Paolo Greppi (1748-1800)

Paolo Greppi (1748-1800) was born into an ancient family of the Lombard minor nobility, it not being until 1778 that the title of Count was granted by Maria Teresa to Antonio, the true architect of the family's immense fortune and the father of Paolo. While he was still a minor, and after he had studied in Vienna, his father gave him his start in business as an associate of the commercial house of Agazzini, which was based in Cádiz. In 1769 Paolo Greppi, with partners who changed over the years, established a new company, which ran with fluctuating, but on the whole good, fortune until 1799. Before very long Greppi combined this activity with diplomacy, being named Consul-General of the Empire in Cádiz (1774), Consul of the Republic of Ragusa (1782) and of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; as Imperial Consul he was also senior member of the consular body in Cádiz. Curious and open to the new ideas of the century, he became firm friends with many of the major personalities of the time, among them Francesco Melzi d'Eril. In Cádiz, after secretly marrying Rita María Díaz y Vivas, Paolo associated mainly with the Italians who lived there with him - in particular Federico Gravina and Alexandro Malaspina; he maintained a correspondence with the latter for the whole of his life. In 1788 he moved to Madrid in order to devote more attention to the public connections required forJune 15, 2018cumstances in Europe, decided to return to Italy, but not without first visiting Paris and Vienna. In Lombardy, which was by this time constituted as a republic, he was esteemed highly by Napoleon, however much he was disliked by those who supported more radical tendencies, yet he took the opportunity to withdraw from his direct political responsibilities, preferring to move to Tuscany and to continue privately to observe and to discuss with friends (among whom were Federico Manfredini and Nicólas de Azara) developments in European politics. In 1799 Greppi moved to Paris, although about this period we have little information; nevertheless, we do know that he agreed to join the Financial Commission of the Consulship of the Cisalpine Republic, a post that he occupied for only two months, since he died, in Paris, on September 14, 1800. From 1796 on, he attempted through various channels to secure the release of Malaspina.

For more information, see:

G. GREPPI, La Rivoluzione Francese nel carteggio di un osservatore italiano (Paolo Greppi), Milan, Hoepli, 1900-1904, voll. 3.

E. GREPPI, "Il conte Antonio Greppi (1722-1799), imprenditore, finanziere, diplomatico nella Lombardia austriaca del Settecento," Archivio Storico Lombardo, CXXI (1995), Milan, Cisalpino, 1996, pp. 399-429.

G. LIVA, "L'Archivio Greppi e l'attività della filiale di Paolo Greppi a Cadice nella corrispondenza commerciale (1769-1799)," Archivio Storico Lombardo, CXXI (1995), Milan, Cisalpino, 1996, pp. 431-487.

AA.VV., "Finanza e politica nell'età di Maria Teresa: Antonio Greppi (1722-1799)," Archivio Storico Lombardo, CXXII (1996), Milan, Cisalpino, 1997, pp. 137-399.

Image courtesy of the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani, Mulazzo, Italy.  Biographical and bibliographical notes by Dario Manfredi (Italian version), translated by John Black.

Updated: June 15, 2018