Archive for Daniele Manin

Jun
02

Birth of a nation

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This mountain of marble and metal was created by the Roman sculptor Ettore Ferrari, and was inaugurated on May 1, 1887, nine years after the king's demise.

This mountain of marble and metal was created by Roman sculptor Ettore Ferrari in honor of King Vittorio Emanuele II, and was inaugurated on May 1, 1887, nine years after the king’s demise.

As anyone who has ever walked along the Riva degli Schiavoni knows, there is a honking big statue in the middle of the street.

Many (most? all?) countries can boast imposing effigies of men on horseback, usually brandishing a saber, or their hat, or maybe a banner.  Brandishing, anyway.

Considering that, in the case of the mounted man on the Riva, nobody has seen fit to provide even the tiniest clue as to who he is, you’ve probably been satisfied to surmise that somewhere, at some time, this man did something bronzeworthy..

Then you take pictures of the more memorable lions, and move on.

But for anyone who would, in fact, like to know what’s up with all these characters, I am ready to reveal all.  And my excuse is the date, June 2, which is a national holiday known as the Festa della Repubblica, or Republic Day. Although the man relates only inversely to the event (more on that below), I’m exploiting this occasion because there isn’t another one around that fits him any better.

The swordbearing cavalier is King Vittorio Emanuele II (also known as the “Father of the Fatherland”), and he was the first king of the newly created nation of Italy.  Clicking on that link will spare us slowing down for a reprise of most of the details; the “juice” of the subject, as they put it here, is that in 1861 Italy pulled itself together to form one nation out of many assorted mini-nations, duchies, and kingdoms.

The pulling-together process was long, toilsome, and often extremely bloody.  Then the newly-minted Italians, having established the Kingdom of Italy on March 17, 1861, had to find a ruler.  The mantle fell on the aforementioned Vittorio Emanuele, a member of the House of Savoy (one of the oldest ruling families in Europe), who was already King of Sardinia and, more important, had been a major participant in the Unification process.

Some of the main events which led to this moment, with several Venetian codicils, are depicted in nearly insane detail on the monument, as follows:

Our story begins with Venice (represented by a heroic woman as well as the winged lion of San Marco) in chains, prisoner of the Austrians who occupied the city until 1861.

Our story begins with Venice represented as a heroic woman as well as by the winged lion of San Marco.  The scene recalls the condition of the former Serenissima under the oppression of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and its soldiers who occupied the city until 1861.  Her sword is broken, her flagstaff snapped, and the lion is gnawing at his chains.  Her cap recalls the doge’s “corno,” the characteristic hat of the Venetian dukes.

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Below her left foot is a shattered shield, with the dates 1848-1849 in the center.  This was the period of the desperate uprising against the Austrians and the attempted establishment of the Kingdom of Venice.  Around the border are incised the names of

At her feet is a shattered shield, with the dates 1848-1849 in the center. This was the period of the doomed uprising against the Austrians led by Daniele Manin, and the short-lived establishment of the Republic of Venice. Still more important is the fact that his uprising was part of a larger series of conflicts against the Austrians in northern Italy in what is generally called the “First War of Independence.” Around the border are incised the names of certain important battles: Monte Berico, Marghera, Goito, Mestre.

On the north side is the shield of the House of Savoy, and above it a tangled scene in low relief which shows the future King in the process of winning the battle of TK.

On the north side is the shield bearing the simple emblem of the House of Savoy, and above it a tangled scene in  relief which shows the future king in the process of defeating the Austrians at the battle of Palestro (May 31, 1859). He personally fought at the head of the Sardinian bersaglieri.

A generic scene of grisly combat, with the King front and center.

A generic scene of grisly combat, with the not-yet-king front and center.

On to the happy ending. Austria defeated, Venice once again proud, with full sword and snarling lion unchained.

On to the happy ending. Austria defeated, Venice once again proud, with full sword and snarling lion unchained.

The lion's right paw tramples not only a few links of the former chain, but a document with the date "1815" inscribed on it --

The lion’s right paw tramples not only a few links of the former chain, but a document with the date “1815” inscribed on it.  That year saw many momentous events, but for our purposes it signifies the Congress of Vienna, which marked the earliest step toward the eventual Unification of Italy.

On (date tK) the Venetians voted on the proposal to join the Kingdom of Italy.  The number of votes are inscribed here:

On October 21 and 22, 1866, Venetians voted on the proposal to join the Kingdom of Italy. The number of votes are inscribed here: Yes 641,758, No 69.

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On the hem of the robe of victorious Venice is a single name: MANIN.

On the hem of the robe of victorious Venice is a single name: MANIN.

The larger scene is the king's entrance into Venice in 1866.  Below it, though, is an important afterthought, just to bring the saga to the appropriate close: A square tablet which reads 1 May

On the south side, we see the king’s arrival on his first state visit to Venice.

On DATE TK, King Victor Emanuele II entered Venice and rendered homage to the city in the Piazza San Marco.

On November 7, 1866 King Victor Emanuele II entered Venice and rendered homage to the city in the Piazza San Marco.

A detail of the king pausing before the majestic scene.  Hidden behind his entourage are two illegal pigeon-feed sellers, 5 illegal long-stemmed-rose sellers, and 85 illegal selfie-stick sellers.  Oh wait -- that's today.

A detail of the king pausing before the majestic scene, which lacked the now permanent contingent of illegal sellers of pigeon feed, long-stemmed roses, and selfie-sticks.

text here

And to bring the story to its fitting conclusion, this assortment of details (plaque with the date 1 May 1867, and the shield bearing the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus) immortalizes the date on which Rome was voted the capital of the new Italy.

Remarkable, how big this little lion is, compared to all the rest.

I see swords and guns, but don’t discern a pen in this collage.  I’m sure there must have been at least one somewhere in the midst of this whole affair.

Flag of the Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946).

Flag of the Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946).  No need for fussy crowns and mythic beasts in the center — the coat of arms of the House of Savoy does the job.

I mentioned above that I’m writing this on Republic Day, even though the king relates to it only inversely.  I say that because after 85 years of kings, the Italian people went to the polls on June 2, 1946 and voted to replace him with a republic.  That’s one impressive job-performance evaluation.

Furthermore, the king and his entire family were sent into exile, which demonstrates some prudence on the part of the new government, considering that 54 percent (almost all in the North) had voted for a republic but 45 per cent voted to keep the monarchy (almost all in the South).  There are a few characters around Venice who still make a point of putting out the royal flag on certain occasions.  It’s a vain gesture; the Italian Constitution forbids the reinstatement of a monarchy by constitutional amendment.  The only way to bring back a king would be to write a completely new constitution.  This is not on anybody’s to-do list.

In any case, if there were to be a new king, he couldn’t come from the House of Savoy, as the Savoyards formally renounced their claim to the (non-existent) throne in 2002 in return for being permitted to set foot in Italy again, should the mood strike.

But the statue remains, and even if nobody now recognizes who it is on the horse, it served a very important purpose in its time. Statues of Vittorio Emanuele II and his co-divinity, Giuseppe Garibaldi, began to appear in many places after Unification.  The reason, as so aptly and famously put by contemporary statesman Massimo d’Azeglio, was “Now that Italy has been made, we need to make the Italians.”

You wake up one morning and you’re an Italian.  What is that supposed to mean?  Statues of the two major protagonists were one way of focusing public attention on the new reality and the new identity.

The analogous statue to Giuseppe Garibaldi, by Augusto Benvenuti, was inaugurated on July 24, 1887, a few months after the king's memorial.

The analogous statue to Giuseppe Garibaldi, by Augusto Benvenuti, was inaugurated on July 24, 1887, a few months after the king’s memorial.

“To transmit the … sense of a common past and present identity … effectively, urban space became re-defined for the political realities of the late nineteenth century.  Public commemorations became widespread, especially through the erection of monuments and plaques, and the re-naming of streets.  Their inauguration ceremonies encouraged the collective participation in the spectacle of the ‘imagined’ nation.  Personality cults which glorified national figures such as King Vittorio Emanuele II and Giuseppe Garibaldi were perceived as important tools in the nation-building process.”  (Laura Parker, “Identity, memory, and la diarchia di bronzo, Commemorating Vittorio Emanuele II and Giuseppe Garibaldi in post-Risorgimento Venice.”)

I close with some trivia, which as everyone knows, I never consider trivial.

 

This is a place-holder.

The Savoia & Jolanda hotel is just steps away from the kingly statue.  I’m guessing that it was named for then-prince Vittorio Emanuele III (the grandson of the man with the sword) and his daughter Jolanda.  He ruled from 1900 – 1946, and his visit to Venice in 1882 with his mother, Queen Margherita, inspired a number of memorials.

For example, this plaque above the Coop supermarket on via Garibaldi.

Such as the plaque above the Coop supermarket on via Garibaldi.

Which states:

Which states:  “Margherita Queen of Italy and Vittorio Emanuele Hereditary Prince on July 20 1882 Leaning from this balcony admired the festival ordered in their honor The new example of the ancient bond which in days that are happy or sad unites realm and people It was desired that this be remembered June 1902.”

Queen Margherita was reportedly much more popular than her husband.  This statue represents her holding a torch which is alight at night.  Take that, Statue of Liberty. An attractive legend holds that the pizza Margherita was created in her honor, composed of the three colors of the national flag (tomato, basil, mozzarella).

Queen Margherita was reportedly much more popular than either her son or her husband. This statue represents her lifting a torch which is lit at night. (Take that, Statue of Liberty.) An attractive legend holds that the “pizza Margherita” was created in her honor, composed of the three colors of the national flag (tomato, basil, mozzarella).  There is no “pizza Vittorio Emanuele Maria Alberto Eugenio Ferdinando Tommaso, Father of the Fatherland,” meaning no disrespect.  I can’t even begin to think what it would be made of.

 

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Apr
25

70 years free

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Every year the city places laurel wreaths at the most important patriotic monuments. The most elaborate one, with an aureole of palm, is placed at the tomb of Daniele Manin.

Every year the city places laurel wreaths at the most important patriotic monuments. The most elaborate one, with an aureole of palm, is placed at the tomb of Daniele Manin.

April 25, as I have reported on other occasions, is a double holiday in Venice: The anniversary of the liberation of Italy after World War II (this year marking the 70th milestone), and the feast day of San Marco, the city’s patron saint.

And gentlemen must acquire a long-stemmed red rose (the "bocolo," in Venetian) to bestow on their lady love(s).  Here, gondolier Marco Farnea buys two -- one for his wife, the other for his gondola.  It's an extra-festive occasion, too, considering it's his name-day.

And gentlemen must acquire a long-stemmed red rose (the “bocolo,” in Venetian) to bestow on their lady love(s). Here, gondolier Marco Farnea buys two — one for his wife, the other for his gondola. It’s an extra-festive occasion, too, because it’s his name-day.

Either of those facts deserves reams, and reams are ready and waiting, thanks to phalanxes of historians.

I simply want to keep the world apprised — yes, I modestly claim to keep the WORLD apprised — of a date that deserves remembering.  And here, it’s remembered twice.

First, the roses:

Marco pushes off with the next boatload of clients, the two roses lying at his feet.

A quartet of firemen leaving the ceremony of the flag-raising in the Piazza -- one is already armed with his rose.

A quartet of firemen leaving the ceremony of the flag-raising in the Piazza — one is already armed with his rose.

The Red Cross sells the roses at a booth in the Piazza (as well as sending volunteers around). All for a good cause.

The Red Cross sells the roses at a booth in the Piazza (as well as sending volunteers around).  All for a good cause.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Independent rose sellers are all over our neighborhood all day. They sell mimosa on International Woman’s Day and umbrellas when it’s raining.

Yes, National Liberation Day is important, but this Venetian store makes it clear that tomorrow it will be closed because it's San Marco's day.

Yes, National Liberation Day is important, but this Venetian store makes it clear that tomorrow it will be closed because it’s San Marco’s day.  Any other reason is just extra.

Someone placed a bocolo on St. Paul's altar in the basilica of San Marco. I'm baffled, but I'm still glad to see it there. And no, you're not supposed to take pictures in the basilica. I'll never do it again.

Someone placed a bocolo on St. Paul’s altar in the basilica of San Marco. I’m baffled, but I’m still glad to see it there. And no, you’re not supposed to take pictures in the basilica. I’ll never do it again.

And second, the liberation itself, as seen in Venice.

The arrival of the American troops in Piazzale Roma on April 29, 1945.  Lino remembers running there with his friends, everyone was saying "The Americans are here."  He asked for chewing gum, like all the other children, and he got it, too.

The arrival of the Allied troops in Piazzale Roma on April 29, 1945. Lino remembers that everyone was saying “The Americans are here!”  He ran with his friends to see them, and they all asked for chewing gum, and they got it, too.

 

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The Wide Street of March 22nd

The Wide Street of March 22nd.  Just another cryptic date by now.

After the doges were let go in 1797 by the new management team of Napoleon and Satan, there was a very unhappy lull in Venetian history.  It was an unhappy lull even while it was happening, before it became history.

And it wasn’t what I’d really call a lull, either, unless you call being put to bed with dengue fever a lull.

This interval of tyranny and anguish was abruptly cut short on March 22, 1848, when the Venetians revolted against Austria, which had acquired Venice from France in a diplomatic trade-off immortalized in the Treaty of Campo Formio (October 18, 1797).  Cleverly, Napoleon effected this trade only after he had disemboweled the former Queen of the Seas, carrying off wagonloads of treasure and razing palaces, churches, convents and scuole (thereby making more treasure available for his waiting wagons).

IMG_6612  maninThe man who led the uprising and the brief establishment of the Republic of San Marco was a Venetian lawyer  named Daniele Manin.  I’ve outlined the story in another post, so I won’t go over it again.  I would just appreciate your pausing for a moment to consider the magnificence of this doomed attempt and the people who put everything into it.

And just think: Only twelve years later, the Austrians were gone.  I’m not capable of determining to what extent 1848 led to 1861, but I still want to give my own puny recognition of a huge event which everyone by now just takes for granted, I guess.

This plaque is on a wall of the Arsenal: "

This plaque is on a wall of the Arsenal: “By the unanimous virtue of the people the foreign dominion fell XXII March 1848 To eternal memory the municipality places this.”

The tomb of Daniele Manin, against the wall of the basilica of San Marco by the Piazzetta dei Leoncini.

The tomb of Daniele Manin, against the wall of the basilica of San Marco by the Piazzetta dei Leoncini.

 

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The figure of Venice on the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II on the Riva degli Schiavoni bears a reverent inscription on the hem of her garment.

The figure of Venice on the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II on the Riva degli Schiavoni bears a reverent inscription on the hem of her garment.

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Near Campo San Bartolomio masses pass every day without noticing the street sign:

Near Campo San Bartolomio hordes pass every day without noticing the street sign: “Little Street of Dry Goods 2 April.”  On April 2, 1849, the governing assembly of the Republic of San Marco voted to resist Austria at all costs.  “All costs” was not a problem for the Austrians, and on August 22, 1849, Venice signed its surrender.

Bust of Daniele Manin by Emilio Marsili (1898).  (Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti).  After the death of the infant republic, Manin was sent into exile, and spent the rest of his life in Paris giving Italian lessons.  He died on September 22, 1857.  What was up with the 22nd of all these months?

Bust of Daniele Manin by Emilio Marsili (1898). (Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti). After the death of the infant republic, Manin was sent into exile, and spent the rest of his life in Paris giving Italian lessons. He died on September 22, 1857. What was up with the 22nd of all these months?

Flag of the Republic of San Marco.

Flag of the Republic of San Marco.

Categories : Venetian History
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1848, if you’ll cast your minds back, was a year that produced a bumper crop of uprisings, insurrections, and assorted revolutions all across Europe. It was a brief, incandescent period variously known as the “Spring of Nations,” “Springtime of the Peoples,” or “The Year of Revolution.”

It happened in Venice, too.

"The Proclamation of the Republic of San Marco March 1848" by Sanesi (c. 1850).

Venice, by then, had spent 51 years — two generations — under an Austrian army of occupation, except for a few scattered years when it was the French instead.

But on March 22, 1848, the independent Republic of San Marco was declared by a group of visionaries led by a Venetian named Daniele Manin (Mah-NEEN).

Historic Irony Alert: He was a relative, by adoption, of Ludovico Manin, the last doge of Venice.

Daniele Manin, in his eponymous campo, depicted in bronze by Luigi Borro (1875).

I’ve often reflected on how odd it is that there should be more memorials to Daniele Manin around Venice than to any other individual (I’ve counted five so far), and yet it seems that he has become, like so many other heroes, just another distant star in the galaxy of indifference to which even the most passionate and brilliant people seem to be consigned. If anybody utters his name today (or any day), it’s probably because they’re referring to Campo Manin.

The house toward which the statue is looking bears this plaque: "In this house lived Daniele Manin when he initiated liberty foreteller of Italian unity and greatness which in death he did not see Magnanimous and Venerated Exile"

I’m offering this brief disquisition in order to enlarge your view of what history in Venice can entail.  It wasn’t just doges and fireworks, it was also patriots and blasting artillery.

I suppose you could live in Venice if you didn’t care about history, though I don’t quite see what the point would be.  But if you were to actually dislike history, you should probably move to Brasilia or Chandigarh. History is what Venice is made of, and history is made of people.

In addition to Campo Manin — which you can grasp is named for a person, even if you don’t know what he did — there is the more inscrutable street name of Calle Larga XXII Marzo: The Wide Street of the Twenty-Second of March.

On March 22, 1848, Venice rose up against the Austrian occupiers, and the flag of the independent Republic of San Marco was raised in the Piazza San Marco. It was war.

It appears that this sign for the Calle Larga XXII Marzo might be a survivor of the Austrian shelling.

Not only did the Austrian army fire on the city with cannon placed on the railway bridge (which they had built two years earlier), it also made one of the first attempts at aerial bombardment. They sent hot-air balloons aloft loaded with incendiary bombs rigged with timers; the wind, happily, blew them back to where they came from.

The Venetians and their allies  fought ferociously, but whereas once the fact of being surrounded by water had been a defensive advantage, now it became a fatal handicap.  The Austrians clamped a siege around the city, reducing it to starvation, which was accompanied by an epidemic of cholera.

One of the best-known poems from this period is “Le Ultime Ore di Venezia” (The Final Hours of Venice), written in 1849 by Arnaldo Fusinato.  He relates the desperate last days in the city, constructing an exchange between a passing gondolier and the poet in which they give a summary of the situation in which the former republic  found itself.  Each stanza concludes with the poignant refrain, “Il morbo infuria, il pan ci manca/Sul ponte sventola bandiera bianca” (Disease is raging, there is no more bread/on the bridge the white flag is waving).

It had to end.

Flag of the Republic of San Marco (1848-1849).

On August 22, 1849, Manin signed the treaty of surrender.  The Austrians re-entered Venice, where they remained until 1861.  Manin, like several of his ministers, went into exile.  He died in Paris in 1857, at the age of 53.

His body returned to Venice on — yes — March 22, 1868, to a city which had finally been liberated from the Hapsburg domination and become part of the Kingdom of Italy. A solemn funeral ceremony was held for him  in the Piazza San Marco, and he was placed in a tomb against the north wall of the basilica.

Lino has often told me the anecdote of the little old Venetian lady who was crossing the Piazza San Marco not long after the Austrians returned to the devastated city.  A soldier walked by, and his sword was dragging — perhaps only slightly — across the paving stones.

She couldn’t take it. “Pick your sword up off the ground,” she commanded him. “Because Venice surrendered —  she wasn’t taken.”  Starving a city into submission is one of the least noble ways to conquer your enemy, but history shows that it does get the job done.

Final tally: Slightly more than a year of independence, almost all of which time was spent fighting.

When I reflect on much of this — I shouldn’t, but it’s more than I can resist — and observe the condition of the city’s successive administrations over the past 50 years or so, each of which seems to be a copy of its predecessor, except slightly worse, I can’t bring myself to imagine what Daniele Manin and his dreadnought compatriots might be thinking.

I suppose it’s a good thing after all that he has been “disappeared” into the deep space of cultural oblivion.

The tomb of Daniele Manin in a niche of the basilica of San Marco, facing the Piazzetta dei Leoncini.It would seem that the four lions supporting his sarcophagus are the only ones showing any emotion anymore as to the fate of Manin, his followers, and his city.

The extraordinary facade of the Hotel San Fantin is decorated with cannon and cannonballs from the conflict, as well as several majestic plaques. The marble lion surmounts this inscription: "A remembrance of the heroic resistance of Venice 1849."

Venice, represented as a stately woman, with flag, sword and lion, sits within this motto: "OGNI VILTA' CONVIEN CHE QUI SIA MORTA." (It would befit all cowardice that here it should die.)

The walls of the buildings enclosing the “Bocca di Piazza” are covered with imposing bronze portraits of the most important organizers and sustainers of the revolution. Unfortunately, only their size gives a hint as to their importance, as the inscriptions aren’t translated.

Brothers Attilio and Emilio Bandiera, with Domenico Moro -- all Venetians -- attempted a raid in 1844 against the Austrians in Calabria, were captured and shot.

The Campo de la Bragora was re-named in their honor.

The house where Domenico Moro was born, on the Fondamenta de la Tana facing the Arsenal.

In recognition that the uprising began at the Arsenal, this plaque on a wall of the Arsenal says: "By the virtue of the people's unanimity the foreign dominion fell 22 March 1848 To its imperishable memory the City Hall placed this."

A silver five-lire coin minted by the Repubblica Veneta in 1848. They were completely serious about this being a real government. It didn't last, but only 13 years later, the Austrians were finally gone.

[Translation by me]:  Italian Soldiers!  The war of independence, to which you have consecrated your blood, has now entered a phase which for us is disastrous.  Perhaps the only refuge of Italian liberty are these lagoons, and Venice must at any cost guard the sacred fire.

Valorous ones! In the name of Italy, for which you have fought, and want to fight, I implore you not to lessen your efforts in the defense of this sacred sanctuary of our nationality.  The moment is a solemn one: It concerns the political life of an entire people, whose destiny could depend on this final bulwark.

As many as you may be, that  from beyond the Po, beyond the Mincio, beyond the Ticino, have come here for the final triumph of our common cause, just think that by saving Venice, you will also save the most precious rights of our native land. Your families will bless the sacrifices which you have chosen to undergo; an admiring Europe will reward your generous perseverance; and the day that Italy will be able to proclaim itself redeemed, it will raise, among the many monuments which are here, of the valor and glory of our fathers, another monument, on which it will be written: The Italian soldiers defending Venice saved the independence of Italy.

The Government  12 August 1848  MANIN

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Categories : Venetian History
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