Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lombardian National Council

The Lombardian American Alliance would like to announce the blueprint for a formation of a new panel. This panel will be made up of Americans of Lombardian descent, from all around the country, who will be able to directly partake in any process of planning or representation of Lombardian heritage in the United States.

There is new technology on the horizon, which will enable any scattered group, probably anywhere in the world, to be able to hold an audio-visual meeting of sorts. This is just something to keep in mind as we begin the thought process for future organization.

This will be more of a loose association, only "organized" though this panel. Naturally we want to be able to, at some point, count individuals among this group who are from any field; including, but not limited to, professors, scholars, journalists, travelers, writers, researchers, and authors. The chief goal being to promote our heritage through education, and to encourage inter-association.

Although usually called "Lombard" or "Lumbard" in English, we prefer "Lombardian" in order to make a distinction from the ancient Lombards who were all over Northern Italy, and also Southern Italy. "Lombardian" could be considered an ethnic group, in the same way that Venetian (the tri-Veneto region), Tuscan, or Sicilian could form distinct cultural groups. It should be noted that some of historical Lombardia is also located in the nearby cantons of Switzerland (Ticino and Grigioni).

If interested in what will be called the "Lombardian National Council," you may send an e-mail, or visit the Lombardian American Alliance website, which will soon provide a mailing address. Thank you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pre-Roman Tribes of the Lombardia Region

This entry is based on three articles from the Padanian-American League blog:

The Celti and the Trophy of Augustus

Caesar Augustus' "Conquered Alpine Peoples" - Part 1

Caesar Augustus' "Conquered Alpine Peoples" - Part 2

These articles show the bigger picture of the pre-Roman Alpine region, but we wanted to just focus on the region of Lombardia (which wasn't a distinct region at that time).

Lets start with Brescia. In the Valle Camonica was the Camunni tribe, and just south of it, in the nearby Valle Trompia, was the Trumpilini tribe. Now those two tribes were listed FIRST in the Trophy of Augustus, as the most fierce resistors against the invading Romans (Trumpilini was number one). That alone is a tremendous statement regarding the fighting spirit of these two Italic Alpine tribes. Especially in light of the bigger picture, with the Romans going on to conquer the known world. They had to get past the Alpine peoples first.

From the Wikipedia entry: "Camunni

"The Camunni or ancient Camunians (Greek: Καμοῦνοι for Strabo or Καμούννιοι for Cassius Dio) were an Alpine people who inhabited the valley of the Ollius (modern Oglio), from the central chain of the Rhaetian Alps to the head of the Lacus Sebinus (modern Lago d'Iseo). This valley, which is still called the Val Camonica, is one of the most extensive on the Italian side of the Alps, being over 100 km in length. The actual inhabitants of Val Camonica are called Camunians (Italian: Camuni).

"According to Pliny, the Camunni were a Euganean tribe, while Strabo reckons them among the Rhaetians.

"The name of the Camunni appears among the Alpine tribes who were reduced to subjection by Roman emperor Augustus, after which the inhabitants of all these valleys were attached, as dependents, to the neighbouring towns of Gallia Transpadana ("finitimis attributi municipiis", Plin. iii. 20. s. 24; Strab. iv. p. 206; Dion Cass. liv. 20). At a later period, however, the Camunni, appear to have formed a separate community of their own, and we find mention in inscriptions of the "Res Publica Camunnorum". (Orell. Inscr. 652, 3789.)

"In the later division of the provinces, they came to be included in Regio X Venetia et Histria."

In the above link, make sure to see the amazing map, which shows the tribe territory of Brescia/Lombardia. What is now the Brescia province (and most of the rest of what is now the Orobic language region; East Lombardy), was then in ancient Venetia, and what is now considered Insubria (West Lombardy), was then in ancient Transpadane Gaul. It shows the tribes of the three mountain valleys of northern Brescia: Camunni, Trumilini, and Sabbini (all Italic tribes). To the south in lower Brescia, Cremona, and to the east through what is now the Verona province, was the ancient territory of the Cenomani, who were a Celtic tribe. The Cenomani founded the cities of Brescia (Brixia) and Verona. To the west is the territory of the Insubres, another Celtic tribe, who founded the city of Milano (Mediolanum). In the north central part of Lombardy was the territory of the Orobii, who were also Celtic.

From the Wikipedia entry: "Cenomani (Cisalpine Gaul)

The Cenomani (Greek: Κενομάνοι, Strabo, Ptol.; Γονομάνοι, Polyb.), was an ancient tribe of the Cisalpine Gauls, who occupied the tract north of the Padus (modern Po River), between the Insubres on the west and the Veneti on the east. Their territory appears to have extended from the river Addua (or perhaps the Ollius, the modern Oglio) to the Athesis (modern Adige). Whether these Cenomani are the same people as the Cenomani in Gallia Celtica encountered by Julius Caesar is a subject of debate.

"Both Polybius and Livy expressly mention them among the tribes of Gauls which had crossed the Alps within historical memory, and had expelled the Etruscans from the territory in which they established themselves and subsequently continued to occupy. (Pol. ii. 17; Liv. v. 35.) Livy relates that about 400 BCE, under the leadership of Elitovius (Livy V.35), a large number of the Cenomani crossed into Italy, drove the Etruscans southwards, and occupied their territory. The statement of Cato (in Pliny, Nat. Hist. III.130), that some of them settled near Massilia in the territory of the Volcae, may indicate the route taken by them. It is remarkable that they appear in history almost uniformly as friendly to the Romans, and refusing to take part with their kindred tribes against them. Thus, during the great Gaulish war in 225 BCE, when the Boii and Insubres took up arms against Rome, the Cenomani, as well as their neighbours the Veneti, concluded an alliance with the Roman Republic, and the two nations together furnished a force of 20,000 men, with which they threatened the frontier of the Insubres. (Pol. ii. 23, 24, 32; Strab. v. p. 216.) Even when Hannibal invaded Cisalpine Gaul they continued faithful to the Romans, and furnished a body of auxiliaries, who fought with them at the Battle of the Trebia. (Liv. xxi. 55.) After the close of the Second Punic War, however, they took part in the revolt of the Gauls under Hamilcar (200 BCE), and again a few years later joined their arms with those of the Insubres: but even then the defection seems to have been but partial, and after their defeat by the consul Gaius Cornelius Cethegus (197 BCE), they hastened to submit, and thenceforth continued faithful allies of the Romans. (Liv. xxxi. 10, xxxii. 30, xxxix. 3.) From this time they disappear from history, and became gradually merged in the condition of Roman subjects, until in 49 BCE they acquired, with the rest of the Transpadane Gauls, the full rights of Roman citizens. (Dion Cass. xli. 36.)

"The limits of the territory occupied by them are not very clearly defined. Strabo omits all notice of them in the geographical description of Gallia Cisalpina, and assigns their cities to the Insubres. Livy speaks of Brixia (modern Brescia) and Verona as the chief cities in their territory. Pliny assigns to them Cremona and Brixia: while Ptolemy gives them a much wider extent, comprising not only Bergamum (modern Bergamo) and Mantua, but Tridentum also, which was certainly a Rhaetian city. (Strab. v. p. 213; Liv. v. 35; Plin. iii. 19. s. 23; Ptol. iii. 1. § 31.) It is singular that Polybius, in one passage (ii. 32), appears to describe the river Clusius (modern Chiese), as separating them from the Insubres: but this is probably a mistake. The limits above assigned them, namely, the Addua on the west, the Athesis on the east, and the Padus on the south, may be regarded as approximately correct.

"The Alpine tribes of the Camunni and the Triumpilini, which bordered on them on the north, are expressly described by Pliny as of Euganean race, and were not therefore nationally connected with the Cenomani, though in his time at least united with them for administrative purposes."

From the Wikipedia entry: "Insubres

"The Insubres or Insubri were a population settled in Insubria, in what is now Lombardy. They were the founders of Milan (Mediolanum). Though Celtic at the time of Roman conquest, they were most likely the result of the fusion of pre-existing Ligurian and Italic population strata with Gaulish tribes who had come from what is now southern France.

"Together with the Boii, Lingones, Taurini, Gesati and other Gaulish groups, the Insubres were defeated in 224 or 225 BC by the Roman army led by consul Lucius Aemilius Papus at the Battle of Telamon. Two years later the Romans, backed by their Gaulish allies the Cenomani, reduced the only fortified place of the Insubres at Acerrae, and defeated them again at the Battle of Clastidium. After the defeat of the Gesati, they were compelled to accept the Roman occupation of Milan in 221 and forcible alliance with Rome, while the victors annexed much of their territory.

"During the invasion of Hannibal of 218-217 BC, the Insubres rebelled in support of the Carthaginians. They supported the Carthaginians again in 200 BC, this time under Hamilcar. After several other clashes, they definitively allied with Rome in 194, maintaining some autonomy for their capital. In 89 BC they obtained Latin citizenship and, in 49 BC, Roman citizenship.

"Romanization of the Insubres was probably quick, also due to the reported similarities of the Celtic and Latin languages; in a short span of time after the Roman conquest several literary figures emerged, like that of Caecilius Statius.

"Insubria and Insubric language are named after the Insubres."

The Cenomani betrayal of the Celto-Ligurian federation is perhaps a historical demerit, but the brave actions of the other tribes, in fighting what possibly was the most powerful army the world has ever seen, more than makes up for it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

San Francisco photographer J.B. Monaco's 1908 pilgrimage to Ticino

One time someone was speaking to me about old immigrants, when they suddenly said something like "immigrants or pioneers." In some ways, the two words are mutually exclusive. When it comes to Italian Swiss immigrants from Ticino, the word "pioneer" comes firmly into focus. They were true self-determinists who needed no role models or nannies to try to motivate them. They settled in many different types of environments throughout California and Nevada, usually undeveloped areas. One such adventurous type was the well known photographer and Italian Swiss immigrant J.B. Monaco.

From the J.B. Monaco website:

"In 1875, nineteen year old J.B. Monaco arrived in the United States from his native Switzerland and immediately joined his older brother Louis in his Eureka, Nevada City Photo Gallery. For J.B., this would be the start of a distinguished sixty two year photographic career.

"The photographic collection of J.B. Monaco (1856-1938) includes a body of work impressive in scope and content. Not only did Monaco photograph the world around him, he painted, sketched, wrote and preserved a good deal of what he created. Thankfully, many of these images have been passed down and archived to the present.

"His unique Earthquake and Fire compositions convey not only drama but also the sense of a moment captured in time: a single frame of a larger moving picture. His recorded account of the disaster takes on an equally human dimension as it describes the saving of his own home from the approaching fire by means of a back yard well and a neighborhood bucket brigade. Even Monaco's hand-drawn map remains, pointedly displaying where the fire was turned back and his block of Russian Hill saved.

"In his lifetime, Monaco was considered the "Dean of North Beach photographers" and was most appreciated for his studio portraiture work of prominent San Franciscans and families, many of whom were neighbors in the City's Italian center. But his reportorial work stands out equally and impresses even more with the test of time. He used camera, pen and brush to document much of early Nevada and Northern California history.

"What Monaco leaves is a tangible legacy, both comprehensive and personal. Thousands of original prints and negatives are preserved. The Earthquake images have been used in numerous documentaries, photographic collections and historical publications. In all, what he left surpasses the work of one man and the detailing of his life and times. It is the story of a people as they endured and enjoyed experiences that would shape a bit of American history.

"In 1908 J.B. Monaco and his brother in law Domenico Battistessa visited '"The Old Country." They were both born in the Swiss Italian province of Ticino, J.B. in Verscio and Domenico in the small village of Collinosca next to Cerentino. J.B. chronicled the trip with over three hundred photos of Switzerland. Most of their time was spent in Vallemaggia where they still had family and friends. This section includes approximately fifty images from the trip.

J.B. Monaco website

About J.B. Monaco

Photos of San Francisco photographer JB Monaco's 1908 pilgrimage to Ticino

The website has many old photographs of San Francisco, including the 1906 Quake and North Beach.