10 February 2016

Ernesto Teodoro Moneta – Nobel Prize winner

Supporter of Garibaldi was also an ‘apostle for peace’

Moneta was a supporter of Garibaldi but also a pacifist
Ernesto Teodoro Moneta
Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, who was at times both a soldier and a pacifist, died on this day in 1918.

Moneta was only 15 when he was involved in the Five Days of Milan uprising against the Austrians in 1848, but in later life he became a peace activist.

He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1907, but publicly supported Italy’s entry into the First World War in 1915. On the Nobel Prize official website he is described as ‘a militant pacifist’.

Moneta was born in 1833 to aristocratic parents in Milan. He fought next to his father to defend his family home during the revolt against the Austrians and then went on to attend the military academy in Ivrea.

In 1859 Moneta joined Garibaldi’s Expedition of the Thousand and fought in the Italian army against the Austrians in 1866.

He then seemed to become disillusioned with the struggle for Italian unification and cut short what had been a promising military career.

For nearly 30 years Moneta was editor of the Milan democratic newspaper, Il Secolo. Through the columns of his newspaper he campaigned vigorously for reforms to the army which would strengthen it and reduce waste and inefficiency.

During this time Moneta also wrote his work Wars, Insurrection and Peace in the 19th Century, in which he describes the development of the international peace movement.

He wrote articles for pamphlets and periodicals and gave lectures campaigning for peace. In 1887 he founded the Lombard Association for Peace and Arbitration, which called for disarmament.

Alongside Louis Renault, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1907.

But Moneta’s Italian patriotism led him to support the Italian conquest of Libya in 1912 and later publicly express his agreement with Italy’s entry into the First World War.

Travel tip:

There is a monument to Moneta in the Porta Venezia Gardens in Milan. The inscription reads: ‘Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, garibaldine, thinker, journalist, apostle of peace among free people.’  The gardens are the largest public park in the city and a rare area of greenery in Milan. They are next to the Bastioni di Porta Venezia, part of the walls built to defend Milan in the 16th century.

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The Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea is a carnival tradition
The Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, in which fighting
can be particularly intense. 
Travel tip:

Ivrea, where Moneta attended a military academy, is a town in the province of Turin in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. It has a 14th century castle and the ruins of a first century Roman theatre that would have been able to hold 10,000 spectators. During the annual carnival before Easter, Ivrea stages the Battle of the Oranges, where teams of locals on foot throw oranges at teams riding in carts.

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