Brigands or insurgents? Napoleonic authority in Italy and the Piacentino counter-insurrection of 1805-06

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Abstract

In December 1805 church bells ringing from village to village called to rebellion the inhabitants of the mountainous region of the duchies of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla. Due to Administrator General Moreau de Saint-Méry's ineffectiveness, the counter-insurgency was conducted by civilian and military officers from the department of Genoa and the 28th Military Division which had jurisdiction over the duchies. The military phase ended swiftly with the complete defeat of the rebellion. However, seeking common ground on which to build new institutions, French officials went to great length to minimize violent methods and reach out to insurgents. In this process, the discourse of criminalization proved a versatile tool, used simultaneously to justify massive law and order operations and to exonerate the majority of the population. Such flexibility incurred Napoleon's wrath; still, aiming for lasting stability, the officials in charge found ways to steer a relatively moderate course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-76
Number of pages26
JournalFrench History
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

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