Europe 1859: Franco-Sardinian Alliance
By the late 1850s the cause of Italian unification was drawing widespread support from intellectuals and radicals across Europe. After narrowly surviving an assassination attempt by one such group, Napoleon III of France decided he would secretly back the Kingdom of Sardinia in an attempt to unite northern Italy in return for territorial concessions.
10 May 1857–8 Jul 1858 Indian Mutiny▲
In May 1857, Indian soldiers (“Sepoys”) revolted against their British commanders in protest of rule over the country by the British East India Company. The revolt expanded across northern India and lasted over a year before being crushed, formally ending the Mughal Empire and transferring control of the subcontinent to the British Crown.
26 May 1857 Treaty of Paris▲
In September 1856 pro-Prussian royalists attempted to seize power in the Prussian-claimed Republic of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, but were crushed by republican militias. When Switzerland made it clear that it would not release the captured royalists unless Prussia renounced its claim to Neuchâtel, the Prussians ordered the mobilization of 150,000 troops in early 1857. To resolve the crisis, Napoleon III of France offered to mediate and at the May 1857 Treaty of Paris a six-power agreement was signed, recognizing Neuchâtel as part of Switzerland while allowing the King of Prussia to retain the title of Prince of Neuchâtel.
14 Jan 1858 Orsini Affair▲
On 14 January 1858 the Italian nationalist Felice Orsini attempted to assassinate Napoleon III in Paris, believing that Napoleon was obstructing the cause of Italian unification. Although the attempt was unsuccessful, the incident caused major political uproar in Italy and in Britain, where Orsini had previously sought asylum and worked as a lecturer.
26–29 Jan 1859 Franco-Sardinian Alliance▲
In January 1859 the French Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia (Piedmont) secretly signed the Franco-Sardinian Treaty, formalizing the Plombières Agreement of July 1858 with an alliance between the two nations. By the terms of the treaty, France agreed to provide military support to Sardinia in the event of Austrian aggression and to back the Sardinian annexation of Lombardy–Venetia should Austria be defeated. As compensation for its support, France would receive Savoy and Nice from Sardinia. The treaty was first signed by Napoleon III and his foreign minister Walewski in Paris before being signed by King Victor Emanuel II and Count Cavour in Turin a few days later.
5 Feb 1859 United Principalities▲
In accordance with the 1856 Treaty of Paris, the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia were granted increased autonomy from the Ottoman Empire in 1858 and allowed to hold elections for ad-hoc divans. On 17 January 1859 the Romanian nationalist Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected Prince of Moldavia and, 19 days later, was elected Prince of Wallachia too. This effectively united both principalities under Cuza’s rule, a feat which drew a mixed response from the European powers and was only recognized by the Ottoman Empire in December 1861.