- (1827–1884)Born in Biella (Piedmont) to a wealthy family of cloth manufacturers, Sella was a mathematician and geologist by training. Encouraged to take up politics by Camillo Benso di Cavour, he became finance minister in 1862 during Urbano Rattazzi’s premiership and held the position for most of the next 10 years. Personally austere, and a skilled administrator, he imposed a policy of rigid economy on Italy. In 1868, Sella was the architect of the deeply unpopular grist tax (dazio sul macinato), which, starting in January 1869, imposed a tax of two lire for every hundred kilograms of milled grain. This tax was deeply regressive (it removed 10 days’income from the pocket of the average agricultural laborer), and it provoked widespread riots that cost more than 200 lives. Sella won for himself the unenviable reputation as the “starver of the people.” Nevertheless, if by the time of the “parliamentary revolution” in 1876 Italy’s national accounts were in the black, much of the credit must be given to Sella and to his bitter rival but fellow fiscal conservative, Marco Minghetti. Sella was a strong anticleric. As finance minister, he sold off the Catholic Church’s assets in Italy at discount prices and joined the constitutional left in restricting the amount of independence allowed to the Church by the guarantee laws in 1871. Sella was a great lover of the mountains, and one of his most lasting achievements was to found the Italian Alpine Association in 1863. Despite his national standing as a politician, he did not disdain local office, and between 1870 and his death in 1884 he was president of the provincial council of Novara.
Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. Mark F. Gilbert & K. Robert Nilsson. 2007.
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Sella, Quintino — ▪ Italian statesman born July 7, 1827, Mosso, near Biella, Piedmont [Italy] died March 14, 1884, Biella statesman who helped place the new national government on a firm financial footing after the unification of Italy. Educated for… … Universalium
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