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Great Britain and the Unifying of Italy

A Special Relationship?


  • Explores how Britain used its neutrality and sympathy for the Italian national cause to aid the establishment of a unified Italian state

  • Extends the analysis of British interest in Italian unification past 1861 into the following decade, during which Italy’s unity remained fragile and incomplete

  • Emphasises the strategic, rather than cultural, dimensions of British sympathy and how they intended to mould the newly unified Italian state in the image of Victorian Britain with a view to a future alliance


Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)

Table of contents

About this book


This book explores the interest of British leaders, diplomats and consuls in the unifying of Italy. It is the first study to provide a comprehensive narrative of British policy on Italian affairs between the formation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 and its consolidation as a new nation-state through the acquisitions of Venice in 1866 and Rome in 1870. Commencing with an investigation of the place of Italy within the context of mid-Victorian Britain’s global interests, the book investigates the origins of British sympathy for Italian nationalism during the 1850s, before charting the development of British foreign policy regarding Italy during its unification and consolidation. An emphasis is placed upon the tendency of British leaders and representatives to consider it their responsibility to guide the new Italy through its formative years, and upon their desire to draw Italy into a ‘special relationship’ with Britain as the dominant power within the Mediterranean.


Victorian Foreign Policy Liberals Whigs New Italy Conservative Party Lord Stanley Lord Clarendon William Gladstone Emanuele d’Azeglio Garibaldi Lord Russell

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Leeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

About the authors

O. J. Wright is Senior Lecturer in European History at Leeds Beckett University, UK. He has previously held posts at Lancaster University, Kingston University, the University of Worcester, and Ulster University. He is the author of a range of journal articles published in European History Quarterly, The Historical Journal, Crime, History and Societies, the International History Review, and History: Journal of the Royal Historical Society.

Bibliographic information