In 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte expelled the Austrians. The city was ruled by the French and became the capital of the Cisalpine Republic (from 1796 to 1799) and later capital of the Kingdom of Italy led by the Napoleonic dynasty (from 1805 to 1814).
During this period the first public works were built, including the Arena.
After the fall of Napoleon (1815), the Austrians returned to Milan, annulling its previous autonomy and giving rise to a period of political oppression and economic exploitation. This environment led intellectuals and members of the bourgeoisie to fuel conspiracies, and inspired the founding of so-called “secret societies” such as the Carboneria.
Curiosity: in 1827 the three volumes of the first version of The Betrothed were published, edited by Vincenzo Ferrario when author Alessandro Manzoni was 42 years old. The first and second volume are dated 1825, the third volume 1826. It was the revision of the first draft - Fermo and Lucia – written in 1821-23.
1848 was the year of the Milanese revolt (1st War of Independence).
The Five Days of Milan: the popular uprising against the Austrians began on the 18th of March 1848, ending on the 22nd of March with the victory of the rebels. With the sudden departure of the viceroy, leaving the governor O’Donnel and General Radestzky behind in Milan, the news of the liberation from Vienna quickly spread. A demonstration organized by the rebels led to the institution of the Civil Guard. While the crowd was leaving the square, a fight between soldiers caused a popular revolt even greater than the first. On the morning of the 20th of March a war council was appointed to lead the insurrection. The revolt culminated on the 22nd of March with a successful assault on Porta Tosa (present-day Porta Vittoria) putting an end to the siege of city by General Radetzky whose troops had surrounded the walls and bastions. The Austrians retreated from the city.
Curiosity: Milanese veal cutlet or Wiener schnitzel? For many years food historians have debated the origin of the famous Milanese Veal Cutlet (or Wiener schnitzel?). Today the diatribe may seem silly or of little importance, but half a century ago it was the source of no small controversy for its evident patriotic implications. The question was resolved by the Viennese Marshal Radetzky in a letter addressed to Count Attems, affirming to have discovered the famous cutlet in Milan and describing the recipe in exacting detail.
While Radetsky was fleeing Milan, Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, who had helped the Milanese liberate the Lombardo-Veneto, declared war on Austria on the 24th of March. However his efforts did not meet with success and the foreigner returned to Milan.
Though Milan was forced to surrender, the experience of the Five Days gave the population a psychological groundwork for definitive independence.
It would be ten years in coming.
During the 2nd War of Independence the Austrians were definitively expelled after the battle of Magenta on the 5th of June 1859, and on the 8th of June 1859 Victor Emmanuel II and Napoleon II arrived in Milan. Milan became part of the Kingdom of Italy (1861) under King Victor Emmanuel II.