1388: Three evil counselors of Richard II 1917: Emil Rebreanu, Forest of the Hanged inspiration

1828: Carbonari in Ravenna

May 13th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 1828, revolutionaries Luigi Zanoli, Ortolani Angiolo, Gaetano Montanari, and Gaetano Rambelli were hanged in Ravenna.*

These were members of the carbonari, charcoal-burnersan anti-clerical political secret society of the early 19th century.

Further to that body’s sanguinary campaign against papal political domination, they authored an attempted kidnapping and/or assassination of the Vatican’s Romagna enforcer, Cardinal Rivarola. Rivarola had recently issued mass condemnations against carbonari.

Which is very nice. But they didn’t get the Cardinal.

Ubiquitous 19th century papal executioner Mastro Titta conducted the executions — the 266th through 269th of his career (he’d also done Gaetano Montanari’s better-known brother Leonida three years before) — and devoted a chapter of his memoirs to the occasion. You can call the carbonari terrorists if you wish, but the Ravenna populace’s fearsomely cinematic display of solidarity with the doomed makes eloquent historical testimony on their behalf.

The execution took place on May 13 on a large square in Ravenna, occupied by the military so that nobody could not approach the gallows other than the executioners, the soldiers, and the prisoners. The windows and doors of the city and the shops were all closed and many were hung with black. Not a person was seen on the streets. Ravenna seemed transformed into a necropolis. All attempts to convert them were vigorously rejected by the prisoners, who did not want confession nor religious comforters, and protested against the accompaniment of two friars ordered by the Cardinal.** The wagon crossed streets deserted and silent, all surrounded by soldiers on foot and horseback riding at a brisk trot. Arrived at the foot of the gallows, the condemned went down with a firm step, and one by one they boldly climbed the stairs of the gallows, and before the gallows clutching their necks shouted in a voice strong and fearless:

– Viva Italia! Down with the papacy!

The execution was conducted rapidly. I departed with my aide that night under guard, because it was rumored that the conspirators wanted to skin us.

* It appears to me — although it’s not completely clear from what I’ve seen — that a fifth man, a Jewish poisoner named Abramo Isacco Forti (aka “Machino”), was also executed in this group, for collaborating with the carbonari on a different murder. He’s listed on Titta’s roster of victims without date or explanation, but specifically named in, e.g., this Italian book’s roster of death sentences handed out by that same court.

** This public-domain Italian independence martyrology attributes to the prisoners the worthy quote, “Who becomes a king and an executioner ceases to be a minister of God.”

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 19th Century,Assassins,Attempted Murder,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Italy,Mass Executions,Papal States,Power,Public Executions,Ravenna,Revolutionaries,Terrorists

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2 thoughts on “1828: Carbonari in Ravenna”

  1. Headsman says:

    Thanks, Courtaud.

  2. Courtaud says:

    “E sempre in Romagna a causa dell’attentato del ‘32 al cardinale Rivarolo, fu arrestato con l’accusa di complicità, l’ebreo Abramo Isacco Forti di Lugo, già fautore dei moti di Faenza del ’28, e messo a morte.”
    Abramo Isacco Forti was executes as accomplice of the attempted kidnapping of Cardinal Rivarola. He had already be involved in the revolt at Faenza in 1828.
    Here http://www.google.it/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&sqi=2&ved=0CEsQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.museoebraicobo.it%2FAllegati%2FRisorgimento_mostra_pann_5.pdf&ei=PQ2xT5i0G8SChQeuybnVCA&usg=AFQjCNFWClsKD7gE39oKLMlieArta3Qqgw is said that he also stood accused for the murder of another patriot and fellow Jew, Moisé Forti. He refused to convert, even if it would have saved his life.
    According to “Memoirs of an old Ravenna patriot” (http://www.liberliber.it/libri/u/uccellini/index.htm) pag. 176 Forti had Moisé Forti killed by Luigi Zanoli and Gaetano Montanari.
    Angelo Ortolani (not Ortolani Angelo) and Gaetano Rambelli also were on trial for the murder of Count Domenico Matteucci of Ravenna, shooting him in the back while he was knoking at a friend’s door.
    The first attempt to kill the Cardinal was through poisoning his bread; failed that the Carbonari resolved to shot him in his carriage but missed, wounding a priest instead.

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