The word Easter, which originates from the Latin ecclesiastical pasqua (which in turn comes from a Jewish voice that means “passage”), has always had an outline of joy and good wishes. Not so are the Veronese Pasque (al plural, to French usage) which are instead a memory of revolt and death.
The events took place in April 1797: still about a month and the Republic of Venice fell in front of a sudden injunction from Bonaparte, who, after having put him on his knees, is looking for the pretexts necessary to break down the ancient Venetian State; among these the most famous was represented by the events of Verona, immediately called “Veronese Pasque”.
Following the Austrian army, the French army often violates the territory of the Republic, which, in homage to a declared neutrality (the year before it had rejected the proposal of Vittorio Amedeo III of Savoy, King of Sardinia, for an alliance against France), bears the increasingly fierce French insults, the continuous robberies, the requisitions and violations of the sovereignty of an independent state.
Thus Lonato, Sirmione and Desenzano are occupied by Napoleon’s men; in Peschiera, the Venetian commander Colonel Carrara is arrested, while Bardolino, San Vigilio and Salò are looted.
In Verona, on 17 April 1797, Easter Monday, the already heavy situation became tragic when, without any notice, the French general Belliard had French General opened, from the castles occupied by his men, the fire of cannons on the city. The pretext, which was only stated at the end of the day, refers to the killing of four French people, which never happened.
We have in our hands the report of the next day of the Provveditore Giovannelli’s Provveditore Giovannelli, who says:”… a just yearning for revenge suddenly spread among the people, he rang hammer bells, throwing himself against the French, here and there scattered, soldiers, administrative people and women, he attacked the melee and the massacre was relevant, counting over.
The Provveditore tries to bring calm but, failing to succeed, he withdraws (to avoid compromising the government) in Vicenza, wanting the people to assault the castles, after having unnecessarily called in help the Austrians (April 18, Napoleon signed the preliminary of Leoben).
Then the Provveditore returns, together with Andrea Erizzo di Vicenza, and the tragedy continues with killings, destruction and looting until April 24, when the French general Victor gets the capitulation of the city hungry and bleeding.
Another episode will provide Bonaparte’s pretext for attacking Venice: on April 20, a French pirate ship (Liberateur d’ Italie) enters the port of Lido, against customs and international treaties. In compliance with the orders received, N. H. Pizzamano has the Fort of St. Andrew intervened, the French galley is captured and the sailors are largely killed, including its captain Laugier.
Following the French threats, at the sitting of 12 May 1797, the Doge and the magistrates deposited the insignia of the command, while the Great Council abdicated and declared the Republic to have fallen.