1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Visconti-Venosta, Emilio, Marquis
VISCONTI-VENOSTA, EMILIO Marquis (1829–), Italian statesman, was born at Milan on the 2nd of January 1829. A disciple of Mazzini, he took part in all the anti-Austrian conspiracies until the ineffectual rising at Milan on the 6th of February 1853, of which he had foretold the failure, induced him to renounce his Mazzinian allegiance. Continuing, nevertheless, his anti-Austrian propaganda, he rendered good service to the national cause, but being molested by the Austrian police, was obliged in 1859 to escape to Turin, and during the war with Austria of that year was appointed by Cavour royal commissioner with the Garibaldian forces. Elected deputy in 1860, he accompanied Farini on diplomatic missions to Modena and Naples, and was subsequently dispatched to London and Paris to acquaint the British and French governments with the course of events in Italy. As a recompense for the tact displayed on this occasion, he was given by Cavour a permanent appointment in the Italian foreign office, and was subsequently appointed under-secretary of state by Count Pasolini. Upon the latter’s death he became minister of foreign affairs (24th March 1863) in the Minghetti cabinet, in which capacity he negotiated the September Convention for the evacuation of Rome by the French troops; Resigning office with Minghetti in the autumn of 1864, he was in March 1866 sent by La Marmora as minister to Constantinople, but was almost immediately recalled and reappointed foreign minister by Ricasoli. Assuming office on the morrow of the second battle of Custozza, he succeeded in preventing Austria from burdening Italy with a proportion of the Austrian imperial debt, in addition to the Venetian debt proper. The fall of Ricasoli in February 1867 deprived him for a time of his office, but in December 1869 he entered the Lanza-Sella cabinet as foreign minister, and retained his portfolio in the succeeding Minghetti cabinet until the fall of the Right in 1876. During this long period he was called upon to conduct the delicate negotiations connected with the Franco-German War, the occupation of Rome by the Italians, and the consequent destruction of the temporal power of the pope, the Law of Guarantees and the visits of Victor Emmanuel II. to Vienna and Berlin. Upon the occasion of his marriage with the daughter of the marquis Alfieri di Sostegno, grand-niece of Cavour, he was created marquis by the king. For a time he remained a member of the parliamentary opposition, and in 1886 was nominated senator. In 1894, after eighteen years' absence from active political life, he was chosen to be Italian arbitrator in the Bering Sea question, and in 1896 once more accepted the portfolio of foreign affairs in the Di Rudini cabinet at a juncture when the disasters in Abyssinia and the indiscreet publication of an Abyssinian Green Book had rendered the international position of Italy exceedingly difficult. His first care was to improve Franco-Italian relations by negotiating with France a treaty with regard to Tunis. During the negotiations relating to the Cretan question and the Graeco-Turkish War, he secured for Italy a worthy part in the European Concert and joined Lord Salisbury in saving Greece from the loss of Thessaly. Resigning office in May 1898, on a question of internal policy, he once more retired to private life, but in May 1899 again assumed the management of foreign affairs in the second Pelloux cabinet, and continued to hold office in the succeeding Saracco cabinet until its fall in February 1901. During this period his attention was devoted chiefly to the Chinese problem and to the maintenance of the equilibrium in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic. In regard to the Mediterranean he established an Italo-French agreement by which France tacitly undertook to leave Italy a free hand in Tripoli, and Italy not to interfere with French policy in the interior of Morocco, and, in regard to the Adriatic, he came to an understanding with Austria guaranteeing the status quo in Albania. Prudence and sagacity, coupled with unequalled experience of foreign policy, enabled him to assure to Italy her full portion of influence in international affairs, and secured for himself the unanimous esteem of European cabinets. In recognition of his services he was created Knight of the Annunziata by Victor Emmanuel III. on the occasion of the birth of Princess Yolanda Margherita of Savoy (1st of June 1901). In February 1906 he was Italian delegate to the Morocco conference at Algeciras.
An account of Visconti-Venosta’s early life (down to 1859) is given in an interesting volume by his brother Giovanni Visconti-Venosta, Ricordi di Gioventù (Milan, 1904).