Alessandro Manzoni

Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Antonio Manzoni (Italian: [alesˈsandro manˈdzoːni]; 7 March 1785 – 22 May 1873)[2] was an Italian poet and novelist.[3] He is famous for the novel The Betrothed (orig. Italian: I promessi sposi) (1827), generally ranked among the masterpieces of world literature.[4] The novel is also a symbol of the Italian Risorgimento, both for its patriotic message[4] and because it was a fundamental milestone in the development of the modern, unified Italian language.[5] Manzoni also sat the basis for the modern Italian language and helped creating linguistic unity throughout Italy. He was an influential proponent of Liberal Catholicism in Italy.[6][7]

Alessandro Manzoni

Francesco Hayez 040
Portrait of Alessandro Manzoni,
by Francesco Hayez
(Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, 1841)
Senator of the Kingdom of Italy
In office
29 February 1860 – 22 May 1873
MonarchVictor Emmanuel II
Personal details
Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Manzoni

7 March 1785
Milan, Duchy of Milan
Died22 May 1873 (aged 88)
Milan, Italy
Resting placeMonumental Cemetery of Milan
Enrichetta Blondel
(m. 1808; her d. 1833)

Teresa Borri
(m. 1837; her d. 1861)
ChildrenGiulia Claudia (1808–1834)
Pietro Luigi (1813–1873)
Cristina (1815–1841)
Sofia (1817–1845)
Enrico (1819–1881)
Clara (1821–1823)
Vittoria (1822–1892)
Filippo (1826–1868)
Matilde (1830–1856)
ParentsPietro Manzoni and Giulia Beccaria
RelativesCesare Beccaria (grandfather)
Massimo D'Azeglio (son-in-law)
OccupationWriter, poet, dramatist
Writing career
Period19th century
GenreHistorical fiction, tragedy, poetry
SubjectReligion, politics, history
Literary movementEnlightenment
Notable works
Years active1801–1873

Alessandro Manzoni - Firma

Early life

Manzoni was born in Milan, Italy, on 7 March 1785.[2] Pietro, his father, aged about fifty, belonged to an old family of Lecco, originally feudal lords of Barzio, in the Valsassina. The poet's maternal grandfather, Cesare Beccaria, was a well-known author and philosopher, and his mother Giulia had literary talent as well.[2] The young Alessandro spent his first two years of life in cascina Costa in Galbiate and he was wet-nursed by Caterina Panzeri, as attested by a memorial plate affixed in the place. In 1792 his parents broke their marriage[4] and his mother began a relationship with the highbrow Carlo Imbonati, moving to England and later to Paris. For this reason, their son was brought up in several religious institutes.

Manzoni was a slow developer, and at the various colleges he attended he was considered a dunce. At fifteen, however, he developed a passion for poetry and wrote two sonnets of considerable merit. Upon the death of his father in 1807, he joined the freethinking household of his mother at Auteuil, and spent two years mixing with the literary set of the so-called "ideologues", philosophers of the 18th-century school, among whom he made many friends, notably Claude Charles Fauriel. There too he imbibed the anti-Catholic creed of Voltairianism.

In 1806–1807, while at Auteuil, he first appeared before the public as a poet, with two pieces, one entitled Urania, in the classical style, of which he became later the most conspicuous adversary, the other an elegy in blank verse, on the death of Count Carlo Imbonati, from whom, through his mother, he inherited considerable property, including the villa of Brusuglio, thenceforward his principal residence.


In 1808, Manzoni married Henriette Blondel, daughter of a Genevese banker. She came from a Calvinist family, but in 1810 she became a Roman Catholic.[8] Her conversion profoundly influenced her husband.[9] That same year he experienced a religious crisis which led him from Jansenism to an austere form of Catholicism.[10] Manzoni's marriage proved a most happy one, and he led for many years a retired domestic life, divided between literature and the picturesque husbandry of Lombardy.

His intellectual energy in this period of his life was devoted to the composition of the Inni sacri, a series of sacred lyrics, and of a treatise on Catholic morality, Osservazioni sulla morale cattolica, a task undertaken under religious guidance, in reparation for his early lapse from faith. In 1818 he had to sell his paternal inheritance, as his money had been lost to a dishonest agent. His characteristic generosity was shown at this time in his dealings with his peasants, who were heavily indebted to him. He not only cancelled on the spot the record of all sums owed to him, but bade them keep for themselves the whole of the coming maize harvest.

In 1819, Manzoni published his first tragedy, Il Conte di Carmagnola, which, boldly violating all classical conventions, excited a lively controversy. It was severely criticized in a Quarterly Review article to which Goethe replied in its defence, "one genius," as Count de Gubernatis remarks, "having divined the other." The death of Napoleon in 1821 inspired Manzoni's powerful stanzas Il Cinque maggio (The Fifth of May), one of the most popular lyrics in the Italian language. The political events of that year, and the imprisonment of many of his friends, weighed much on Manzoni's mind, and the historical studies in which he sought distraction during his subsequent retirement at Brusuglio suggested his great work.

The Betrothed

I promessi sposi - 2nd edition cover
The Betrothed: 1842's definitive edition

Round the episode of the Innominato, historically identified with Bernardino Visconti, the first manuscript of the novel The Betrothed (in Italian I promessi sposi ) began to grow into shape, and was completed in September 1823. The work was published, after being deeply reshaped by the author and revised by friends in 1825–1827, at the rate of a volume a year; it at once raised its author to the first rank of literary fame. It is generally agreed to be his greatest work, and the paradigm of modern Italian language.

The Penguin Companion to European Literature notes that 'the book's real greatness lies in its delineation of the heroine, Lucia, in Padre Cristoforo, the Capuchin friar, and the saintly cardinal of Milan, he has created three living examples of that pure and wholehearted Christianity which is his ideal. But his psychological penetration extends also to those who fall short of this standard, whether through weakness or perversity, and the novel is rich in pictures of ordinary men and women, seen with a delightful irony and disenchantment which always stops short of cynicism, and which provides a perfect balance for the evangelical fervour of his ideal'.

In 1822, Manzoni published his second tragedy, Adelchi, turning on the overthrow by Charlemagne of the Lombard domination in Italy, and containing many veiled allusions to the existing Austrian rule. With these works Manzoni's literary career was practically closed. But he laboriously revised The Betrothed in Tuscan-Italian, and in 1840 republished it in that form, with a historical essay, Storia della colonna infame, on details of the 17th century plague in Milan so important in the novel. He also wrote a small treatise on the Italian language.

Family, death and legacy

The Funeral Procession at Milan, Italy
Manzoni's funeral procession in Milan

The death of Manzoni's wife in 1833 was preceded and followed by those of several of his children, and of his mother. In the mid-1830s he attended the "Salotto Maffei", a salon in Milan hosted by Clara Maffei, and in 1837 he married again, to Teresa Borri, widow of Count Stampa. Teresa also died before him, while of nine children born to him in his two marriages all but two pre-deceased him. In 1860 King Victor Emmanuel II named him a senator.[11] The death of his eldest son, Pier Luigi, on 28 April 1873, was the final blow which hastened his end. He was already weakened as he had fallen on 6 January while exiting the San Fedele church, hitting his head on the steps, and he died after 5 months of cerebral meningitis, a complication of the trauma. His funeral was celebrated in the church of San Marco with almost royal pomp. His remains, after they lay in state for some days, were followed to the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan by a vast cortege, including the royal princes and all the great officers of state, but his noblest monument was Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem, written to honour his memory.

His Osservazioni sulla morale cattolica was quoted by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical on Christian Education 'Divini Illius Magistri': "20. It is worthy of note how a layman, an excellent writer and at the same time a profound and conscientious thinker, has been able to understand well and express exactly this fundamental Catholic doctrine: The Church does not say that morality belongs purely, in the sense of exclusively, to her; but that it belongs wholly to her. She has never maintained that outside her fold and apart from her teaching, man cannot arrive at any moral truth; she has on the contrary more than once condemned this opinion because it has appeared under more forms than one. She does however say, has said, and will ever say, that because of her institution by Jesus Christ, because of the Holy Ghost sent her in His name by the Father, she alone possesses what she has had immediately from God and can never lose, the whole of moral truth, omnem veritatem, in which all individual moral truths are included, as well those which man may learn by the help of reason, as those which form part of revelation or which may be deduced from it".[12]


  1. ^ Francesco Ruffini (1931). La vita religiosa di Alessandro Manzoni, 2 voll. Laterza.
  2. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Manzoni, Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Antonio" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 626–627.
  3. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Alessandro Manzoni" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ a b c "Alessandro Manzoni - Italian author".
  5. ^ I Promessi sposi or The Betrothed Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Pollard, John (2008). Catholicism in Modern Italy: Religion, Society and Politics Since 1861. Routledge. p. 18.
  7. ^ DiScala, Spencer M. (2018). Italy: From Revolution to Republic, 1700 to the Present, Fourth Edition. Routledge.
  8. ^ "Alessandro Manzoni," The American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. XIII, 1888.
  9. ^ Professor J. D. M. Ford. "Manzoni"
  10. ^ "Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction - JRank Articles".
  11. ^ "Scheda senatore MANZONI Alessandro".
  12. ^ "Divini Illius Magistri (December 31, 1929) - PIUS XI".

External links


Adelchi (Italian pronunciation: [aˈdɛlki]) is the second tragedy written by Alessandro Manzoni. It was first published in 1822.

The main character is Adelchis, a Longobard prince torn by the inner conflict between his father Desiderio's will and his own desire for peace. Adelchis is the son of the last Lombard King, Desiderius. The action takes place between 772 and 774, the latter being the year in which Charlemagne, also a protagonist in the tragedy, brought about the end of the Lombard Kingdom.

It was staged by Vittorio Gassman in 1960 and Carmelo Bene in 1984.

Carlo Imbonati

Carlo Imbonati (Milan, 1753 – Paris, 15 March 1805) was an Italian nobleman and highbrow. He is known above all for the several poems which were dedicated to him by the famous literates Giuseppe Parini and, particularly, Alessandro Manzoni. Born in a prestigious and wealthy family from the Milanese nobility, from 1763 he was instructed by Parini, who dedicated to him the ode L'Educazione in occasion of his eleventh birthday. In 1792 Imbonati began a relationship with Giulia Beccaria, mother of the young Alessandro Manzoni. After his death, the poet will write for him the juvenile work In morte di Carlo Imbonati, which will be published in 1806.

Casa Manzoni

Casa Manzoni (in English Manzoni House) is a historical palace sited in via Morone 1 near the quadrilateral of fashion in the center of Milan, Italy. Owned by the Manzoni family, the house was the birthplace of the famous Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni in 1785.

The building is also the venue of the National Center for Manzonian Studies and the Historical Lombard Society (that has collected over 40,000 volumes about the history of Lombardy).

Built in the 18th century, the palace was restored in 1864 by Andrea Boni with a renaissance revival architecture which especially characterizes the façade overlooking Belgiojoso square, designed in 1864 at the request of Manzoni by architect Andrea Boni and covered with red terracotta.

The palace has hosted the gatherings of the club Il Conciliatore; famous men such as Giuseppe Verdi, Cavour and Garibaldi have visited it.

On the ground floor there’s the seat of the Historical Lombard Society, a specialized library with a collection of over 40,000 volumes, and the National Center for Manzonian Studies.

The Manzoni Museum is located in two rooms overlooking the garden on the ground floor and in six rooms on the first floor: the original furnishing and ornaments have all been entirely preserved.


Cimitero Monumentale di Milano

The Cimitero Monumentale [tʃimiˈtɛːro monumenˈtaːle] ("Monumental Cemetery") is one of the two largest cemeteries in Milan, Italy, the other one being the Cimitero Maggiore. It is noted for the abundance of artistic tombs and monuments.

Designed by the architect Carlo Maciachini (1818–1899), it was planned to consolidate a number of small cemeteries that used to be scattered around the city into a single location.

Officially opened in 1866, it has since then been filled with a wide range of contemporary and classical Italian sculptures as well as Greek temples, elaborate obelisks, and other original works such as a scaled-down version of the Trajan's Column. Many of the tombs belong to noted industrialist dynasties, and were designed by artists such as Adolfo Wildt, Giò Ponti, Arturo Martini, Dante Parini, Lucio Fontana, Medardo Rosso, Giacomo Manzù, Floriano Bodini, and Giò Pomodoro.

The main entrance is through the large Famedio, a massive Hall of Fame-like Neo-Medieval style building made of marble and stone that contains the tombs of some of the city's and the country's most honored citizens, including that of novelist Alessandro Manzoni.

The Civico Mausoleo Palanti designed by the architect Mario Palanti is a tomb built for meritorious "Milanesi", or citizens of Milan. The memorial of about 800 Milanese killed in Nazi concentration camps is located in the center and is the work of the group BBPR, formed by leading exponents of Italian rationalist architecture that included Gianluigi Banfi.

The cemetery has a special section for those who do not belong to the Catholic religion and a Jewish section.

Near the entrance there is a permanent exhibition of prints, photographs, and maps outlining the cemetery's historical development. It includes two battery-operated electric hearses built in the 1920s.

Civico Liceo Linguistico Alessandro Manzoni

The Civico Istituto Alessandro Manzoni is a selective, independent day school in Milan, Italy, founded in 1861 and named after poet and author Alessandro Manzoni in 1886. Initially an all girls' school, it began accepting boys in 1978. It is now considered one of Italy's best schools of the liceo linguistico type.

Entry to the school is by examination, usually given in December of students' last year of middle school. In 2011, La Repubblica reported a record 1100 applicants for the 250 available places (with the possibility that the government might require a reduction to 220). In 2013, the Corriere della Sera reported that there were 6 applicants for each place at the school.

Claude Charles Fauriel

Claude Charles Fauriel (21 October 1772 – 15 July 1844) was a French historian, philologist and critic.

Farewell to the mountains

Farewell to the mountains or, in Italian, Addio ai monti, is a famous passage of the VIII chapter of The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni.


Lecco (Italian pronunciation: [ˈlekko], locally [ˈlɛkko] (listen); Lecchese: Lècch [ˈlɛk]) is a city of 48,131 inhabitants in Lombardy, northern Italy, 50 kilometres (31 mi) north of Milan, the capital of the province of Lecco. It lies at the end of the south-eastern branch of Lake Como (the branch named Lake of Lecco / Lago di Lecco). The Bergamo Alps rise to the north and east, cut through by the Valsassina of which Lecco marks the southern end.

The lake narrows to form the river Adda, so bridges were built to improve road communications with Como and Milan. There are four bridges crossing the river Adda in Lecco: the Azzone Visconti Bridge (1336–1338), the Kennedy Bridge (1956) and the Alessandro Manzoni Bridge (1985) and a railroad bridge.

Its economy used to be based on industry (iron manufacturers), but now it is mainly tertiary.

Lecco was also Alpine Town of the Year 2013.

Manzoni – Museo della Liberazione (Rome Metro)

Manzoni–Museo della Liberazione (formerly Manzoni) is an underground station on Line A of the Rome Metro, inaugurated in 1980. It is located under the junction of Viale Alessandro Manzoni, Via Emanuele Filiberto and Via San Quintino, in Esquilino rione.

Montenapoleone (Milan Metro)

Montenapoleone is a station of Line 3 of Milan Metro, whose inauguration took place on May 3, 1990, during the opening of the Line to the public initially in the stretch Duomo (Milan Metro)-Centrale (Milan Metro).

The station is located in Via Montenapoleone at the intersection with Via Alessandro Manzoni, in the city centre of Milan. The stop is located right in the center of the fashion district of Milan. It is near to La Scala and Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

The station, like all the others in Line 3, is underground. In the first projects of the line the station was to be called Manzoni.

Pasquale Bona

Pasquale Bona (Cerignola, November 3, 1808 – Milan, December 2, 1878) was an Italian composer. He studied music in Palermo. He composed a number of operas, including one based on the Schiller play that would later inspire Giuseppe Verdi's Don Carlos. Bona later taught at the Conservatory in Milan, where he counted among his pupils Amilcare Ponchielli, Arrigo Boito, Franco Faccio and Alfredo Catalani; he was also friends with Alessandro Manzoni.

Requiem (Verdi)

The Messa da Requiem is a musical setting of the Catholic funeral mass (Requiem) for four soloists, double choir and orchestra by Giuseppe Verdi. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist whom Verdi admired. The first performance, at the San Marco church in Milan on 22 May 1874, marked the first anniversary of Manzoni's death. The work was at one time called the Manzoni Requiem. It is rarely performed in liturgy, but rather in concert form of around 85–90 minutes in length. Musicologist David Rosen calls it 'probably the most frequently performed major choral work composed since the compilation of Mozart's Requiem'.

The Betrothed (1923 film)

The Betrothed (Italian:I promessi sposi) is a 1923 Italian silent historical drama film directed by Mario Bonnard and starring Domenico Serra, Nini Dinelli and Emilia Vidali. It is an adaptation of the 1827 novel The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni.

The Betrothed (1941 film)

The Betrothed (Italian: I Promessi Sposi) is a 1941 Italian historical drama film directed by Mario Camerini and starring Gino Cervi, Dina Sassoli and Ruggero Ruggeri. It is an adaptation of the 1827 novel The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. The film's producers organised a competition to select the lead actress (eventually won by Sassoli) which was modelled on the hunt for Scarlett O'Hara by the American producer David O. Selznick for Gone With the Wind.The novel was turned into a film again in 1964 and a television miniseries in 1989.

The Betrothed (1964 film)

The Betrothed (original Italian title:I promessi sposi) is a 1964 Italian-Spanish historical drama film directed by Mario Maffei and starring Gil Vidal, Maria Silva and Arturo Dominici. It is based on the 1827 novel The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni, one of three film adaptations made during the twentieth century.

The Betrothed (Manzoni novel)

The Betrothed (Italian: I promessi sposi [i proˈmessi ˈspɔːzi]) is an Italian historical novel by Alessandro Manzoni, first published in 1827, in three volumes. It has been called the most famous and widely read novel in the Italian language.Set in northern Italy in 1628, during the oppressive years of direct Spanish rule, it is seen as a veiled attack on the Austrian Empire, which controlled the region at the time the novel was written (the definitive version was published in 1842). It is also noted for the extraordinary description of the plague that struck Milan around 1630.

It deals with a variety of themes, from the cowardly, hypocritical nature of one prelate (the parish priest don Abbondio) and the heroic sainthood of other priests (the friar Padre Cristoforo, the cardinal Federico Borromeo), to the unwavering strength of love (the relationship between Renzo and Lucia, and their struggle to finally meet again and be married), and offers some keen insights into the meanderings of the human mind.

I promessi sposi was made into an opera of the same name by Amilcare Ponchielli in 1856 and by Errico Petrella in 1869. There have been many film versions of I promessi sposi, including I promessi sposi (1908), The Betrothed (1941) The Betrothed (1990), and Renzo and Lucia, made for television in 2004.In May 2015, at a weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis asked engaged couples to read the novel for edification before marriage.

The Betrothed (miniseries)

The Betrothed (Italian: I Promessi sposi) is a 1989 Italian television miniseries starring Burt Lancaster and Franco Nero. It was directed by Salvatore Nocita, based on the 19th-century historical novel of the same name by Alessandro Manzoni.

The Infamous Column

The Infamous Column (Italian: La colonna infame, also known as Pillar of Shame) is a 1972 Italian historical drama film directed by Nelo Risi.

The Nun of Monza

Sister Virginia Maria (born Marianna de Leyva y Marino, Milan, December 4, 1575 – January 17, 1650) was an Italian nun.

She gave birth to two children fathered by a local aristocrat, and had connived in the murder of another nun in order to cover up the affair. This took place in Monza, in northern Italy, at the beginning of the 17th century.

Following this scandal she became widely known as "The Nun of Monza". Her life inspired one of the characters in Alessandro Manzoni's novel The Betrothed. It has also been dramatized several times.

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