Napoleon and the Reggiana Republic
Napoleone e la Repubblica Reggiana

Between 1796 and 1799, for the Italian patriot who had fraternised with the Napoleonic troops during the Italian military campaign, the new ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity, had their stronger symbol in the French tricolour. The Italian military units constituted at that time to help the French troops, choose their own colours for the uniforms and banners too, not only to be recognized during the battles but even for political reasons.

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    A “national” armed force represents actually the first symbol of a new born nation which, in Napoleon’s strategy, has to supplant the Ostrich power in Northern Italy. So the uniforms of the Lombard Legion and of the Italian Legion, strongly wanted by Napoleon, are different from the French ones because they have the green instead of the blue colour, probably borrowed from the traditional urban Milanese guard. During the night of the 25th August the Tree of Liberty is erected in Piazza Grande. The day after the Senate of Reggio decides to take over the government of the city and to institute the Home Guard. The Republic of Reggio is thus formed.
    On October 4, 1796 at Montechiarugolo the Home Guard of Reggio, captained by Carlo Ferrarini and assisted by 40 French grenadiers, force a column of 150 Austrians to surrender. The actions of the army at Montechiarugolo are of great political and symbolic importance exciting the Italian patriots’ enthusiasm and the people of Reggio are long remembered as courageous and patriotic. Napoleon himself stresses their importance in a letter to “ The inhabitants of Reggio” where he prises their energy and courage and extols the push “for the sake of liberty” .
    Foscolo also celebrates the patriotic spirit of Reggio “città animatrice d’Italia” and of its people, “the first real Italians and free citizens”. Between 27th and 28th December, the deputies of Reggio, Modena, Bologna and Ferrara meet up at Reggio, in the Town Hall to mark the start of the Cispadane Republic “one and indivisible”.


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