Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2007.

Source: Proceedings of History Week 2005. (61-94). [Malta : The Malta Historical Society, 2005].


Simon Mercieca

My interest in the life and works of Francesco Crispi (1819-1901) dates back to the early 1990s, when on winning a scholarship from the Italian Government, I went to Rome for one year to study at the University of La Sapienza. The course chosen for my studies was related to the History of the Italian Risorgimento. Italy was then at the centre of political turmoil, under direct fire from the Mani Pulite investigation: the magistrates’ inquiry on political corruption. The character chosen for this study was himself, during different moments of his career, at loggerheads with the police, the judicial system and the political establishment. Francesco Crispi was one of those Italian politicians who in his early days suffered arrests and exile for his liberal stand and once Italy was united, he became also the subject of impeachment.

On the steps leading to the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Sapienza, a shabbily dressed middle-aged man used to set up what the Italians call a bancarella, or stand selling old books at a cheap price. I used to stop in front of this bancarella to see what type of books he had for sale, keeping a look out for any volume having a connection with Malta. To my surprise, I found two books, full of documents written by Francesco Crispi himself. The first one is called I Mille[83] and the other was the publication of letters written by Crispi during his time of exile in Malta. The latter collection is entitled “Letters from Exile” or Lettere dall’Esilio. A number of these letters had been written either when Crispi was in exile in Malta or else derive from correspondence between Crispi and Italians or Maltese living on the island. Some of these letters were addressed to Giuseppe Mazzini. The second book is entitled I Mille (“The Thousand”), and is also a collection of letters, a few of which concern Malta. It was published in Milan in 1911. The source of these two publications is the Archivio Crispi.

[p.62] Further research on Crispi led me to discover a very important publication containing more unedited letters written by him while in Malta.[84] This was the work of Salvatore Candido, entitled Contributi alla Storia di Malta dall’Et? Araba. This paper was published in the prestigious journal of the Accademia Nationale dei Lincei.[85]

More recently, an important reference to Crispi’s sojourn in Malta was published by Maroma Camilleri and concerned his research activity at the Valletta Public Library.[86] The two published sources will be used in this particular study.

In Malta, I extended my research at the Curia Archives in Floriana and I came across the so-called Status Libero, a sort of an internal inquiry made by the Church to verify whether a foreign person seeking to get married in Malta is single or a widow or widower. This is an unedited document on the life of Crispi, about whom a lot has been published. This document contributes further historical material and is clearly of some importance, which is why I have decided to publish it in full.

It should be pointed out, that the above-mentioned books are not the sole works containing documents about Crispi. Neither are the above-mentioned letters used for the first time in an academic paper. Copies of these works and other publications containing documents written by Crispi can be traced in the local libraries. In this paper, I am only seeking to re-interpret some aspects of Crispi’s epistolary within the context of nineteenth-century historiography.

Francesco Crispi (1819-1901)

[p.63] On a political level, Francesco Crispi is rarely qualified in Italian politics as Mazzinian. His somewhat disastrous political career brought about a ferocious attack upon him at the turn of the twentieth century. Yet he also had supporters and his political image was not only rediscovered but also reinterpreted and re-evaluated by Antonio Gramsci in his book entitled Quaderni del Carcere.[87]

By the year 1864, Italian unification was nearly completed, and apart from the city of Rome all the geographical area which today is associated with Italy was ruled by the Savoy monarchy. In what seemed to many to be an act of political opportunism, Crispi discarded Mazzinian thought to lend his allegiance to the monarchy. Officially, this split came on 7 May when he delivered a speech in the Lower House. During this time, the Lower House was situated in Turin before it moved, in that same year, to Florence. Crispi stated that “the monarchy is the institution which unites Italy: the Republic is the institution which divides it”.[88]

Until that date, Crispi had held strong Republican views. His involvement began very early, and whilst he was practising as a lawyer, he participated in the Comitato Siculo-Napolitaneo. In 1848, he took part in the uprising in Sicily and was extremely active in the Palermo area. After the suppression of the revolution and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, he had to escape and sought refuge in Piedmont. In the realm of Piedmont, he was co-involved in the Mazzinian conspiracy of 6 February 1853 at Milan. He was caught and expelled and sought refuge in Malta. His sojourn in Malta was very short as he was forced to leave, reaching Mazzini in London. In 1859, he returned to Sicily and, in hiding, worked for the creation of a Republican state in Italy. He participated in the Sicilian uprising of 1860, and was also one of the minds behind the famous expedition of ‘the Thousand’ led by Garibaldi to Sicily. With the fall of Palermo, Crispi was appointed Minister of the Interior and Finance in the Sicilian provisional government. He was forced to resign from minister. More importantly he was one of those who at first opposed the unification of Sicily and the reign of the Two Sicilies with Piedmont. Having his ideas defeated, in 1864 Crispi officially joined the emerging victors of the new Italian unity, ending up in the uncomfortable situation of being mistrusted by all sides, bringing down upon himself the harsh criticism of his political opponents. His reaction consisted of a violent verbal diatribe against them.

[p.64] In 1878, Crispi suffered a second political resignation when he was forced to resign from his post as Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce on the accusation of bigamy. This accusation was made in a number of newspapers, in particular Il Bersagliere and Il Piccolo, after Crispi supported the plans of Cardinal Pecci (the future Pope Leo XIII) to hold the first Conclave in the city of Rome after the unification of the latter within a united Italy. The death of Pius IX on 7 February 1878 brought at the Vatican great fear of interference from the anticlerical elements in Italy, to the extent that the forthcoming Conclave was projected to be held in Malta. Crispi opposed this plan and guaranteed to Cardinal Pecci the necessary protection and assurances. His political adversaries took the opportunity to launch a character assassination campaign by accusing him of bigamy and force his resignation. The mudslinging strategy succeeded. Ironically, such a strategy had been operated by Crispi himself in the past against his political opponents. The bigamy affair had links with Malta as it related to a third marriage, whilst the wife from his second marriage, which was contracted here in Malta in 1854, was still alive. Before his second marriage in Malta, Crispi had been married long before, in Sicily, to a peasant girl, Rosalia d’Angelo, but she died in 1839 with her two offspring. His second wife was Rosalia Montmasson, another girl of humble origins. She worked as a seamstress in her home country of Savoy, and her love for Crispi made her undertake voluntary exile to be with him in Piedmont first and in Malta afterwards.

A less studied aspect is Crispi’s relation with Rosalia Montmasson while in Malta and his marriage with the latter, which eventually cost him his ministerial post. This relationship eventually broke down and on 27 January, 1878 he married according to civil rites Filomena (Lina) Barbagallo. As indicated in my introduction, the sources and documents of Crispi’s marriage to Montmasson are still in existence and are to be found in the Ecclesiastical Archives at the Curia of Floriana. On the other hand, the marriage of Crispi was registered in the Parish Church of Floriana. These are a handful of documents which I am reproducing in full at the end of this paper for their historical interest. Crispi’s attestation to the Church authorities is in Italian. Montmasson’s declaration is in French. During the few months that Crispi stayed in Malta, he had to endure great social and economic pressure and he ended up penniless. At the same time, his marriage ceremony came at the end of his stay here, just before his forced expulsion from the island. The Status Liberi documentation was rushed through the Curia bureaucratic channels. He found the support of a Capuchin friar from Floriana. Crispi in fact passed his last days in Malta living in this town. The marriage ceremony was celebrated at Floriana’s parish church, and was also rushed through. The marriage act is a witness to this fact, as it did not contain any references to the banns, which were not published. Instead, they were married and immediately afterwards rushed out of Malta.

[p.65] It must be said that the relation of Crispi with Malta dates before his actual arrival on the island in 1853. Malta at this period housed a number of Italian exiles, who were mostly here after the failed revolution of 1848 at Palermo. Crispi communicated with these exiles, in particular with the lawyer Ignazio Calona. In Malta, he had also contacts with the Signor Cav. Vassallo, whom he failed to identify by his proper name. One strongly suspects that the Signor Cav[aliere] Vassallo was none other than Cesare Vassallo, a prominent Maltese supporter of the Enlightenment who, like Crispi, was all in favour of the liberal cause. Both Crispi and Vassallo harboured anti-clerical feelings and held pro-Arab sentiments.[89] At the time, the latter held the post of Librarian of Malta’s Public Library, a position that also meant that he was the custodian of the historical artefacts and archaeological remains that had been unearthed in Malta until his time. In fact, the Library had a small, two-roomed museum of archaeological artefacts, and amongst the exhibited artefacts, there was the Maimuna stone, which was in the second room, fixed high onto one of the walls.[90] This is an Arabic tombstone recording the demise of a young girl called Maimuna. The stone carries genealogical references together with verses from the Koran. During Crispi’s time it was thought that the study of its Arabic script and genealogical references could help in determining what type of Arabic administration had existed on the island.

These contacts were instrumental in encouraging Crispi to travel to Malta after being forced into exile by the Piedmontese State. In Malta, he was certain he would find friends and supporters.

On arriving in Malta on the 26 March 1853, he took residence in a hotel at Valletta, but the capital city was too expensive and he was forced to move to the village of Tarxien, situated a few kilometres away. At Tarxien, Crispi had an unverifiable address as his door number and the street name do not appear in any of his letters.

To make a living, Crispi undertook journalistic activity, and, taking advantage of the comparative liberty of the press in Malta, began to publish in newspapers. He [p.66] also began to engage in historical research at the Public Library. This activity brought him into correspondence with major Italian historians of the time, in particular with Michele Amari, who then was working in Paris.

Crispi had a considerable interest in the Maltese Islands, in particular the institutional set up in medieval times. Medieval history was considered during this period as being the most important era in the history of Malta. Crispi, Calona and also Vassallo[91] were by profession lawyers and they were interested in the legal history of the island. The medieval period was regarded as crucial for a number of reasons. It was considered the harbinger of the political changes, a period during which the first legal enactments were made. It was also the time in Italy of the first Communes, which were considered critical by various Italian advocates aspiring towards the building of an Italian State. Thus, they were interested in ascertaining whether or not Malta had a Commune system. Crispi was inclined to equate Malta’s medieval Consiglio Popolare to a Commune, by which he meant a legislative and representative governing body. It was the exaggerated reading of this situation that led to the perception in Maltese historiography that there may in the past have been a Commune system in Malta.[92]

Crispi had a vested interest in studying the legal system that operated in Malta in the Middle Ages. For Crispi, this period was much more interesting and more important than that of the Knights Hospitallers, as it was in medieval times, the Italian political agitators insisted, that Malta promulgated its first laws. Moreover, the legal codes of the Knights of Saint John were publicly known, as they were published and therefore there was no need for research at the archives. More importantly, the system of government during the Knights’ period was in the hands of foreigners who were aristocrats and excluded the Maltese from power. The collective idea of the nineteenthcentury Italian politicians, very much inspired by the Romantic spirit, was that the Middle Ages were the times when the political power was in the hands of the people, represented by the town burghers.

Yet, Crispi’s interest in history was not there for history’s own sake but to use examples from the past to explain current political ideas. In fact, his interest in the history of municipalities was mainly due to the failed revolution of 1848 in Sicily, which he explained as the result of the rivalries existing between the different Sicilian municipalities. Thus he was interested in studying the existence of the municipalities of the Maltese archipelago, in order to arrive at some historical explanation of the [p.67] rivalries in Sicily. He believed that analogies could be established between the two contexts.[93]

Crispi had a focused sense of history. He was not only interested in making history but also in recording the part that he and his contemporaries were playing in the struggle for Italian unity. He was also interested in building his own archives in relation to the Italian Risorgimento. In fact, he kept his letters and eventually they came to form part of the so-called Crispi Archives. He was conscious of the importance of keeping documents of these Italian revolutions. In one of his letters to Carlo Cattaneo, written while Crispi was still in Turin, he declares that in Malta at the time there was Luigi (known as Gino) Daelli and he was making copies of the documents which were considered very important for the history of the Sicilian uprising of 1848.[94] Daelli had the responsibility of gathering all those important documents in Malta concerning the Italian Risorgimento, in particular the Sicilian uprising of 1848, and of depositing them in an appropriate archive. This formed part of Daelli’s idea of building up an archive of the Italian Risorgimento. Crispi wrote from Turin in 1850 to the above mentioned Ignazio Calona, asking him to recount what had happened in Sicily in 1848 and at the same time insisting that these events be well recorded for posterity. In this letter, Crispi mentions also the fact that in Malta he had made contact with Sig. Vassallo about a number of judicial actions that had taken place in connection with the Sicilian uprising.[95]

However, Daelli was soon placed under scrutiny. There was suspicion that he was a double agent. On the one hand, he was supporting the Mazzinian elements, whilst at the same time reporting their supporters and activities to the Austrian police. As suspicion of his double role grew, he was not trusted anymore either by the Mazzinians or the Austrians. Thus he had to leave Piedmont for New York. On his way to New York, Gino Daelli seems to have stopped for a while in Malta. This stopover should also be connected with Crispi’s decision to take up refuge on the island. Despite his dubious past, Daelli was an important agent for Crispi due to the former’s involvement in printing activity and his being a respected printer for the publication of historical documents. Without doubt, the recently acquired liberty of the press to print books in Malta was an added motive behind Daelli’s visit to Malta. He was interested in publishing books here and later distributing them in Italy. However, Daelli’s stay in Malta was rather a short one as in 1853 one finds another letter by Crispi, this time written from Genoa to G. Daelli, who is described as the Direttore della Tipografia [p.68] Elvetica. At the time, Daelli had already moved to America where he once again engaged in printing activities. Daelli’s cognizance of the Maltese situation can explain why he offered to help Crispi to set up a printing press on the island. In fact, on the eve of Crispi’s departure from Genoa, he wrote to Daelli:

‘Finally on Sunday we leave for Malta. As Bonati himself will be writing to you, he has obtained a Piedmontese passport. We need to find ways of making a living, and both of us feel that in the particular circumstances of that small island and its position under the shadow of the British flag we can establish a printing press and a series of publications with some profit. Malta is at the door of the Two Sicilies, where there is a population of nine million that reads a fair bit more than the Piedmontese; it is possible to have good communications with Tuscany, the State of Rome, the Veneto and, through Genoa, Lombardy. In Malta, there need be no fear of blockades or Austrian invasions. Therefore, we are going to have all the advantages, which I repeat, you had in the Ticino, without the dangers that menaced you. In case of war, as England is the queen of the Mediterranean, we will be in an impregnable fortress from where we can launch our broadsides. When the days of liberty arrive, it will be easy to transport everything to Sicily or any city of the continent’.[96]

On Daelli’s part, the newly set up Tipografia Elvetica was going to offer Crispi most of the material for the setting up of this printing press in Malta. From one of the letters, it appears that Crispi’s idea to open a printing press in Malta had been brewing even before his actual exile to the island. He was pushing forward this idea in Turin. His eventual arrest on 7 March 1853 had in part disrupted his plans, which he would take up again once he was forced to leave Piedmont and sought to re-establish contact with Daelli.

[p.69] The reason for his exile is explained by Crispi himself. He was accused of having been involved in the so-called “fatti di Milano” of 23 February, which consisted of an uprising by Mazzinian supporters. These events were not liked by the Austrian government, and to placate Austria’s ire, Cavour ordered the arrest of the Mazzinian cell in Piedmont. Crispi was arrested together with Mauro Macchi, Pietro Maestri and Simone Gattai. According to Crispi in his published Lettere dall’Esilio, none of these individuals had any connection with the said events. Crispi insists in one of these letters, which incidentally were published after his death in 1918, that he did not have any acquaintance with Mazzini. In fact, he was not yet a fully fledged sympathizer of Mazzini and was much more given to the thinking of Cattaneo.

As to the Mazzinian uprising in Milan, in the book ‘I Mille’ Crispi blames the famous General Radetsky for the pressure exerted on Cavour for the expulsion of the Mazzinian patriots.[97] After his arrest, Crispi was deported to Genoa and after two weeks in Genoa, he left for Malta on 20 March 1853,[98] on the vessel Oronte.[99]

Malta was reached after a number of stages. First, Crispi went to Naples, and then, using an American passport, left for Malta, where he took up residence in a hotel in Valletta. He arrived with very high hopes but would soon realize that the island was not the intellectual refuge that he may have thought it to be. In Malta, Crispi lamented the lack of news from Europe. The country was devoid of European and world political news. He tried to fill this void by asking his friends abroad to buy him books and send them to Malta, usually through Messageries Nationales.[100] The fact that Malta and Maltese society were, to a certain extent, cut off from the world was mentioned by Crispi in his letters. In those days, the sole means of communication was the postal service.[101] It was very slow. The use of telegraphy as a means for the transmission of information was not yet available in Malta. At the same time, the fact that Malta was an island began to weigh on the islands’ communication services. The European continent began to enjoy the services of fast courier systems which were developing with the introduction of the locomotive. The advantage that sea transportation had enjoyed in the past over land routes began to fade away.

It was in this context that Crispi wrote to a friend of his, F. B. Savi, on 2 June 1853. He asked him to send him newspapers from Italy, whilst at the same time [p.70] accepting him to become a correspondent of the Italian press in Italy, in particular about news from the Orient.

‘I will ask you for only one thing, that is to be so kind as to regularly send me a copy of the newspaper and to keep in mind the things I shall be writing to you about and give me space for my reading on this rock. Except for the Presse de Paris, the Parlamento di Torino and some other newspaper from London, nothing else reaches the island, where all the news and questions of the day can only be known from the point of view of their presentation by Her Majesty’s government.’[102]

Yet, despite this attempt to earn some money, living in Malta began to become difficult for Crispi. He applied himself to the translation of novels from French or Spanish, and even from English into Italian. He considered that translation could earn him money and make it possible to live on the island for three to four months.[103]

However, all these hopes soon vanished. He began to write a number of letters to a number of deputies of the Sardinian Italian Parliament who at the time were meeting in Turin, asking for assistance. Among the deputies addressed by Crispi, there was Sig. Lorenzo Valerio, with whom he discussed the predicament of Ignazio Ribotti, a fervent supporter of the Italian unification, who suffered paralysis while in prison in a Neapolitan fort,[104] and Signor Cesare Correnti, another Italian exile in Malta, regarding his social situation. Crispi described in the following manner his life in Malta:

‘I do not know how to escape from this ungrateful rock. For some time, I had the funds necessary for travel; my father has provided for me; but how to leave without a passport? Now I lack both the passport and the means; the latter have now dwindled, as amidst the uncertainty of whether I would be leaving I continued to live in a hotel and, despite all the savings, I find myself in a situation where I cannot move, and have funds for only a month. Thus, I am destined to languish in Malta. I will repair to the countryside, where, if nothing else, I will save money both on rent and subsistence. I shall also fret over the great sadness of seeing our brothers fading [p.71] due to lack of means, whilst we are impotent to help them’.[105]

Soon he moved residence between September and October 1853 to the village of Tarxien, where he found refuge presumably in the house of a friend. It goes without saying that Rosalia Montmasson went to live with him in the same house. By 28th October he was already living there, as on that date he addressed a letter to Sig. Mariano Stabile in Paris from this village, informing him that in “two years, I have not had the privilege of obtaining one simple piece of paper”.[106]

He continued to live in Malta, in particular thanks to ‘the sacrifices made by his parents, who sent him money, and through the selling of his books. However, this could not continue for long and he was soon ‘a bout de ressources’ having nothing more to sell. The choice of Tarxien was a sacrifice in itself. He was not afraid to tell his friends that due to financial straits he had ended up living in a ‘casetta di campagna’ three miles away from Valletta. Yet every morning, he walked to Valletta to continue his historical studies. There were a number of issues about his personal life which Crispi considered unsuitable to relate, as recounting them brought only sorrow to their reader.[107] Thus he ended up staying in Malta against his will. His dream was to move to Paris but as he lacked the necessary passport, he could not move to France.[108] As he had to prolong his stay here, he ended up in a situation where he lacked both a passport and financial resources.[109]

Yet, Crispi’s bad financial situation was also the result of the fact that whilst in Malta, he charitably shared ‘his humble dinner with one of the six persons that were his prison cell companions and this particular person, whom he does not identify in his letter, was abandoned by his relatives and his friends.[110]

[p.72] On his part, according to Crispi, in Malta, ‘there was nothing positive’. Such a statement was derived from the economic difficulties that he was encountering, as in terms of politics, his stay brought him into direct contact with a number of Italian patriots, particularly Nicola Fabrizi, and it was thanks to Malta that he got introduced to the Mazzinian circles and fully embraced, at least temporarily, the Mazzinian cause.

Furthermore, in Malta Crispi was acquiring first hand knowledge and direct experience of the most important international crisis that was brewing at the time, the Crimean War. He would write about it and make references to the British preparations for this war. In Malta, this crisis was already apparent by 1853. The islands’ fortifications and the soldiers’ barracks were inspected and provided with gunpowder, whilst the island served in the transhipment of armaments sent to the fleet, which by November 1853 was already near the city of Constantinople. On the island, the general rumour during that particular month was that hostilities had already begun to the detriment of the Russians. Crispi erroneously judged this war as futile for Italy. ‘For us, there is very little to aspire to, until hostilities start in the Ticino’.[111] This was in direct reference to Cavour’s decision to participate in this campaign. The majority of historians view the benefits gained by Savoy in this war otherwise. One benefit was international recognition, as Vittorio Emanuele was amongst the victors. A less known benefit was the participation of Savoy’s small army, turning Crimea into a training ground for the Piedmontese soldiers. Thus this small army became a formidable force on the Italian territory, indirectly aiding the Savoy Monarchy to impose political hegemony on the whole of Italy.

Crispi later understood the political implications of Cavour’s decision to participate in this war. He became more interested in the war towards its end when he started to report to his friends in Europe the movements of the British fleet, in particular its return from Constantinople, when it left behind a skeleton squadron in the Black Sea, for patrol purposes only.[112]

In the meantime, his personal economic situation was becoming so difficult that in a letter sent to the deputy of the Sardinian Parliament in Turin, Sig. Ferdinando Pinelli, he asked for his help so that he could leave the island for the Orient in search of employment. In Malta, the issue of passports for persons claiming to be citizens of Savoy was in the hands of the Sardinian Consul. He implored Pinelli to put pressure on General Dabormida to authorize the Sardinian Consul in Malta to issue him with a passport, so that he could go to the East or some other place to find [p.73] suitable employment. The few months that he had been in Malta appeared for him a very long exile. He wrote that after such a long exile, his fortune had been spent: he had already taken more from his family than they could afford. In fact, he stated that “in Piedmont there still remained a few books, and once these are sold, I do not know to what means to turn to for a living. I could have gone to Alexandria in Egypt or to any other city to work as an advocate: but with what type of passport can I travel?… the American Consul refuses to give me one. On my part, I do not want to go to the United States: thus, what remains is only your government”.[113]

This letter was in a way a desperate form of negotiation by Crispi after other pleas, this time made to the Bourbon Monarchy to be allowed to return back home in Sicily, also failed. In fact, he was extremely sad to see the Piedmontese government ‘forcing him to leave without even giving him the time to go to his home to systemize all his belongings’.[114]

On his part, the translation of documents was not the sole work to be undertaken in his desperate attempt to make a living. Whilst living at Tarxien, which he had chosen as it was the nearest village to Valletta the rent that he may have been paying was extremely cheap if not inexistant, in particular if he was offered free lodging and victuals by a friend. The fact that he lived in the countryside did not deter him from keeping abreast with publications which were of interest to his studies, such as the acquisition of Palmerston’s papers,[115] or from buying the book of Vito Ragona on the French and English politics in Sicily during the years 1848-1849.[116]

Whilst in Malta, Crispi was also interested in keeping himself informed about the events happening in Italy, in particular in recording the memory of the Palermitan Revolution of 1848. To this effect, Crispi wrote to Sig. Ferdinando Pinelli, on the events of 1848-49. Crispi showed some interest in the fate of those arrested following the uprising of Palermo and expressed relief that a number of political prisoners were freed between May and June 1849. Others were freed in the beginning of July.[117]

[p.74] He entered into correspondence with Michele Amari, who at the time was living in Paris, regarding research about the Arabic period in Sicily and Malta. This correspondence was recently the subject of an academic study published by the Academy of the Lincei in Rome. Crispi’s interest in Arabic history was very apparent. On the request of Amari himself, he worked to send a copy to Amari in Paris of the Maimuna stone or as he referred to it ‘l’iscrizione sepolcrale di Sciara’. The Maimuna stone, which was discovered in Malta at the time of Grand Master Marc’Antonio Zondadari (1720-1722),[118] at Xagħra, Gozo[119] was the subject of a number of letters between Amari and Crispi.[120] Crispi contacted the Italian engineer Francesco Cianciolo to make a copy in gypsum for Amari.[121]

On his part, Crispi studied at least two different translations of this stone; one was published by the Malta Penny Magazine and the other by the indefatigable traveller Ahmed Fares Al Shidjaq.[122] Each translation gave a different interpretation of the epitaph on the stone. These differences persuaded Crispi to contact Amari about the matter. He sent him a true replica in gypsum together with another copy in gypsum of “another unedited inscription”.[123] The Maimuna stone was not the only sepulchral inscription that was brought to the attention of Amari. His Maltese interlocutor, Cesare Vassallo, with whom he communicated before leaving for Malta, brought to his attention other epitaphs of historical and philological interest.

Crispi also wrote to Amari for information on books and manuscripts dating back to the Arabic period for references on ‘the bye-laws of the Arabic municipalities, in particular on the taxation system and on the judiciary system.’ Crispi received due answers to his queries.[124] In his exchange of information with Amari, he makes reference to the book of Abela, Ciantar and the manuscript of Canon Agius. These [p.75] were very important for the study of the Arab period.[125] At the same time, he had no illusions about the material existing in Malta on the Arab period. On a query made in this sense by Amari, Crispi replied that ‘for documents on the Arab domination, one has to look elsewhere for the material.’[126] In fact, the first thing he did on arriving in Malta was to ask the committee of the National Library to give him on loan Agius-Desoldanis’ manuscript about Il Gozo antico e moderno e sacro-profano[127] by virtue of the fact, that at this time, the National Library was also a lending library. Due to the value of the document, the library committee declined this request,[128] on the premise that no manuscript should leave the library building.[129]

However, Crispi’s interest did not only focus on the Arab period. He confessed that ‘In the meantime, while studying the archives of this government I found very interesting material in which no other writer has yet shown interest, even those who have related the history of the Knights. Many facts refer to Sicily and in examining the diplomatic correspondence I could deduce that there are mistakes even in the account of the very diligent Di Blasi. Therefore, I read Miège, De Lacroix and other books of lesser importance.’[130] But even these authors, Crispi discovered, had made a number of historical mistakes.[131] Thus, he wanted to correct the writing of Maltese history as he had the intention:

‘to write a book, which I will divide in two parts: in the first part, I will deal with Malta, from ancient times up to 1530 [the year in which Charles V ceded it to the Knights of Rhodes]; in the second part, I will deal with this epoch up to the expulsion of the Knights. I understand that we know very few facts about the years which preceded the Norman conquest; thus in writing on these years one must be erudite rather than historicise. Afterwards, up to 1530, the worth of the work ought to consist of the study of the municipal constitutions; but for the two centuries and a [p.76] half which follow, there is extensive material on the relationship of the Hospitaller Order with the other powers, its conflicts with Sicily and Rome, the changes that happened from time to time in its internal structures, the way it misgoverned this population, and the other political reasons which produced its downfall and end.”[132]

He also had a look into medieval documentation, searching in the volumes of the Library collection in particular the University collection. Crispi had a trained eye in reading medieval paleography. At the same time, he diverged into an interpretation of the political history of Malta, in particular of that period on which there was very little information. His idea was that Malta was in the thirteenth and early fourteenth century a municipality. This is a conclusion that he reaches on the basis of the oldest document he had encountered, that of 1350 when King Ludovico reduced the island into ‘demanio regio’.[133] By implication, a reference to such a status meant that Malta had a municipality that existed before that date. In Crispi’s idea, such a document could also mean a restriction on the legal rights of the inhabitants of the island. Recent works of Charles Dalli about medieval Malta proved Crispi’s arguments right as references to the existence of a municipality in Malta before 1350 have been discovered.[134] For political reasons, Crispi would develop this idea and conjectured that Malta had a commune system. This system received its first known setback in 1350. The second one came during the time of the Knights.

Crispi sought also to give an explanation for the lack of historical material, including archaeological artifacts, about the judicial and political history of medieval Malta. There is no doubt that Crispi read medieval history, in particular the Arabic period, using as points of reference the same approach that historians were taking toward the reading of epigraphy from the classical period. Inscriptions have been [p.77] discovered in Malta dating to Roman times, which give clear ideas about the nature of government that existed on these islands during this latter period. Crispi believed that the Arabic colonizers had acted in the same manner and left written inscriptions, amongst them the Maimuna stone, that contained references to governance. The lack of such artifacts forced Crispi to provide an explanation that included the hitherto little known, that the Knights had presented many archaeological remains and other memorabilia of the Order as gifts to the King of Spain, Charles X.[135] At the same time, Crispi had already pointed out that the study and proper research of medieval Malta had to be conducted in foreign archives.[136]

Crispi conceived the study of history as political leverage, assisting political claims against ruling governments. In this sense, he would take the general plea expressed by other historians and history writers of the time regarding the appeal for the setting up of the so-called Consiglio Popolare. Crispi would erroneously equate the Universita’ with the idea of the Italian Commune. It was very likely that he was using the term comune to express the judicial set up of the Consiglio Popolare to better explain himself. However, he was very critical of the British who granted a new Constitution to Malta in 1849 which had an elective principle, but which was considered by Crispi to be still far behind the political rights enjoyed by the Maltese in the government of their country in the Middle Ages. In fact, in answer to a letter received from France from Pietro Maestri, who lectured on medieval legal systems, Crispi informed him that such a system “did not exist anymore in Malta”.[137] Maestri was interested in getting to know more about its legal mechanisms. According to Crispi, it was destroyed by the Order of Saint John and received the coup de grace by the British in 1818, when through an ordinance, the British governor, Sir Thomas Maitland, abolished it completely.[138]

At the same time, the study of the medieval judicial systems made him think about Malta’s current political state under the British: ‘The civil and military governor England installed holds the administrative and the political power and he has total sway over the two islands. The Council of Government has legislative and economic authority. It has a mayor at the capital of every district and a policeman in every village: they [the Maltese] only control the executive police. Note then that [p.78] when it comes to the political structure of Malta, there is no need to speak about the Commune’.[139]

Crispi staunchly believed that if the Maltese wanted to require their judicial rights, they had to begin by studying the Arabic period well, as the roots of their civil rights were laid during this domination. However, he realized that this was a Herculean task as ‘no tradition has survived in terms of both the local institutions and the local laws that go back to the time of the Arab domination. Only the language and the names of the towns and villages make it known that that nation ruled here, even if not for a long time.’[140] Crispi had a good knowledge of Muslim law and customs, and discussed them with Amari, indirectly aiding the latter in the writing of the book of the Arabs in Sicily.[141] In fact, Amari would include a translation of the Maimuna stone in his book on the Arabs in Sicily.[142] At the same time, Crispi’s knowledge and respect of the Arabic world show that his statements were not being made haphazardly but were the result of a learned opinion. At the same time, the help given to Crispi by the Librarian Cesare Vassallo demonstrates the latter’s respect in regard to this man and to this culture. Despite the fact that after a long walk from Tarxien, Crispi’s attire would have been the worse for wear by the time he arrived in Valletta, Vassallo still allowed him in at the library whilst the local Maltese society in general, including members of clergy, showed him marked esteem up to the moment he had to leave the island.[143]

On his part, Crispi realized that the local library lacked resources. He laments the fact that it lacked a number of volumes of fundamental importance, including important works of medieval history such as the one of Ludovico Muratori, the Rerum Italicarum, or that of Rosario Gregorio, the Rerum Arabicarum.[144] The [p.79] eventual acquisition of Muratori’s and Gregorio’s work by the said Library could therefore be considered as Crispi’s legacy. In fact, he had brought to the attention of the librarian the names of these two volumes. Crispi also speaks in one of his letters about the existence of another work by Gregorio, that of the Rerum Aragonensium Scriptores and of Caruso, Biblioteca Sicula.[145] The latter is to be found in the National Library but the former volume was never acquired. It should be noted that some of these volumes quoted by Crispi were published in the eighteenth century. In part, this gives a sense of backwardness in knowledge that existed at the library until Cesare Vassallo took office. Crispi also laments that with journals it was even worse. He wanted a particular one, the Journal Asiatique, volume 7, number IV of 1846. There was no chance of having it in Malta.[146] This was one of the principle reference journals of his time.

To solve the problem of the lack of books for the writing of his work on Maltese history, Crispi turned to his friends abroad to aid him with his research. Amari was his particular interlocutor for the Ancient and Medieval part. He was not only asked about the Arab period, but also on ancient times. Thus he implored Amari to immediately inform him whenever the latter came across information on the Phoenician period. Amari was in a far better position to gather information and discover sources about Maltese history. In so doing, Crispi told Amari, ‘you will be doing me a useful service’.[147]

Amari was not the sole person contacted by Crispi. He entered into correspondence with the above mentioned Pietro Maestri and asked him to do research on Malta. Maestri was, at the time, living in Paris and was the editor of the Milanese newspaper, Il Comune Italiano and the Annuario Economico-Statistico. Maestri gave Crispi space for his writings in these publications.[148] Crispi stated to Maestri that for the last ten months, he had passed the time studying the Maltese archives for information on the writing of Malta’s history – which he says was undocumented in certain aspects. Crispi told him that Miège and De Lacroix had made a lot of mistakes in their history, with the result that he wanted to write a different history.[149] From the correspondence with Maestri, it appears that there was another Sicilian individual working on Malta, Pasini. Crispi asks Pietro Maestri whether Pasini wanted copies of the Gazzetta Ufficiale for his studies.

[p.80] On his part, Pietro Maestri had a vested interest in the history of medieval Malta, as he was interested in the study of the communal rights of some of the Italian cities in the Middle Ages. He gave lectures on this subject and wanted information on Malta to include it in his studies.[150] Thus, the interest in Malta’s past would lead Pietro Maestri to ask Crispi for demographic information on Malta: both present and past statistics besides references to two authors who had written about the island. One is referred to simply as ‘avvocato romano’ and the other was Albert Mayr. From this letter written from Paris 26 June 1854, it appears that Mayr had already published on Malta, presumably on the Arab period.

It was a great misfortune for Malta that none of the editors and printing houses existing in Malta at Crispi’s time were interested in his project which he considered to be of great interest to the island.[151] Even editors abroad showed him a cold shoulder.

Crispi’s relationship with the local security order was not as tranquil and serene as one would have expected it to be. One can read through his letters that he held hidden grudges against the local police. This is covertly mentioned in one of his letters, when he refers to the local policemen with the Italian word ‘sbirri’. The use of such an old word, which by Crispi’s time was losing its significance, is impregnated with significance. Sbirri was the word for the so-called police of the ancien regime rulers in southern Italy and Malta. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the new term police or polizia was getting into use, relegating the term sbirro to mean a state organization which was the lapdog of the regime, not interested in the administration of justice and corrupt, working in the interests of cliques and owing its loyalty not to the rule of law but to the ruler. The use of such an expression clearly indicates the psychological suffering of this man coming from inevitable harassment from the local police. Not a lot of things have changed in the Malta police force since the old days.

Soon the political position that Crispi began to take in favour of the Maltese in helping them to understand that they had legal rights led him into trouble with the British. He would soon receive an order, issued by the Governor, to leave the island. On 19 December 1854 the police handed him the Governor’s order, wherein he was instructed to leave the island in fifteen days’ time. Crispi wasn’t a person to succumb to pressure. He asked the police to explain the motive of expulsion. They replied that he was being expelled because he was writing and printing and agitating foreigners, and this was prohibited.[152] The Governor had based his order of expulsion [p.81] on the power bestowed on him by an order of 1843 by which he had the right to expel any foreigner (which meant non-British subjects) without the need to give any explanation. Crispi suspected that his publication of a journal in Malta, of which the police received a copy, was the reason behind his expulsion. Still determined to extend his stay in Malta, he succeeded in having a meeting with the Governor himself to speak about the matter, during which he asked for a month’s extension.[153] However, the die had been cast. His plea was turned down and he left Malta on 30 December 1854 for England, taking with him all the material that he had copied from the Public Library and archives in Malta, amounting to more than 700 pages of written text.[154]

In the meantime, Crispi had moved residence from Tarxien to Valletta’s suburb of Floriana. The order of expulsion reached Crispi at his house in Floriana. This decision moved him to take an important family decision, that is, to quickly marry his partner Rosalia Montmasson. He found the help of a missionary friar, most probably a Capuchin, since Floriana housed a Capuchin friary. The Status Liberi documents were passed through the Curia offices with great urgency. In fact, all the papers and church proceedings were processed literally on Christmas Eve. Crispi called Giorgio Tamajo as his witness, who informed the ecclesiastical court that he had known Crispi in Palermo since the year 1848. They met again in 1853 when both moved to Malta in that particular year. On the other hand, Father Luigi Marchetti, Missionario Apostolicum, declared that both Crispi and Montmasson were well instructed in the principle of the Catholic faith. Marchetti acted as the delegate of the Vicar General. He was not the sole priest supporting Crispi in this affair as the latter also had the support of Fra Girolamo da Malta, a Capuchin Friar who was presumably at the time living in the convent of Floriana, who also heard the couple’s confessions. Thus, as all the Catholic requirements were correctly followed, the Curia issued the authorization for marriage.[155]

Crispi got married practically on the eve of his departure. The marriage observed Catholic rites and took place at Floriana’s parish church on 27 December 1854.[156] The witnesses were Italian companions, exiled in Malta, that is, Giorgio Tamajo, as indicated above, and Aloisio Dario Depetris. The former would become a senator of the united realm of Italy whilst not much information has been found on Aloisio Dario Depetris but he may have been related to the future prime minister of the united Italy, Agostino Depetris.

[p.82] All the same, the expulsion came perhaps as a surprise. Crispi was strongly anticlerical, a feeling that he would publicly manifest in London by the publication of a booklet on the British undermining of the strong and powerful Maltese ecclesiastical order. At the same time the British whom he had supported were asking him to leave the island. On the other hand, he succeeded in finding some compassion with the ecclesiastical order, as he was allowed to have a Catholic marriage and his request for a quick marriage due to the impending expulsion hanging over his head, accommodated. In fact, he had to be married by 31 December 1854. Such a concession was, to a certain extent, a privilege, considering the antagonism that existed on both sides. Perhaps this was the first seed of rapprochement between Crispi and the Church. Furthermore one strongly suspects that Fra Girolamo da Malta had aided Crispi and his partner to find a lodging in Floriana. In the following years he continued to take a strong verbal anti-clerical stand when it came to the power and privileges of the Roman Catholic Church, which remained until the death of Pius IX. Then, as already discussed, there was the reversal of fortune. Crispi would support the future Pope Leo XIII’s bid to hold his conclave in Rome unimpeded, denying the British possession of Catholic Malta the privilege of hosting a conclave.

Once Crispi left Malta, he sought to keep contact with the Italian exiles here, in particular Nicola Fabrizi and Tamajo. Like Crispi, Fabrizi would suffer from lack of news from Italy and thus he asked Crispi to give him information and news on Italy. In this sense, Crispi wrote to Fabrizi to give him news on what was happening in Italy.[157]

During his stay, Crispi had strengthened his republican ideas. He considered himself a Republican.[158] He belonged to the Radical Party and aligned himself against the House of Savoy and the eventual rule of this family over Italy.[159] He belonged to the same party as Daniel Manin[160] but would eventually break with the latter when Manin began to support the idea that Italian unity could be carried out by the Monarchy. Crispi and Mazzini wrote against the proposal of Manin to have Italian unity undertaken through a Royal initiative.

In London, he strengthened the ties with Mazzini to the extent that he wrote back to Nicola Fabrizi in Malta, informing him that he had passed all his letters over to Mazzini and that the latter, who was a fast writer, had already answered back.

[p.83] Further on, he concluded his letter from London telling him that he (Fabrizi) could continue writing to Mazzini as he used to do in the past, directly to him, or if he now preferred, through him (Crispi).[161]

It was at this stage that the friendship between Crispi and Mazzini was strengthened, as reflected in the letters. Fabrizi was contacted by both Crispi and Mazzini (who at this time is referred to as ‘Pippo’) to organize an insurrection in Sicily. It fell on Fabrizi, who was at the time in Malta, to find the necessary money. Moreover, Fabrizi had to organize the country and the armed forces during the insurrection, as well as public security, mindful that theft would alienate the overwhelming majority of landowners’.[162]

It is clear that for Crispi the movement for Italian unity had to begin from the South – from Sicily and Naples. However, Fabrizi had a different idea in the sense that he expresses doubts about the readiness of the people, who in general did not believe much in revolution.[163]

Crispi was again in Malta in September 1859 from where he wrote to Nicola Fabrizi who by that time had gone to Modena.[164] By the end of the month, Crispi was back in London whilst Fabrizi returned to Malta.[165] The aim of the visit was a political one, to prepare an uprising in Sicily, about which Mazzini, who at the time was in Lucano, was being kept informed directly by Crispi himself.[166] However, the revolt was not successful and before it even erupted, the police got to know and effected a number of arrests. On his part, Crispi assured Mazzini that he was going to write to Sicily and to Malta to obtain news about the situation. The day of the uprising was set for 12 October. Mazzini was being kept informed about all the details of the uprising including the difficulties encountered due to contradictory news as well as the number of arrests that continued to take place at Palermo against republicans and political agitators, some of whom were Crispi’s friends.[167]

[p.84] Fabrizi was not the sole agent working in Malta on the revolt. Another migrant who had a principal part was the above mentioned Giorgio Tamajo, with whom Crispi was also in direct contact. He made his acquaintance during the time of Crispi’s first sojourn on the island.[168] There was also a Maltese agent helping them, by the surname of Sciberras. He was Camillo Sciberras’ son, Emilio. It was through this Emilio Sciberras that Crispi sent Giorgio Tamajo 12,000 bullets to keep them safe for whenever they would be needed.[169]

Yet not everyone was sure in the Italian camp about the role that Malta could play in the Sicilian uprising. In this regard, Crispi held a totally different opinion. He strongly believed that Malta could play an important role in this political affair. He wrote from Genoa in 1860 to his friends in Messina: ‘we do not agree with advice given to those in Catania that it was no longer necessary to bring the known merchandise from Malta, which always arrived in time’.[170]

On a lighter note, the letters to Tamajo confirm that Crispi intended to continue to work on the history of Malta after he had left the island, to the extent that he promised Tamajo to send him a copy. Crispi must have encountered difficulties in writing it as soon afterwards he would abandon the whole project. This is confirmed in a letter to Tamajo in 1859, wherein Crispi recognized that he had failed to send him the work.[171]

In itself this letter confirms that Crispi, after having been expelled from Malta, and in particular towards the end of the 1850s, harboured less and less interest in compiling or finishing the history of the island of Malta. Such inertia appears in letters sent to his friends in Malta, in particular Fabrizi and Tamajo. On his part, Crispi began to focus more and more on the organization of political agitation in favour of Mazzini, whose ideas he felt could further the cause of Italian unity and help in fomenting uprisings in Sicily, as eventually would happen in 1860.[172]

As has been emphasized in this paper, it was in Malta that Crispi came into a more intimate contact with Mazzini and his movement. He had no direct or close [p.85] contact with this Italian statesman before his exile in Malta. In fact, in a letter written to Pinelli in 1855, he recounts that ‘I was arrested, kept for two weeks in prison and expelled without any good reason. I did not take part in the events of 6 February.

I was not even in correspondence with Mazzini or with the other heads of that movement, of whom I only had knowledge from the press reports’.[173]

In a letter to Tamajo, Crispi makes reference to the suppression of his journal Pensiero ed Azione, after publishing an article by Mazzini attacking Cavour’s policy of seeking an alliance with France against Austria, a policy that envisaged the loss of Nice and Savoy in exchange for a bigger territory, that is Venice.[174]

After the successful revolt in Sicily through the famous disembarkation of the Mille, Crispi would end the relationship with Mazzini, when he disavowed Mazzini’s plans for the the setting up of a Republic in Italy and embraced the monarchical spirit with the utterance of his famous phrase, ‘La Monarchia ci unice, la Repubblica ci divide’.


These political somersaults by Crispi would in the end earn him the disrespect of many Italian historians of the Epoca Liberale. He was seen as a man without principle, changing policies according to the needs of the day. Antonio Gramsci was one of the first to defend Crispi in terms of a liberal who felt perfectly comfortable with the French ideal of Jacobinism. By Gramsci’s time, this term began also to assume the more negative connotations it has today. Unfortunately, in the history of Crispi, Gramsci affirmed that ‘the destructive elements deriving from the hatred against his adversaries and his enemies had prevailed more than those which were constructive’.[175] The present author of this paper, follows Gramsci in being more [p.86] interested in those latter virtues, characterised primarily by Crispi’s search to make his the claims of the popular masses. For Gramsci, Crispi was just a moderate. His major Jacobin obsession was the noble aim of the territorial and political unity of his country. Without doubt, Crispi was a very passionate person.

It was such a strong passion that would make him look favourably on the Maltese people, in particular the indigent. Despite the fact that his experience in Malta was a bitter one, to the extent that he called the island an ‘ungrateful rock’, it would help him come of age, and once he became prime minister of Italy he did not forget that in Malta there was a nucleus of people with a staunch belief in the Italian Risorgimento, to the extent that they believed that Malta was ‘terra irridenta’ or ‘unredeemed land’. Thus, he enacted a law, which continued to carry his name, the ‘Legge Crispi’, giving the right to Maltese citizens to work in Italy. It was an effective law, as whilst I was studying in Italy I encountered Maltese who had been granted a work permit and equal status to the Italians, thanks to this legislation.

Even the eventual attempts by Italy to set up colonies in Africa are to be linked to Crispi’s desire to provide land to his southern Sicilian countrymen. As the history of Maltese migration shows, the Maltese were not excluded but were left to take up jobs and employment in the Italian possession of present-day Libya. In this sense, the colonial ideas of Crispi fall within the framework of a passionate Imperialism, made up of eloquent speeches but having no economic basis.

In a nutshell, Crispi’s political career is mainly characterized by the disproportionate gap between his statements and actions, his experiences as a victim of political repression and his own involvement, once he gained power, in repressing others. As happens with passionate persons, strong passion is the leading force behind their ideas but their actions take place at the expense of judgement.

[p.87] Appendix

Document 1

Stato Libero
Dell’Avv[oca]to Francesco Crispi
Di Rosolea Montmasson

Eccellenza Revma

L’avvocato Francesco Crispi - di Sicilia e Rosolea Montmasson di Savoja – um[il]i servi ed or[atori] devo[tissi]mi dell’ E[minenza]V[ostra] Rev[erendissi]ma ossequiosamente le rappresentano che sul punto di celebrare le loro nozze occorre loro di giustificare la libert? del loro stato: quindi i med[esim]i umilmente ricorrono supplicando di essere ammessi a farne la prova mediante il proprio giuramento suppletorio. Del che

Eccellenza Re[verendissi]ma

Dalla deposizione di un testimonio dal ricorrente di nazione siciliano (sic.), prodotto e debitamente esaminato in questa S[acra G[ran] Corte, e coll’annesso certificato del Sauro Luigi Marchetti, Mizz: Optico corroborato risulta, come di cosa notoria la sua libert? di stato tanto in patria che in diverse citta’ di Francia, e dell’Italia fino la sua venuta in Malta in Marzo del 1853 ove fece costante dimora.

L’altra ricorrente Rosolea Montmasson di Savoja, la qual dopo tutta la sua residenza di alcuni anni prima in Marsiglia, ed indi in Turino, si confer? in Maggio di detto anno 1853 in quest’Isola, senza essere pi? partita, non ha testimoni da far la prova della sua libert? di stato, assicurando come siamo informati, di trovarsi in possesso del consenso del suo genitore al matrimonio, per non averne fatto uso. Or siccome i ricorrenti intendono di unirsi legittimamente col santo vincolo del matrimonio, siamo di parere che nel caso siano ammessi al giuramento suppletorio in mano colla solita comminazione della pena contro i poligami, ed indi in adesione alla loro domanda, alla celebrazione voti sol[enni] del loro matrimonio li rimitteamo per altro a quanto sar? per deliberarne l’ec[cellenza] V[ost]ra Re[verendissi]ma cui baciando devotamente la S[ua] M[ano] in profonda stima ci protestiamo

Dell’ ecc[ellen]za V[ost]ra Re[verendissi]ma

[p.88] Dalla S[acra] G[ran] C[orte] 24 Xbre 1854
Um[il]i ed Ob[bidientissi]mi Servi
Dr C. Gravagna Cassanon
N[ost]ra Mag[na] Curia super espositis nobis referat datum Valletta in Pal[azzo]
N[ost]ro Arch[ivescovile]. Die 26 Xbris 1854.
Fint juxta relata Datum Valletta in Pal[azzo] N[ost]ro Arch[ivescovile] Die 27 Xbris 1854.

Document 2

Die 24 xbris 1854.

Dictum D[omi]ni Advocato Francesci Crispi fil[ii] D[omi]ni Thomas de Ins(ula) Trinaclia – ac de oppidi Ribera aetatis anni 35 cir[citer] factum cum ejus juramento modo ut sequitur

D[icti] Io dictu d’aver completato i miei studi di giurisprudenza in Palermo, (dove per alcuni anni esercitai la mia professione di avvocato) nell’anno 1845. Da Palermo mi trasferii in Napoli, e dopo una dimora ivi fatta di circa cinque anni, esercitandomi sempre nella mia professione di avvocato, nel mese di Gennaio del 1848, all’epoca della rivoluzione mi ripatriai. In seguito in Aprile del 1849, mi trasferii in Marsiglia donde per via di terra andai in Piemonte e da Piemonte mi recai qui in Malta. Io in Francia feci dimora di circa tre mesi quasi sempre in viaggio e in Piemonte mi son rimasto sempre in Torino circa tre anni e mezzo. Dal mese di Marzo 1855 sin oggi mi trovo costantemente in Malta. Io né nella mia patria- né in Napoli – né in altri luoghi ove sono stato avea mai contrattato matrimonio, sponsali o voti sollenni (sic.).

(Not signed)

Document 3

Dicti Georgius Tomajo – Grassetti q[uon]dam Falicis de Neapoli etat[is] ann[is] 36 cer[ci]ter productus per D[omi]num Avvocatum Francescum Crispi, cui delatum fuit juramentum de veritate dicenda et examinatus super infri facti specie.

D[ic]t[i] Io conobbi il Producente in Palermo insin dal 1848 nella c[itt?] di Palermo – dall’epoca in cui ebbi conoscenza dello stesso strinsi col med[esim])o stretta amicizia. Di poi passai a Malta ed il medesimo nel 1853 capit? pure in Malta, e cos? ci [p.89] siamo una altra volta incontrati e confermati nella nostra primiera intrinsechezza. Egli é positivo che il Producente in Palermo fino il 1849 (epoca in cui ei avea lasciato quella citta’) era libero da qualunque vincolo di matrimonio, sponsali o voti solenni e di ci? mi costa per scienza positiva – per quel che concerne poi la libert? di stato dal Producente mantenuta in Torino e Francia – ove fece dimora dietro la nostra separazione seguita in Palermo nel 1849, rispondo che per informazione avuta da persone degne di fede e dalle conversazioni intrinseche tenute tra me ed il prefato Sig[no]r Crispi io ritenni di non aver il medesimo nemmeno in detti luoghi esteri leso in alcun modo la sua libert? di stato soggiungendo che lo stesso dai suoi conoscenti in Malta sia riputato per un uomo libero nel di lui stato.


Giorgio Tomaso Grassetti.

Document 4

Die 24 Xbris 1854 Dictum D[omi]na Rosolea Montmasson fil[ia] D[omi]ni Gasparis – de Regno Savoja - de civitate d’Annecy.
Io sottoscritto attesto che il sig[no]r Francesco Crispi e la Sig[no]ra Rosalia Montmasson sono istruiti nei rudimenti della dottrina cristiana.

In fede Malta 27 Decembre 1854
D. Luigi Marchetti

Document 5

Io sottoscritto attesto per la verit? che conoscendo il sig[no]r Francesco Crispi e per relazioni di amici e per rapporti avuti con lui medesimo posso assicurare delle attestanti tali relazioni, che esso é libero da ogni vincolo di matrimonio, sponsali, voti solenni

In fede f[atta] Malta oggi 27 Decembre 1854
D. Luigi Marchetti Missionario Apostolicum.

Document 6

Die 26 Xbris 1854. Dictum D[omi]na Rosalea Montmasson fil[ia] D[omi]ni Gasparis de Regnum Savoja – de civ[itate] d’Annecy etat[is] ann[orum] 26 factum cum ejus jurumento modo ut sequitur

[p.90] D[ic]ti. In quando avea l’eta d’anni 17 circa dalla mia nativa patria mi trasferii in Marsiglia presso il Sig[no]r Francesco Montmasson mio zio paterno e dopo aver fatto ivi una dimora di circa quattro anni mi trasferii in Torino e dietro di essermi ivi fermata tre anni e mezzo circa nel mese di Maggio del 1853 da Torino mi recai in Malta ove feci sin oggi costante dimora. Io nei paesi e luoghi sopra da me enunciati sempre mi sono mantenuta libera nel mio stato da qualunque vincolo di matrimonio, sponsali e voti solenni.

Io a pie’ sottoscritto Fr. Girolamo da Malta, sacerdote Cappucino fo piena ed indubitata fede a chi spetta vedere e leggere la presente che il Sig[no]r Francesco Crispi e la Sig[no]ra Rosolia Montmasson hanno fatto da me la loro Sacramentale Confessione ai quali ho imposto la salutare Penitenza, ed anche dato l’Assoluzione.

Floriana Convento dei R. R[evere]ndi P[overi] P[a]dri Cappuccini 23 Decembre 1854.
Fr. Girolamo da MaltaSacerdote Cappuccino.

Document 7

Io sottoscritto delegato dal R[evendissi]mo Sig[no]r Vicario Generale della Diocesi di Malta a ricevere il giuramento suppletorio in causa matrimoniale dalla Sig]no]ra Rosalia Montmasson attesto che la sud[detta] Sig[no]ra Rosalia Montmasson ha giurato in mia presenza quanto siegue. In primo luogo, che quanto ha deposto nelle mani del Magnifico Sig[no]r Cancelliere della Curia Arcivescovile di Malta, riguardo al suo stato libero, é la pura verit?. Secondo, che essa stando in Lione nel 1846 dimand? al Padre il consenso per un matrimonio possibile, cioé perché avea intenzione di maritarsi e voleva esser munita delle sue carte, che per? non avea in vista alcuno sposo, né tampoco avea contratto impegno con alcuno: e perci? il padre suo si rimette alle prudenza di lei per la scelta del futuro suo sposo: e cos? libera rimase fino, che conobbe in Marsiglia il Sig[no]r Francesco Crispi nel 1849. Finalmente, che intende con questo giuramento supplire a qualunque mancanza di prove in favore del suo stato libero, confermando di esser libera da qualunque vincolo di matrimonio, sponsali, voti solenni. In fede f[atta] Valletta, oggi 27 Dicembre 1854.

D. Luigi Marchetti – Missionario Apostolico.

[p.91] Document 8

Io sottoscritto delegato dal R[everendissi]mo Sig[no]r Vicario Generale della Diocesi di Malta a ricevere il giuramento suppletorio del Sig[no]r Francesco Crispi in causa matrimoniale attesto che il suddetto Sig[no]r Francesco Crispi ha giurato in mia presenza toccando il S[antis]S[i]mo Crucifisso che quanto ha deposto nelle mani del Sig[no]r Magnifico Cancelliere della Curia Arcivescovile di Malta rapporto al suo Stato Libero, é la pura verita e collo stesso giuramento da supplire a qualunque deficienza di prove conferma essere egli libero da ogni vincolo di matrimonio sponsali, voti solenni etc.

In fede f[atta] Valletta, oggi 27 Dicembre 1858.

Dr. Luigi Marchetti Missionario Apostolico.

Document 9

L’an mil huit cent quarante-six et le vingt-deux janvier, à dix heures du matin à Annecy dans mon étude en rue Filaterie ; par devant moi Jean-Baptiste Fontaine notaire Royal, soussigné et en présence des témoins en fin nommés ; ______________________
A comparu Sieur Gaspard à feu Bernard ________________________________ Montmasson propriétaire cultivateur, né et domicilié en la commune de St Jorioz ;
Lequel, sur la demande qui lui en a été faite par Rosalie Montmasson sa fille, blanchisseuse, née à St Jorioz et domiciliée à Lyon, a donné ainsi que par le présent il donne, en faveur de sa seule fille, à l’acceptation de je Maître notaire, son libre consentement au mariage qu’elle se propose de contracter, ayant assez de confiance en la prudence de sa fille pour se rapporter au choix qu’elle a fait de son futur époux.
Dont acte fait, lu et prononcé en tout son contenu au Mr Montmasson, à ma haute et intelligible voix, en présence de M M. (Messieurs) François Parent traiteur, né et domicilié à Annecy, et George-François Millet praticien, né à Latterville et domicilié au dit Annecy, témoins requis qui signeront avec le Monsieur Montmasson et moi notaire, en fin du présent écrit par le dit M. Millet en une page
Et ce que dessus sur un feuillet, et que j’ai délivré en brevet.
[Signe :] Gaspard Monmassont
[Signe :] Millet
[Signe :] = Jean-Baptiste Fontaine

[p.92] Vu pour légalisation de la signature de maître Jean-Baptiste Fontaine notaire Royal la résidence en cette ville;
Annecy au Vubl (sic.) le 22 janvier 1846
Le sénateur juge Mage du Genevois
[signe :] Frezières
[signe :] J.Serauce

Document 10

Vu au gouvernement de la Savoie pour légalisation de la signature ci-dessus de Mr Frézières sénateur juge mage au Tribunal d’Annecy
Chambery le 26 janvier 1846
Par délégation du ministère des affaires étrangères
Le gouverneur de la Savoie
Signe : De La Maccargia

Document 11

Consentement à
Sieur Gaspard Montmasson
en faveur
de Rosalie Montmasson
Sa fille________________
Du 22 janvier 1846
Maître Fontaine Notaire

[p.93] Document 12

Extrait des registres des actes de décès de l’Eglise Paroissiale de St Jorioz, diocèse d’Annecy,
Province du Genevois, Savoie.

L’an mil huit-cent quarante et le trois du mois de juillet en la paroisse de St Jorioz, commune de St Jorioz, a été faite la déclaration suivante de décès. Le vingt-neuf du mois de juillet à huit heures du soir dans cette paroisse, maison de Montmasson, après avoir reçu les sacremens [sic.] est morte Jacqueline Pacthod agée de quarante-neuf ans, de profession femme de ménage, native de St Jorioz, demeurant à St Jorioz, mariée avec Gaspard Montmasson, fille de Pierre Pacthod, cultivateur de profession, demeurant à St Jorioz et de feue Jeanne Desmaison.

Déclarant Michel Joseph Thomas agé de cinquante ans demeurant à St Jorioz, et Jean Vagnard agé de trente six ans demeurant à St Jorioz.

Signature du premier témoin : Michel Joseph Thomas
Signature du second témoin : Jean Vagnard
Le cadavre a été inhumé le trente-neuf du mois de juillet (sic.) dans le cimetière de cette paroisse.
Signé à l’original.
Besson recteur
Le présent extrait certifié conforme à l’original, a été délivré par moi soussigné le vingt un janvier mil huit cent quarante six (sic.).
Besson arc[hiprêtre] recteur de St Jorioz

Document 13

Vu pour la légalisation de la signature apposée d’autre part de Recteur Besson archiprêtre curé de St Jorioz.
Annecy 22 janvier 1846
[Signe :] + Louis Evèque d’Annecy
[Signe :] L. Bouvier

[p.94] Document 14 N°209)
Vu au gouvernement de la Savoie pour légalisation de la signature ci-dessus de Monseigneur Louis Evèque d’Annecy.
Chambery le 26 janvier 1846
Par Délégation du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères
Le Gouverneur de la Savoie
[Signe :] De La Maccargia

The publication of documents from Crispi’s archives related to I Mille expedition.

[83] F. Crispi, I Mille (da documenti dell’archivio Crispi), Milano – Treves Editori, 1911.

[84] Crispi: Lettere dall’Esilio 1850-1860 Raccolte e Annotate Da T.Palamenghi-Crispi, Italia, Casa Editrice TIBER, 1918.

[85] S. Candido, ‘Contributi alla Storia di Malta dall’Et? Araba’, in Atti della Accademia Nazionale Dei Lincei, series. Viii, Vol. XXXI, 1988, fasc. 3. pp. 111–172.

[86] M. Camilleri, ‘The National Library of Malta’s Manuscript Collection’, Celebratio Amicitiae Essays in honour of Giovanni Bonello, ed. M. Camilleri and T. Vella, Malta, 2006, pp. 45-56.

[87] A. Gramsci, Quaderni del Carcere; edizione critica dell’Istituto Gramsci ; a cura di Valentino Gerratana - Torino - 2001

[88] F. Fonzi, ‘Francsco Crispi’, Biografia degli Italiani, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Vol. 30, Rome, 1984, p. 785.

[89] 7 C. Vassallo, Catalogo dei codici e dei manoscritti inediti che si conservano nella pubblica biblioteca di Malta, Malta, no date. These anti-clerical feelings were expressed in the introduction of the library Repertorio, or index of all the manuscripts in the library collection. In his introduction, he writes that the Library collection has manuscripts amongst other on chierici oscuri and onnipossenti gerosolimitani. For example, he speaks about ‘le orribili carneficine che seguirono la svelata macchinazione dagli schiavi’. Other comments about the contents of the manuscripts were written in the index itself. His comments were inserted in italics after the number location and title of the manuscript.

[90] Candido, p. 143.

[91] Crispi: Lettere, p. 20.

[92] See for example, C. Mifsud Bonnici, Corporativismo Maltese Medioevale, Malta Empire Press, 1937.

[93] Crispi: Lettere, p. 109.

[94] Ibid, p. 32.

[95] Ibid, p. 20.

[96] Ibid, pp. 40-41. “Domenica finalmente si partiremo per Malta. Bonati com’egli stesso ti scriver? ha ottenuto un passaporto piemontese. Dovendo intanto trovarci mezzi da vivere, ambidue abbiam pensato che in quell’isoletta, per le sue condizioni particolari all’ombra della bandiera inglese, potremmo con vantaggio fondare uno stabilmento tipografico e un deposito di libri. Malta é alla porta delle Due Sicilie, dov’é un popolo di 9 milioni, che legge assai piu’ del Piemontese; puo’ aver piu’ facili comunicazioni colla Toscana, lo Stato Romano, il Veneto, e per via di Genova, anche colla Lombardia. Col? non sono a temersi ne’ blocchi ne’ invasioni austriache, onde vi avremmo tutti i vantaggi, che repetti e tu avevate nel Ticino, senza i pericoli che vi minacciavano. In caso di guerra, essendo l’Inghilterra signora del Mediterraneo, noi saremmo in una fortezza inespugnabile, donde potremmo lanciare i nostri fulmini. Venendo i giorni della liberta’, ci sarebbe facile trasportare tutto in Sicilia, o in qualche citta’ del continente”.

[97] Crispi, I Mille, pp.13-14.

[98] Crispi: Lettere, p. 42.

[99] Fonzi, p. 781.

[100] Crispi: Lettere, p. 86

[101] Ibid, p. 45.

[102] Ibid. “D’una sola cosa la pregher?, cioé di volermi periodicamente inviar copia del giornale, e per avere presenti le cose che le scriver? e per aver un pascolo alle mie letture in questo scoglio, dove, eccetto la Presse di Parigi, il Parlamento di Torino e qualche foglio di Londra, nissun altro ne giunge, ondre tutte le notizie e le quistioni del tempo non possono conoscersi che dal solo punto di vista nel quale le presenta il giornalismo regio”.

[103] Ibid, p. 57.

[104] Ibid, p. 48.

[105] Ibid, p. 56. “Non so come fuggirmene da questo scoglio ingrato. Per qualche tempo ebbi quanto bisognava per fare un viaggio; mio padre me ne aveva provveduto; ma come andarne senza passaporto? Oggi manco di passaporto e di mezzi; questi ultimi son venuti meno, perché nell’incertezza del partire ho continuato a dimorare in locanda e, non ostante i risparmii, mi trovo a tale che non posso muovermi, ne’ aver da vivere che appena per un mese. Quindi son costretto a gemere in Malta. Mi ritirer? in campagna, dove, se non altro, risparmier? e per fitto di casa e per viveri. Inoltre mi torr? alla grande tristezza di veder tanti nostri fratelli languire per difetto di mezzi, mentre si e’ impotenti ad aiutarli.”

[106] Ibid, p. 60. “in due anni non ho avuto il bene di ottenere un solo pezzetto di carta”.

[107] Ibid, p. 86. “Dirti altro, non e’ mio decoro, in ogni modo non farei che darte dolore”.

[108] Ibid, p. 85.

[109] Ibid, p. 85. “...oggi mi mancano e passaporto e mezzi pecuniarii”.

[110] Ibid, p. 56. “l’umile mio pranzo con uno de’ sei che mi furono compagni di carcere, e che fu abbandonato da’ suoi parenti, da’ suoi amici.”

[111] Ibid, p. 69. “Per noi ci sara’ poco a sperare, finche’ le ostilita’ non comincio al Ticino”.

[112] Ibid, p. 87.

[113] Ibid, p. 67. “in Piemonte mi restano ancora pochi libri, venduti i quali, non so a quai mezzi ricorrere per tirare innanzi la vita. Sarei andato in Alessandria d’Egitto o in altra citt? a far l’avvocato: ma con qual passaporto? ... il console americano si nega a darmelo, qualora io non voglia andare negli Stati Uniti; resterbben dunque il vostro governo”.

[114] Ibid, pp. 68-9. “mi fece partire proibendomi sinanco di andare per pochi minuti a casa per sistemare le mie faccende”.

[115] Ibid, p. 73.

[116] Ibid, p. 86.

[117] Ibid, p. 64.

[118] Ibid, p. 76.

[119] Ibid. p. 90. The fact that this stone was discovery in Xaghra can be inferred in Crispi’s letter as it was referred to as the ‘iscrizione di Sciara’– without doubt, this nomenclature was used in direct reference to the place where it was discovered.

[120] Ibid, pp. 81-83.

[121] Candido, pp. 143, 152.

[122] Crispi: Lettere, p. 76. “Faremo lo stesso per un’altra iscrizione sepolcrale cufica che questo sig. Cesare Vassallo mi dice essere anco inedita. Intanto per quella di Sciara vi mander? inoltre un lucido sopra una copia fatta ai tempi del gran maestro Zondadari, sotto il cui governo fu rinvenuta. Vi avverto finalmente che, nel Malta Penny Magazine, nom 6 Saturday Oct. 19, 1839, ce ne sia un’interpretazione diversa di quella data dal prof. Fares”.

[123] Ibid, pp. 90-91.

[124] Ibid. “sulle ordinamenti municipali dei Musulmani, in particolare sulle sistema di tasse e sul sistema giuridico”.

[125] Ibid, pp. 81-83.

[126] Candido, p. 122.

[127] Ibid.

[128] Camilleri, p. 56.

[129] Candido, p. 124.

[130] Crispi: Lettere, p. 76. “Intanto, studiando negli archivi di questo governo, ho trovato materiali di molto interesse, di cui nissuno scrittore si e’ occupato, neanco coloro che han dettato la storia dei Cavalieri. Molti fatti si riferiscono alla Sicilia, e nell’esame delle corrispondenze diplomatiche ho potuto dedurne che lo stesso diligentissimo Di Blasi ha sbagliato narrandoli. Ho letto quindi il Miège, il Lacroix ed altri libri di mino importanza.”

[131] Candido, p. 126.

[132] Crispi: Lettere, p. 77. “di scrivere un libro, che dividero’ in due parti : nella prima trattero’ di Malta, dai tempi piu’ antichi sino al 1530 (anno in cui Carlo V la concedeva ai Cavalieri di Rodi); nella seconda da quell’epoca sino all’espulsione dei francesi. Comprendo che delle eta’ che precedettero la conquista normanna, pochi fatti notevoli si conoscono, onde si puo’ essere piu’ eruditi che storici, e che posteriormente sino al 1530 tutto il pregio dell’opera debba consistere nello studio della costituzione municipale ; ma, pei due secoli e mezzo che seguono, la materia abbonda pei rapporti dell’Ordine Gerosolimitano colle altre potenze, per le sue lotte con Sicilia e Roma, pei mutamenti che di mano in mano avvenivano nel suo interno regime, pel modo onde sgovernava questa populazione, e per le ragioni politiche che ne produssero la decadenza e la fine”.

[133] Ibid, pp. 77-78. Candido, p. 145.

[134] C. Dalli, Iż-Żmien Nofsani Malti (Malta, 2002), pp. 75-91.

[135] Candido, p. 151.

[136] Crispi: Lettere, pp. 75- 79.

[137] Ibid. p. 84.

[138] Ibid. “venne distruggendo dall’Ordine Gerosolimitano, ed ebbe il colpo di grazia al 1818 con un’ordinanza di sir Maitland, che l’aboli’ completamente”.

[139] Ibid. pp. 84-85. “Il governatore civile e militare che vi tien l’Inghilterra, ha l’amministrazione ed il potere politico, ed egli fa tutto nelle due isole. Il consiglio di governo ha potesta’ legislativa ed economica. In ogni capoluogo di distretto e’ un sindaco, in ogni casale e’ un birro; essi non hanno che l’esercizio della polizia esecutiva. Vedi dunque che, tutto intrattenendomi dell’ordinamento politico di Malta, non avro’ a parlare del Comune.”

[140] Ibid, p. 78. “Nissuna tradizione avanza del dominio degli Arabi, nelle istituzioni e nelle leggi: solamente il linguaggio, ed i nomi dei luoghi e dei villaggi annunziano che qui, se per non lungo tempo stette quella nazione.”

[141] Ibid, pp. 81-83.

[142] M. Amari, Biblioteca Arabo-Sicula, 2. vols. (Turin and Rome, 1880-1881).

[143] One should consider, for example, how Crispi was addressed in his marriage act, which was registered by the parish priest of Floriana; he was bestowed with all the titles associated with his legal position.

[144] Crispi: Esilio, p, 79.

[145] Candido, p. 120.

[146] Crispi: Esilio, p. 79.

[147] Ibid. ‘Se, come mi avvisate, vi sara’ facile raccogliere delle notizie sull’epoca dei fenici o notarmene le fonti, mi fareste anche util cosa’.

[148] Candido, p. 123.

[149] Crispi: Lettere, p. 84.

[150] Ibid, pp. 88-89.

[151] Candido, pp. 128, 130.

[152] Crispi: Lettere, pp. 91-3.

[153] Ibid, pp. 91-3.

[154] Candido, p. 131.

[155] Archivum Arcivescovilis Melitensis Floriana, Stati Liberi, 1854, No. 81. Francesco Crispi.

[156] Archivum Parochiale Floriana, Liber Matrimonii, vol. 1, date of act, .

[157] Crispi: Lettere, pp.183-4.

[158] Ibid, p. 99.

[159] Ibid.

[160] Ibid.

[161] Ibid, p. 93.

[162] Ibid, p. 102. “ad organizzare il paese e le forze armate di mano in mano che l’insurrezione si estende; ad organizzare, per quanto e’ possibile, la sicurezza pubblica, perche’ non succedano furti, i quali renderebbero nemico alla causa nostra il gran partito dei proprietari”.

[163] Ibid, pp. 102-3.

[164] Ibid, p. 150.

[165] Ibid, p. 153.

[166] Ibid, pp. 151-4.

[167] Ibid, pp. 156-7.

[168] Ibid, p. 98.

[169] Ibid, p. 147.

[170] Ibid, pp. 221-2. “Non siamo pero’ d’accordo sul consiglio dato a quelli di Catania, che non sia piu’ necessario far venire da Malta le sapute merci, le quali giungeranno sempre a tempo”.

[171] Ibid, p. 129.

[172] Ibid, pp. 238-9.

[173] Ibid, p. 68. “io fui arrestato, tenuto due settimane in prigione ed espulso senza verun motivo. Io non presi parte ai fatti del 6 febbraio, io neanco era in corrispondenza con Mazzini e cogli altri capi di quel movimento, di cui non ebbi conoscenza che quando i giornali ne parlarono”.

[174] Ibid, pp. 130-1.

[175] <> Antonio Gramsci Un ritratto politico di Francesco Crispi da i “Quaderni del carcere” (Il Risorgimento) (1929-1935). “... e si chiam? «giacobino» l’uomo politico energico, risoluto e fanatico, perché fanaticamente persuaso delle virtù taumaturgiche delle sue idee, qualunque esse fossero: in questa definizione prevalsero gli elementi distruttivi derivati dall’odio contro gli avversari e i nemici, più che quelli costruttivi, derivati dall’aver fatto proprie le rivendicazioni delle masse popolari