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Angelo Brunetti

ANGELO BRUNETTI (1800-1849). Known by the nickname "Ciceruacchio," Angelo Brunetti, the son of a blacksmith, was born and lived all his life in the Roman district of Campo Marzio. He did well in the business of carting wine to Rome from the vineyards of the surrounding hills and owned a tavern outside the Porta del Popolo, the city's northern gate. Active with the local carbonari, he joined Giuseppe Mazzini's "Young Italy" movement in the 1830s. While not an intellectual himself, Brunetti was in contact with radical democratic intellectuals like Pietro Sterbini during the years of conspiratorial politics in the 1830s and early 1840s. Brunetti's political talents flowered in 1846 and 1847 when the election of Pope Pius IX seemed to promise political reform in the Papal States; the prosperous wine carter emerged as a key figure in the public mobilization of the Roman populace to the liberal cause. His methods were distinctive, emphasizing collective sociability with moderate liberal content. In July 1846 at a demonstration to express gratitude to the pope for granting freedom to political prisoners, Brunetti contributed several barrels of wine and built a bonfire in the great square next to the Porta del Popolo. During the spring and summer of 1847 Brunetti organized festivities that would appeal to a popular audience and would encourage the pope on his liberalizing course. He gave a picnic for four hundred lower class leaders at his tavern and had them carry civic banners in the annual religious procession to St. Peter's on Holy Saturday; he put on a "national banquet" for six hundred guests to mark the yearly celebration of the founding of Rome; he organized a parade to bring the pope greetings on his birthday and led an even more elaborate procession to mark the anniversary of the pope's election, inviting out-of-town participants to his tavern to banquet afterwards. When conflict broke out between the Roman populace and the Roman Jewish community, Brunetti, throwing a picnic for 2,000 people, deployed his "politics of conviviality" to calm tensions. He was hailed by noblemen and cardinals who believed he kept the unruly masses under control. From mid-1847 to late 1848 Brunetti's role changed as informal liberal institutions like political "circles" and a civic militia were established in Rome. Slowly weaned from allegiance to the pope, Brunetti's activism in this phase was marked by efforts to build institutions in which the common people exercised power. He was a standard-bearer and leader of the militia contingent from the Campo Marzio neighborhood and the political work that he did with other neighborhood militia captains may have contributed to the education of these lower class leaders in the liberal cause. This paid off in November 1848 during the tense moments following the assassination of Pope Pius IX's minister, Pellegrino Rossi, the event that precipitated the pope's flight from Rome and the establishment of the Roman Republic, when the civic guard showed that it would not turn out to defend the papacy. During the Roman Republic of 1849 Brunetti remained prominent in the civic militia and was sent on political missions by the national assembly. In April 1849, in the first democratic municipal elections in Rome's history, Brunetti was elected to the hundred-member city council. He helped to defend the republic and, as French armies prepared to enter Rome on July 2, 1849, he joined Garibaldi in his flight across Italy. Six weeks later Angelo Brunetti and his two sons were caught in Venetian territory and executed.
Laurie Nussdorfer


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