1860: Reunion of Nice and Savoy in France

1860: Reunion of Nice and Savoy in France

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  • Annexation of Savoy and the County of Nice, June 12, 1860.

    LAGRANGE Jean (1831 - 1908)

  • Stay in Chambéry - Parade of populations in front of Their Majesties, on the Place du Château.

  • Guiseppe Garibaldi.

    ESTIENNE Auguste (1807 - 1882)

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Title: Annexation of Savoy and the County of Nice, June 12, 1860.

Author : LAGRANGE Jean (1831 - 1908)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 7.3 - Width 7.3

Technique and other indications: Single-sided photograph in bronze.

Storage place: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown

Picture reference: 90-014133 / MEDOR757

Annexation of Savoy and the County of Nice, June 12, 1860.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Photographer unknown

To close

Title: Stay in Chambéry - Parade of populations in front of Their Majesties, on the Place du Château.

Author :

Date shown: August 17, 1860

Dimensions: Height 23 - Width 33.5

Technique and other indications: Parade of populations in front of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie on the place of the castle of Chambéry. From the "Illustrated World". Made by Edouard Riou (1833-1900) and Louis Tazzini (1822-1891) from a drawing by Louis Moullin (1817-1876).

Storage place: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot website

Picture reference: 95-009751 / invGravures4888 (part 3)

Stay in Chambéry - Parade of populations in front of Their Majesties, on the Place du Château.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

To close

Title: Guiseppe Garibaldi.

Author : ESTIENNE Auguste (1807 - 1882)

Creation date : 1856

Date shown: 1856

Dimensions: Height 55 - Width 45

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage place: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palaissite web

Picture reference: 06-527995 / 9504; EA 424

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

A kingdom in northern and central Italy against Nice and Savoy to France

While the King of Sardinia Victor-Emmanuel II of Savoy (1820-1878) and Camille Bens de Cavour (1810-1861), his Prime Minister since 1851, are trying to unify Northern Italy (Risorgimento) for the benefit of the House of Savoy, the attack by the Italian revolutionary Orsini against Napoleon III in January 1858 led the French emperor to join their cause. During Plombières’s interview in July, Cavour promised him the County of Nice and the Duchy of Savoy against his military aid.

After the bloody battles of Magenta and Solferino against the Austrians in June 1859, Napoleon III unilaterally signed a semi-victorious armistice in Villafranca in July: the kingdom of Sardinia only grew with the Milanese, Cavour had to resign, and the question of Nice and Savoy remains unresolved.

In the spring of 1860, following the uprisings encouraged by Turin (capital of the States of Sardinia), the principalities of Modena, Parma and Florence were in turn integrated into the kingdom after consulting their populations by referendum. By the Treaty of Turin of March 24, Paris accepts this Sardinian territorial expansion in exchange for Nice and Savoy. Also consulted by plebiscite in April, the populations vote by a large majority for their attachment to France.

Image Analysis

The last great French territorial expansion

For the Monnaie de Paris, the attachment of Nice and Savoy to France is worthy of inspiring a commemorative medal, the first of the Second Empire to be entrusted to Jean Lagrange. Under the title Annexation of Savoie and the County of Nice to France, the engraver represents at the center of the composition an allegory of the French Empire seated on its throne. She has her hands resting on the shoulders of two female figures standing in front of her: Nice on the right, identifiable by its maritime attributes, and Savoy on the left, recognizable by its coat of arms stamped with the cross of Savoy and the rocky landscape depicted behind she. Between the two allegories of the provinces is an urn in which Savoy is slipping a ballot.

The imperial couple's trip to the south-east of France during the summer of 1860 (which continues as far as Algeria), with a stopover in Savoy and Nice in August and September, can be considered as the allegorical handing over of the new territories. to the emperor by their populations. Engraving Stay in Chambéry - Parade of populations in front of Their Majesties, on the Place du Château was executed by Édouard Riou and Louis Tazzini from a sketch made by Mr. Moullin on August 17. The Illustrated World, an image-focused weekly, publishes it on September 8 on a full page. It is sketchy, but reflects the enthusiasm of the municipal delegations parading through the flagged square of the former castle of the Dukes of Savoy, which has become the prefecture and the imperial palace.

Born in Nice in 1807 (the city was then part of the French Empire), Garibaldi refuses to join and considers himself "a foreigner in his own homeland". In 1856, when Auguste Estienne, a pupil of Baron Gros, painted his portrait, he lived in retirement on the island of Caprera. But the painter represents him as a hero of the Italian cause: the framing on the face allows him to express Garibaldi's desire for action, and his determination can be seen in his eyes. If he wears a braided military chief's uniform, he wears a white handkerchief like a common man. He holds like a standard the Italian tricolor green, white and red, a symbol of rallying to the cause of Italian unity.


Territorial units around the Alps

From 1859 to 1860, when the common fate of Nice and Savoy was not entirely decided, a climate of instability settled in these provinces because the populations were divided.

In March 1860, Garibaldi was elected representative of Nice in the Parliament of Turin and openly opposed the meeting, like most conservative Savoy deputies. But Victor-Emmanuel II then freed his subjects from Nice and Savoy from their oaths and invited them to choose to join France. This prospect arouses, especially in Savoy, resignation or hope for rapid economic and social development.

Residents of the County of Nice vote first, on April 15 and 16, and 83.82% for membership. Those of the Duchy of Savoy expressed themselves on the following April 21 and 22 for attachment in an equally overwhelming manner: 130,533 yes, 235 no, 34 spoiled ballots and 5,000 abstentions. On June 12, the meeting was unanimously approved by the Imperial Senate.

During the summer, the populations once again show their enthusiasm during the visit of the imperial couple to these former Sardinian provinces which have become the departments of Savoy, Haute-Savoie and Alpes-Maritimes.

On the other side of the natural barrier formed by the Alpine chain, whose line of ridges now forms the Franco-Italian border, the unity of the peninsula continues. In April 1860, Garibaldi turned away from Nice to try to conquer the kingdom of the Two Sicilies with the "Expedition of the Thousand".

  • allegory
  • medal
  • Napoleon III
  • Nice
  • Second Empire


Paul GUICHONNET (dir.), New history of Savoy, Toulouse, Private ed., 1996. Jérôme GRÉVY, Garibaldi, Paris, Presses de Sciences-Po, 2001. Jean GUIBAL and Pascal KOBER (eds.), 1860-2010, Chronicles of an attachment, n ° 47 of the review L’Alpe, Glénat-Musée dauphinois ed., 2010.

To cite this article

Guillaume NICOUD, "1860: Reunion of Nice and Savoy in France"

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