At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

6 June 2019

6 June

Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour


Prime Minister died after creating a united Italy

The first Prime Minister of Italy, Camillo Benso Count of Cavour, died on this day in 1861 in Turin.  A leading figure in the struggle for Italian unification, Cavour died at the age of 50, only three months after taking office as prime minister of the new Kingdom of Italy. He did not live to see Venice and Rome become part of the Italian nation.  He entered politics after leaving the Piedmont-Sardinian army to run his family’s estate at Grinzane in the province of Cuneo instead.  Originally he was interested in enlarging and developing Piedmont-Sardinia economically rather than creating a unified Italy. But he became expert at playing off the French against the Austrians, charming the British and making use of Garibaldi. As a result, Cavour became the architect of the Risorgimento that eventually led to the creation of a united Italy ruled by the House of Savoy.  He was the new kingdom’s first prime minister.  Read more…

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Maria Theresa - the last Holy Roman Empress


Italian noblewoman was first Empress of Austria

Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily, the last Holy Roman Empress and the first Empress of Austria, was born at the Royal Palace of Portici in Naples on this day in 1772.  She was the eldest daughter of Ferdinand IV & III of Naples and Sicily (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies) and his wife, Marie Caroline of Austria, through whom she was a niece of the last Queen of France, Marie Antoinette.  Named after her maternal grandmother, Maria Theresa of Austria, she was the eldest of 17 children. Although she had a reputation for pursuing a somewhat frivolous lifestyle, which revolved around balls, carnivals, parties and masquerades, she did have some political influence, advising her husband, Archduke Francis of Austria, encouraging him to go to war with Napoleon, whom she detested.  Two years later, after Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1794, the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved. Therefore, Maria Theresa was the last Holy Roman Empress and the first Empress of Austria.  Read more...

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Battle of Novara 1513


Many lives lost in battle between French and Swiss on Italian soil

Swiss troops defeated a French occupying army on this day in 1513 in a bloody battle near Novara in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.  The French loss forced Louis XII to withdraw from Milan and Italy and after his army were pursued all the way to Dijon by Swiss mercenaries, he had to pay them off to make them leave France.  The battle was part of the War of the League of Cambrai, fought between France, the Papal States and the Republic of Venice in northern Italy, but often involving other powers in Europe.  Louis XII had expelled the Sforza family from Milan and added its territory to France in 1508.  Swiss mercenaries fighting for the Holy League drove the French out of Milan and installed Maximilian Sforza as Duke of Milan in December 1512.  More than 20,000 French troops led by Prince Louis de la Tremoille besieged the city of Novara, which was being held by the Swiss, in June 1513.  But the Swiss encircled the French camp, seizing their guns and prompting them to flee the battlefield. There were at least 5,000 casualties on the French side and about 1,500 Swiss. Read more…

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