By David Wetzel
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Additional resources for A Duel of Nations: Germany, France, and the Diplomacy of the War of 1870-1871
All the same, Italy could ill afford to be excluded from a Franco-Austrian alliance. Moreover, Italy’s king, Victor Emmanuel II, wished to cement his creaky throne against republican agitation by concluding a pact with two emperors. He hoped to gain the Tyrol from Austria, Rome (which had, since 1849, been occupied by French troops), and perhaps even Nice from France by binding himself to Napoleon III and the Habsburg emperor Francis Joseph. 4 The major Italian offer was neutrality—this would allow Austria to operate without fear of attack on its southern borders and thus escape a war on two fronts, which had proven so ruinous in 1866.
Bringing in Italy would have a great advantage. It would be tied to France and to Austria-Hungary, erasing the line between the Near East and the German question. 7 In the end, Napoleon III got his way, at the cost of much anguished effort and great strain on his nerves and health. On 1 March, a triple alliance against Russia and Prussia was initialed in Paris. Its terms were simple: France would commit forces to the Rhine in case of an Austro-Russian war; likewise, Austria-Hungary would station a corps of troops in Bohemia and take up arms if the Russians came to the assistance of Prussia.
An alliance involving this region must be concluded ﬁrst; discussions about Prussia and the Rhine would have to follow. Besides, he pointed out, France had interests in the Near East, as well; there was trouble brewing in Romania, whose king had been placed on the throne at Napoleon III’s insistence. And had it not been France that was the principal author of the Treaty of Paris, which had ended the Crimean War—the last war in the Near East? 2 Turning to the situation in Western Europe, Austria’s overriding objective, Beust continued, concerned the states of South Germany.
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