Napoleone nelle Alpi

Le montagne d’Europa tra Rivoluzione e Restaurazione

I.S.T.A. - Incontri per lo Studio delle Tradizioni Alpine

ISBN: 978-88-93216-32-6. Anno 2015



 Napoleone nelle Alpi







Parte I - Napoleone nelle Alpi


1. Napoleone e la Valle Camonica ai tempi della campagna d'Italia (1796-1797)

Luca Giarelli


2. La Valle Camonica in età napoleonica

Fausto Bonomelli, Ivan Faiferri


3. La Val Trompia in età napoleonica. Spigolature d'archivio

Giorgio Danesi


4. La Valle Sabbia rivoluzionaria e napoleonica

Giancarlo Marchesi


5. Un poeta nelle valli bresciane

Paolo Formenti


6. Le rivolte del 1809 nel Dipartimento del Bacchiglione

Niccolò Valentini


7. Il bellunese fra Napoleone e gli Asburgo (1797-1814). Un’élite confrontata al cambiamento

Valentina Dal Cin


8. Il Tirolo in età napoleonica (1796-1814): un quadro d’insieme

Carlo Romeo


9. «Viva la libertà e vivano i francesi». La Valtellina e Napoleone

Anna La Torre, Margherita Pedrana


10. Valtellina e Valchiavenna al Congresso di Vienna

Gianluigi Garbellini


11. L’età napoleonica in Valsassina: dall’antico al moderno

Federico Oriani


12. La Valsesia napoleonica: confine di Stato e confine di diocesi

Gianpaolo Fassino


13. L’oppressione franco-giacobina in Piemonte (1798-1800)

Gustavo Mola di Nomaglio


14. Dal 1794 all’impero napoleonico: il Dipartimento di Montenotte

Carmelo Prestipino


15. Il passaggio napoleonico delle Alpi e il Carnevale

Eleonora Tossani



Parte II - Appendice


Beni comuni, originari e forestieri nella montagna bresciana: documenti e terminazioni dal XVI al XIX secolo

Luca Giarelli


Calendario rivoluzionario francese


Credo repubblicano









1. Napoleon and Valle Camonica during the Italian campaign (1796-1797)

In April 1796 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the Italian territories. Thanks to a series of brilliant military victories and to the support of the local revolutionaries, he redrew the political framework of the Italian peninsula creating a series of new republics that replaced the old regional states.

The article focuses on the events occurred in Valle Camonica, a valley north of Brescia, formerly included in the Republic of Venice, in the period between the establishment of the Republic of Brescia and the Cisalpine Republic. Through the analysis of the sources, the events between a first attempt to object to the revolutionary movements and the subsequent accession to them will be examined.


2. Valle Camonica in the Napoleonic era

The paper is divided in two parts: the former describes the events following the advent of the French armies in Valle Camonica, with a focus on the institutional changes imposed by the different governments and occurred in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Age (1796-1814). The latter, based on the records of the city archives of Vione, deals with the socio-economic changes occurred in this period in Valle Camonica. From the analysis of the records of the city archives, the study tries to define the impact of the new models of government on the ancient local institutions and the role of the proto-capitalist businessmen in the alienation of the communal properties.


3. Val Trompia in the Napoleonic era. Archival gleanings

The Napoleonic era in Val Trompia opened with an insurgence against the Provisional Government of Brescia of Jacobin inspiration. The reinterpretation of the archival records points out that the causes of the insurgence were not ideological, but purely local, related to the conflict between the Upper valley (loyal to Venice) and the Lower valley (close to the city of Brescia).

In the first part of the article this thesis is analysed through some digressions about the history and the economy of the Valley. The second part aims to confirm the thesis through the analysis of archival sources related to different subjects (conscription, religion, charity, education and economy) during the whole Napoleonic era. The analysis shows that Val Trompia was an active interpreter of the reforms connected to the different regimes that followed from 1797 to 1815.

From a local point of view, the Napoleonic era marked the transition of the hegemony from the Upper valley (which had imposed the insurgence in 1797) to the Lower valley (which had a phase of strong economic growth).


4. Val Sabbia and the Napoleonic revolution

The article begins introducing the territorial, agricultural and economic framework of Valle Sabbia, a valley north of Brescia, on the eve of the fall of the Republic of Venice. Then the article focuses on the dissolution of the Republic of Venice and on the insurgence against it which , in the spring of 1797, was led by the people of Val Sabbia.

After explaining the political and institutional changes, the article analyses the construction of the Rocca d’Anfo , one of the largest military fortress in Europe in the first decade of the 19th century.


5. A poet in the valleys of Brescia

In the 1811 the poet Cesare Arici replied to the insistences of the General Director for the Public Education of the time, Giovanni Scopoli, drawing up his report on the Mella Department. His account will become a part of an ambitious project of investigation about the popular habits and traditions of the Kingdom of Italy.

The work follows Cesare Arici’s methodological way, focused on classicism and hippocratism, which will lead to an idealized vision of the examined territories, providing an interesting alternative viewpoint about the folkloristic topic.


6. The 1809 revolts in the Bacchiglione Department

The revolts broke out in the Bacchiglione Department (Vicenza) in 1809 were led by a series of different entities, without a guide who coordinated from above and therefore without a clear organization. The main causes were two: the economical claims and the social unrest of the people in the Department. During the Venetian rule the local villages had benefited from a particularly economical system: they could smuggle without being hampered.

Subsequently, during the Napoleonic and the Austrian domination, all the privileges were abolished because of the «criterion of equality» among the different territories belonging to the same public jurisdiction.


7. Belluno between Napoleon and the Habsburg family (1797-1814): an elite compared to the change

This article concerns the period between the arrival of the French troops led by general Bonaparte in 1796 and the end of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy in 1814 focusing on the province of Belluno. A study in order to investigate how the political transformations experienced in Veneto region after the end of the Venetian Republic affected the local ruling class. An overview of the major political changes and an account of the main characteristics of the local institutions have been combined with the study of single individuals (Pagani-Cesa, Mengotti, Miari, Manzoni) who succeeded in remaining or entering in the elite of Belluno.

Their example shows that even in a peripheral province as Belluno the end of the Ancien Régime gave rise to new social dynamics. Even if the noble status still had importance, other elements were formally taken into consideration: ability, competence, wealth and devotion to public service. At the end of the 19th century Italian elites became consolidated in this combination of old and new features.


8. Tyrol in the Napoleonic era (1796-1813)

The report starts with a short summary of Tyrolean society and institutions in the second half of the 18th century. Tyrol was directly involved in the wars between the revolutionary France and the various coalitions of European monarchies. With the peace of Pressburg in 1805, Tyrol was ceded to Bavaria, an ally of the French. The radical Bavarian reforms, especially the measures affecting religious matters, the taxation and the compulsory draft, caused discontent in the Tyrolean population. As agreed with Vienna, in April 1809 the Tyrolean rebels put the Bavarians to flight. In the following months they succeeded in repulsing many enemy attacks. Among their leaders, Andreas Hofer stood out. He was an innkeeper from the Passeier Valley, who settled in Innsbruck as temporary governor. The Austrian Emperor was defeated by Napoleon and he signed the Treaty of Schönbrunn, by which he relinquished Tyrol. Despite a promise of amnesty, the Tyrolean rebels continued their resistance. Hofer was captured, tried and shot in Mantua (20th February 1810).

From 1810 to 1813 Tyrol is divided between the Kingdom of Bavaria in the north, the Kingdom of Italy in the south and the Illyrian Provinces, directly annexed to the French empire, in the east. The territory under the control of the Kingdom of Italy was named Dipartimento dell’Alto Adige (Department of the Upper Adige) and Trent was its capital. When Napoleon fell from power, Austria regained possession of Tyrol.

The report ends with an analysis of the process of lionization of Andreas Hofer’s figure and history.


9. «Long live Freedom and long live to the French». Valtellina and Napoleon

In 1797, thanks to the expedition of Napoleon in Italy, Valtellina was taken away from the Three Leagues State (today Kanton Graubünden) and was joined to the Italian Cisalpine Republic. The article examines the events of the valley between this period and the 1815, the year of Napoleon’s defeat.


10. Valtellina e Valchiavenna at the Congress of Vienna

Since its first sessions the Committee for Switzerland, composed by the delegates of Austria, Prussia, Russia, England and France, established as principle the return of Valtellina and the Counties of Bormio and Chiavenna to Switzerland.

The «Valtellina issue» was not easy to solve. Hans Reinhard, leader of the Swiss delegation, was against the creation of the Valtellina Canton and proposed the entrance of the valley and the Counties in the Canton of Grisons as 4th League and with the same rights. The Grisons delegates were not of the same opinion; they wanted to compensate people who had been damaged by the Confisca Reta and prevent the entrance of Valtellina in their Canton.

In Vienna the delegates of Valtellina, Count Diego Guicciardi and Gerolamo Stampa, supported the will of the Grisons old «Vassal Countries»: first of all they wanted to maintain the union with Lombardy and the creation of an independent Valtellina Canton. With great skill they involved the representatives of the Italian States in favor of the union with Lombardy, overcoming the resistance of Russia, France and England which at the end approved this option.

Thanks to secret negotiations, the delegate of Geneva succeeded in connecting the Valtellina issue with the enlargement of his City-Canton, suggesting a series of assignations which guaranteed to Austria the union of Valtellina and Valchiavenna to Lombardy.


11. The Napoleonic era in Valsassina: from the old to the modern world

The Napoleonic era was a time of discontinuity in comparison to the past for different reasons, among them the centralization of the public administration which is analyzed examining in depth the changing local administrative structure, the new statistical approach, the bureaucratization of the offices and the use of print media for the propaganda. The new public law gave the possibility of social climbing to the families who proved to be ideologically close to Jacobinism, as the Ticozzi brothers from Pasturo who reached important administrative roles and the baronial title. The maintenance of the bureaucratic machine, the incessant state of war and the heavy taxation required by France imposed on the population economic increases and in particular the conscription. The whole Italy reacted to the obligatory military service by deserting and leading many young people to live in hiding and to support themselves with acts of banditry. Despite the gradual tightening of the police measures, public order in the valley was often disturbed by the war events of 1799/1800 and by attempts to rebel against the power. The riots culminated in a state of anarchy in 1814, with the defeat of Napoleon and the return of the Austrians.


12. The Napoleonic Valsesia: border of a State and border of a diocese

The French myth of the «natural boundary», taken to the extreme, caused in September 1800 the cut in two parts of Valsesia (along its entire length), interrupting suddenly both the secular administrative unit and the self-governance of the valley. A valley shocked by an «absurd» and «unfortunate» boundary: in fact in the Middle and in the Upper valley the border between the French Republic and the Cisalpine Republic was not drawn along the ridge of the mountains, as it should have been considering the orographic configuration of the territory, but it was drawn along the course of the Sesia river. The reorganization of the civil administration had also consequences on the diocesan structure. Valsesia had always been part of the diocese of Novara. Establishing the department of Agogna and merging its territory with the Cisalpine Republic, since 1800-01 the bishop of Vercelli was temporarily called to exercise its jurisdiction over the territories on the right bank.

This transformation was further formalized with the decree of Cardinal Caprara on 25th January 1805 that reorganized the entire structure of the Church in Piedmont. However, in the new separated communities there was a lack of churches, parishes and cemeteries that caused a confused and complicated situation lasted until the Restoration.


13. Franco-Jacobin oppression in Piedmont (1798-1800)

The article examines the Napoleonic period through a critique of the ideals professed by the revolutionaries and their effective realization, analyzing in particular the case of Piedmont.


14. From 1794 to the Napoleonic Empire: the Department of Montenotte

The adventure of Napoleone Bonaparte began on Cadibona hill, at the entrance of the Maritime Alps, west of Liguria, an area with a rough topography and an hinterland characterized by mountains with acclivities, in whose valleys the three Bormida rivers flow (Bormida of Mallare, Bormida of Pallare and Bormida of Millesimo). The road system was formed by mule tracks that crossed Scravajon, St. Giacomo, Melogno and Cadibona Passes, continuing inland along the ridges.

French invasion began in 1794 when the coast was occupied by French and the Oltregiogo area was controlled by Austrian-Piedmontese army until spring 1796. Bonaparte took the command on 23rd March and on 11th April his divisions climbed to the mountain passes of Melogno and Cadibona: he defeated the Austrians at Montenotte and Dego, the Piedmontese troops at Cosseria and Millesimo and on 27th April Piedmont signed the surrender in Cherasco.

In 1800 the Austrian-Russian army arrived in Liguria sacking it, but in June of the same year Bonaparte defeated the Austrians in Marengo, also stopping the anti-French bands.

In 1805 Ligurian Republic was annexed to the French empire and the Department of Montenotte born, including the districts of Savona, Acqui Terme, Porto Maurizio and Ceva led by Prefect Gilbert Chabrol de Volvic; Chabrol’s administration brought the modernization of the road system, of the healthcare and of the economy, with a project for a ship canal that should have connected the port of Savona to Po river.


15. Napoleon crossing the Alps and the Carnival

In May 1800, in the icy landscapes of the St. Bernard Pass, uniforms of the Napoleonic army appeared. The story is interwoven with the myth, the writing becomes inverted reflection of a passage that helps to create imaginary spaces of identity. For the inhabitants of the Alpine valleys, the Napoleonic march is related to a set of ancestral stories, whose memories have been handed down and their ritual calendar remind, with ambivalent masks that only Carnival staging can play, memories that the time cannot delete but only remodel without altering the meaning. Passages, mythical memory and places that preserve the ambiguous status of space/border where to realise symbolic rituals, this is the physical and cultural space that attends the Napoleonic passage.

The Carnival, expression of the Alpine Valleys collective desires and fruit of their myth-making, is filled with figures that remind the Napoleonic adventure. Legislative actions of the Emperor introduced institutionalized masks with the function of control and discipline. In this article there is an analysis of the Carnival in order to investigate the devices of the truth, the speech and the territory between the sunset of the modern age and the dawn of the contemporary world.


16. Common goods, originari and forestieri in the mountain of Brescia: documents and terminazioni from 16th to 19th century

In the ancient mountain communities of the Brescia area there were two social groups: the originari («the originals inhabitants»), i.e. members of the families who claimed to live in that place since time immemorial and who had many common goods, and the forestieri («the foreigners»), groups of families who settled in a second time in the villages.

The will of the forestieri to take part in the assemblies (called vicinia) of the originari led to significant discussions between the two parties over the centuries. This article proposes a short analysis of the issue through some attached documents as the: Decisione generale stabilita dagl’illustrissimi & eccellentissimi signori Sindaci, et Inquisitori in Terra Ferma per troncare le liti trà gli originarij, e forestieri di tutti li communi (1674); Terminazione generale dell’illustrissimo ed eccellentissimo signore Francesco Grimani (1764); Al Gran Consiglio gli antichi originari di Valcamonica (VI Rep.); Decreto relativo al modo di terminare le questioni vertenti fra gli antichi e nuovi originarj dei comuni degli stati ex veneti (1806).