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Prina, Giuseppe

PRINA, GIUSEPPE (1768-1814), Italian statesman. He gave early proofs of rare talent, and after studying at the university of Pa via he passed as doctor of law in 1789. He was a firm adherent of Napoleon Bonaparte, and when Eugene Beauharnais became viceroy of Italy, was appointed minister of finance. Genial in private life, he was harsh and unyielding in his official capacity, and his singular skill in devising fresh taxes to meet the enormous demands of Napoleon's government made him the best-hated man in Lombardy, the more so that, being a Piedmontese, he was regarded as a foreigner. The news of the emperor's forced abdication on the nth of April 1814 reached Milan on the 16th, and roused hopes of independence. The senate assembled on the igth and Prina's party moved that delegates should be despatched to Vienna to request that Eugene Beauharnais should be raised to the throne of a free Italian kingdom. In spite of precautions this fact became public and provoked the formidable riot styled " The battle of the umbrellas " that broke out the next day. A furious mob burst into the senate, pillaged its halls and sought everywhere for the execrated Prina. Not finding him there, the rioters rushed to his house, which they wrecked, and seizing the doomed minister, who was discovered in a remote chamber donning a disguise, during four hours dragged him about the town, until wounded, mutilated, almost torn to pieces, he received his death-blow. The mob then insulted his miserable remains, stuffing stampedpaper into his mouth. These horrors were enacted by day, in a thoroughfare crowded with " respectable " citizens sheltered from the rain by umbrellas. The authorities were passive, and although some courageous persons actually rescued the victim at an early stage and concealed him in a friendly house, the bloodthirsty mob soon discovered his refuge and were about to force an entrance, when the dying man surrendered to save his deliverer's property. The riots directly contributed to the re-establishment of Austrian rule in Milan.

See M. Fabi, Milano ed il ministro Prina (Novara, 1860); F. Lemmi, La Restaurazione austriaca a Milano nel 1814 (Bologna, 1902); Ugo Foscolo, Alcune parole intorno alia fine del reeno d' Italia. The story of the murder of Prina forms the subject of a play by G. Rovetta, entitled Principle di secolo.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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