Showing posts with label 1848. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1848. Show all posts

15 November 2018

The murder of Pellegrino Rossi

Political assassination opened way to creation of Roman Republic

A magazine illustration depicting the murder of  Pellegrino Rossi at the Palazzo della Cancelleria
A magazine illustration depicting the murder of
Pellegrino Rossi at the Palazzo della Cancelleria
One of the key events during the revolutionary upheaval of 1848 in Italy took place on this day in that year when the politician Count Pellegrino Rossi was murdered at the Palazzo della Cancelleria, the seat of the government of the Papal States in Rome.

The event precipitated turmoil in Rome and led eventually to the formation of the short-lived Roman Republic.

Rossi was the Minister of the Interior in the government of Pope Pius IX and as such was responsible for a programme of unpopular reforms, underpinned by his conservative liberal stance, which gave only the well-off the right to vote and did nothing to address the economic and social disruption created by industrialisation.

Street violence, stirred up by secret societies such as Giuseppe Mazzini’s Young Italy movement, had been going on for weeks in Rome and Rossi had been declared an enemy of the people in meetings as far away as Turin and Florence.

Rossi's reforms had failed to address the social and economic problems besetting Rome
Rossi's reforms had failed to address the social
and economic problems besetting Rome
There was also anger in Rome at Pius IX’s decision to withdraw the support of the Papal Army from the First Italian War of Independence, being fought between the the Kingdom of Sardinia (Piedmont) and the Austrian Empire.

On November 15, 1848, Rossi arrived at the Palazzo della Cancelleria to present his plan for a new constitutional order to the legislative assembly. He was warned ahead of the meeting that an attempt would be made on his life but he defied the threat with the words: “I defend the cause of the pope, and the cause of the pope is the cause of God. I must and will go.”

However, as he climbed the stairs leading to the assembly hall, an individual stepped forward and struck him with a cane. Rossi turned towards his attacker and as he did so was set upon by another assailant, who drove a dagger into his neck.

The murderer was said to be Luigi Brunetti, the elder son of Angelo Brunetti, a fervent democrat, acting on the instigation of Pietro Sterbini, a journalist and revolutionary who was a friend of Mazzini. Though members of the Civic Guard were in the courtyard when the attack took place, no one attempted to arrest the count’s killer and when crowds gathered later at the house of Rossi's widow, they chanted ‘Blessed is the hand that stabbed Rossi’.

Giuseppe Mazzini was one of the leaders of the Roman Republic
Giuseppe Mazzini was one of the
leaders of the Roman Republic
The murder spurred the secret societies to foment an uprising against the papal government. The following day, Pius IX was besieged inside the Palazzo del Quirinale by an unruly mob. The pope’s Swiss Guard was able to hold back the mob for a time but when it seemed the crowd was about to disperse, up to 1,000 members of the Civic Guard, the police, and other soldiers marched into the palace’s piazza and opened fire on the palace, including with cannons. Knowing resistance was useless, Pius IX agreed to negotiate with revolutionaries.

Demands were made for a democratic government, social reforms and a declaration of war against the Empire of Austria.  Pius IX had little option but to appoint a liberal ministry, but he refused to abdicate and forbade the government to pass any laws in his name.

In the event, on the evening of November 24, with the help of close allies and his personal attendant, Pius IX escaped from the Palazzo del Quirinale disguised as an ordinary priest, slipping through one of the gates of the city and boarding a carriage that was to take him to Gaeta, a city 120km (75 miles) south of Rome, where the King of the Two Sicilies had promised him a refuge.

Rossi was commemorated with a statue in his native Carrara in Tuscany
Rossi was commemorated with a statue
in his native Carrara in Tuscany
It meant that, for the first time in history, Rome was without a government. Into the void stepped Mazzini, his supporter Aurelio Saffi and the popular Roman activist Carlo Armellini, who formed a triumvirate at the head of a Roman Republic, which was declared officially on February 9, 1849.

The republic put forward some progressive ideas, including religious tolerance and an end to capital punishment, but in the event it was a short-lived revolution. Ironically, it was crushed by a former ally, Napoleon III of France, who had once participated in an uprising against the Papal States but who now, under pressure from the Catholic Church in France, felt compelled to send an army to restore Pius XI to power.

The Romans put up a fight, aided by a Republican army led by Garibaldi, but the city fell in late June and with it the Republic.

The Palazzo della Cancelleria, built between 1489 and 1513, is thought to be the oldest Renaissance palace in Rome
The Palazzo della Cancelleria, built between 1489 and
1513, is thought to be the oldest Renaissance palace in Rome

Travel tip:

The Palazzo della Cancelleria, which is situated between Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Campo de' Fiori, is a Renaissance palace, probably the earliest Renaissance palace to be built in Rome. It is the work of the architect Donato Bramante between 1489 and 1513, initially as a residence for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, who was the Camerlengo - treasurer - of the Holy Roman Church under Pope Sixtus V. It evolved as the seat of the Chancellery of the Papal States.  The Roman Republic used it as their parliament building.

Rome hotels by

The Palazzo del Quirinale has been the residence in Rome of 30 popes, four kings and 12 presidents
The Palazzo del Quirinale has been the residence in Rome
of 30 popes, four kings and 12 presidents
Travel tip:

The Palazzo del Quirinale was built in 1583 by Pope Gregory XIII as a summer residence and served both as a papal residence and the offices responsible for the civil government of the Papal States until 1870. When, in 1871, Rome became the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy, the palace became the official residence of the kings of Italy, although some monarchs, notably King Victor Emmanuel III (1900–1946), lived in a private residence elsewhere. When the monarchy was abolished in 1946, the Palazzo del Quirinale became the official residence and workplace for the presidents of the Italian Republic. So far, it has housed 30 popes, four kings and 12 presidents.

4 March 2018

Birth of the Italian Constitution

Celebrations in Turin for historic Statute

Charles Albert, King of Sardinia
Charles Albert, King of Sardinia
The Albertine Statute - Statuto Albertino - which later became the Constitution of the Kingdom of Italy, was approved by Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, on this day in 1848 in Turin.

The Constitution was to last 100 years, until its abolition in 1948 when the Constitution of the new Italian republic came into effect.

The Statute was based on the French Charter of 1830. It ensured citizens were equal before the law and gave them limited rights of assembly and the right to a free press.

However, it gave voting rights to less than three per cent of the population.

The Statute established the three classic branches of government: the executive, which meant the king, the legislative, divided between the royally appointed Senate and an elected Chamber of Deputies, and a judiciary, also appointed by the king.

Originally, it was the king who possessed the widest powers, as he controlled foreign policy and had the prerogative of nominating and dismissing ministers of state.

In practice, the Statute was gradually modified to weaken the king’s power. The ministers of state became responsible to the parliament and the office of prime minister, not provided for in the Constitution, became prominent.

Charles Albert signs the Albertine Statute
Charles Albert signs the Albertine Statute
The king, however, retained an important influence in foreign affairs and in times of domestic crisis his role was pivotal.

The social base of the constitution was gradually broadened so that by 1913 universal adult male suffrage was achieved.

Under the Fascist regime the Statute was substantially modified to put control of the Government into the hands of the Fascist Party.

Charles Albert, the King of Sardinia between 1831 and 1839, gave his name to the beginnings of the Italian Constitution as it was called the Albertine Statute.

Before the statute was drafted Charles Albert had said he would not approve it if it did not clearly state the pre-eminent position of the Catholic religion and the honour of the monarchy. Once he had obtained these concessions he approved it.

Later that day a royal edict was published in the streets of Turin laying out the 14 articles which formed the basis of the Statute.

By the evening the city was lit up by bonfires and a massive demonstration in favour of Charles Albert took place.

The full version of the Statute with all its articles was finally agreed on March 4, 1848 and approved the same day by Charles Albert.

The Piazza Castello in the heart of royal Turin
The Piazza Castello in the heart of royal Turin
Travel tip:

Turin, the capital city of the region of Piedmont, has some fine architecture, which illustrates its rich history as the home of the Savoy Kings of Italy. Piazza Castello, with the royal palace, royal library and Palazzo Madama, which used to house the Italian senate, is at the heart of ‘royal’ Turin.

The Palazzo Viceregio is a former royal palace
The Palazzo Viceregio is a former royal palace
Travel tip:

The monarchs of the House of Savoy ruled from their mainland capital of Turin but styled themselves primarily Kings of Sardinia after Victor Amadeus II of Savoy was the first to rule the island after it was ceded to him by Emperor Charles VI in 1720. For a short period between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century the Palazzo Viceregio in Cagliari in Sardinia was the official royal residence after the King was exiled from Turin.

8 April 2016

Gaetano Donizetti - operatic genius

The day the music died

This portrait of Gaetano Donizetto was painted by Joseph Kriehuber in 1842
Joseph Kriehuber's 1842 portrait of
Gaetano Donizetti
A prolific composer of operas in the first half of the 19th century, Gaetano Donizetti died on this day in 1848 in Bergamo in Lombardy.

Donizetti had returned to his native city after a brilliant international career to spend his last days in the Palazzo Scotti in the Città Alta, the upper town.

By then seriously ill, he was looked after by friends in the gracious surroundings of the palazzo until his death. His tomb is in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, where it is marked by a white, marble monument.

Donizetti has since become acknowledged as the greatest composer of lyrical opera of all time. He was a major influence on Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini and other composers who came after him.

Along with Gioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, he was a leading composer of the bel canto opera style during the first half of the 19th century. Among more than 70 works, his best and most famous operas are considered to be Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale and L’elisir d’amore.

In Via Sentierone in Bergamo’s lower town there is an elaborate white marble monument to the composer next to Teatro Donizetti, which was renamed in his honour in 1897 on the centenary of his birth.

Donizetti painted as a schoolboy in Bergamo in the early 19th century
Donizetti painted as a schoolboy in
Bergamo in the early 19th century
Born in the Borgo Canale quarter of Bergamo, just outside the city walls, the youngest of three sons of the caretaker of a municipal pawnshop, he trained with the German composer Simon Mayr, the maestro di cappella at the city's cathedral. Mayr helped him win a place at the Bologna Academy at the age of 19.  He was not the most assiduous student, gaining a reputation for missing classes and getting into scrapes, but Mayr's faith in his talent did not waver and ultimately it was rewarded.

His first important success came in 1818 with Enrico di Borgogna at the Teatro San Luca, in Venice. Soon afterwards he moved to Naples, taking up residency at the Teatro San Carlo in 1822 at the age of 25. He stayed there until 1844, producing more than three quarters of his work there.  In 1830 his Anna Bolena, produced at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, carried his fame abroad and two years later came L’elisir d’amore. The year after that Lucrezia Borgia consolidated his reputation in Milan.

However, more than once he found himself at odds with the censors, and in the 1840s began to spend an increasing amount of time in Paris, where the censorship rules were less strict.

Married in 1828 to Virginia Vasseli, the sister of one of his closest friends in Rome, Donizetti's spirits suffered greatly after her death in 1837, soon after the stillbirth of a son. Indeed, none of their three children survived birth.

His own health began to decline soon after he moved to Paris and it was not only physically but mentally that he deteriorated rapidly, suffering periods of near-insanity due to the loss of his cognitive faculties. It was only because of the devotion of a nephew, Andrea, that he was able to return to Bergamo for his final days.

Donizetti's birthplace in Via Borgo Canale is clearly marked at No 14
Donizetti's birthplace in Via Borgo Canale
is clearly marked at No 14
Travel tip:

Donizetti’s Casa Natale (birthplace), is in Via Borgo Canale just outside the walls of the upper town. It has now been declared a national monument and is open free to visitors every weekend. You can still see the well from which the family drew their water and the fireplace where meals were cooked, which would also have been their only source of heating.  To reach Donizetti’s birthplace, leave the Città Alta through Porta Sant’Alessandro and go past the station for the San Vigilio funicolare. Via Borgo Canale is the next street on the right and Casa Natale, at number 14, is in the middle of a row of characteristic, tall houses and is marked by a plaque.

Bergamo hotels by

The bed in which Donizetti spent his final hours in Palazzo
Scotti is on display in the museum in Via Arena
Travel tip:

A museum dedicated to Donizetti’s life and career is housed in the former Palazzo Misericordia Maggiore, now a musical institute, in Via Arena in the Città Alta. There are many interesting letters, documents and original scores on display along with the bed he died in and the chair he sat in while staying in Palazzo Scotti towards the end of his life. Donizetti’s tomb can be seen in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Piazza Duomo in the Città Alta.

Also on this day:

8 February 2016

Revolt in Padua

When students and citizens joined forces against their oppressors 

The Caffè Pedrocchi in Padua witnessed fighting in the 1848 uprising against the Austrians
The Caffè Pedrocchi in Padua witnessed fighting
in the 1848 uprising against the Austrians
An uprising against the Austrian occupying forces, when students and ordinary citizens fought side by side, took place on this day in Padua in 1848.

A street is now named Via VIII Febbraio to commemorate the location of the struggle between the Austrian soldiers and the students and citizens of Padua, when both the University of Padua and the Caffè Pedrocchi briefly became battlegrounds.

The Padua rebellion was one of a series of revolts in Italy during 1848, which had started with the Sicilian uprising in January of that year.

The Austrians were seen as arrogant and aggressive by ordinary citizens and the ideas of Giuseppe Mazzini and Camillo Benso Cavour about a united Italy were becoming popular with progressive thinkers.
Many students supported the ideas of the revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini
Many students supported the ideas of
the revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini

Students and professors at Padua University had been meeting in rooms at the University and in Caffè Pedrocchi to discuss their discontent.

The uprising began with the storming of a prison and prisoners being set free. Then many ordinary citizens came to fight alongside the students against the armed Austrians, who clubbed the Paduans with their guns as well as firing at them.

You can still see a hole in the wall of the White Room inside Caffè Pedrocchi made by a bullet fired by an Austro-Hungarian soldier at the students.

Both Paduans and Austrian soldiers were killed and wounded in the fighting. Many people were arrested by the soldiers and in a crackdown later, some students and professors were expelled from the university.

The revolt was short lived and there was no other rebellion  in Padua against the Austrians. But the 8 February uprising was thought to have encouraged Charles Albert of Savoy, King of Sardinia-Piedmont, to later declare war on Austria.

In 1866 Italy finally expelled the Austrians from the Veneto and Padua became annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.

Travel tip:

Right in the centre of Padua, the Caffè Pedrocchi has been a meeting place for business people, students, intellectuals and writers for nearly 200 years. Founded by coffee maker Antonio Pedrocchi in 1831, the café was designed in neoclassical style and each side is edged with Corinthian columns. It quickly became a centre for the Risorgimento movement and was popular with students and artists because of its location close to Palazzo del Bò, the main university building. It became known as 'the café without doors', as it was open day and night for people to talk, read, play cards and debate. Caffè Pedrocchi is now a Padua institution and a 'must see' sight for visitors. You can enjoy coffee, drinks and snacks all day in the elegant surroundings.

The Basilica di Sant'Antonio dates back to the 13th century
The Basilica di Sant'Antonio in Padua
Travel tip:

The University of Padua was established in 1222 and is one of the oldest in the world, second in Italy only to the University of Bologna . The main university building, Palazzo del Bò in Via VIII Febbraio in the centre of Padua, used to house the medical faculty. You can take a guided tour to see the lectern used by Galileo when he taught at the university between 1592 and 1610. Other sights that are a must-see on a visit to Padua include the 13th century Basilica di Sant'Antonio.

More reading:

Giuseppe Mazzini - hero of the Risorgimento

Sicilian revolt that sparked a year of uprisings

The Five Days of Milan

Also on this day:

1591: The birth of Baroque master Guercino

1751: The death of Trevi Fountain architect Nicola Salvi


12 January 2016

Revolution in Sicily

January revolt meant the beginning of the end for the Bourbons

The Sicilian uprising on this day in 1848 was to be the first of several revolutions in Italy and Europe that year.

Ferdinand was the Bourbon ruler of Sicily
King Ferdinand II
The revolt against the Bourbon government of Ferdinand II in Sicily started in Palermo and led to Sicily becoming an independent state for 16 months.

It was the third revolution to take place on the island against Bourbon rule and signalled the end for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Naples and Sicily had been formally reunited to become the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1815. Back in medieval times they had both been part of a single Kingdom of Sicily.

The 1848 revolt was organised in Palermo and deliberately timed to coincide with King Ferdinand’s birthday.

News of the revolt spread and peasants from the countryside arrived to join the fray and express their frustration about the hardships they were enduring.

Sicilian nobles revived the liberal constitution based on the Westminster system of parliamentary government, which had been drawn up for the island in 1812.

The Bourbon army took back full control of Sicily by force in May 1849 but the revolt proved to be only a curtain raiser for the events to come in 1860 when Giuseppe Garibaldi ended Bourbon rule once and for all.

The island of Sicily became part of the new Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Travel tip:
Palermo's magnificent Teatro Massimo
Photo: Bjs (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Palermo,  the capital of Sicily, is famous for its history, culture, architecture, food and wine. It has examples of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque churches and palaces. Palazzo dei Normanni, a marvellous example of Norman architecture, is the seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly. The Teatro Massimo, the biggest theatre in Italy, has staged operas starring Enrico Caruso.

Travel tip:

Naples has been subjected to persistent foreign domination over the centuries. After the Spanish came the Austrians and in 1734 the Bourbon King, Charles I, renovated the city, building the Villa di Capodimonte and the Teatro di San Carlo. Napoleon conquered Naples in 1806 and made his brother the King, but the Bourbon King, Ferdinand, regained Naples in 1815. In 1861, Garibaldi’s army conquered the city and handed it over to the King of Sardinia, who later became King Victor Emanuel II, the ruler of the newly united Italy.