The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 17 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 532 pages of information about The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 17.
stormed and captured Sebastopol, it was a barren victory.  Russia, not so much overcome as convinced of the practical lack of profit in persistency, made terms of peace by which she once more drew back from her feeble prey.  English statesmen were satisfied with the check administered to their great rival; and the French were delighted at the successful interference of their “dictator of Europe.”  He had rehabilitated the nation in its own eyes.


Ambition grows by what it feeds on.  Napoleon determined to assert himself again.  The bitterness of Italy against its Austrian masters offered an excellent opportunity, and in 1859 he encouraged the King of Sardinia to try once more the contest which had proved so disastrous eleven years before.  The King, Victor Emmanuel II, prepared for war against Austria.  The French joined him, so did the little North Italian States, and their combined forces were victorious at Magenta and Solferino. [Footnote:  See Battles of Magenta and Solferino.]

Napoleon had declared that the combat should not cease until the Austrians were driven entirely out of Italy.  As the price of his alliance he secured Nice and Savoy from Sardinia; and then, immediately after the bloody Battle of Solferino he suddenly changed front and declared that the war must cease.  Austria yielded Lombardy, but kept Venice, the last of the possessions for which during more than three hundred years she had been battling in Italy.  The Kingdom of Sardinia became the Kingdom of Northern Italy.

The next year (1860) Garibaldi, the lion-like fighter, the enthusiastic lover of Italy, gathering round him a thousand followers, made an unexpected attack on Sicily, which was held by the tyrant King of Naples.  With his celebrated “Thousand” he won two remarkable victories.  The Sicilians joined him; the Neapolitans were driven from the island.  Not giving them time to recover, Garibaldi followed to the mainland, defeated them again, and was master of all Southern Italy.  Meanwhile Victor Emmanuel, marching his troops southward, seized what was left of the States of the Church.  The two conquerors met midway in Italy, and Garibaldi, grasping his sovereign by the hand, saluted him as King at last of a united Italy.  Only Rome and Venice remained outside the pale, Rome protected by being in actual possession of the Pope, and, since France was still Catholic, guarded by French troops from the eager Italians.  The year 1860 had been second only to 1848 in its importance in changing the outlines of modern Europe. [Footnote:  See The Kingdom of Italy Established.]

Another change, immeasurably vast and still unmeasured in its consequences, may be dated from 1859, when Charles Darwin gave to the world his book, the Origin of Species.  In this he proclaimed the doctrine of the evolution of all the more complicated forms of life from simpler forms.  The idea, at first resolutely combated on religious grounds, has gradually received more or less acceptance into the entire religious fabric, even as were the discoveries of Galileo. [Footnote:  See Darwin Publishes His Origin of Species.]

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The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 17 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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