers to Garibaldi՚s invasion of Sicily, events with which candidates should be familiar. Source D is a speech made by the king of the new Italy, who also was the former King of Piedmont mentioned in Source B after unification had been completed. He does not mention Austria at all. The speech is optimistic. The only problem mentioned is financial, though political divisions are alluded to. Thus, analysis of the sources reveals one source, B, supporting the assertion, the other three against – on the surface, at least. The four sources need evaluating as well.
  • Evaluation: Candidates can use contextual knowledge to put Source D to one side. Since 1866 Austria had been no problem to the new Italy. In that year, having lost the war with Prussia, Austria had to hand over Venetia to Italy. In 1870, Italy gained control of the Papal States, including Rome. This was a time of triumph for Italians. Victor Emmanuel II, in his first public speech, would be unlikely to mention any problems at all.
  • Source D is both unreliable and of little specific use in answering the question. Only one of the other sources focuses on Austria. Source B does not explicitly refer to Italian nationalists. Contextual knowledge should be used to show how Charles Albert, Victor Emmanuel՚s father and the King of Piedmont until Austria՚s victory at Novara, had set himself up as a (rather cautious) leader of Italian nationalists. Most nationalists, however, were suspicious of his motive and his commitment to the cause.
  • In addition, the British ambassador hopes for Anglo-French action against Austria. He does not specify whether the action was to be diplomatic or military, but in the highly-charged atmosphere of 1849 such a hope hardly suggests the impartiality to be expected of a diplomat. Source A mentions Austria only in its final sentence. It is focused on the great disunity of Italian nationalists, albeit without identifying any groups or individuals.
  • Contextual knowledge could be used to help prove the reliability of Source A, as nationalists looked to the Pope, to Mazzini and Garibaldi and even to Piedmont in 1848 – 49. Finally, Source C, written some 11 – 12 years after the 1848 revolutions, shows the continued disunity among nationalists, a point easily supported by further contextual knowledge. Thus source evaluation shows the sources which challenge the assertion to be the more reliable.

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