Compare and contrast the goals and methods of Cavour in ltaly and Bismarck in Germany  

Expert Answers
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Bismarck and Cavour were superb diplomats who relied on promises from other nations to either assist or at least to not intervene in unifying their respective countries. Both were experts at that which Bismarck called realpolitik. Bismarck perhaps best expressed the philosophy shared by both in his famous statement:

It is not by speeches and majority resolutions that the great questions of the time are decided – that was the big mistake of 1848 and 1849 – but by blood and iron.

Cavour had hoped to build a constitutional state in Italy centered in Sardinia and had hoped to receive help from France under Napoleon III. He managed to unleash tremendous nationalism in Italy, even though Napoleon III eventually abandoned him. When unification appeared to be complete under the more radical Guiseppe Garibaldi, Cavour organized a plebiscite whereby the people of southern Italy united with Sardinia. Italy thus became a united Kingdom under King Victor Emmanuel. Cavour became Italy's first Prime Minister.

Bismarck cared little for public opinion, and was inclined to accomplish his goals by military means if need be. His primary aim was to unite Germany under Prussian leadership and exclude Austria from the new German nation. He did so by provoking a war with Austria after first securing France's neutrality, again under Napoleon III. He offered Austria generous terms at the end of the war, and then attacked France. This was the famous Franco-Prussian War. At the end of the war, Bismarck publicly humiliated Napoleon III, and had Frederick Wilhelm I crowned Emperor of Germany at Versailles. Germany thus became an Empire, with Bismarck as its first chancellor.  

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Bismarck and Cavour used a complex series of diplomatic maneuvers, including wars, to unify their respective nations. Bismarck, who served as the chief minister under the Prussian King Wilhelm I, used these methods to unify Germany under the Prussian monarch. He did this through a complex series of machinations that included wars against Denmark, Austria, and France. In the process, he excluded Austria from a role in this new Germany, which was finally unified after the victory by Prussia and the other German states over France in 1871. He also placated liberals opposed to the autocratic rule of the Prussian monarch by instituting several liberal reforms, including old-age pensions for most Germans and other social security reforms. 

Bismarck called his approach to statecraft realpolitik, and it was an approach also pursued by Count Camillo di Cavour of Sardinia. Cavour was a longtime advocate of a constitutional monarchy for Italy under the control of the king of Sardinia-Piedmont (a situation very much analogous to Prussian control of Germany.) Cavour sought to purge the region of Austrian influence by appealing to French leader Napoleon III, who duly went to war against Austria. The results of this war eventually led to the unification of the northern half of Italy under Sardinia-Piedmont, and Cavour began to negotiate with revolutionary nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was leading his Red Shirts in the overthrow of the monarch of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Although Cavour died before the union of northern Italy with the South (and the Papal States) was complete, it was his influence that led the entire peninsula to be unified under the control of King Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia.