Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Unification of Italy

Chet Geering


Students process a variety of information on how Italy became a nation. They are then asked to answer a series of short-answer questions on the topics discussed in class.


The student understands significant political developments in Europe in the 19th century.


-[World History The Human Experience]. New York: Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2001. (Or comparable text)
-Teacher Notes (See Associated File)
-Student copies of the Italian Unification Questions (See Associated File)
-Answer Key (See Associated File)
-Dry erase board and dry erase markers
-Pen or pencil


1. Read text Chapter 26 (or appropriate chapter).
2. Look over Teacher Notes (See Associated File) to be sure you are familiar with the material.
3. Make one copy of the Italian Unification Questions for each student. (See Associated File)


1. Ask students, “What two major countries of modern Europe were not even countries in the middle of the 19th century?” (Answer: Italy and Germany)

2. Put Italy on the board, and explain that Germany will be another lesson. (See Beacon Lessons, Three Wars Equal One New Country: Part 1, 2, and 3)

3. Ask students, “Other countries had been around for many centuries, why was Italy still not a country by the middle of the 19th century?” (Answer: There are five reasons listed in #5.)

4. Put the answers on the board.

5. There are five main reasons why Italy was not yet a nation. Discuss each with the class. (Answers: 1. Italy was broken into nine states. 2. Apennine Mountains make movement in the country difficult. 3. Po River makes movement in the country difficult. 4. Pope didn't want unification. 5. Other European countries didn't want to see unification.)

6. Ask students, “What factors led to Italy becoming a nation?” (Answers: Nationalism, birthplace of the Renaissance, and good leadership)

7. Put the answers on the board.

8. Be sure to define “nationalism” and emphasize its importance.

9. There are three answers for the question in #6. Discuss these answers with the class.

10. Ask students, “What were the steps taken within Italy towards its unification? What did the Italians do themselves to promote unification?”

11. Put the answers on the board. (Answers: The Risorgimento and Young Italy were secret societies that pushed for unification. King of Sardinia moved towards unification. The leadership of Italy brought the different Italian factions together and helped the process of unification.)

12. Discuss the answers to question #10.

13. Ask students, “What role did the Catholic Church play in the unification of Italy?” (Answer: They fought the unification. The Pope wanted to keep control of his territory.)

14. Discuss the answer to question #13.

15. Ask students, “How did the Italians' contribution in the Crimean War help in Italy’s eventual rise to nationhood?” (Answer: Since some Italian city-states helped in the fight against Russia, nations, such as France and Great Britain, decided to interfere with Italian unification.)

16. Discuss the answers to question #15.

17. Discuss with the class the role of Mazzini, Count Cavour, and Garibaldi in Italian Unification. (Answers: These were the leaders who pushed towards unification. Without their leadership, unification would not have been possible.)

18. Ask students, “How did the fact that Italy became a nation affect the balance of power in Europe?” (Answer: There was now one more powerful country in Europe, and new alliances and treaties needed to be formed.)

19. Put student answers on the board.

20. Discuss the answers to question #18.

21. Pass out short-answer Italian Unification Questions. (See Associated File)

22.Teacher evaluates students' responses to short-answer questions using the answer key provided. (See Associated File)


1. Students are assessed by answering a series of short-answer questions on the topics covered in class. An answer key is provided in the associated file.
2. The teacher can also informally evaluate the students by monitoring and encouraging their participation in class discussion.
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