1796-97: the war, which France declared to many Italian states in 1792, becomes effective and the revolutionary armies, under the command of the young general Napoleon Bonaparte, invade Italian soil. The lightning-fast victories of Bonaparte (Montenotte, Millesimo, Dego, Mondovì) immediately broke the common Austro-Sardinian front and, while the armistice of Cherasco (28 April 1796), which later became the Peace of Paris (15 May), put the king of Sardinia at the mercy of Bonaparte (the Jacobins, who proclaimed the first Italian republic in Alba, are abandoned by the victor), the revolutionary army heads towards Milan (Bonaparte’s victory at the Adda bridge near Lodi), where the May 15, 1796. After the encroachment of both armies into the territory of the neutral Venetian Republic, the quadrilateral of the Austrian fortresses opposes a serious resistance to Bonaparte, who takes advantage of the momentary pause to subdue the Italian princes (heavy treaties imposed on the Duke of Parma and that of Modena; occupation of the papal legations of Ferrara, Bologna, Ravenna, Imola and Faenza and imposition on Pope Pius VI of the armistice of 23 June 1796, which in addition to the renunciation of the provinces of Ferrara and Bologna sanctions the payment of a heavy war indemnity and the transfer of 500 codes and 100 works of art; occupation of the port of Livorno on 5 July 1796; heavy armistice imposed on the king of Naples). Military operations against the Austrians resumed and the four armies descended from the Alps to the rescue of Mantua were defeated, Bonaparte with the battle of Rivoli (14 January 1797) definitively ensures the French victory and, having conquered Mantua (2 February) and made the conditions imposed on the Italian princes more burdensome, he points to the heart of the Austrian Empire, finally forcing the Emperor Francis II to the armistice and the preliminaries of the Peace of Leoben (April 18, 1797). Austria loses Lombardy, but in exchange it obtains Dalmatia, Istria and a part of the Venetian mainland, in order to be able to dispose of which Bonaparte attacks Venice which until then has remained neutral (2-16 May 1797) and favors the advent of a democratic government, with which he enters into a treaty of peace and friendship; in the Peace of Campoformio (October 17, 1797) the Venetian territory was then divided between Austria, France, which directly occupies the Ionian Islands and the former possessions of Venice in Albania, and the Cisalpine Republic. Meanwhile Bonaparte in December 1796 gave birth to the Cispadan Republic (Reggio nell’Emilia, Ferrara, Bologna and Modena) and the Transpadana Republic (Lombardy); then, in May 1797, he merged these two states into one, the Cisalpine Republic, which proves to be a robust and vital organism, soon enlarged with the annexation of the Valtellina subtracted from the Grisons (October 1797) and of the Venetian cities to the right of the ‘Adige. In June 1797, the oligarchic republic of Genoa had to radically democratize its own legal systems at the imposition of Bonaparte and eventually (December 1797) form itself into the Ligurian Republic. In November Bonaparte leaves the Italy, but his departure does not put an end to the expansion of the dominion, direct or indirect,
1798-99: the assassination in Rome of General L. Duphot causes the arrival of French troops and the proclamation of the Jacobin republic in Rome (February 15, 1798); the French interference in the internal government of Piedmont becomes more and more suffocating to the point that in December 1798 the new king Carlo Emanuele IV (1796-1802) prefers to take refuge first abroad and then in Sardinia; when the war of the second coalition broke out (1798), the reckless expedition of Ferdinand IV of Naples, which for an instant allows him to overthrow the Jacobin republic, is paid dearly, since the immediate counter-offensive of the French general Championnet not only re-establishes the republic in Rome, but gives rise to the Neapolitan Republic (23 January 1799) and forces the sovereign to seek refuge in Sicily;
1799: only Genoa withstands the forces of the second coalition; while Bonaparte was engaged in the Egyptian campaign, all the Jacobin republics fell one by one and in Lombardy the Austro-Russian reaction was ruthless for thirteen months. Even more merciless is the reaction of Ferdinand IV and the English admiral Nelson in Naples.
1800-05: the second Italian campaign of Napoleon first consul, with the overwhelming victory of Marengo (June 14, 1800), returns to closely tie the peninsula to France (restoration of the Cisalpine Republic, reaffirmation of French dominance over Piedmont and the Ligurian Republic, occupation of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, sending of an army under the command of Gioacchino Murat against the Kingdom of Naples through the papal territory); the new order was sanctioned with the Peace of Lunéville with Austria (9 February 1801) and of Florence with Ferdinand IV of Naples (28 March). The Cisalpine Republic is considerably enlarged with the Veronese and the Polesine, once belonging to Venice, with the Novarese taken from Piedmont and the former papal legations; Furthermore, according to LOCALTIMEZONE, the long-standing Lombard-Piedmontese rivalry for the control of the Alpine passes is resolved by attributing the outlets of the Simplon to the Cisalpina. Piedmont and the former duchy of Parma remain under the direct occupation of France. The former Grand Duchy of Tuscany was transformed into the Kingdom of Etruria to make it a throne for Ludovico I di Borbone, and, on his death (1803), for his son Carlo Ludovico under the regencyof his mother Maria Luisa. The king of Naples is not only forced to evacuate Rome and cede the island of Elba to Piombino, but must authorize the temporary French occupation of the ports of Otranto and Brindisi and close their ports to English trade. The Lyon consultation of 1801-02 causes the collapse of any residual democratic and national illusion and the major organism of the Italy French, the Cisalpina, was transformed first into the Italian Republic (January 26, 1802) under the presidency of Napoleon himself and the vice-presidency of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, then into the Italian Kingdom (March 18, 1805) under the government of Viceroy Eugene of Beauharnais. Finally, throughout the Italy The Napoleonic process, already begun in 1796, of a huge transfer of ownership due to the sale of ecclesiastical and state property is completed.