The Republic of Venice, 1789-1797

In 1789, Lodovico Manin was elected the 118th and last Doge of Venice. The republic stuck to her traditional policy of neutrality and refused offers by the King of Sardinia in 1791 (anti-French League of Italian Princes) and 1792 (neutral defensive league). In 1795, Louis XVIII. made Verona his temporary residence, until - at French request - Venetian authorities asked him to leave.
In 1795 the war theatre (First War of the Coalition) moved to Italy; the French occupied Milan, and the fortress of Mantua was the last Austrian stronghold in Italy. The only road connecting Mantua with Austrian Tyrol went through Venetian territory. Venice permitted the Austrians to use it.
In 1797, Mantua fell after a long siege; the Austrians retreated; French troops occupied Verona and other towns in the western Terraferma. In Bergamo and Brescia revolutions broke out; revolutionaries also took control of Crema, while the French garrison of Verona acted as if being the force of occupied territory, acquiring food etc. against worthless coupons. The Venetian authorities, seing the Terraferma west of the Adige lost, and in consideration of the bad shape of the Venetian troops, called up and armed militias. These, however, did not move against the rebels in the west, but against the French garrison in Verona. Napoleon Bonaparte ultimatively demanded from the Venetian government to immediately suppress this irregular force.
Events in Verona, by now, were outside of Venetian control. In April 1797, the French garrison in town found herself under siege (which lasted merely three days). The city had to pay a huge indemnity. In the Treaty of Campoformio, Napoleon Bonaparte partitioned the Republic of Venice - the cisalpinerep">Cisalpine Republic was to annex the stretches to the west of the Oglio; the areas to the east of the Oglio were to be annexed by Austria, as was Istria and Dalmatia. The Ionian Islands, again, would fall under French administration.
Briefly, French troops occupied the city of Venice herself - the first foreign troops to do so, since the foundation of the republic. The French carried away the Horses of San Marco.

The second centennial of the end of the Republic of Venice, from Venezia Net
DOCUMENTS Images of Doge 118-120 (L. Manin), from venezia.net
REFERENCE John Julius Norwich, A History of Venice, NY : Vintage, 1989 : The Fall : 1789-1797, pp.605-632

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 9th 2002, last revised on March 24th 2006

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