1. Home
  2. »
  3. History
  4. »
  5. From the 16th to...

From the 16th to the 19th century, Napoleon in San Marino

The history of this period sees San Marino in continuous struggle to defend its independence and the succession of three military occupations

1503: The Republic’s independence is threatened by Cesare Borgia, known as the Valentino (1475-1507), Lord of Romagna and son of Rodrigo Borgia (later Pope Alexander VI), who in that year succeeds in occupying it for 6 months and moves the capital to Serravalle. Upon his father’s death, opposed by the new pontiff Julius II, he is forced to give up the ambitious venture.

Early 17th century: the Duchy of Urbino seems to be heading for an end due to the lack of heirs of Duke Francesco Maria della Rovere: the balance of relationships and protections that guaranteed San Marino’s independence is at risk.

A Treaty of Protection is signed with Pope Clement VIII, a pact that would later be confirmed by Pope Urban VIII in 1628 and would finally come into force in 1631 upon the death of Francesco Maria and the consequent passage of the Duchy of Urbino to the Holy See. San Marino thus manages to maintain its independence.

1739: Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, papal legate of Romagna, penetrates San Marino territory with his troops taking advantage of a trivial pretext, namely the search for two outlaws (Pietro Lolli, former Councilor and Captain Regent and Marino Belzoppi). The Cardinal makes changes to the rules of San Marino and forces the authorities to swear allegiance to the Papal States. This episode triggers acts of rebellion by the population, which is followed by bitter clashes with the Cardinal’s troops.

1740: On Feb. 5, with the intervention of the papal delegate Enrico Enriquez sent in aid by the Holy See, San Marino succeeds in regaining its independence, which is why this date is still commemorated today with the feast of St. Agatha (named co-patroness of the Republic).

monge san marino

Napoleone Bonaparte invia a San Marino il Monge

1789: With the French Revolution came a series of events that shook Europe. For the Republic of San Marino, the problem of safeguarding its independence from aggressive French policy arises, a necessity that becomes even more imminent as Napoleon completes his conquest of Northern Italy and pushes to the borders of the Legations.The government of San Marino is faced with a choice between maintaining its alliance with the Papal States and creating a new one with France.

1797: A letter from General Alexandre Berthier, addressed to the Captains, intimates the arrest and surrender of Monsignor Vincenzo Ferretti, bishop of Rimini, accused of being an instigator of crimes against the French and then fled to San Marino with all his possessions.
San Marino plays strategy and instead of denying aid to the French responds by pledging to do what it can to accommodate the French request. The bishop actually manages to escape over the border.
Credit for the resolution of the affair must be given to the then Captain Regent Antonio Onofri, who also manages to gain Napoleon’s respect and friendship. Thanks to his intervention, Napoleon pledged to guarantee and safeguard the independence of the Republic through a letter delivered by Gasparre Monge, a scientist and French government commissioner for science and the arts,

An enlargement of territory is also offered in the agreement, which San Marino declines to avoid future claims and the risk of losing its much-defended freedom.

Napoleon orders the San Marino people to be exempt from all taxes and gives them 1,000 quintals of grain and four campaign cannons, the latter never arriving for unknown reasons. In the ups and downs that follow, San Marino manages to safeguard relations with both Napoleon and the Papal States.

The story continues with the 19th century and San Marino’s role in Giuseppe Garibaldi’s escape.