Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour

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Portrait of Camillo Cavour by Francesco Hayez

Camillo Paolo Filippo Giulio Benso, Count of Cavour, of Isolabella and of Leri (August 10, 1810 – June 6, 1861), better known as Camillo Cavour or simply Cavour, was an Italian politician and statesman. He was an important person in the movement toward the Unification of Italy (Italian: Risorgimento).

Cavour was born in Turin. Until 1831 he worked as a military officer.[1] Later he decided to travel in Europe to learn more about the effects of the industrial revolution. These trips helped him to know and understand the principles of the British Liberal system.

After four years, he returned to Piedmont. He took charge of agriculture and the economy in general. He worked for the spread of schools. During that time, his business and banking activities made him one of the richest men in the Piedmont.[2]

From 1832 to 1848, Cavour was the mayor of Grinzane (now called Grinzane Cavour to honor him).[3] In 1847, he founded the newspaper Il Risorgimento. According to him, the process of economic and social development - that he promoted in the previous years - could be implemented only after a deep restructuring of the political institutions[2].

In 1850, Cavour became famous because he advocating the "Siccardi Law" that diminished the privileges of the Catholic clergy. In the same year, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia, Massimo D'Azeglio, chose him as Minister of Agriculture, Trade and Navy. Later he also became Minister of Finance. After D'Azeglio resigned on November 4, 1852, Cavour became Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia.[4]

Cavour's political program wanted to become the Kingdom of Sardinia a constitutional State based on moderate and progressive liberalism, so he dedicated himself to a radical renewal of the economy. He modernized and valorized agriculture, strengthened the industrial system and promoted trade with the major European powers[5]. However, his liberal program was criticized by both the "Historical Left" - that cared for the poorest citizens - both the "Historical Right", who considered him as a destroyer of conservative traditions[2].

In 1858, he signed a treaty of alliance between the Kingdom of Sardinia and the French Empire against the Austrian Empire. In the following year, there was the Second Italian War of Independence. In that war, the Piedmontese and the French defeated the Austrians, who at the time held power in Italy.[4]

After the armistice of Villafranca and Giuseppe Garibaldi's expedition in the South (1860-1861), the unification of Italy was completed. Cavour became the first President of united Italy. He was also the first Minister of Foreign Affairs.[4]. He was the leader of the Liberal parliamentary group. He died of an illness in Turin.[4]

References[change | change source]

Note[change | change source]

  1. Beales and Biagini, The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy, p. 107.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Breve biografia di Camillo Cavour
  3. Hearder, Cavour, Bari, 2000, p. 26.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 CAVOUR, Camillo Benso conte di, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani
  5. Mack Smith, Cavour, pp. 68-74