The Roman Republic of 1849

"All power comes from the People" (art. 15 of the Constitution)

On February 9th, 1849 in Rome, the capital of the Papal States, the Roman Republic was proclaimed, based on principles of equality, democracy and secularism. Pope Pius IX had ran away seventy-seven days before to the fortress of Gaeta, taking shelter by the king of the Two Sicilies, Ferdinand II of Bourbon.
The Roman Republic ended after 145 days, on July 4
th, 1849, crushed by the intervention of the French troops of Louis Napoleon (future emperor Napoleon III) who trampled even the French constitution of 1848, according to which, in point V of the preamble, the Republic "respects the nationality of foreign states, as it causes its own to be respected. It undertakes no wars with a view of conquest, and never employs its power against the liberty of any people". Instead, Louis Napoleon's troops attacked the Roman Republic, violently interfering in the internal affairs of another nation, and contradicting the principles of freedom, equality and fraternity of the French Revolution.
The Roman Republic of 1849 should not be confused with the Republic of ancient Rome (from 509 to 27 BC) and with the Jacobin Roman Republic of the Napoleonic period (1798-99).

Rome in 1849
In 1849 the city of Rome had 179,000 inhabitants
(Natalini), while, according to the 1844 census, 2,929,807 inhabitants lived in the Papal States. (Severini) The same census in Rome counted 6,189 cardinals, bishops, religious men and women and only 4,427 people professed science, literature, fine arts and 756 were surgeons, pharmacists and midwives. (Natalini) The Papal States had a territory including part of Emilia (provinces of Bologna and Ferrara), Romagna, Marche, Umbria and part of present-day Lazio, with the exclusion of the southern part of the current provinces of Latina and Frosinone and of eastern part of the province of Rieti.
After the failed riots of 1820-21 and 1830-31, the years of rule of the ultra-reactionary Pope Gregory XVI had been marked by a blunt obscurantism and by a harsh political repression, carried out by the police together with the ecclesiastical power: the police handed over lists of liberals to the bishops, who gave in return other lists. Even those who did not attend mass assiduously or who had beards could be filed as liberals.
There were also the desaparecidos: the testimony of any priest was enough to make an alleged patriot disappear, by gangs of Sanfedisti (Holy Faith fighters) and Pontifical Volunteers who had a free hand in torturing and killing.
(Carocci) The clandestine meetings of the liberals were infiltrated by spies who created plots to report them to the ecclesiastical authority. The reaction was a covert, conspiratorial and violent opposition, often based on political assassinations as a revenge. (Carocci)

The about-turn of Pius IX
At his inauguration on the papal throne on June 21
st, 1846, Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti) had generated great hopes, he was a young pontiff (54 years old), apparently progressive, open to the unification of Italy, so much so that it had even been proposed by Giuseppe Mazzini and many others as head of state of a future united Italy. (Monsagrati) On July 17th, one month after his election, the pope issued a decree of amnesty "To all our subjects who are currently in the place of punishment for political crimes, we condone the rest of the sentence".
Then came the "Springtime of the Peoples", the sequence of revolts that broke out in 1846-47 in Palermo, Naples and Turin
(Natalini) and in 1848 and 1849 in various European countries, which urged many rulers, including Pius IX, to grant the constitution and an elective Assembly: Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies, granted the Constitution on January 29th, 1848, Charles Albert, King of Sardinia gave the Statute on February 8th, Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany allowed the Statute on February 15th. (Natalini) These constitutions and statutes, except that of Carlo Alberto, were then revoked with the reaction that intervened in 1849.
In March 1847 Pius IX even sent the papal troops to Lombardy, under the command of General Giovanni Durando supporting the King of Sardinia Charles Albert, to fight against the Austro-Hungarians for the unification of Italy, only to then call them back so as not to hurt the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a Catholic power.
The concessions of Pius IX gave him great popularity, but also generated ever greater expectations, which Mastai-Ferretti was unable to satisfy. In reaction, the pope took increasingly retrograde positions, prompted by the circle of reactionary cardinals he had surrounded himself with, first and foremost the secretary of state Giacomo Antonelli, much talked about for his passion for money and women.
The Tuscan patriot Giuseppe Montanelli described a mass officiated by the pope: "All the cardinals were there. I looked at them one by one. I searched in vain for a gleam of intellect and love on those faces. Faces of imbeciles or wicked ones. What a gaze of hyena Cardinal Lambruschini! has! What a sinister figure Cardinal Marini! Such a sly old fox Antonelli is!".
(Kertzer) The Russian author Aleksandr Herzen saw instead Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini approaching the pope with "the appearance of an old jackal" and "I expected him to bite the Holy Father, instead they embraced smoothly." (Kertzer)
The emissary of the British Prime Minister, Lord Minto (Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, Earl of Minto), met the pope and wrote about him and his Secretary of State: "The ignorance of every thing beyond the walls of Rome is almost incredible and they are therefore open to every species of intrigue."

Other Republics in 1848 and 1849
On March 22
nd, 1848 the Republic of San Marco was founded in Venice, whose president was Daniele Manin, and which included Veneto and Friuli, which after Campoformido treaty of 1797 belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On July 4th the Republic of San Marco voted its annexation to the Kingdom of Sardinia, the core of the future Kingdom of Italy. The Republic lasted a year and five months, until on August 22nd, 1849 it was overwhelmed by the Hapsburg army, which regained possession of the territories, only to leave them definitively to Italy in 1866, after the third Italian war of independence.
On February 15
th, 1849, the Tuscan Republic was proclaimed in Florence, led by Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi, which was overthrown on April 12th by the supporters of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II. The invasion of the Austro-Hungarian troops, led by the lieutenant-field marshal Konstantin d'Aspre, therefore also had free hand in Tuscany, where they plundered brakeless and killed hundreds of people, in particular in Leghorn, and occupied Tuscany until 1855.

The uprising in Rome
The incentive for the unification of Italy, incited by the initial support of the pope, went hand in hand with the request for the end of the despotic regime of the Church: the people asked for freedom of the press, removal from high offices of ecclesiastics and clericals and their replacement with laymen, establishment of civic militias in place of mercenary ones, construction of railways and public lighting in homes.
The civil claims were accompanied by protests over the sharp rise in the prices of bread and flour, in a period of great unemployment. The high prices were due to the famine caused by the drought of 1845 and 1846, which made it necessary to import wheat from North America.
This contingency had prompted many speculators to buy wheat on the Black Sea markets and from Russia, but the bountiful harvest of 1847 had brought down prices, ruining many companies trading on the grain market and paralyzing private credit and trade.
There were also episodes of Luddism, following the introduction of operating machineries, which had caused the loss of jobs. In Trastevere district there was talk of a plot of the wool workers to destroy the power looms
(Demarco), according to Prince Agostino Chigi in the Regola district on December 5th, 1847, there were rumors circulating hostile to machines, which took away the work of the people, "and of which almost none exists "(sic) and also in Perugia in 1847 the proletarians, "exacerbated by the lack of work and bread, and perhaps moved by the envy brought to capital "(sic), planned to "destroy the machines of the rich and shrewd cloth maker Leopoldo Bonucci. " (Bonazzi)
The carnival of 1848 was celebrated in a plain way, as a sign of mourning for the victims of the riots in Lombardy
(Chigi), without the traditional feast of moccoletti (wax candles that everyone carried with them and that they tried to keep lit, while trying to extinguish those of the others). On March 19th, 1848, an order by the Minister of the Interior announced that from now the white and yellow Pontifical Flags would have the so-called ties of the three italic colors, namely green, red and white. (Chigi)
A state of perennial agitation and revolt therefore arose in Rome and in the rest of the Papal State, with social demands on the part of the poorer classes, workers, artisans, agricultural laborers, who threatened to raise a real insurrection against the wealthy classes and the property ordering itself. The conservative press did not hesitate to define all of them as "communists".
Among the most active in the revolts, despite his loyalty to Pius IX, still considered a liberal pope hostage to reactionary cardinals, Angelo Brunetti, known as Ciceruacchio, stood out. He was very popular among the Romans because he had given great proofs of altruism and ability to help his neighbor on the occasion of natural disasters.
The incandescent political climate led on November 15
th, 1848 to the assassination of the head of the papal government Pellegrino Rossi in the palazzo della Cancelleria (Palace of Chancery), where he was on his way to speak to the council of deputies.
The next day the crowd besieged the papal palace of Quirinale to ask for reforms, they set fire to a gate, aimed a cannon at the palace, someone shot and killed Monsignor Palma while he was looking out of a window.
(Kertzer) The strong tensions frightened the pope, urging him on November 24th, 1848 to flee Rome for Gaeta, disguised as a priest, in the coach of the Bavarian ambassador Count Charles of Spaur, together with his wife, Teresa Giraud, escaping the siege of the Quirinale laid by the civic guards. In the palace meanwhile the French ambassador d'Harcourt pretended to converse with him aloud to cover the escape. (Kertzer)
The Catholic powers, France, Spain and the Austro-Hungarian Empire contended to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies for the honor of hosting the pope, while also receiving offers of asylum from the United Kingdom and even from New York.
(Monsagrati) Pius IX chose Ferdinand II as his guest, who used to boast of the safety of his kingdom, saying that it was defended on three sides by salt water and on the fourth by holy water (the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was surrounded by the sea and had just a land border with the Papal State). (Kertzer)

Rome without the pope
What Garibaldi called "the shameful flight of the soldiers of the priests and of the reaction", instead of creating unrest due to lack of government, pushed the Romans to self-rule: between December 1848 and January 1849 several governments followed, until from January 21
st to 22n , the elections for the National Assembly were held, which saw the participation of about 250 thousand voters, one third of those entitled, and they took place without any turmoil. (Kertzer) They were the first elections with universal suffrage in Italy and among the first in the world, even if by custom only males voted.
The elected were 200, of which only 27 were noble. Among them Carlo Luciano Bonaparte, prince of Canino, nephew of Napoleon and cousin of Luigi Napoleone, president of the French Republic, Pietro Sterbini, Mazzinian poet and former member of the Carboneria (a secret revolutionary society) and minister of both the Papal State and the Roman Republic, and Monsignor Carlo Emanuele Muzzarelli, intellectual and prime minister of one of the last governments of Pius IX before the advent of the Republic, not neglecting Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini.
A Jesuit in his memoirs did not hide the annoyance for the strong popular participation, in particular for the fact that the gravedigger of Trastevere had received more than one hundred votes.
(Carocci) The Constituent Assembly was established in the National Assembly session of December 29th, 1848 (Mazzuca), and began its work on February 5th, 1849, with its members wearing the sash with the Italian tricolor. (Chigi)
As proof of the liveliness of Roman public life there is the first performance on January 27
th at the Argentina Theatre of Giuseppe Verdi's opera “La battaglia di Legnano” ("The Battle of Legnano"), written at the request of the theater itself, with a patriotic theme, which aroused great enthusiasm among the Romans, that shouted "Viva Verdi!" ("Long live Verdi!") and "Viva l'Italia!" ("Long live Italy!") from the opening chorus "Viva Italia! Sacro un patto / Tutti stringe i figli suoi " ("Long live Italy! A sacred covenant / Clings all her children") to the final chorus "Italia risorge vestita di Gloria, invitta e regina qual'era sarà" ("Italy rises again dressed in Glory, uncdefeated and queen as she was she will be").

The birth of the Republic
On February 9
th, 1849 from the Capitoline Hill the National Assembly proclaimed the Roman Republic, and immediately Goffredo Mameli sent a telegram to Mazzini: writing: "Rome, Republic, Come". Mazzini entered Rome from Porta del Popolo gate on March 5th (Chigi). The Republic was led by a triumvirate, a formula chosen to avoid the presidency, which gave too much power to one, making it similar to a monarchy, while the consulate could lead to a Napoleonic drift, and simple ministries would have been too subject to crisis. (Severini) The first triumvirate was composed of Giuseppe Mazzini, Aurelio Saffi and Carlo Armellini, who, as a first act, which was not advertised, halved their monthly allowance. (Monsagrati)
The Roman Republic, already on its first day of establishment, issued the Fundamental Decree proposed by Quirico Filopanti (pseudonym of Giuseppe Barilli), approved with 120 votes in favor, 10 against, 12 abstentions
(Natalini), which established that the papacy had lapsed in fact and in law by the temporal government of the Roman State, while it recognized and guaranteed to the pope the exercise of spiritual power.
Until the proclamation of the Constitution, the Fundamental Decree was the basic law of the Republic and the regime was de facto democratic because all the acts of the various powers were subordinate to the Assembly elected by the people.
The proclamation of the Republic was accompanied by great demonstrations of popular jubilation, with cannon salvos, bells ringing, religious functions, fireworks, parties and banquets, raising of trees of liberty, tricolor banners, lighting of public streets and main buildings, posting of government posters and proclamations on walls, impromptu rallies and discussions and debates in public places.

The choices of the Republic
The Roman Republic, in its short life, was an authentic laboratory of democracy, in which participation practices unknown elsewhere were experimented. Many laws were made to guarantee civil rights to those who had become citizens and no longer subjects: it was the first European state to proclaim that religious belief was free and could not constitute a discriminant for the exercise of civil rights, death penalty and torture were abolished
(Prili), universal suffrage was introduced as well as women's participation in pre-election assemblies. Press censorship was then abolished and ecclesiastical jurisdiction over schools and universities ceased, except for seminaries, as well as over hospitals, orphanages and all charitable establishments. (Chigi) A Commission of nine deputies was established to collect citizens' reports on problems, abuses, wrongs suffered, needs, complaints and more, which was very active (Monsagrati), the Tribunal of the Holy Office (the Holy Inquisition) was abolished, and the release of the prisoners of this court had a very high symbolic value. (Kertzer)
Civil marriage was established, as well as the age of majority for men and women at 21, the exclusion of women and their descendants from the succession was abolished, compulsory conscription was abolished, the right to housing and the secularity of the state were sanctioned.
(Prili) The use of the Latin language was completely abolished in the courts. (Chigi)
Other measures attacked the economic power of the Catholic Church: the assets of the ecclesiastical corporations for 120 million scudos were confiscated
(Prili), and the lands were given in free and perpetual emphyteusis to peasant families, and there was a beginning of agrarian reform giving a rubbio of land (some less than two hectares) to families of at least three people. The palace of the Tribunal of the Holy Office was seized and divided into apartments to rent to the needy. (Monsagrati)
Every horse found in the Vatican and Quirinal palaces was confiscated, as were those owned by the Papal Noble Guard.
The structures of a modern state began to be created, such as the Central Bureau of Statistics and the National Institute of Vaccinations.
Other laws imposed a forced loan on the wealthiest, which could reach two thirds of their assets, and the salt monopoly, granted under contract to Duke Alessandro Torlonia, which had yielded enormous earnings, was abolished, with exclusivity of trade and collection of the tax.
(Natalini) The price was reduced to one baiocco per pound, and the tobacco monopoly was also abolished. (Chigi)
For the rest, the Republic respected the men of the old regime, apart from individual excesses, often due to revenges. In retrospect Mazzini said "we governed without prisons, without trials".

The press of the Republic
Freedom of the press in the Roman Republic was expressed in a large number of journals published mainly in Rome and which met with great success, even if they often had a short duration. Among them Don Pirlone, "journal of political caricatures ", Cassandrino, "comic-political journal of all colors", triweekly, which from March 1849 continued with "Cassandrino repubblicano : a little magazine of absolute freedom by the grace of God and of the people", "Il Tribuno", a daily, political, literary newspaper, the daily newspaper "Il positivo", the daily newspaper "Il contemporaneo", in which Pietro Sterbini also wrote, "L' Italia del popolo" : "daily newspaper of the Italian National Association, directed by Giuseppe Mazzini", Il costituzionale romano" political triweekly newspaper, which at the end of the Republic continued with "L'Osservatore Romano", predecessor of the current Vatican newspaper of the same name.

A complete collection (75 journals) of the periodicals of the Roman Republic and of the immediately preceding period, together with thousands of other digitized documents on this subject, can be consulted on the dedicated website of the Biblioteca di Storia Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma (Library of Modern and Contemporary History of Rome).

The defenders of the Republic
At the proclamation of the Republic the papal army passed en masse on the side of the insurgents
(Prili), furthermore revolutionaries from all over Europe, Germans, French, English, Poles, Belgians, Swiss, Hungarians and Dutch, gathered in the Foreign Legion, of 1,400- 1,500 units. (Carocci)
Mazzini in the Assembly urgently asked for measures for the survival of the Republic, and on his proposal a military commission of five members was elected, headed by Carlo Pisacane, a former Bourbon officer who graduated from the military school of the Nunziatella, to elaborate plans for the defense of the State.
(Natalini) Among the tasks of the Commission there was also the distribution of weapons (spades, halberds, stones and "any tool capable of injuring"). (Carocci)
On April 27
th Giuseppe Garibaldi entered Rome from Porta Maggiore, called by Mazzini, two days after the French landed in Civitavecchia. His troops were placed in the monastery of San Silvestro in Capite, in the piazza San Silvestro, from which the nuns had been evacuated. (Chigi) Garibaldi was appointed brigadier general, but he was annoyed because he would have liked to be general in chief. (Garibaldi)
Four brigades were formed. The first of 2,700 men, under Garibaldi's orders to defend the sector between the gates Porta Portese and Porta San Pancrazio, including the Garibaldi legion, young veterans battalion, university battalion, emigrant legion and customs officers.
The second brigade, of 400 men, commanded by Colonel Luigi Masi, covered the area between Porta Cavalleggeri and Porta Angelica, the third brigade commanded by Colonel Savini, was deployed to defend the walls on the left of the Tiber, while the fourth brigade, of 3,000 men, under the orders of Colonel Bartolomeo Galletti, was in reserve, to intervene wherever there was need, and including the Roman Legion, the Engineers' sappers, and the Carabinieri.
The Roman Republic suffered from a lack of men and weapons, so much so that on April 1
st a decree ordered citizens to deliver their rifles for a fee. All the unused bells of the city were employed to build cannons for the defense of the Republic (Kertzer), and the coaches of the nobles and cardinals were requisitioned and deprived of their bodies to make wagons for military transport. (Chigi)

Pius IX takes it the wrong way
Pius IX reacted violently to the creation of the Roman Republic, and even after its end he spewed out a shocking amount of insults and calumnies against his successors in power. In his long allocution of April 20
th, 1849, known as "Quibus quantisque" he said, among other things: "the demands for new institutions and the progress so preached by these men aim only to keep the agitations alive, to eliminate every principle of justice, virtue, honesty, religion; and to introduce,
propagate, and cause to dominate everywhere, with the gravest harm and ruin to all human society, the horrendous and fatal system of Socialism, or even Communism, as it is called, which is most contrary to natural reason and natural law itself"
And furthermore: "you know very well, Venerable Brethren, those horrendous and monstrous opinions, that arising from the depth of the abyss for ruin and desolation, have already prevailed and are raging to the immense harm of Religion and Society. Those perverted and pestilential doctrines, the enemies never tire of spreading among the people, in words and writings, and in public spectacles, to increase and propagate more every day the unbridled license of every impiety, every cupidity and lust".
And "the city of Rome, the principal seat of the Catholic Church, has now become, ahi! a forest of wild beasts, overflowing with men of every nation, who are either apostates, or heretics, or masters, as it is said, of Communism or Socialism, and animated by the most terrible hatred of Catholic truth, both in speeches, in writings and in any other way possible, they are striving with every effort to teach and disseminate pestilential errors of all kinds, and to corrupt the hearts and minds of all, so that in Rome itself, if possible, the sanctity of the Catholic religion may fail, and the irreformable rule of faith".
(translation from:
The pope and his supporters took all possible measures to hinder the republic, from boycott by civil servants to the customary sorrowful madonnas or other sacred images that wept or opened their eyes or discolored.
Pius IX was targeted by numerous caricatures and on May 26
th, 1849 he was even the subject of a publication called "Corollario di jettature" ("Appendix of bad luck") in which he was pointed out as a jinx, indicating a series of negative coincidences that had as victims people who had met him or places he had dealt with.
The pope excommunicated the promoters of the Constituent Assembly, but the Romans took it as a joke, writing on a public urinal in via Frattina "deposit of excommunication", and taking the cardinal's tin hats, which were held on display by chaplains, carrying them as in a mortuary procession and then throwing them into the river from Ponte Sisto bridge.

To the rescue of the pope
The pope insistently urged the Catholic monarchies to intervene to put him back on the throne. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, to which Lombardy and Veneto belonged, feared an excess of liberalism in Italy
(Prili), and on March 23rd, 1849, the day after defeating Carlo Alberto, Chancellor Klemens von Metternich ordered to occupy the northern provinces of the Papal State, with the army led by Franz von Wimpffen, first Ferrara and its province, then Bologna, where they met with fierce resistance, won only with an intense bombardment, which caused many victims and destruction. The Austro-Hungarians then conquered Imola, Forlì, Cesena and Rimini (Prili), then Umbria and the Marche. (Monsagrati)
On April 27
th the king of the Two Sicilies Ferdinand II with ministers, dignitaries and army crossed the border of the Roman Republic. Garibaldi, despite having been wounded in the fighting against the French on 30th April, left Rome to attack him on May 4th, defeated him in Velletri and Palestrina and rejected him (Natalini), and only the prohibition by the Republican military leaders prevented the "Hero of the two worlds" to chase him into the Kingdom. The royal soldiers had an almost religious terror of Garibaldi and his troops, so much so that they were very inclined to surrender.
The Spanish army, on the other hand, intervened very late and with few personnel (according to Chigi 40 or 50), practically getting things done.

The French intervention
France was instead in a delicate position, the second Republic, born on February 25th, 1848, on the one hand was linked to its own constitution according to which "never employs its power against the liberty of any people" and established the freedom of worship, and on the other hand she saw the newly elected President of the Republic, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon's nephew, taking ambiguous and opportunistic, but substantially reactionary, positions.
France sent the "Mediterranean Expeditionary Force" led by General Nicolas Charles Victor Oudinot, who sailed from Marseille and Toulon on April 21
st, 1849 with 7,000 men, passed off as defender of legitimate French economic interests, in order to avoid the intervention of Austria. Oudinot promised to "respect the vote of the Roman people" and "not to impose on the people a government that they did not want".
The French at 11:00 on April 25
th, 1849 began to land in Civitavecchia, where they immediately ordered and obtained the surrender of the local Republican garrison, thus making understand their intentions. Along the way to Rome, the French found numerous placards reminding them of the commitments of brotherhood and non-interference imposed on them by the Constitution of 1848.
Even the French residents in Rome addressed their compatriots in uniform with a manifesto, asking them not to betray the ideals of Republican France and not to intervene in arms in support of absolutism.
A delegation of deputies from the Roman Assembly invited Oudinot to cancel the assault, to avoid encountering a harsh resistance. The general replied scornfully, "Nonsense! The Italians don't fight. I've booked a table for dinner at the Hotel de la Minerve, and I'll be there on time".
Oudinot did not enjoy high esteem as an officer: according to the French foreign minister Alexis de Tocqueville, he was so dull that he could not think of two things at a time: put an end to the "terror" exercised by "demagogues" and at the same time encourage the " party of the liberals ". A Times editorial on July 5th said: "General Oudinot was chosen for his duty because he was the son of one of the Napoleon's Marshals and man of good connections in French society". (Kertzer)
Oudinot therefore believed to find the gates open and on April 30th he ordered the assault on the city, among other things planning the entrance from the gate Porta Pertusa, which had been walled for two centuries. (Natalini) The French were instead repelled with heavy losses, leaving many prisoners, and encamped in Castel di Guido, 20 kilometers (12.4 Miles) from the city.
On May 7
th, the Triumvirate decreed that, never being able to consider the French and Roman Republics in a state of war, the French prisoners were sent back to their army and the people were invited to celebrate them, and so it happened. (Chigi)
A de facto truce was then established, while Oudinot asked for reinforcements and in the French National Assembly the left-wing deputies imposed the sending of a plenipotentiary mediator, the diplomat Ferdinand De Lesseps, to negotiate. De Lesseps agreed with Mazzini on May 30
th on a sort of French protection of the Roman population. (Monsagrati), without interfering in the administration (Natalini), but the Roman Republic was not mentioned in the agreement. (Monsagrati)
Oudinot rejected Lesseps' proposals and meanwhile, on May 14
th, the legislative elections in France resulted in a strong reactionary majority in the National Assembly. Lesseps was recalled to his homeland and referred to the Council of State. His diplomatic career ended and he went into business, successfully promoting the enterprise of the excavation of the Suez Canal (1859-1869), and with less success, the excavation of the Panama Canal.
In the meantime, 30,000 French reinforcements soldiers had landed, and on May 30
th, the same day as the Lesseps-Mazzini pact, in the evening the French army occupied the hill of Monte Mario. (Natalini)

The final attack
Being at last certain of the support of the French National Assembly, Oudinot announced his attack on Rome for June 4
th, but with one more unfair move, he began to attack at 3 am on June 3rd. (Garibaldi). The Romans did not expect an early attack, and in addition they had neglected the defense at the points where the French attacked (Natalini).
The Oudinot attack lasted for a month, with strong cannonades from the hills (Monti Parioli, Aventino) to avoid the hand-to-hand fight, which would have been much more bloody for the attackers. The French had 30,000 men with 75 cannons, the Republic 19,000 men, of which 12,000 were regular, mostly from the papal militias.
The Janiculum walls (Mura gianicolensi), built in 1643, were the main defense of the Republicans. The hardest fighting took place in the gates Porta Cavalleggeri and Porta San Pancrazio, and in the villas of the nobles, turned into defense ramparts: Villa Corsini, known as the Casino dei Quattro Venti (Four Winds Cottage, completely destroyed, on its ruins in 1859 the Quattro Venti arch was built), villa Sciarra, villa Giraud known as “il Vascello” ("the Vessel") lovely building in the shape of a ship on a rock, manned by the legion of Giacomo Medici, who resisted for three weeks even when it was reduced to a heap of ruins.
(Prili) Villa Savorelli, now Villa Aurelia, was Garibaldi's headquarters, and largely collapsed due to bombing. In front of it the Montagnola battery, which in the night between June 29th and 30th opposed the French, and after a fierce fight at close quarters all the gunners who defended it were killed. Villa Spada, Garibaldi's new headquarters, was held by the Bersaglieri of Luciano Manara until the very end. (Prili)

On the night of June 20th, the French took possession of a section of the Trastevere ramparts, after a struggle that saw the Roman army once again resist strenuously and perhaps even this further confirmation of loyalty, induced Mazzini once again to refuse to surrender. (Prili)
The French army managed to cross the Tiber at Milvio bridge, despite the touching resistance of the Roman University Battalion. It is said that the students, running out of ammunition, even threw their books at the enemy.
The number of victims of the Roman Republic is not certain: about a thousand people died according to Severini, of which 942 were identified, two thirds of them came from the Papal State and almost half of them werre regular troops. Based on Prili, just in the last battle, 3,000 Italians and 2,000 Frenchmen died.
Among the defenders of the Republic fell Goffredo Mameli, not yet twenty-two, author of the text of "Canto Nazionale" ("National Song"), then "Canto degli Italiani" ("Song of the Italians"), anthem of the Roman Republic, and from October 12
th, 1946 anthem of the Italian Republic, also known as "Fratelli d'Italia" ("Brothers of Italy").
Mameli died on July 6
th of gangrene from a leg wound suffered in the battle of June 3rd. Other illustrious victims for the Republic were Enrico Dandolo, Luciano Manara, Francesco Daverio, Angelo Masina, Emilio Morosini. (Morigi)

The assassination of the Republic
In 1850 Karl Marx in "The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850" mentioned "the assassination of the Roman republic by the French republic".
On June 30
th the final attack began, Oudinot tried to impose the surrender, which was refused, believing it was better to fall with honor. (Monsagrati) Finally, it was the town hall that agreed with Oudinot how to hand over Rome to the invaders, declaring to "yield only to force". (Monsagrati)
On July 3
rd, around 5 p.m., the drum and the sounds of the French military band began to be heard from afar: the vanguard of Oudinot's troops entered the gate Porta del Popolo, marched on the Corso and via Condotti, passing in front of the caffé Nuovo and caffè delle Belle Arti, the two cafes most frequented by Republicans, where the French were welcomed by whistles, shouts and by «mad yells: "long live the Roman Republic, death to priests, death to Pius IX, we don't want priests" ». (Severini)
Friday 12
th April, 1850 in the afternoon, after 17 months of exile, the pope returned to Rome from the gate porta San Giovanni, "more absolute than before". (Bonazzi)
On July 31
st, the pope installed a commission of three cardinals, ironically called "red triumvirate" due to the color of the cardinals' robes, with the task of canceling point by point the laws of the Republic but also those of Pius IX with a liberal content. (Monsagrati)
The French authorities immediately suppressed the numerous newspapers that had sprung up in the Republic's short window of freedom. The decree was published in the newspaper Giornale di Roma, the only one allowed, even with the functions of an official journal, and as an irony of things (or perhaps it was a deliberate choice) it was published precisely on July 14
th, 1849, the French national holiday, but also the memorial day of the revolution of liberté, égalité and fraternité.
Garibaldi in St. Peter's Square, in front of a multitude of cheering people gave his legionaries a “small oration”: “I am leaving Rome. Whoever wants to continue the war against the foreigner, come with me. I offer neither pay, nor cantonment, nor commissions; I offer hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death. Whoever has the name of Italy not only on his lips but in his heart, follow me ". 4,000 followed him
(Monsagrati), to head towards Venice and defend the sister Republic, but along the way they were attacked by the Austrians and by troops loyal to the pope, who killed them or put them on the run. Garibaldi, with his wife Anita, who on June 26th had arrived in Rome from Nice and was pregnant, headed for Venice, but were attacked by Austrian ships and took refuge in the Po delta where Anita died on August 4th, 1849, probably of malaria, near the Guiccioli farm, in the Mandriole area of Ravenna. In the following days, at a distance of 50 km (31 Mi) Ciceruacchio, with his 2 sons (one 13 years old) and others, and in Bologna the priest Ugo Bassi, who fled Rome with Garibaldi, were shot.
Giuseppe Mazzini remained in Rome, as if to challenge the restoration authorities to arrest him, and left only on July 16
th, setting sail from Civitavecchia, despite not having the documents for expatriation, on a Corsican steamboat bound for Marseille, from where he then reached Geneva. passing through Lyon. (Monsagrati)
The French troops remained in Rome until 1870: on July 16
th Louis Napoleon, in the meantime proclaimed himself emperor with the name of Napoleon III, had declared war on Prussia. On July 18th Pius IX, during the First Vatican Council, proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility. This gave the French emperor an excuse to abandon the pope to himself, so on July 27th he ordered the withdrawal of the troops from Rome. (Kertzer)
Less than two months later, on September 20
th, the troops of the Kingdom of Italy occupied Rome, after having entered the breach of Porta Pia, and on February 3rd, 1871 Rome became the capital of Italy, while the rest of the Papal State had been annexed to Italy on various occasions, starting in 1859.

The damages made by Oudinot to the artistic heritage of Rome
Oudinot's choice to avoid hand-to-hand combat with the Republicans, but rather to carpet bomb Rome from the heights, could not fail to create enormous damage to the jewels of Rome's artistic heritage.
Churches (Santa Maria in Trastevere) and hospitals (Santo Spirito, four bombs, one of which injured an orphan girl) were hit, the Pinturicchio's frescoes in San Cosimato were completely destroyed, those by Domenichino in San Carlo ai Catinari and the Guido Reni's Aurora at Palazzo Rospigliosi, were damaged, as well as the so-called Temple of Fortuna Virilis (now Temple of Portunus) at the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth).
(Monsagrati) The bell tower of San Pietro in Montorio, on the Janicolum, collapsed together with the roof inside the nave. (Natalini)

The roof of the Sistine Chapel was hit by 4 balls, which bounced elsewhere. In various rooms of the Vatican Palace there were broken glass and crystals, in the gallery of tapestries five balls of stutzen (carbines) got in, one of which hit a Raphael tapestry (St. Paul preaches in Athens), and St. Peter's Basilica had many cannonball damage. (Natalini) In the Colonna Palace a cannonball is still preserved, that sticked itself in one of the steps of the gallery, full of works of art and precious decorations, while another ball is in the church of San Bartolomeo all’Isola, and one is on the side of the church of San Pietro in Montorio, found in 1995 and inserted in a commemorative plaque.
The consular representatives of the USA, England, Russia, Prussia, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Sardinia, San Salvador and Portugal sent formal protest to Oudinot to stop the bombing, without any result.

Werner's testimony
A testimony of the state of the places after the battles was left by the German painter Carl Werner
(1808- 1894), who painted a series of watercolors, from which in 1858 the engraver Domenico Amici (1808-post 1871) drew twelve etching plates ("Vedute dell'assedio di Roma nel 1849" meaning "Views of the siege of Rome in 1849"), preserved in the Istituto Centrale della Grafica in Rome. The prints have been scanned and are available on the Lombardy Region website

The women of the Republic
The air of freedom and equality of the Republic was fully catched by the Roman women, who from the very beginning took the political initiative, participating in electoral meetings, and the military initiative, fighting with the men on the walls.
The 23-year-old young lady Colomba Antonietti , a baker from Foligno (born in Bastia Umbria), died on June 13
th in the fighting at Porta S. Pancrazio, killed instantly by a cannonball that hit her with a ricochet, after killing another patriot. To defend the Roman Republic she had cut her hair and disguised herself as a man, following her husband Luigi Porzi, lieutenant in the Republican army. She had participated in the battles of Velletri and Palestrina, earning Garibaldi's praise.
The women also participated in the construction of the barricades, often adorning them with flowers, in the repair of breaches in the walls, in the collection of "deadly stones and inexorable rocks" in the manufacture of cartridges and in the dangerous defusing of unexploded bombs. Furthermore, many Roman women renounced their jewels to support the republican coffers.
Princess Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso organized a military ambulance service for the first time in the world, even before Florence Nightingale (who began her work during the Crimean war in 1854), mobilizing many women protagonists of the Risorgimento, including foreign ones.
Prostitutes stood out among the women who helped the wounded, and this gave the pope the audacity to offend in a brazen way all women who sacrificed themselves in a thankless task of pure Christian piety towards their neighbor. In the encyclical Nostis et nobiscum Pius IX wrote that the "enemies of all truth, justice and honor (...) when some of their own number fell sick and struggled with death, they were deprived of all the helps of religion and compelled to breathe their last in the arms of a wanton prostitute".
The following month Christina of Belgiojoso, in response to the pope's words, replied: “Holy Father”, she wrote, “I read on a French newspaper a part of an encyclical by Y.H. to the bishops of Italy in which [...] Y.H. adds that those victims were forced to expire in the arms of prostitutes. Since the introduction of women into the hospitals of Rome has been my work [...] I believe I must respond to the accusations of Your Holiness. [...] All the hospitals were always regularly served by priests, and [...] not one of the many victims, rightfully by Y.H. lamented, did die without the assistance of a priest and the comfort of the sacraments. If Y.H. ignores it, yet your Delegates do not , because once the Cardinals had just been reinstated in the fullness of their faculties by Y.H. conferred on them, all the priests who had exercised their sacred ministry in hospitals were incarcerated in the prisons of the Holy Office." The letter concluded: "The accusation made by Y.H. will not stand up to my denial, and those who gave the merciful Roman women new shame and name of prostitutes will be few in number, hard hearted and blind minded".

The Jews of the Republic
With the election of Pius IX, the Roman Jews had seen a possibility of improving their condition, which imposed on them the obligation of residence in the Ghetto, with the closing of the gates and the prohibition to go out at night, in addition to the denial of all civil rights. The representatives of the Jewish community of Rome then forwarded a petition to the pope. Having received no reply, they sent a copy of the document to Salomon Rotschild, director of the Vienna bank, who provided the pope with large sums on loan. Rothschild had therefore met with the papal nuncio, asking him to intercede with the pontiff. Perhaps for this reason Pius IX in the first two years of his pontificate had relaxed the obligations for the Jews, authorizing some of them to leave their neighborhood, while the Ghetto's doors had been demolished on April 10
th, 1848, probably by the Jews themselves. (Kertzer)
With the return of pontifical authority, at the end of the Roman Republic, Cardinal Antonelli immediately made it clear that Jews no longer had the right to open shops outside the Ghetto and that they would soon be locked up again within their neighborhoods.
On the night of October 25
th, 1849, at 4 a.m., the French soldiers laid a security cordon around the Ghetto, where five thousand Jews lived at the time, and for two days the papal police carried out meticulous searches, house by house, with the intent of recover stolen or fenced ecclesiastical property. They found almost nothing but there was a confirmation of the racial hatred of the most ignorant strata of the Roman people against the Jews, useful as a scapegoat for the stalemate in Rome. (Kertzer) Actually, outside the Ghetto, the worst subjects of the lowest populace rioted, prey to a never dormant anti-Semitism. (Natalini)
Leon Carpi, in his diary "Blocco dei Francesi al Ghetto di Roma" ("Block of the French to the Ghetto of Rome") tells of the amazement and anxiety that struck every family, also because the purpose of the measure was not said. When it was finally learned at dawn of the following day that house visits were to be made, the relief was canceled by seeing honorable and respectable men "cruelly dragged into prison, for no other reason than whim. Somebody yelled in the streets that the state of siege would not be lifted until the leaders of the Jewish community denounced those who owned, they said, the objects stolen from some churches and the Apostolic Palace".

The Constitution of the Republic
The Roman Republic lasted only 145 days, but she left a document of great importance, the Constitution of the Roman Republic, written by the Constituent Assembly, approved by the National Assembly on July 1
st and proclaimed by the Capitol on July 4th, with the reading of all the articles, amidst thunderous applause and waving handkerchiefs from the houses, in the presence of the French, who in the meantime had occupied Rome, putting an end to the Roman Republic. The Constitution contains highly advanced principles for the time, but also of great relevance, such as freedom of worship (principle VII), the abolition of the death penalty (Article 5) and universal suffrage (Article 20), which anticipated the Constitution of the Italian Republic of 1948, ninety-nine years later, as well as the flag and the national anthem.

The difficulties of the Republic and its downfall
The fall of the Roman Republic was mainly due to the simultaneous attack by some of the most powerful states
(Monsagrati), against a small army made up largely of volunteers, who failed to establish international alliances. Furthermore, the enormous public debt inherited from the papal regime and recognized by the state was not able to be met: 46 million scudos in devalued treasury bills in the hands of private individuals and foreign banks, 37 of which are a legacy of the bad government of Gregory XVI. (Severini) Those different practical problems also brought disappointment and distrust in the citizens.
There were also ideological conflicts between Mazzini, who feared that the Roman Republic would resolve itself into a local phenomenon, rather than being the first nucleus of an Italian Republic and Constitution , and the other Republicans supporting more progressive positions
(Mazzuca). Furthermore Mazzini tried to keep at a distance any discourse that alluded to the class struggle, and wrote: “the character, habits, local needs of the Roman peoples offer a very ample guarantee of the moderate and conservative nature of our Republic; those of self-styled Red Republicans or Socialists are quite inapplicable to us. The Roman Republic reduced and guaranteed in its normal and natural essence can never be a propaganda of revolutionary principles and destroyers of the universal balance". (Natalini)
Carlo Pisacane, on the other hand, thought of the Republic as an instrument of social transformation, while lamenting the inadequacy of the democrats to arouse free popular initiative. His idea of a revolutionary army saw the union between the military question, the political perspective and the social question, united in the idea of a nation in arms for a mass initiative.
(Carocci) A partly similar position was taken by Quirico Filopanti and above all by Felice Orsini, for whom the reasons for the defeat were attributable to the excessive moderation shown by the Mazzini Triumvirate, in his opinion responsible for not having taken more "radical and revolutionary" measures and of not having extended the insurrection beyond the borders of the kingdom of Naples.
However, despite the fact that in some cases the red flag was waved
(Monsagrati), and in spite of the accusations of communism launched by Pius IX and the reactionary press, socialist tensions existed only in embryo, and found it difficult to express an independent identity. In addition to Filopanti, only Carlo Rusconi, first elected in Bologna before Filopanti, took positions similar to the socialist ones. Actually, the Communist Manifesto had been published by Marx and Engels only a year earlier, on February 21st, 1848.

General Oudinot, responsible for the French defeat of April 30
th and the treacherous attack on the night between June 2nd and 3rd, was awarded by the pope with the minting of a medal bearing on the recto : "Vict · Oudinotius · Gallorum · Exercitui · Praefectus" (Victor Oudinot head of French army) and on the verso "Urbem / Expugnare Coactus / Civium et Artium / Incolumitati / Consulvit / A. MDCCCXLIX " (forced to conquer the city / took care / of the safety / of the citizens and artwork). How and how much Oudinot took care of the citizens and the artworks was explained in the previous paragraphs.
There are also satirical medals against Oudinot and the pope, such as the one showing on the recto: "Ultimo Assedio _ 30 Giugno 1849" ("Last Siege _ June 30
th, 1849") and on the verso "Cani Francesi, / E Tu Brenno Imbecille / E Tu Papa Impio / Maledizione / Sopra di Voi !" ("French Cowards, / And you Stupid Brennus / And You Impious Pope / Curse / Above you!") (link). Or the other, in French: "De Par /L. Napoleon, / La France Papiste / En 1849 / Au 19° Siecle, / En Republique" ("By Louis Napoleon, papist France, in 1849, in the 19th century, under the Republic") and on the verso: "Detruit Rome, / En Faveur / de l'Exile de Gaete / Honte à Pie IX! / Honte / Aux Francais!" ("He destroys Rome in favor of the exiled of Gaeta. Shame on Pius IX! Shame on the French!)" (link).

Memory of the Republic
For many years February 9
th, the anniversary of the Republic, was commemorated by the Republicans, especially in Romagna and the Marche. (Severini)
In 1941 on the Janiculum Hill, near the church of San Pietro in Montorio, in one of the places where the bloodiest fights took place, the Mausoleo Ossario Gianicolense (Janiculum Ossuary Mausoleum) was built, which houses the remains of the fallen for the Roman Republic, among which, in at the bottom of the crypt, that of Goffredo Mameli.
The gate Porta San Pancrazio, partially destroyed in the battles of 1849, was rebuilt between 1854 and 1856, and on March 17
th, 2011, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Department of Cultural Policies and of Communication, Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Rome, have promoted the establishment within it of a new museum space dedicated to the Roman Republic of 1849, the Museum of the Roman Republic and of Garibaldi's Memory. (link)
On the same day, the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, inaugurated on the Janiculum Hill the Constitution Wall of the Roman Republic of 1849. On the parapet of the panoramic viewpoint of the Passeggiata al Gianicolo promenade, near Villa Lante, the entire text of the Constitution is carved on artificial stone panels, on a front fifty meters long.
It would be nice to start again to celebrate the birthday of the Roman Republic every year on February 9th.

BONAZZI Luigi (1879) Storia di Perugia dalle origini al 1860. Volume II - dal 1495 al 1860. Tipografia Boncompagni e C., Perugia., Italy link
CAROCCI Roberto (2017) La Repubblica Romana. 1849, prove di democrazia e socialismo nel Risorgimento. Odradek, Rome, Italy.
CARPI Leone (1849) Blocco dei francesi al ghetto di Roma nell'anno di grazia 1849 e secondo della loro repubblica. Tip. Sociale degli Artisti Tipografi, Turin, Italy.
CHIGI ALBANI DELLA ROVERE Agostino (1906) Diario del Principe Don Agostino Chigi dal 1830 al 1855. Stab. Tip. F. Filelfo, Tolentino, Macerata, Italy - Wikisource link
DEMARCO Domenico (1992) Pio IX e la rivoluzione romana del 1848 : saggio di storia economico-sociale. Edizioni scientifiche italiane, Naples, Italy.
GARIBALDI Giuseppe (1932) Memorie autobiografiche. Casa Editrice Bietti, Milan, Italy.
KERTZER David Israel (2019) Il Papa che voleva essere re : 1849: Pio IX e il sogno rivoluzionario della Repubblica romana. Garzanti, Milan, Italy.
MARX Karl (1850) Le lotte di classe in Francia dal 1848 al 1850.
MAZZUCA Giancarlo (2007) La storia della Repubblica Romana del 1849. Libro aperto, Ravenna, Italy.
MONSAGRATI Giuseppe (2014) Roma senza il Papa : la Repubblica romana del 1849. Giuseppe Laterza & Figli S.p.A., Rome - Bari, Italy.
MORIGI Massimo (1986) Gloria alla Repubblica romana : compendio de "La Repubblica romana del 1849" di Giovanni Conti. Edizione Moderna, Ravenna, Italy.
NATALINI Guglielmo (2000) Storia della Repubblica romana del Quarantanove. U. Magnanti, Nettuno, Rome, Italy.
PIO IX (1849) Allocuzione “Quibus, Quantisque” del Sommo Pontefice Pio IX. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City.
PRILI Claudio (2012) Anatomia di un sogno (La Repubblica romana). Montedit, Melegnano., Milan, Italy
SEVERINI Marco (2011) La Repubblica romana del 1849. Marsilio, Padua, Italy.

Websites visited:
Biblioteca di Storia Moderna e Contemporanea - Collezioni digitali - la Repubblica romana. link
Papal Encyclicals Online - Nostis et nobiscum link
Wikisource - French Constitution of 1848 link
Musée Carnavalet, Histoire de Paris. link
La Moneta - Network di Numismatica e Storia - Numismatica Italiana link

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page created: April 20th, 2022 and last updated: October 6th, 2022