Roman Republic (18th century)

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Roman Republic
Repubblica Romana
Puppet state of First French Republic


Flag of the Roman Republic, with the black stripe instead of the blue one of the flag of France.

Departments of the Roman Republic in 1798.
Capital Rome
Languages Italian
Government Directorial Republic
 -  1798–99 Roman Directory
Legislature Legislative Council
Historical era Napoleonic Wars
 -  French invasion 15 February 1798
 -  Neapolitan invasion 30 September 1799
Currency Roman scudo, Roman baiocco

The Roman Republic (Italian: Repubblica Romana) was proclaimed on 15 February 1798 after Louis Alexandre Berthier, a general of Napoleon, had invaded the city of Rome on 10 February. The Roman Republic was a client republic under the French Directory composed of territory conquered from the Papal States. Pope Pius VI was exiled to France and died there in 1799. It immediately took the control of the other two former-papal revolutionary administrations, the Tiberina Republic and the Republic of Ancona. The Roman Republic was short-lived, as the Papal States were restored in October 1799.

Annexation of Rome[edit]

Napoleon's campaign on the Italian peninsula from 1796 to 1797 was one of the reasons for his elevation to supreme commander of the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars. After the creation of the First Coalition (Holy Roman Empire, Britain, Prussia, Spain, Naples, etc.) in 1792, Napoleon intended to take the fight to the coalition in Northern Italy to force the Austrians to the negotiation tables via an invasion of Piedmont. But at the same time, to reinforce the French Army of Italy outnumbered by Austria and the Italian States. This invasion of the Italian Peninsula was also a diversion, for, according to the First Coalition, the main offensive was expected in the Rhine River. Rome, under the rule of the Papal States, were part of the First Coalition, like many other Italian States.

After crossing the Alps on April 1796 and a successful victory over Piedmont on the 14th May, Napoleon turned his attention south of Piedmont to deal with the Papal States. Napoleon, skeptical over divided command for the invasion, sent two letters to the Directory. The letters let the Directory relent the invasion for a while. Soon after the Austrian defeat at the Battle of Lodi and their retreat to Minico, the French invaded the Papal States two years after the battle. The main motivation for the invasion was due to the murder of French diplomat, Ugo Bassville, a Frenchman with a common hatred against the states and delusions of grand plunder via conquest. After the successful invasion and a deciseve victory at Fort Urban, the Papal States became a satellite state renamed the Roman Republic, under the leadership of Louis Alexandre Berthier, one of Napoleon's generals.[1] Under the Treatry of Tolentino, Rome was forced to accept an ambassador of the French Republic[2] and Pope Pious VI was exiled to France, where he would later die.

The Republic, however, did not last long. Only a year later in 1798, the Papal States were restored under Pope Pius VII. It was perfectly obvious that very few Romans had any interest in a republic. But duty was duty and Berthier did his.[3] But the French would invade the Papal States again in 1808 and would become fully French territory until the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815.


The Republic's government was based on that of the more famous namesake Roman Republic; a Senate. The government was run by the senators, each one representing a different political party. The Senate was basically a Parliament. The main purpose of the Senate was to provide a chamber of "second thought" to consider legislation passed by a lower house, whose members are usually elected.


The Roman Republic flag was a vertical tricolour black-white-red, taken from the French tricolour, as granted by Napoleon. It was governed by a clique of consuls, like the ancient Roman Republic. French forces had invaded the Papal States partly in revenge for the death of French general Mathurin-Léonard Duphot in 1797[citation needed].

Popular culture[edit]

The melodramatic opera Tosca by Giacomo Puccini was set in Rome in the times of Roman Republic.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Imperial City: Rome under Napoleon, Susan Vandiler, {pp.20}
  3. ^ Imperial City: Rome under Napoleon, Susan Vandliver, {pp.21}
  • Imperial City: Rome under Napoleon, Susan Vandiver Nicassio, (October 15, 2009, University of Chicago Press), {pp. 20 to 21}