Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Everything was done to make Orsini a hero in the eyes of the French public, and to excite sympathy in his cause. Jules Favre by his eloquent defence in which he pleaded not for the life, but for the honour of his client, and still more Orsini's own letter to the Emperor, produced a powerful impression; there was a dramatic interest in the man who, disdaining to crave clemency for himself, tried a last supreme effort in the service of the country he had loved too well.
bust of Chasseur du Cheval
 'Deliver my fatherland, and the blessings of twenty-five million citizens will be with you.' So concluded the letter in which Orsini  told Napoleon, that till Italy was free there would be no peace for Europe—nor for him.

Hello Gary.

I am an avid fan of your blog. It is very interesting,informative and

useful for my 'Risorgimento wargaming'. I just wanted to mention that

in the Plombieres

article there is a model of a french soldier supposidly from the 1859

period. Please note that he is carrying a chassepot and not a rifle

musket. I do believe that he is from the 1870 period.

We are going on holiday to Italy this saturday and will be staying for

three nights in Bardolino on Lake Garda. so a visit to Solferino has

been organised. After that we will move on to La Romagna where most of

my relatives come from.

Many thanks for an excellent blog.

All the best.

Ernesto Salerani
Sorry ernesto you are perfectly right. If anyone else sees inaccuracies please let me know

Metal Modeles 54mm French Line Infantryman, 1859. He has been painted up as as Fusilier of the 2e Regiment Etrangere.

 It was whispered that the Emperor had a secret interview with the condemned man at the Mazas prison; at any rate, when Orsini mounted the scaffold, he was borne up, not only by his invincible courage, but by the strongest hope, if not the certainty that his last prayer would have only a short time to wait for fulfilment.
mazas prison

inside the prison
Though persons who were able to read the signs of the times no longer doubted that Napoleon had resolved to solve the Italian question by force of arms, it suited his purpose to occupy the public mind for the moment with the furious agitation against England and Piedmont as 'dens of assassins,' which led to the fall of the Palmerston administration on the Conspiracy Bill, and seemed to almost place in jeopardy the throne of Victor Emmanuel.
 Napoleon sent the King of Sardinia demands so sweeping in language so threatening, that the old Savoy blood was fired, and Victor Emmanuel returned the answer: 'Tell the Emperor in whatever terms you think best that this is not the way to treat a faithful ally; that I have never tolerated violence from anyone; that I follow the path of unstained honour, and for that honour I am only answerable to God and to my people.
The Algerian sharpshooters aided Italy greatly in their liberation
 That we have carried our head high for 850 years, and no one will make me lower it; and that, nevertheless, I desire nothing better than to remain his friend.'

french line infantry at the siege of rome
This reply was benevolently received; Cavour passed through the Chambers a bill which, though not corresponding to the extravagant pretensions of the French Government, gave reasonable security against the concoction of plots of a criminal nature; Napoleon expressed himself satisfied, and three months after, File:Alfred Dedreux - Portrait équestre de Napoléon III.jpgdespatched Dr Conneau to Turin, to mention, quite by the way, to the Piedmontese minister, that  he would be glad to have a conversation with him on Italian affairs. This was the preliminary of the interview of Plombières.

french dragoons
Plombières is a watering-place in the Vosges, which became famous on the 20th of July 1858, the day on which Napoleon III. and Cavour entered into the compact that laid down the conditions of the Italian war. The Emperor was to bring 200,000 men into Italy, and the King of Sardinia undertook to furnish 100,000. The Austrians were to be expelled from Italy.
 The kingdom of Upper Italy would embrace the Legations and the Marches then under the Pope.
french military satire in 1855
 Savoy would be ceded to France. The marriage of the Emperor's cousin with the Princess Clotilde was not made a condition of the war, and only in case it had been made a condition, was Cavour empowered to agree to it.
 He, therefore, left it uncertain; but he came away from Plombières convinced that nearly everything depended upon its happening.
Napoleon was beyond measure anxious for a marriage which would ally him with one of the oldest reigning families in Europe. It would be a fatal mistake, Cavour thought, to join the Emperor, and at the same time, to offend him in a way which he would never forget.
 Directly after the interview, he wrote a long letter to the King to persuade him to yield the point. After all, where would the Princess find a more promising match?
Was it easy to provide husbands for princesses? Were not they generally extremely unhappy in marriage? What had happened to the King's four aunts, all charming princesses, who had married the Duke of Modena, the Duke of Lucca, the Emperor Ferdinand of Austria, and the King of Naples? Had they been happy? Prince Napoleon could not be so very bad, as he was known to have hurried to Cannes to pay a last visit to a woman whom he had loved, a great actress, then upon her  deathbed.
 This reminiscence was a singular one to evoke under the circumstances, but Cavour was not an Englishman, and he was not impressed by the propriety of drawing a veil over facts which everyone knew.

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