how far did the actions of Napoleon III hinder the Italian Unification process

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It is agreed by most, that Napoleon III, Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, was a key factor in the unification but the real debate lies within the question; was he a hindrance or a assistance? It was certain that Napoleon left his mark on Italy, involving himself immensely, but there is debate over how many states he affected in a positive way. On one hand, and very importantly, when talking about Lombardy’s annexation from Piedmont, there is no doubt that Napoleon played a large factor. Napoleon and Italian nationalist Cavour met at Plombieres were an agreement was formed. A war was planned between Austria and a mixture of French and Piedmontese troops, with a hope for victory in favour of Piedmont. If this victory occurred, the Austrian territories in Northern Italy would join with Piedmont to form the Kingdom of Upper Italy. Cavour was successful in provoking a war with Austria in 1859 but things seemed doomed when Piedmont could only produce 20,000 men with Austria having an army of around 110,000. This is where Napoleon kept to his word, producing 200,000 soldiers, forming the majority of the army due to fight Austria. With French intervention, Austria seemed to worry after already being beaten at the battles of Magenta and Solferino. The Piedmontese played no part at Magenta but a good part at Solferino, with both battles causing carnage from both sides. Due to Napoleons disgust at the amount of soldiers lost Napoleon made a separate peace treaty with Austria at Villafranca, giving the French the chance needed to defend its own boarders from Prussia, whilst controlling Cavour’s actions and interests in Tuscany. Lombardy was given to France, who then gave it to Piedmont, proving to those involved that without intervention by France Piedmont would not have gained Lombardy, as Austria was too strong for Piedmont
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