Cisalpine Republic

The Cisalpine Republic (Italian: Repubblica Cisalpina) was a sister republic of France in Northern Italy that lasted from 1797 to 1802.

Cisalpine Republic

Repubblica Cisalpina
Flag of Cisalpine Republic
The flag of the Cisalpine Republic was the Transpadane vertical Italian tricolour, with the square shape of the Cispadane flag.
The Cisalpine Republic (green) in 1799.
The Cisalpine Republic (green) in 1799.
StatusSister Republic of France
Common languagesItalian
GovernmentConstitutional republic
First Director 
• 1797–1799
Francesco Melzi d'Eril
Head of Government 
• 1797
Pietro Verri
• 1797–1798
Giuseppe Parini
• 1798–1799
Alessandro Volta
LegislatureLegislative Council
Council of Elders
Council of Juniors
Historical eraNapoleonic Wars
29 June 1797
17 October 1797
27 April 1799
2 June 1800
26 January 1802
CurrencyMilanese scudo, lira, soldo and denaro
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Transpadane Republic
Cispadane Republic
Duchy of Mantua
Republic of Venice
Italian Republic (Napoleonic)


After the Battle of Lodi in May 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte organized two states: one to the south of the Po River, the Cispadane Republic, and one to the north, the Transpadane Republic. On 19 May 1797, Napoleon transferred the territories of the former Duchy of Modena to Transpadania and, on 12 Messidor (29 June), he decreed the birth of the Cisalpine Republic, creating a Directory for the republic and appointing its ministers. France published the constitution of the new republic on 20 Messidor (7 July), establishing the division of the territory into eleven departments: Adda (Lodi), Alpi Apuane (Massa), Crostolo (Reggio), Lario (Como), Montagna (Lecco), Olona (Milan), Panaro (Modena), Po (Cremona), Serio (Bergamo), Ticino (Pavia), and Verbano (Varese).

The rest of Cispadania was merged into the Cisalpine Republic on 27 July, with the capital of the unified state being Milan. On 1 Brumaire (22 October), Bonaparte announced the union of Valtelline with the republic, after its secession from the Swiss Three Grey Leagues. Austria acknowledged the new entity in the Treaty of Campoformio of 17 October, gaining in exchange what remained of the Venetian Republic. On 25 Brumaire (15 November), the full international recognition and legality of the new state was ratified by the law governing the final annexation of the conquered territories.

The parliament, composed of two chambers (the Great Council and the Council of the Seniors), was appointed directly by Napoleon on 1 Frimaire (21 November). He justified this undemocratic action as a necessity of war. New departments joined the eleven original ones and Valtelline in the following months: Benaco (Desenzano) on 11 Ventose (1 March 1798), Mella (Brescia) on 13 Floreal (2 May), Mincio (Mantua) on 7 Prairial (26 May), and five departments of Emilia. The structural phase of the republic was terminated on 14 Fructidor (31 August), when France dismissed all the authorities of the republic, replacing them by a stronger executive power under a new constitution.

Institutional form

First constitution

The Cisalpine Republic was for many years under the dominion of the House of Austria.

The French Republic succeeded it by right of conquest. It now renounces this right, and the Cisalpine Republic is free and independent. Recognized by France and by the Emperor, it will soon be equally acknowledged by the rest of Europe.

The Executive Directory of the French Republic, not content with employing its influence, and the victories of the republican armies, to secure the political existence of the Cisalpine Republic, extends its care still further; and convinced that, if liberty be the first of blessings, the revolution which attends it is the greatest of evils, it has given to the Cisalpine people their peculiar Constitution, resulting from the wisdom of the most enlightened nation.

From a military regime the Cisalpine people pass to a constitutional one.

That this transition should experience no shock, nor be exposed to anarchy, the Executive Directory though proper to nominate, for the present, the members of the government and the legislative body, so that the people should, after the lapse of one year, have the election to the vacant places, in conformity to the Constitution.

For a great number of years there existed no republic in Italy. The sacred fire of liberty was extinguished, and the finest part of Europe was under the yoke of strangers. It belongs to the Cisalpine Republic to show to the world by its wisdom, its energy, and the good organization of its armies, that modern Italy is not degenerated, and is still worthy of liberty.

(Signed) Buonaparte.

— Proclamation of General Buonaparte (later became the Preamble to the Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic), Montebello, 11 Messidor, year V (29 June 1797).[1]

The institutions of the new republic were very similar to those of France. The territory was divided into departments which elected the judges of peace, the magistrates and the electors, one for every 200 people having the right to vote. The latter elected two councils: the Consiglio dei Seniori ("Council of the Seniors") and the Gran Consiglio ("Great Council"). The first was initially composed of 40 to 60 members and approved the laws and modifications to the Constitutional Chart. The second initially had from 80 to 120 members and proposed the laws. Both councils discussed treaties, the choice of a Directory, and the determination of tributes. The legislative corps included men like Pietro Verri, Giuseppe Parini and the scientist Alessandro Volta. The electors had to be landowners or wealthy.

The Directory was composed of five directors and represented the executive power: leaders were local politicians like Gian Galeazzo Serbelloni, the first president. The Directory chose its secretary, and appointed the six ministers: for justice, war, foreign affairs, internal affairs, police, and finance. The supreme authority, however, was the commander of the French troops. The republic also adopted the French Republican Calendar.

Each department had its own local directory of five members, as did communes between 3,000 and 100,000 inhabitants. The biggest communes were divided into municipalities, with a central joint commission to handle the general affairs of the cities. The smallest communes were united in districts with a single municipality, with each commune having its own municipal agent.

Second constitution

General Brune attempted a coup d'état in autumn 1798

The first constitution did not have a long life. On 14 Fructidor, year VI (31 August 1798), the French ambassador Claude-Joseph Trouvé (who was only thirty years old) dismissed the Directory, and the next day he promulgated a new constitution with a stronger executive power.

The departments numbered eleven again, now covering larger geographical areas: Olona (Milan), Alto Po (Cremona), Serio (Bergamo), Adda and Oglio (Morbegno), Mella (Brescia), Mincio[2] (Mantua), Panaro (Modena), Crostolo (Reggio), Reno (Bologna), Basso Po (Ferrara), Rubicone (Forlì). The membership of the local directories was reduced to three, and the municipalities for communes between 3,000 and 10,000 inhabitants were disbanded.

Trouvé appointed the new Directory, which had stronger powers, and a new parliament composed of two councils: the Anziani ("Elders") and the Giuniori ("Juniors"). The first was composed of 40 elected members together with the former directors. The second had 80 members.

A new coup d'état, attempted by French general Guillaume Marie Anne Brune the next autumn, was disavowed by the French Directory on 17 Frimaire (7 December).


The first Directory of the republic was appointed by Napoleon the same day as the proclamation of the birth of the State, on 12 Messidor, year V (29 June 1797).

  • Giovanni Galeazzo Serbelloni (resigned)
    • Giovanni Battista Savoldi (substituted for Serbelloni from 23 November 1797)
  • Marco Alessandri
  • Giovanni Costabili
  • Pietro Moscati (resigned)
    • Jacopo Lamberti (substituted for Moscati from 16 April 1798)
  • Giovanni Paradisi (resigned)
    • Carlo Testi (substituted for Paradisi from 16 April 1798)

The second Directory of the Republic was appointed by Trouvé the same day as the proclamation of the second constitution, on 14 Fructidor, year VI (31 August 1798).

  • Girolamo Adelasio (dismissed by General Brune on 17 October, restored by France on 14 December)
  • Marco Alessandri (2nd term) (resigned)
  • Jacopo Lamberti (2nd term)
  • Giuseppe Luosi (dismissed by General Brune on 17 October, restored by France on 14 December)
  • Fedele Sopransi (dismissed by General Brune on 17 October, restored by France on 14 December)
    • Antonio Sabbati (under Brune's nomination from 17 October to 14 December)
    • Antonio Smancini (under Brune's nomination from 17 October to 14 December)
    • Vincenzo Brunetti (under Brune's nomination from 17 October to 14 December)
    • Ferdinando Marescalchi (substituted for Alessandri from 20 March 1799)
    • Fedele Vertemate Franchi

On 21 Germinal, year VII (10 April 1799) the Directory received special powers to meet the Austrian and Russian invasions after the formation of the Second Coalition. The next day, a Military Committee, a Finance Committee and a Public Health Committee were established. On 7 Floreal (26 April) an order was given to evacuate the Legislative Council. On 29 April 1799, Austrian rule was restored and the Directory abolished.

Treaty of alliance

Formally, the Cisalpine Republic was an independent state allied with France, but the treaty of alliance established the effective subalternity of the new republic to France. The French in fact had control over the local police, and left an army consisting of 25,000 Frenchmen, financed by the republic. The Cisalpines were also required to form another army of 35,000 of their own men to take part in French campaigns.

On 4 March 1798, the Directory presented this treaty to the Great Council for ratification. The council did not agree with the terms, and delayed taking a decision, but in the end the French general Berthier compelled acceptance by the members. The Elders however refused it from the very beginning, as the new state was unable to finance the requested institutions. Berthier threatened to impose a military government, but was later replaced by general Brune. The latter, after replacing some Elders and Juniors, achieved the signing of the treaty on 8 June.

Relations with Switzerland

The new government aimed to unite all Italian lands into a single state. This fact created tensions with Switzerland, which included Italian-speaking areas south of the Alps. On 10 October 1797, the French supported a revolt in Valtelline. The Cisalpine Republic ended up taking control of Campione d'Italia and the Valtellina from Grisons and joining them to the republic. A Cisalpine attempt to conquer Lugano by surprise failed in 1797.

Second republic

Repubblica Cisalpina - 30soldi 1801
30 soldi coin (equal to ​1 12 lira) of the Cisalpine Republic, 1801

The republic was dissolved after the defeat of France by the Second Coalition in April 1799. It was occupied by General Suvorov's Russian and Austrian forces, which appointed a provisional administration led by the Imperial Commission of the Mantuan Count Luigi Cocastelli. They departed only on 30 May 1800, just few days before Napoleon won the Battle of Marengo.

The Cisalpine Republic was restored by Napoleon on 15 Prairial, year VIII (4 June 1800). On 28 Prairial (17 June), the First Consul appointed an Extraordinary Commission of Government of nine members, and a legislative Consulta: the final list of the executive and legislative institutions was published on 5 Messidor (24 June). On 16 Messidor (6 July) all the acts issued during the Austrian occupation were annulled, and afterwards the tricolour flag was restored.

Napoleon's new victories gave him a chance to stabilize the political situation in all of northern Italy. On 3 Vendemiaire, year IX (25 September), the powers of the Extraordinary Commission were concentrated in the hands of a more restricted Committee of Government, composed of three members: Giovan Battista Sommariva, Sigismondo Ruga and Francesco Visconti, reflecting the institution of the French Consulate. On 21 Vendemiaire (13 October), owing to the refusal of the escaped King Charles Emmanuel IV of Savoy to sign a treaty of peace settling the situation of the occupied Piedmont, Napoleon ordered the annexation of Novara to the republic, shifting its western border from Ticino to the Sesia River. After the surrender of Austria and the signing of the Treaty of Lunéville on 9 February 1801, the territory of the republic was extended to the east as well, placing the frontier with the Holy Roman Empire on the Adige River without the exceptions agreed in Campo Formio. On 23 Floreal (13 May), the territory of the republic was divided into 12 departments, adding Agogna (Novara), restoring Lario and abolishing Adda-e-Oglio.

The Consulta of the République cisalpine receives the First Consul on 26 January 1802, Nicolas-André Monsiau, 1806–08

On 21 Brumaire, year X (12 November), an Extraordinary Cisalpine Consulta was summoned in Lyon. In January 1802, the Consulta decided to change the name of the State to the Italian Republic, when Napoleon had himself elected president, on 24 January, on the advice of Talleyrand. Two days later, in a scene officially commemorated by Monsiau, Bonaparte appeared in the Collège de la Trinité of Lyon, attended by Murat, Berthier, Louis Bonaparte, Hortense and Joséphine de Beauharnais, and heard the assembled notables proclaim the Italian Republic. On 21 Pluviose (10 February), the new constitutional government was proclaimed in Milan by Sommariva and Ruga. The same day, the Gregorian calendar was restored.

See also


  1. ^ John Debrett, A Collection of State Papers Relative to the War Against France Now Carrying on by Great Britain and the Several Other European Powers (1798) 96. Debrett's.
  2. ^ The Constitution was written so fast that the department of Mincio was erroneously listed as Milano.


Coordinates: 45°28′N 9°10′E / 45.467°N 9.167°E

Canton of Raetia

Raetia was the name of a canton of the Helvetic Republic from 1798 to 1803, corresponding to modern Graubünden and composed of the Free State of the Three Leagues. Until 1799, the canton was administered by the central government of the Helvetic Republic.

The districts of Chiavenna, Valtellina and Bormio, previously dependencies of the Leagues, were never a part of the canton, having permanently been detached from the Leagues after Revolutionary France fomented revolt there, leading them to be annexed to the Cisalpine Republic on October 10, 1797. The districts subsequently joined the Austrian client kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia after the Congress of Vienna and eventually become the Italian province of Sondrio. The town of Campione, an imperial fief into the Landvogtei of Lugano at the same time, joined Lombardy leading to its current position as an Italian enclave within Ticino.

With the Napoleonic Act of Mediation in 1803, the canton was reestablished as Graubünden, finally incorporating the Three Leagues into a decentralized and federal Switzerland.

Cispadane Republic

The Cispadane Republic (Italian: Repubblica Cispadana) was a short-lived republic located in northern Italy, founded in 1796 with the protection of the French army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte. In the following year, it was merged with the Transpadane Republic (until recently the Duchy of Milan) to form the Cisalpine Republic. These were French client states organized by Napoleon after the Battle of Lodi in May 1796. The republic's name refers to the "near side" of the River Po.

Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic

Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic may refer to the following texts of the Cisalpine Republic:

Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (1797)

Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (1798)

Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (1801)

Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (1797)

The Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (Italian: Costituzione della Repubblica Cisalpina), was the first constitution of the Cisalpine Republic, a Sister Republic of France under Napoleon Bonaparte, roughly comprising the modern-day northern regions of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. It came into effect on 20 messidor V (8 July 1797).

Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (1798)

The Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (Italian: Costituzione della Repubblica Cisalpina), was the second constitution of the Cisalpine Republic, a Sister Republic of France under Napoleon Bonaparte, roughly comprising the modern-day northern regions of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. It came into effect on 31 August 1798, replacing the 1797 Constitution.

Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (1801)

The Constitution of the Cisalpine Republic (Italian: Costituzione della Repubblica Cisalpina), was the third and final constitution of the Cisalpine Republic, before being replaced by the Italian Constitution of 1802. It came into effect on 7 October 1801, replacing the former constitution of 1798.

Duchy of Milan

The Duchy of Milan was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in northern Italy. It was created in 1395, when it included twenty-six towns and the wide rural area of the middle Padan Plain east of the hills of Montferrat. During much of its existence, it was wedged between Savoy to the west, Venice to the east, the Swiss Confederacy to the north, and separated from the Mediterranean by Genoa to the south. The Duchy eventually fell to Habsburg Austria with the Treaty of Baden (1714), concluding the War of the Spanish Succession. The Duchy remained an Austrian possession until 1796, when a French army under Napoleon Bonaparte conquered it, and it ceased to exist a year later as a result of the Treaty of Campo Formio, when Austria ceded it to the new Cisalpine Republic.

After the defeat of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna of 1815 restored many other states which he had destroyed, but not the Duchy of Milan. Instead, its former territory became part of the Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, with the Emperor of Austria as its king. In 1859, Lombardy was ceded to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, which would become the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.

Giuseppe Abbamonte

Giuseppe Abbamonte (1759–1818) was a Neapolitan statesman who became secretary-general of the Cisalpine Republic in 1798 and a member of the executive commission at Naples. Upon the restoration of the king in 1799, he moved to Milan where he continued in his job until 1805.

Italian and Swiss expedition

The Italian and Swiss expeditions of 1799 and 1800 were undertaken by a combined Austro-Russian army under overall command of the Russian General Alexander Suvorov against French forces in Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland as part of the Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars in general and the War of the Second Coalition in particular.

Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars

The Italian campaigns of the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) were a series of conflicts fought principally in Northern Italy between the French Revolutionary Army and a Coalition of Austria, Russia, Piedmont-Sardinia, and a number of other Italian states.

Milanese scudo

The scudo was the currency of the Duchy of Milan until 1796. It was subdivided into 6 lire, each of 20 soldi or 240 denari. It was equal to the Conventionsthaler. It was replaced by the lira of the Cispadane Republic, with Cispadanian lira equal to the Milanese. This in turn was replaced in 1797 by the lira of the Cisalpine Republic, followed by the French franc in 1802. In 1816, the Lombardy-Venetia scudo was introduced, also equal to the Conventionsthaler.

Palazzo del Senato (Milan)

The Palazzo del Senato is a Baroque architecture palace in central Milan. Presently it serves as the Archive of the State (Archivio di Stato), and is located on Via Senato number ten.

Construction of the palace was begun in 1608 by cardinal Federico Borromeo, who wished to erect a Swiss seminary college (Collegio Elvetico); the site held ruins of ancient convent of Umiliate nuns. Design of the project was initially assigned to Fabio Mangone, but completed by Francesco Maria Richini. The latter architect solved the problem of the disparate registers of the collegio and the adjacent church, with a convex façade. It curves forward on the right so that the edge on that side matches the church. In 1786, it became the host of government offices of the Habsburg Austrian Empire. In 1797, the invading French sited the house of deputies of the Cisalpine Republic. In 1805 to 1814, when Milan was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, the palace served as the Senate house. In front of the palace, stands a statue by Joan Miró.

Republic of Bergamo

The Republic of Bergamo (Italian: Repubblica Bergamasca) was an ephemeral revolutionary client republic, created on 13 March 1797 by the French army to rule the local administration of Bergamo and its province, during the dissolution of the Republic of Venice. With the Preliminary of Leoben, France and Austria agreed the end of the multi-centennial Venetian rule over the territory between Adda River and Oglio River, together with the Austrian occupation of Istria and Dalmatia.

Defined as "mother-municipality", the administration of the city of Bergamo had to help the creation of "dependent-municipalities" in all the surrounding county. The Republic so became one of the constituent countries of the Cisalpine Republic, established on 29 June 1797.

Republic of Brescia

The Republic of Brescia (Italian: Repubblica bresciana) was a temporary French client republic in Italy. Established March 18, 1797, in the wake of the French occupation of Brescia and Bergamo, it became part of the Cisalpine Republic November 20, 1797.

Republic of Crema

The so-called Republic of Crema (Italian: Repubblica Cremasca) was a revolutionary municipality in Lombardy, which was created when the French army entered Crema on 28 March 1797. It ruled the local affairs of the city and its neighbourhood, which previously were a Venetian exclave in the Duchy of Milan. The municipality entered then into the Cisalpine Republic in July 1797.

Sister republic

A sister republic (French: république sœur) was a republic established by French armies or by local revolutionaries and assisted by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Transpadane Republic

The Transpadane Republic (Italian: Repubblica Transpadana) was a revolutionary, provisional and internationally unrecognized government established in Milan by General Napoleon Bonaparte.

Treaty of Campo Formio

The Treaty of Campo Formio (today Campoformido) was signed on 18 October 1797 (27 Vendémiaire VI) by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of the French Republic and the Austrian monarchy, respectively. The treaty followed the armistice of Leoben (18 April 1797), which had been forced on the Habsburgs by Napoleon's victorious campaign in Italy. It ended the War of the First Coalition and left Great Britain fighting alone against revolutionary France.

The treaty's public articles concerned only France and Austria and called for a Congress of Rastatt to be held to negotiate a final peace for the Holy Roman Empire. In the treaty's secret articles, Austria as the personal state of the Emperor, promised to work with France to certain ends at the congress. Among other provisions, the treaty meant the definitive end to the ancient Republic of Venice, which was disbanded and partitioned by the French and the Austrians.

The congress failed to achieve peace, and by early 1799, on 12 March, France declared war on Austria again. The new war, the War of the Second Coalition, ended with the Peace of Lunéville, a peace for the whole empire, in 1801.

Treaty of Lunéville

The Treaty of Lunéville was signed in the Treaty House of Lunéville on 9 February 1801. The signatory parties were the French Republic and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. The latter was negotiating both on his own behalf as ruler of the hereditary domains of the Habsburg Monarchy and on behalf of other rulers who controlled territories in the Holy Roman Empire. The signatories were Joseph Bonaparte and Count Ludwig von Cobenzl, the Austrian foreign minister.

The Austrian army had been defeated by Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Marengo on 14 June 1800 and then by Jean Victor Moreau at the Battle of Hohenlinden on 3 December. Forced to sue for peace, the Austrians signed another in a series of treaties. The treaty, along with the Treaty of Amiens of 1802), marked the end of the Second Coalition against the French First Republic. The United Kingdom was the sole nation still at war with France for another year.

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