Italy from 1815 to 1860: The Italian Risorgimento
In 1815, the Treaty of Vienna restored the pre-Napoleonic monarchies. Italy was divided into several small states, ruled by absolute monarchies. Much of northern Italy was under the Austrian Empire.

Soon afterwards, among urban middle classes, a movement for constitutional rule and for Italian national unification started (the Risorgimento). In 1820–21 and 1831, liberals attempted constitutional coups in different states.

In 1848–49, new uprisings broke out in different parts of Italy and republics were proclaimed in Rome and Venice (they were rapidly crushed). The King of Sardinia granted a constitution, which in 1861 would become Italy’s constitution.

In 1859–60, a combination of popular insurrections and military intervention by the Kingdom of Sardinia transformed Italy into a nation state ruled by a constitutional monarchy.
Italy from 1861 to 1922
In 1861, when Italy became a nation state under King Victor Emanuel II, most Italians were poor, illiterate, disenfranchised peasants. In the following 60 years, the country experienced a late but intense industrialisation, mass migration, the development of a vibrant trade union movement and the beginning of social legislation; primary education became compulsory. Life expectancy rose from 29 in 1861 to 49 in 1921.

The era of mass politics began: in 1892 the Socialist Party was founded, in 1919 the Catholic Popular Party and in 1921 the Fascist Party. In the 1910s, male franchise became universal.

Wars enabled Italy to annex Venice (1866), Rome (1870), Trento and Trieste (1918).

The traumatic experience of World War I caused social and political upheavals and paved the way for the Fascist rise to power in 1922.
Italian colonial ambitions in the Mediterranean and the Italo-Turkish war over Libya (1911–12)
After national unification, Italy was striving to achieve great-power status. Colonial expansion was part of this policy.

In 1881, the establishment of a French protectorate over Tunisia (where many Italian migrants lived) was considered a major political defeat by many Italian politicians. In 1882, Italy joined Germany and Austria-Hungary in the Triple Alliance and started colonial expansion in the Horn of Africa.

In 1911, Italy waged war on Turkey for the conquest of Libya. The Socialists and some liberals opposed colonial expansion, but most of the press supported it, claiming that Libya could become an outlet for Italian migration and that the Arabs would welcome Italian rule; they were wrong.

The war officially ended in 1912, but Libyan anti-colonial resistance lasted much longer. It would only be crushed 20 years later, by Fascist brutal repression.