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Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour

Francesco Hayez 041.jpg
Portrait of Cavour by Francesco Hayez
1st Prime Minister of Italy
In office
23 March 1861 – 6 June 1861
Monarch Victor Emmanuel II
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Bettino Ricasoli
9th Prime Minister of Sardinia
In office
21 January 1860 – 23 March 1861
Monarch Victor Emmanuel II
Preceded by Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora
Succeeded by None
Prime Minister of Piedmont
In office
4 November 1852 – 19 July 1859
Monarch Victor Emmanuel II
Preceded by Massimo D'Azeglio
Succeeded by Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora
Minister of Finances
In office
19 April 1851 – 11 May 1852
Monarch Victor Emmanuel II
Prime Minister Massimo D'Azeglio
Preceded by Giovanni Nigra
Succeeded by Luigi Cibrario
Minister of Agriculture and Trade
In office
11 October 1850 – 11 May 1852
Monarch Victor Emmanuel II
Prime Minister Massimo D'Azeglio
Preceded by Pietro De Rossi di Santarosa
Succeeded by Giuseppe Natoli (1861)
Member of the Sardinian Chamber of Deputies
In office
30 June 1848 – 17 March 1861
Constituency Turin
Personal details
Camillo Paolo Filippo Giulio Benso

(1810-08-10)10 August 1810
Turin, French Empire
Died 6 June 1861(1861-06-06) (aged 50)
Turin, Kingdom of Italy
Nationality Italian
Political party Historical Right

Camillo Paolo Filippo Giulio Benso, Count of Cavour, Isolabella and Leri (10 August 1810 – 6 June 1861), better known as Cavour, was an Italian politician and statesman. He was an important person in the movement toward the Italian unification.

Cavour was born in Turin during Napoleonic rule. Until 1831, he was a military officer. Later, he decided to travel in Europe to learn more about the effects of the Industrial Revolution. The trips helped him to know and understand the principles of the British Liberal system.

After four years, he returned to Piedmont. He took charge of agriculture and the economy in general. He worked for the spread of schools. During that time, his business and banking activities made him one of the richest men in the Piedmont.

From 1832 to 1848, Cavour was the mayor of Grinzane (now called Grinzane Cavour to honor him). In 1847, he founded the newspaper Il Risorgimento. According to him, the process of economic and social development, which he had promoted for years, could be implemented only after a deep restructuring of political institutions.

In 1850, Cavour became famous because he advocating the "Siccardi Law" that diminished the privileges of the Catholic clergy. In the same year, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia, Massimo D'Azeglio, chose him as Minister of Agriculture, Trade and Navy. Later he also became Minister of Finance. After D'Azeglio resigned on November 4, 1852, Cavour became Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia.

Cavour's political program wanted to become the Kingdom of Sardinia a constitutional State based on moderate and progressive liberalism and so he dedicated himself to a radical renewal of the economy. He modernised and supported agriculture, strengthened the industrial system and promoted trade with the major European powers. However, his liberal program was criticized by both the "Historical Left", which cared for the poorest citizens, both the "Historical Right", which considered him as a destroyer of conservative traditions.

In 1858, he signed a treaty of alliance between the Kingdom of Sardinia and the French Empire against the Austrian Empire. The next year, the Second Italian War of Independence, the Piedmontese and the French defeated the Austrians, who then controlled Italy.

After the Armistice of Villafranca and Giuseppe Garibaldi's expedition in the South (1860-1861), the unification of Italy was completed. Cavour became the first president of the united Italy. He was also the first Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was the leader of the Liberal parliamentary group. He died of an illness in Turin.

  • Beales, Derek & Eugenio Biagini. The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy. Second Edition. London: Longman, 2002. ISBN: 0-582-36958-4
  • Di Scala, Spencer. Italy: From Revolution to Republic, 1700 to the Present. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2004. ISBN: 0-8133-4176-0
  • Hearder, H. Cavour. Bari: Laterza, 2000. ISBN: 88-420-5803-3
  • Holt, Edgar. The Making of Italy: 1815–1870. New York: Murray Printing Company, 1971. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 76-135573
  • Kertzer, David. Prisoner of the Vatican. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. ISBN: 0-618-22442-4
  • Mack Smith, Denis. Cavour. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. ISBN: 0416421806
  • Mack Smith, Denis. Italy: A Modern History. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1959. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 5962503
  • Norwich, John Julius. The Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean. New York: Doubleday, 2006. ISBN: 978-0-385-51023-3


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