Cattaneo, Carlo

(1801–1869)
   Milanese by birth, Carlo Cattaneo was both an independent-minded scholar and a political activist of great integrity. Between 1835 and 1844 he edited Il Politecnico, a review specializing in the scientific analysis of social questions, and achieved European-wide fame for his pioneering work in the social sciences. Although he had never participated in any of the secret revolutionary societies, he emerged as one of the leaders of the revolt against Austrian rule in Milan in 1848. When the Austrians defeated Piedmont-Sardiniaat Custoza, he was obliged to flee to Paris. There, he wrote, in French, L’insurrection de Milan en 1848 (The Milan Insurrection of 1848), a book that was sternly critical of King Charles Albert’s conduct of the war.
   Cattaneo, in fact, was an unabashed republican, federalist, and democrat who was deeply suspicious of the unification of Italy as a constitutional monarchy. He was opposed to Piedmontese annexation of Sicily and Naples in 1861 (breaking with Giuseppe Garibaldi over this issue), and in 1867, on being elected to Parliament, he refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the crown and was thus unable to take part in the assembly’s work. He spent most of his last years at Castagnola, near Lugano in Switzerland, as a somewhat disdainful critic of the new Italian state. Over five years, 1859–1864, he brought out a second series of Il Politecnico. He died in Castagnola in 1869. In recent years, Cattaneo’s life and work have enjoyed a revival: Italy’s foremost institute of research in the social sciences is named after him, and the Lega Nord claims him as a distinguished pioneer of federalist doctrine in Italy.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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