This video is part of a series of 24 animated maps.

View series: Europe and nations, 1815-1914

An example of an animated map

The Roman Question

This map is part of a series of 24 animated maps showing the history of Europe and nations, 1815-1914.

In the eyes of patriots, Rome is the natural capital of a unified Italy, but the pope refuses to relinquish the heritage of Saint Peter.

A partisan of Italian unity, Napoleon III is opposed, however, to the annexation of Rome by the Italian kingdom, in order to manage catholic opinion in France. This support for the pope is manifested thanks to the presence of a French garrison in Rome since 1849.

First in 1862, Paris forces the Italian government to oppose the taking of Rome by Garibaldi, whose volunteers are dispersed at Aspromonte.

In 1864, an agreement seems to have been reached; Napoleon III promises to promote the incorporation of Venetia. In return, Victor Emmanuel is committed to respect the pope’s States, and transfers, symbolically, his capital of Turin to Florence.

Nevertheless, once annexation is realized, the Roman question returns to the forefront, and Napoleon III opposes a new attempt by Garibaldi to take over the city. The confrontation takes place in Mentana on November 3, 1867, and creates, for the Italians, a deep resentment towards France.

Three years later, the Franco-Prussian War leads to the retreat of the French garrison from Rome.

The city is then able to become the capital of Italy, while the pope declares himself a prisoner at the Vatican.