The decline of French hegemony was beginning; a greater balance was beginning to take place in Europe. This greater equilibrium was a factual condition, given the multiplicity of forces that entered the European scene with a first-rate function: especially England, after the second revolution and the accession of William of Holland to that throne; and Austria, after the great victories over the Turks, the reconquest of Hungary, almost the new youth of the Austrian Habsburgs, which also leads them to refresh the rights of the empire over the Italian states, to harbor ambitions of territorial acquisitions or repurchases Italians. And equilibrium was also a living aspiration, now almost a doctrine, a myth, especially valued by England, because it responds especially to the interest of a country which, not having and not being able to have aspirations of continental dominance, he also intended that no other power should achieve such dominance, with the result of limiting its commercial freedom on the continent; to the interest of a country which, having aspirations of maritime dominance, sought to maintain in Europe the most favorable conditions for the acquisition and conservation of such dominance. Among these conditions, in the first place, this: that the regions and the small and middle states of the North Sea, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, were not absorbed by the larger states; that they were placed in the possibility, necessity, convenience of maintaining themselves or becoming independent in the face of such larger states of the interior, and of remaining open to the influences of that nation which was stronger on the sea. In short, it stood, in the relations of Italy, an age in which the old and never extinguished aspiration for greater independence would have found in Europe forces interested, within certain limits, in satisfying it; an age in which the old and fatal process of unification or, at least, especially in the fragmented Po Valley, with a more coherent political-territorial structure, which served as a brake to the excessive invasion of the great European powers in the peninsula, would have received some impetus and acceleration , always by those European forces that such intrusiveness had an interest in containing. This was seen, already at the beginning of the 18th century, with the war for the Spanish succession. Half of Italy was at stake directly. But the peninsula was pressed from all sides; the seas around it beaten by all the fleets; the independent states, all threatened with ruin, were they neutral, like Venice, they participated in the struggle, like Farnesi, Estensi, Gonzaga, Savoy. The position of the latter was particularly difficult, caught between Spain, the ruler of Lombardy, and France, which broke out from the west. The union of the two crowns could mean complete servitude. “No means to balance forces, no hope for my House: I was surrounded, enveloped by every band, I lost all my credit and the reputation that the posture of my states gave to my friendship”. But he understood that the moment could also be good for him: “Ce sont des occasions que les siècles entiers ne presenteront peut-être jamais”: so he wrote. In those acts, the activity of the Savoy diplomacy was very intense, urged by the prince to do the possible and the impossible.
According to localtimezone.org, Vittorio Amedeo joined at the beginning with the Bourbons and was in command of all the Franco-Hispanic forces that were to operate in Italy. But he soon collided with his allies. And then, first he stood aside, leaving the Vendôme to continue only in the campaign against the imperials commanded by Eugenio of Savoy; then, fearful that the fortune of the Bourbons in Italy would become too consolidated, he allied himself with the Habsburgs (1703). Then there was the invasion of Piedmont, the siege of Turin, the tenacious resistance of the duke and the faithful city, the victory of the Austro-Piedmontese: all facts that not only decided the fate of the Spanish heritage in Italy but also contributed to the victory of the coalition in the other chessboards of the war, given the fury with which Louis XIV committed himself against the Duke of Savoy and the many forces he concentrated against him, subtracting them from the other front. Vittorio Amedeo was fully aware of the importance of the task carried out in the context of the events in Europe: his reputation and his family’s reputation in Europe grew: and England began to rely heavily on him and to consider favorably the possibility of enlarge and strengthen it. Then, the Savoy dominance over independent Italian states was clearly defined as never before. Of them, during the war and in the negotiations of the congresses, nobody took any account. They extorted them, violated their neutrality, disposed of their territories as they wanted. A vision of a future flashed in those courts in which the Savoy would have swept them all away. And this not happy vision had its effectiveness in inducing them to approach Austria, as the only one capable of providing them with protection. There is no doubt that the rise of the Savoy family promoted the fortunes of Austria in the peninsula through the work of the Italian states; as indeed the fortunes of Austria promoted the rise of the Savoy, made France itself, as well as England, well disposed towards them. At the conclusion of the peace, if Austria carved out the lion’s share of the Spanish inheritance of Italy, i.e. Milanese, Naples, Sardinia, and then, in exchange, Sicily, Vittorio Amedeo bought lands of Lombardy in the Vercelli and Pavese areas , lands of Monferrato that brought it closer to Liguria and the sea, Sardinia: which also meant royal title. It wasn’t all the new king had dreamed of. Yet, in those years, the ultimate goal of Savoyard politics became clearer than ever in the eyes of him and his ministers: which was to close the gates of Italy to the French and Germans and become lords of much of the peninsula over time. The new kingdom reserved for this lofty destiny the possibility in which it found itself to profitably participate in the great European competitions, to expand in the Po Valley and in Liguria, to make dynastic interest and national interest coincide. After a few years, equal European interests of Italian balance between the Habsburgs and the Bourbons took away Naples and Sicily from Austria, and restored this double and one kingdom in its ancient independence. All this while the life of the peninsula, the life of the Italian nation, its moral and intellectual energies, its labor force, as we have already said, hinted at new vigor or, better, began to visibly show the fruits of the intimate , slow, silent labor of transformation, which took place in the previous two centuries, in the centuries of rest and apparent stasis. New phase of internal life, Italian; new phase of Italy-Europe relations and international life: capable, in turn, of influencing that internal life and warming it with its warmth, communicating something of its fastest pace to it. Dawn of the Risorgimento, which is, at the same time, Italy and Europe.