A great deal of what was considered essential to a modern people was lacking in Italy, but how much of those dreams actually trickle down from the educated few to the mass of rural residents is uncertain.
Over 90 percent of Italians spoke incomprehensible local dialects by the 1860s.
The concept of race was not a unifying one in Italy.
The idea of a pure Italian race was not supported by the fact that so many people from other areas of the Mediterranean had mixed with the indigenous people of the Italian peninsula.
Many northern Italians thought of southern Italians as inferior.
Despite a brief period of unity under Napoleon, the long-separated regions of north, central, and southern Italy retained their vaguest sense of a common identity.
The Apennine Mountains, running down the center of the peninsula, contributed to the isolation of villages and towns distant from the coastline.
The term "imagined community" of national identity is suggestive in the Italian case.
Giuseppe Mazzini was probably the most important figure in that imagined realm.
Two years after Herder's death, Mazzini blended the German theorist's ideas with those of others in a highly readable style.
By the 1830s and 1840s, he was involved in an underground of nationalist agitation, and was one of the people who saw a mystically redemptive mission in nationalism.
He founded Young Italy, which plotted armed uprisings to drive out the Austrian occupiers.
Although he became an inspiration to many Italians, Mazzini's initial efforts were failures and he became yet another symbol of the political impotence of the Romantics.
Giuseppe Garibaldi was a colorful, charis matic man of action.
He was the epitome of the Romantic hero and was active in both Latin America and Europe.
The founding father of modern Italy is Count Camilo di Cavour, who served as prime minister of Piedmont-Sardinia from 1852 to his death in 1861.
A man of noble origin but with the habits and tastes of a no-nonsense businessman, he introduced a wide range of liberal reforms to his country.
It is hard to imagine the unification of Italy without the peculiar talents of both.
The power relations in Europe were shifting.
Even after the antirevolutionary surge of 1849-50, the future of the concert of Europe was not certain.
The emergence of a united Italy and Germany in 1871 marked a time when that concert, or the ideal of mutual consultations among the great powers, was largely ignored.
In the four to five decades after 1871, there was a new kind of balance of power, with new alliances and a major shift in the relative strengths of the major continental powers, Germany rising the most and Russia declining or at least not keeping up.
In the early 1850s, under Napoleon III's leadership, France seemed to be taking up anew the role of Europe's trouble-maker, but not by sending out armies.
Napoleon favored a range of "modern" ideas, among them a new system of nation-states, beginning with a unified Italy.
In domestic and foreign policy, Napoleon's goals lacked clarity and consistency.
Like his uncle, he began suppressing the left and establishing a dictatorship based on vague promises but impressive electoral successes.
The new Napoleon's right-wing inclinations seemed obvious when he sent troops into Italy to restore the Roman Republic.
His foreign policy in the early 1850s shifted toward more modern, progressive perspectives by exploiting the weaknesses of the two main antimodern powers, tsarist Russia and Habsburg Austria.
In 1854, Napoleon joined Turkey's side in the war between Turkey and Russia.
He was able to get Great Britain and Austria to join him in opposing Russia's plan to expand into the Turkish Empire.
The most intense battles of the war were limited to the peninsula of the Black Sea.
The two provinces that would join to become Romania in 1859 were moved into by Austria.
Some 750,000 military deaths were registered during the war, a large percentage of them not directly the result of combat but rather of disease and inadequate care for the wounded.
Florence Nightingale was able to convince authorities to allow women to act as army nurses because of those problems.
The role of journalists in reporting on this war was related to a "modern" development of both immediate and long-range importance.
They had a lot to say about the leadership and disregard for the welfare of the soldier.
Wars would never be the same after female nurses and reporters joined them.
Russia was humiliated in this conflict.
Alexander II commenced a comprehensive program of internal reform after Nicholas I died.
In 1856, a congress of the great powers was held in Paris, in order to fashion a peace that would satisfy a wide range of competing interests.
The Paris peace settlement of 1856 is seen as an important catalyst for many subsequent developments, in particular setting up conditions favorable to the creation of new nation-states.
The issues that led to the conflict were addressed in the Paris settlement, as well as the principles governing relations between the major powers.
Cavour brought Piedmont-Sardinia on the side of those attacking Russia in order to influence that refashioning.
He had made contacts with Napoleon III.
In the spirit of realism that came to prevail after 1848, Cavour reasoned that Italians could not hope to oust the Austrians from the peninsula without a major power.
Napoleon was the one who secretly revealed his plans for provoking war with Austria.
He was involved in the anti-Habsburg conspiracies.