During the 18th century, intellectual changes began to dismantle traditional values and institutions. Liberal ideas from France and Britain spread rapidly, and from 1789 the French Revolution became the genesis of "liberal Italians". A series of political and military events resulted in a unified kingdom of Italy in 1861. The settlements reached in 1815 at the Vienna Congress had restored Austrian domination over the Italian peninsula but had left Italy completely fragmented . The Congress had divided the territory among a number of European nations and the victors of the Napoleonic Wars. The Kingdom of Sardinia recovered Piedmont (Piemonte), Nice, and Savoy and acquired Genoa.
There were three major obstacles to unity at the time the congress took place, i.e. (a) the Austrian occupation of Lombardy and Venice in the north, (b) the principality under the sovereignty of the pope, i.e. the Papal States that controlled the center of the Italian peninsula; and (c) the existence of various states that had maintained independence, such as the Kingdom of Sardinia, also called Piedmont-Sardinia, which located at the French border had slowly expanded since the Middle Ages and was considered the most advanced state in Italy.
The Kingdom of Sardinia consisted of the island of Sardinia and the region called Piedmont in northwestern Italy. The Kingdom of Sicily that occupied the island of Sicily and the entire southern half of the Italian peninsula . Other small states were the duchies of Toscana (Tuscany), Parma, and Modena. In each of these states, the monarchs (all relatives of the Habsburgs, the ruling family of Austria) exercised absolute powers of government.
The story of Italy's unification is a bit more complicated. The main figure in Italian unification was Camillo Cavour. Cavour was the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. He successfully modernized his kingdom...