The Historical Journal



HUDSON, MALMESBURY AND CAVOUR: BRITISH DIPLOMACY AND THE ITALIAN QUESTION, FEBRUARY 1858 TO JUNE 1859


NICK CARTER a1
a1 De Montfort University

Abstract

This article examines the attitude and policy of Lord Malmesbury in regard to the growing Italian crisis of 1858–9. Making use of previously unavailable archival material (in particular the private papers of Malmesbury himself) it seeks to present a much fuller picture of tory Italian policy than has, until now, been possible. Although it is recognized that Malmesbury's Italian policy was based upon a sincere desire for peace, this does not explain why Malmesbury chose to hold Cavour personally responsible for the Italian crisis and directed his peace efforts not at Paris but at Turin and Vienna. This had much to do with Malmesbury's close personal links with the French emperor, Louis Napoleon. In addition, this article challenges the traditional view of Sir James Hudson as ‘more Italian than the Italians’. Hudson was not prepared to support Cavour in a course of action which promised only to deprive Piedmont of her constitutional freedoms and deliver Italy into the hands of France.