|May 1898 witnesses many popular riots protesting against the municipal excise tax on flours and the resulting bread price rises. The Government's reaction includes the appointment of Lt. General Fiorenzo Bava Beccaris, commander of the 3rd Army Corps headquartered in Milan, to Royal Commissioner Extraordinary. He promptly declares a state of siege and threatens military trials for infringers.
On 8th May 1898 a cannon fires a grape shot at protesters in via Vigevano, killing 4 people and wounding fifteen. The following day the convent at Porta Monforte is bombarded and the Army bayonet charges and shoots demonstrators and bystanders in several Milan streets, causing a total of 400 dead. Repression includes dissolving socialist associations, closing down popular neswpapers, and trials at military courts for Milan's leading socialists.
The page at right is from the book "La Storia di un Delitto" (History of a Crime), published by La Libreria Nova, Lugano, Switzerland, and lists the sentences passed in 1898 by the military court on Milan's socialists, accused of unauthorized strikes and of having founded the League as an association with revolutionary aims. My grandaddy is found guilty of charges, as many other more illustrious socialists (among others, Anna Kuliscioff and Filippo Turati), and his sentence, later confirmed by the Italian High Court, is:
- A jail term of 2 years, 6 months and 5 days
- Police surveillance for 3 years
- A fine of It£ 3,000 (an enormous amount of money in those times)
Grandad flees to Lugano, returning to Milan after an amnesty is passed when the political climate clears up subsequently.
It is sociologically interesting to note
how the heaviest sentences were pronounced against
the humblest accuseds ("operai" = common workers).