14 May 2021

14 May

- Ludovico Manin - the last Doge of Venice

Surrender to Napoleon ended La Serenissima’s independence 

The man who would become the last of Venice’s 120 Doges, Ludovico Giovanni Manin, was born on this day in 1725. The Doge was the highest political office in Venice, its history going back to the seventh century, when the Venetian Lagoon was a province of the Byzantine (Eastern) Roman Empire and, in common with other provinces, was governed by a Dux (leader).  By the 11th century, when Venice had become an independent republic, the Doge was more of a figurehead, the head of a ruling council, and the title tended to be given to one of the oldest and most respected members of Venetian nobility.  Manin was 64 by the time he was elected but his eight years in post were significant in that they ended with the fall of La Serenissima - as the Venetian Republic was grandly known - its 1,100 years of independence ending with surrender to the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte, who subsequently handed control of the city to Austria.  The eldest of five sons of Lodovico III Alvise and Lucrezia Maria Basadonna, the great-granddaughter of cardinal Pietro Basadonna, Ludovico went straight into public life after completing his studies at the University of Bologna.  At 26 he was elected captain of Vicenza, then of Verona and finally Brescia, before being appointed procurator de ultra of Saint Mark's Basilica in 1764.  Read more…


Marco Zanuso - architect and designer

Innovative ideas put Italy at the forefront of contemporary style

Marco Zanuso, the architect and industrial designer whose innovative ideas helped revolutionize furniture and appliance design in Italy after the Second World War, was born in Milan on this day in 1916.  Influenced by the Rationalist movement that emerged in the 1920s, he was one of the pioneers of the Modern movement, which brought contemporary styling to mass-produced consumer products.  His use of sculptured shapes, bright colours, and modern synthetic materials helped make Italy a leader in furniture fashion.  Italy had for many years been something of a trendsetter in interior design but during the post-War years, with the fall of Fascism and the rise of Socialism, there was a sense of liberation among Italian creative talents.  With the recovery of the Italian economy there was a substantial growth in industrial production and mass-produced furniture. By the 1960s and 1970s, Italian interior design reached its pinnacle of stylishness.  Zanuso was at the forefront, producing designs that used tubular steel, acrylics, latex foam, fibreglass, foam rubber, and injection-moulded plastics.   Read more…


Aurelio Milani - footballer

Centre forward helped Inter win first European Cup

Aurelio Milani, who helped Inter-Milan become the second Italian football club to win the European Cup, was born on this day in 1934 in Desio, about 25km (15 miles) north of Lombardy’s regional capital.   Inter beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the final Vienna in 1964 to emulate the achievement of city rivals AC Milan, who had become the first European champions from Italy the previous year.  Milani, a centre forward, scored the all-important second goal in the 61st minute after his fellow attacker Sandro Mazzola had given Inter the lead in the first half, receiving a pass from Mazzola before beating Real goalkeeper Vicente Train with a shot from outside the penalty area.  Madrid, whose forward line was still led by the mighty Alfredo di Stefano with Ferenc Puskas playing at inside-left, pulled a goal back but Mazzola added a third for Inter.  But this was the so-called Grande Inter side managed by the Argentinian master-tactician Helenio Herrera, who coached them to three Serie A titles in four years and retained the European Cup by defeating Eusebio’s Benfica 12 months later, when the final was played in their home stadium at San Siro in Milan.  Read more…


Battle of Agnadello

The day Venice lost most of its mainland territory

Venetian forces were defeated by troops fighting on behalf of France, Spain and the Pope on this day in 1509 at Agnadello in Lombardy.   As a result, the Republic of Venice was forced to withdraw from much of its territory on the mainland of Italy. The writer Niccolò Machiavelli later wrote in his book, The Prince, that in one day the Venetians had ‘lost what it had taken them 800 years of exertion to conquer.’  Louis XII of France, the Emperor Maximilian, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Pope Julius II had formed the League of Cambrai with the aim of dismantling the mainland empire of Venice as they all had their own claims to areas held by the Venetians.  The French army left Milan on April 15 and invaded Venetian territory. Venice had organised a mercenary army near Bergamo commanded by the Orsini cousins, Bartolomeo d’Alviano and Niccolò di Pitigliano, who had been ordered to avoid direct confrontation with the advancing French but just to engage them in light skirmishes.  By May 9 Louis had crossed the Adda river at Cassano d’Adda and the Orsini cousins decided to move south towards the River Po in search of better positions.  Read more…


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