The origins of modern Trieste are conventionally traced to the year 1719, when mercantalist-inspired reforms by the Habsburg monarchy declared the city a free port. By promoting the economic growth of this harbour on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, the government in Vienna sought to strengthen the empire’s power base and gain a foothold in long-distance commercial trade. During the course of the eighteenth century, the flourishing trade gave rise to a new, multiethnic society in Trieste, dedicated to commercial and financial activities, and characterized by the emergence of meritocratic forces unleashed by the creation of a free-trading environment. Recent studies have indicated how, by the start of the nineteenth-century, a powerful bourgeoisie had emerged, whose ruling elite would play the key role in guiding the fortunes of one of the Habsburg Empire’s most important commercial, financial and industrial centres down to the First World War. Moreover, the economic development of the city produced a civil society and governing class which was essentially cosmopolitan, its outward-looking nature reinforced by the concern to further the city’s material prosperity. Hence, the interpretations for a long time put forward by nationalist and imperialist-minded Italian historiography are, at a general level, no longer accepted today. As this article documents, it was the particular character of Trieste’s position as an international port, and the specific form of its relationship to the Habsburg state which meant that the city’s large Italian-speaking majority developed forms of Italian identity over this period in which the anti-Austrian dimension to the Risorgimento found at most only sporadic appeal.

Trieste, 1830-70: From Cosmopolitanism to the Nation

MILLO, Anna
2007

Abstract

The origins of modern Trieste are conventionally traced to the year 1719, when mercantalist-inspired reforms by the Habsburg monarchy declared the city a free port. By promoting the economic growth of this harbour on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, the government in Vienna sought to strengthen the empire’s power base and gain a foothold in long-distance commercial trade. During the course of the eighteenth century, the flourishing trade gave rise to a new, multiethnic society in Trieste, dedicated to commercial and financial activities, and characterized by the emergence of meritocratic forces unleashed by the creation of a free-trading environment. Recent studies have indicated how, by the start of the nineteenth-century, a powerful bourgeoisie had emerged, whose ruling elite would play the key role in guiding the fortunes of one of the Habsburg Empire’s most important commercial, financial and industrial centres down to the First World War. Moreover, the economic development of the city produced a civil society and governing class which was essentially cosmopolitan, its outward-looking nature reinforced by the concern to further the city’s material prosperity. Hence, the interpretations for a long time put forward by nationalist and imperialist-minded Italian historiography are, at a general level, no longer accepted today. As this article documents, it was the particular character of Trieste’s position as an international port, and the specific form of its relationship to the Habsburg state which meant that the city’s large Italian-speaking majority developed forms of Italian identity over this period in which the anti-Austrian dimension to the Risorgimento found at most only sporadic appeal.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11586/19027
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