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Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg and Italy

  • Lawrence Sondhaus (a1)

In recent years, the personality and policies of Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg have continued to attract the attention of historians. Was Schwarzenberg a Realpolitiker attempting a decisive turn from the policies of Prince Clemens von Metternich, as the traditional interpretation would have it? Or is the revisionist view more accurate: that Schwarzenberg was an old-fashioned conservative, whose policies had much more in common with those of Metternich than previous generations of historians have believed?

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1 Those most instrumental in sparking the reappraisal of Schwarzenberg have been Paul W. Schroeder and, in recent years, Roy A. Austensen. For the most concise statement of the revisionist view of Schwarzenberg, see Austensen's, Felix Schwarzenberg: Realpolitiker or Metternichian? The Evidence of the Dresden Conference,” Milteilungen des österreichischen Staatsarchivs 30 (1977): 97101. For a recent critique of Austensen's thesis see Sked, Alan, The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire, 1815–1918 (London: Longman, 1989), pp. 154157.

2 Austensen, , “Austria and the ‘Struggle for Supremacy in Germany,’ 1848–1864,” journal of Modern History 52 (1980): 205, notes that critics have pointed to Schwarzenberg's relative inexperience in German affairs.

3 Schwarzenberg, Adolph, Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, Prime Minister of Austria 1848–1852 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1946), pp. 1516; Jenks, William, Francis Joseph and the Italians, 1849–1859 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1978), p. 16. Ironically, Solaro was a conservative and, by post-1848 Italian standards, a staunch friend of Austria.

4 After Schwarzenberg's departure from Turin, Austria placed a duty on Piedmontese wine sales in Lombardy in retaliation for Sardinia's violation of a 1751 treaty commitment not to compete with Austria in the Swiss salt trade. Count Carl von Buol-Schauenstein, Schwarzenberg's successor, was unable to resolve the conflict. See Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, p. 8; Buol to Metternich, Turin, June 9, 1846, Vienna, Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Politisches Archiv (hereafter cited as HHSA, PA), XI, Carton 42: Korrespondenz mit Sardinien 1830–1847, fol. 257; Buol to Metternich, Turin, June 15, 1846, ibid., fol. 260; Metternich to Buol, Vienna, July 20, 1846, ibid., fol. 263. On the railway question, Austria feared that Sardinia would link its own port of Genoa with central Europe via Switzerland, threatening the future prosperity of the Vienna-Trieste line then under construction. See Buol to Metternich, Turin, February 9, 1847, ibid., fol. 284.

5 Schwarzenberg, , Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, p. 16.

6 Moscati, Ruggiero, Ferdinando II di Borbone nei documenti diplomatici austriaci (Naples: Edizioni scientifiche italiane, 1947), pp. 6171; Acton, Harold, The Last Bourbons of Naples, 1825–1861 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1961), pp. 161, 167.

7 Commercial friction between Austria and Naples centered around the competition in the Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean between the Austrian Lloyd and the Neapolitan state steamship line. On the question of revolutionary activity, the episode of the Bandiera brothers in 1844 had served to underscore the need for greater Austro-Neapolitan cooperation. See Sondhaus, Lawrence, The Habsburg Empire and the Sea: Austrian Naval Policy, 1797–1866 (West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1989), pp. 96, 97, 125–126.

8 Schwarzenberg, , Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, pp. 1718. Moscati, , Ferdinando ll, pp. 74120, provides an exhaustive account and analysis of the relationship between the king and Schwarzenberg from the time of the rapprochement until the revolution of 1848.

9 Acton, , The Last Bourbons, p. 198. When the king took a public oath to the new constitution on February 24, 1848, Schwarzenberg and his Russian and Prussian counterparts boycotted the ceremony. See ibid., p. 207.

10 Schroeder, Paul W., “Austria as an Obstacle to Italian Unity and Freedom, 1814–1861,” Austrian History Newsletter 3 (1962): 13.

11 See Ara, Angelo, “Karl Ludwig von Ficquelmont e il problema Lombardo-Veneto alia viglia della rivoluzione del 1848,” in Fra Austria e Italia: Dalle Cinque Giornate alla questione alto-atesina (Udine: Del Bianco editore, 1987), pp. 929. Ficquelmont, heir apparent to Metternich at the Ballhausplatz, was recalled to Vienna to become Hofkriegsrat president in a reorganized ministry.

12 On the situation aboard the Vulcano and the frigate Guerriera, see Sondhaus, , Austrian Naval Policy, pp. 152153.

13 Most notably Count Rudolf Lützow, ambassador in Rome, where the Austrian embassy was stormed by a mob on March 21. See Engel-Janosi, Friedrich, Österreich und der Vatikan 1846–1918, 2 vols. (Graz: Verlag Styria, 19581960), 1:3538, and Hudal, Alois, Die österreichische Vatikanbotschaft 1806–1918 (Munich: Pohl & Co., 1952), pp. 122123.

14 Naples declared war on Austria on April 7, 1848, and subsequently sent both land and sea forces to the northern Italian theater.

15 Schwarzenberg, , Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, p. 20. On the action at Goito, see Pieri, Piero, Storia militare del Risorgimento (Turin: Giulio Einaudi, 1962), p. 223.

16 Schwarzenberg, , Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, p. 20; Sked, Alan, The Survival of the Habsburg Empire: Radetzky, the Imperial Army and the Class War, 1848 (London: Longman, 1979), pp. 71 and 142. See also Taylor, A. J. P., The Italian Problem in European Diplomacy, 1847–1849 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1934), and Jennings, Lawrence C., France and Europe in 1848: A Study of French Foreign Affairs in Time of Crisis (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1973), passim. The Schwarzenberg mission to Innsbruck is also discussed in Pillersdorff's, Handschriftlicher Nachlass des Freiherrn von Pillersdorff (Vienna: Wilhelm Braumüller, 1863), pp. 210211, in which the retired minister-president, eager to salvage his own reputation, blames Wessenberg for wanting a diplomatic solution over Lombardy and Venetia in 1848. As far as the manpower question is concerned, Radetzky had fewer than 50,000 men in mid-May 1848 and over 110,000 by the first week of September. See Radetzky to Kriegsministerium, Verona, May 18, 1848, Vienna, Kriegsarchiv (hereafter cited as KA), Kriegsministerium, Präsidialreihe 1848/1707, and Radetzky to Wessenberg, Milan, September 7, 1848, HHSA, Staatskanzlei, Provinzen, Lombardo-Venezien, Carton 24: Korrespondenz mit Radetzky 1848, fol. 71–74.

17 While in Bohemia, Schwarzenberg failed in a bid for a seat in the new Austrian constituent assembly, which convened in Vienna on June 22. See Schwarzenberg, , Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, pp. 2021.

18 Sked, , The Survival of the Habsburg Empire, p. 200; Schwarzenberg, , Prince Felix zu Schwarzenberg, p. 21. The turn of events in northern Italy, a significant step toward the restoration of Habsburg power, was not universally appreciated in Austria, especially in German liberal circles. The new constituent assembly refused to vote thanks to the army for its victory at Custoza; Pillersdorff later recalled that at that time, “the notions prevailing with respect to the war in Italy were very confused.” See Pillersdorff, , Austria in 1848 and 1849: The Political Movement in Austria trans. Craskell, George (London: R. Bentley, 1850), p. 119.

19 von Hübner, Joseph Alexander, Une année de ma vie, 1848–1849 (Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie., 1891), pp. 542543; Sked, , The Survival of the Habsburg Empire, p. 152.

20 Hübner, , Une année de ma vie, pp. 359457, provides the most exhaustive account of this transition period.

21 See Kraehe, Enno E., “Foreign Policy and the Nationality Problem in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1800–67,” Austrian History Yearbook 3 (1967), pt. 3: 26. Sked, , The Survival of the Habsburg Empire, p. 196, also notes that before dispersing the Austrian constituent assembly in March 1849, Schwarzenberg tried to get Lombardy and Venetia to send representatives so that a message could be sent (to foreign powers) that the two provinces “still wanted to be inte-grated into the Habsburg Monarchy.”

22 Schwarzenberg finally secured an implicit Prussian guarantee of Lombardy-Venetia at the Dresden Conference in the spring of 1851; see page 23 below.

23 Rock, Kenneth W., “Felix Schwarzenberg, Military Diplomat,” Austrian History Yearbook 11 (1975): 8889.

24 Pieri, , Storia militare del Risorgimento, pp. 264277, comments extensively on the impact of this political instability on Sardinian military planning and readiness for a renewal of fighting.

25 Engel-Janosi, , Österreich und der Vatikan, 1:3738, 41–42.

26 Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, pp. 9798; Engel-Janosi, , Österreich und der Vatikan, 1:4551.

27 See Pieri, , Storia militare del Risorgimento, pp. 417435.

28 See Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, p. 98. Pieri, , Storia militare del Risorgimento, p. 440, discusses France's hesitation to join in the pursuit of Garibaldi, which ultimately enabled him to escape from Italy.

29 On Schwarzenberg and the Novara campaign see Rock, , “Felix Schwarzenberg, Military Diplomat,” p. 89.

30 Radetzky refused to relinquish troops after the armistice of August 1848 because he feared —correctly, as it turned out—that the Sardinians would resume fighting in a matter of months. He also had not forgiven Windischgrätz for his refusal to send his surplus troops to Italy after subduing the revolution in Prague in early June 1848. With Windischgrätz in command of Austrian operations against the Hungarians over the winter of 1848–49, Radetzky was determined to “return the favor.” According to the regimental and battalion histories in von Wrede's, AlphonsGeschichte der k.u.k. Wehrmacht: Die Regimenter, Corps, Bran-chen und Anstalten von 1618 bis Ende des XIX. jahrhunderts, 7 vols. (Vienna: L. W. Seidel & Sohn, 18931900), of the 119 infantry battalions and eight cavalry regiments active in Italy during 1848, only three infantry battalions and one cavalry regiment saw action in Hungary in 1849. In Radetzky to Schwarzenberg, Milan, April 17,1849, HHSA, PA, XL. Interna, Carton 64: Korrespondenz mit Radetzky 1849, fol. 195–198, the field marshal, in the wake of the victory at Novara, reaffirms his earlier contention that it would be “impossible” for him to spare troops for the Hungarian campaign.

31 Francis V fled to Vienna after the 1848 revolution in Modena. Charles III, whose father, Charles II, abdicated in March 1849 to clear the way for his accession, went to Piedmont in 1848 and tried to secure a commission in the Sardinian army for the war against Austria; failing in this quest, he went into exile in England and became a favorite at the court of Queen Victoria. See Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, pp. 7172.

32 The Tuscan campaign has been all but ignored by historians. Der Feldzug der österreichischen Armee in Halien im jahre 1849, 2 vols. (Vienna: Verlag von Karl Hölzl, 1854) 11:919, gives the most detailed account.

33 On the final stages of the blockade of Venice see Sondhaus, , Austrian Naval Policy, pp. 160162.

34 Radetzky felt he had good reason to be optimistic, for the change of monarchs was accompanied by the appointment of a conservative Savoyard monarchist, the aged General Claudio Gabriele de Launay, to the post of minister-president. A veteran of the allied campaign in Italy in 1813–14, Launay was greeted by Radetzky's headquarters as an old comrade in arms. Hess (chief of staff) to Launay, Milan, March 30, 1849 (copy), HHSA, PA, XL, Carton 64, Korrespondenz mit Radetzky, fol. 157–158. Schwarzenberg did not share Radetzky's optimism and, along with Bruck and many other ministers, was displeased with the preliminary peace terms. See Sked, , The Survival of the Habsburg Empire, p. 207.

35 Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, pp. 19, 24–25. After Sardinia-Piedmont agreed to pay the reduced indemnity, Austria lifted the wine duty of 1847 and formally cancelled the Lombard-Piedmontese economic convention of 1751. See note 4 above.

36 Sked, , The Survival of the Habsburg Empire, pp. 203204. A year after Schwarzenberg's ministry ended, a significant number of lower-class Lombards participated in the abortive Milanese uprising of 1853, demonstrating the failure of Radetzky's program.

37 After succeeding Schwarzenberg as foreign minister, Buol in 1853 sent Johann von Rechberg to Radetzky's headquarters where he played a “liaison” role similar to that of Ficquelmont before March 1848. On the subject of Radetzky's relationship with Schwarzenberg, Sked, , The Survival of the Habsburg Empire, p. 207, notes that the field marshal's ploy of threatening to resign—used several times during 1848—was never a factor under Schwarzenberg's tenure. Despite their disagreements on a number of points, Radetzky in general did not “interfere with Schwarzenberg's policies regarding the rest of the Empire” and in turn, he received “a fairly free hand in running Lombardy-Venetia.”

38 Smith, Denis Mack, ed., The Making of Italy, 1796–1870 (New York: Walker & Co., 1968), p. 168; text of Victor Emmanuel II's Proclamation of Moncalieri (November 20, 1849) in ibid., pp. 168–170.

39 Apponyi to Schwarzenberg, Turin, December 13, 1849, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 44: Sardinien, Berichte und Weisungen 1849, fol. 4–7; Apponyi to Schwarzenberg, Turin, December 19, 1849, ibid., fol. 22–26.

40 See text by Solaro della Margarita (from 1854) in Smith, Mack, ed., The Making of Italy, pp. 188191; quote from Apponyi to Schwarzenberg, Turin, April 2, 1851, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 46: Sardinien, Berichte 1851, fol. 133–134.

41 Quoted in Moscati, , Ferdinando ll, p. 130.

42 On Martini's earlier life and career, see Sondhaus, , Austrian Naval Policy, pp. 137141, 156–158.

43 For example, Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, February 14, 1850, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 5: Neapel, Berichte 1850, fol. 35–39, telling of a Neapolitan army of over 75,000 men in “good” spirits, with lingering revolutionary sentiments limited to a few “individuals.” Also, Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, May 10, 1850, ibid., fol. 104–107, reporting the suppression of all rural revolutionary activity and brigandage and the restoration of complete “tranquillity” in the Neapolitan countryside.

44 Moscati, , Ferdinando ll, p. 142.

45 Acton, , The Last Bourbons, pp. 293303, and Moscati, , Ferdinando II, pp. 134136, comment on British interest in the trials. Gladstone quoted in Acton, p. 295.

46 Count August von Degenfeld to Schwarzenberg, Vienna, June 8, 1850, HHSA, PA, XL, Carton 66: Korrespondenz mit dem Kriegsministerium 1850, fol. 266–271, outlines plans to establish recruiting depots and a system for transferring the men to Naples. Radetzky to Schwarzenberg, Monza, August 15,1850, ibid., Carton 65: Korrespondenz mit Radetzky 1850, fol. 225–226, registers his approval of the recruiting and reveals that the interior ministry, under Alexander von Bach, was being overruled on the matter. Schwarzenberg to Martini, Vienna, August 6, 1851, ibid., XI, Carton 6: Neapel, Weisungen 1851, fol. 63–64, indicates that the recruitment of Swiss mercenaries on Austrian soil was a secret operation until a controversy over the induction of a minor against the wishes of his father made headlines in the Innsbruck press.

47 Radetzky to Schwarzenberg, Verona, July 11,1850, HHSA, PA, XL, Carton 65: Korrespondenz mit Radetzky 1850, fol. 170–175 discusses the depot system for the Swiss Papal recruits; Radetzky to Schwarzenberg, Monza, August 15, 1850, ibid., fol. 225–226, discusses their transportation to the Papal State.

48 Engel-Janosi, , Österreich und der Vatikan, 1:102, 104.

49 Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, pp. 75, 78, 81. In addition to facilitating the supply of Swiss mercenaries to Naples and Rome, Schwarzenberg also encouraged the rulers of Tuscany, Parma, and Modena to build their own loyal armies, a campaign that ultimately succeeded only in the latter state. Of the three efforts, the one in Parma involved the most extravagant spending on the part of the government. See Zannoni, Mario, Le Reale Truppe Parmensi: Da Carlo lll a Luisa Maria di Borbone 1849–1859 (Parma: Albertelli, 1984).

50 Jelavich, Barbara, The Habsburg Empire in European Affairs, 1814–1918 (Chicago: Rand-McNally, 1969), pp. 1819, attributes Metternich's post-1815 failure to organize an Italian confederation to Papal opposition as well as to a lack of cooperation from Sardinia-Piedmont and, ironically, Habsburg Tuscany.

51 Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, October 22, 1850, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 5: Neapel, Berichte 1850, fol. 257–260; Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, November 5, 1850, ibid., fol. 261–270; Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, November 29, 1850, ibid., fol. 281; Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, December 24, 1850, ibid., fol. 314–317. Schwarzenberg's strategy of handling the Italian negotiations locally in Italy was typical of his overall style of pursuing policy goals. In addition to the free hand he granted to Radetzky in northern Italy, Schwarzenberg normally gave all his diplomats considerable leeway in their execution of duties. According to Austensen, “Metternich, Austria, and the German Confederation, 1848–1850” (paper read before the German Studies Association, St. Louis, October 15, 1987), Schwarzenberg often left his envoys in Germany pleading for fresh instructions. This “hands off” approach had its disadvantages; see note 52 below.

52 Moscati, , Ferdinando ll, p. 128. Martini in Naples and Count Johann Allegri, the Habsburg minister in Modena, were enthusiastic about the project to the point of misleading Schwarzenberg on the real chances for its success.

53 Ideas first discussed in Allegri to Schwarzenberg, Modena, November 22, 1850, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 17: Modena und Parma, Berichte 1850, fol. 260–268.

54 Referred to in Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, May 1, 1851, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 6: Neapel, Berichte 1851, fol. 126–136.

55 Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, May 1, 1851, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 6: Neapel, Berichte 1851, fol. 126–136; Allegri to Schwarzenberg, Modena, May 18, 1851, ibid., Carton 18: Modena und Parma, Berichte 1851, fol. 105–106. Moscati, , Ferdinando ll, p. 129, contends that Ferdinand ll ultimately saw the proposed confederation as nothing more than a device for Austria to interfere in the internal affairs of Naples and the other states.

56 Rock, , “Felix Schwarzenberg, Military Diplomat,” 97, is almost alone among recent historians in his appreciation of the significance of the 1851 treaty. It was renewed in 1854, during the Crimean War, and finally lapsed in 1857. Cavour's plans to unite Italy took account of the Prussian guarantee; the breach of diplomatic relations between Sardinia-Piedmont and Austria did not occur until the spring of 1857.

57 Martini to Schwarzenberg, Naples, October 12, 1851, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 6: Neapel, Berichte 1851, fol. 321–326; Allegri to Schwarzenberg, Modena, December 20, 1851, ibid., Carton 18: Modena und Parma, Berichte 1851, fol. 215–216.

58 See Schroeder, , “Austria as an Obstacle,” 19, and Schwarzenberg to Martini, Vienna, June 25, 1850, HHSA, PA, XI, Carton 5, Neapel, Weisungen 1850, fol. 39–57.

59 “Trattati di navigazione e commercio coll'Austria e convenzione relativa per reprimere il contrabbando sul Lago Maggiore e sui fiumi Ticino e Po,” November 26, 1851, text in HHSA, Staatskanzlei, Provinzen, Lombardo-Venezien, Carton 25: Korrespondenz mit Radetzky 1849–57, fol. 609.

60 See Mechtler, Paul, “Die österreichische Eisenbahnpolitik in Italien (1835–1866),” Mitteilungen des österreichischen Staatsarchivs 14 (1961): 180. Austro-Sardinian railway talks stalled over the issue of the Turin-Milan line, which the Austrians, on strategic grounds, were not eager to see completed. After the Austrian defeat in the War of 1859, the concessioner's rights to the Central Italian railway and to Austria's Lombard lines were ceded to Sardinia, effective January 1, 1861. See Czedik, Aloys von, Der Weg von und zu den österreichischen Staatsbahnen, vol. I: Die Entwicklung der österreichischen Eisenbahnen als Privat- und Staatsbahnen 1824–1910 (Teschen: Karl Prochaska, 1913), p. 68.

61 Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, p. 151. The treaty was in effect from January 1, 1853 through December 31, 1857.

62 Moscati, , Ferdinando ll, pp. 127128.

63 Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, pp. 34–36, argues for a definite connection between the rise of Louis Napoleon to absolute power and the rise of Victor Emmanuel ll's confidence in the future of Sardinia-Piedmont.

64 The garrisons in Modena and Tuscany were finally withdrawn in 1855. Habsburg troops remained in Parma until 1857 and in the Papal Romagna until after the start of the War of 1859. See Jenks, , Francis Joseph and the Italians, pp. 75, 78, 81.

65 See Moscati, , Ferdinando ll, pp. 129130.

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