Armistice of Villafranca

treaty of French-Austrian armistice

The armistice and preliminaries of Villafranca were signed on 11 July 1859 in Villafranca di Verona, in the Veneto, by France and Austria. It put an end to the Austro-Franco-Sardinian War which constitutes for Italy, the second Italian War of Independence.

After the difficult battles of Magenta (4 June) and Solferino (24 June), Napoleon III , without consulting his Sardinian ally Cavour , proposed the armistice on 8 July and an interview on 11 July with the Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph I. Although victorious, Napoleon III was frightened by the hecatomb (nearly 40,000 killed or wounded at Solferino) and the idea of having to continue an autumn and winter campaign against the Austrians entrenched in the quadrilateral. Moreover, the government and the Empress send him alarming information about the state of French opinion, Which is execrable. In particular, the Catholics, hitherto supported by the imperial regime, fear for the Papal States and the Pope's independence if Austria were eliminated from Italy. Finally, an anti-French feeling spread in Germany, where the Austrians were supported. The number of Prussian deaths is nearly 400 000 soldiers near the Rhine, stripped of French troops.

In Villafranca, it is agreed that Austria cedes Lombardy (except Mantua and Peschiera) to France, which restores it to the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. An Italian confederation under the presidency of Pope Pius IX was created, the Veneto under Austrian sovereignty being part of it. The dukes of Modena , Parma, and Tuscany, driven away by revolutions, found their thrones.

Cavour, not consulted, resigned on 10 July, while King Victor-Emmanuel II gave his agreement "in a personal capacity", thus leaving the door open to any governmental retraction.

These preliminaries were confirmed by the Treaty of Zurich of 11 November 1859.