Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel

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Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel.

Eleonora Anna Maria Felice de Fonseca Pimentel (born Leonor da Fonseca Pimentel Chaves; 13 January 1752 – 20 August 1799) was an Italian poet and revolutionary connected with the Neapolitan revolution and subsequent short-lived Neapolitan Republic (also known as the Parthenopean Republic) of 1799, a sister republic of the French Republic and one of many set up in the 1790s in Europe.


Pimentel was born in Rome of Portuguese nobility. She was a precocious child who wrote poetry, read Latin and Greek and spoke several languages (Italian, Portuguese, French and a little bit of English)[1] As a child, she moved with her family to Naples as a result of political difficulties between the Papal States (of which Rome was the capital) and the Kingdom of Portugal.

In the 1770s she became an important part of literary circles of the day in Naples. Much of her literary output was given over to voluminous exchanges of letters with other literati. Most prominent of these is a long correspondence in the 1770s with Metastasio, the Italian court poet in Vienna and greatest librettist of the 18th century, and Voltaire.[2] In 1778 she married Pasquale Tria Solis, lieutenant of Neapolitan Army and, in October of the same year, she gave birth to Francesco. However, the infant died about eight months later. He was the only child from Eleonora because of mistreatment by her husband which caused her two abortions. In the 1790s she became involved in the Jacobin movement in Naples that was working to overthrow the monarchy and establish a local version of the French Republic. She was one of the leaders of the revolution that overthrew the Bourbon monarchy and installed the Parthenopean Republic in January 1799.

For the short life of that republic, she was the director of Monitore Napoletano the biweekly newspaper of the Republic - named in emulation of Le Moniteur Universel in France -, and she edited and wrote most of the material. When the Republic was overthrown and the Bourbon monarchy restored in June 1799, she was one of the revolutionaries executed by the royal tribunals implemented by the restored monarchy.

She was arrested, processed and later sentenced to death, by hanging, on 20 August 1799. Death penalty for noble people was traditionally beheading and not hanging, but as a Jacobin she wasn't a noble woman anymore, having given up her title of marchioness. She asked in any case to be beheaded, because the public hanging of a noblewoman was seen as something quite outrageous, but there was no mercy. Eleonora Pimentel had not committed any crimes during the revolution. She only edited newspapers and worked as a journalist.

Reportedly, a main reason for the restored monarchy insisting on her execution were pamphlets she wrote denouncing Queen Maria Carolina as a lesbian.[3][4]


  • Benedetto Croce, Eleonora de Fonseca Pimentel, Roma, Tipografia Nazionale, 1887 (in Italian)
  • Bice Gurgo, Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel, Napoli, Cooperativa Libreria, 1935 (in Italian)
  • Maria Antonietta Macciocchi, Cara Eleonora, Milano, Rizzoli, 1993 (in Italian)
  • Elena Urgnani, La Vicenda Letteraria e Politica di Eleonora de Fonseca Pimentel, Napoli, La Città del Sole, 1998 (in Italian)
  • Enzo Striano, Il resto di niente. Storia di Eleonora de Fonseca Pimentel e della rivoluzione napoletana del 1799, Napoli, Avagliano 1999; Milano, Rizzoli 2001, 2004 (in Italian)
  • Nico Perrone, La Loggia della Philantropia, Palermo, Sellerio, 2006 ISBN 88-389-2141-5 (in Italian)
  • Maria Rosaria Pelizzari, Eleonora de Fonseca Pimentel: morire per la rivoluzione, Storia delle Donne 4/2008 - «Correrò questo rischio» Sacrificio, sfida, resistenza (in Italian)
  • Constance H.D. Giglioli (1903), Naples in 1799 an account of the Revolution of 1799 and of the rise and fall of the Parthenopean Republic, Londra, John Murray, Albermale Street.


  1. ^ State Archive of Naples, Acts of separation Fonseca-Tria, deposition of D. Giuseppe de Souza, ff. 94-98.
  2. ^ "Versi del sig. di Voltaire responsivi ad un sonetto della nobile ed egregia donzella E. F. di P. abitante a Napoli", luglio 1776, p. LXXI

    Beau rossignol de la belle Italie
    Vôtre sonnet cayeole un vieux hibou
    Au mont Jura rétiré dans un trou
    Sans voix, sans plumes, & privé de génie.
    Il veut quitter son païs morfondu:
    Auprès de vous à Naples il va se rendre
    S'il peut vous voir, & s'il peut vous entendre,
    Il réprendra tout ce qu'il a perdu.

  3. ^ Urgnani, p. 103

  4. ^ "Contro la Regina di Napoli" ("Against the Queen of Naples") written by Eleonora in 1798:
    <poem>Rediviva Poppea, tribade impura,
    d'imbecille tiranno empia consorte
    stringi pur quanto vuoi nostre ritorte
    l'umanità calpesta e la natura...
    Credi il soglio così premer sicura
    e stringer lieto il ciuffo della sorte?
    Folle! E non sai ch'entro in nube oscura
    quanto compresso il tuon scoppia più forte?
    Al par di te mové guerra e tempesta
    sul franco oppresso la tua infame suora
    finché al suol rotò la indegna testa...
    E tu, chissà? Tardar ben può ma l'ora
    segnata è in ciel ed un sol filo arresta
    la scure appesa sul tuo capo ancora.

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