Francesco Melzi d'Eril (1753-1816), an open-minded politician of broad education (he travelled in France, England and Spain), was a champion of moderate liberalism. In 1796 he suffered persecution by extremists in the Cisalpine Republic, but in the spring of 1797 Napoleon desired that he become a member of the Finance Ministry. Melzi represented the Cisalpine Republic at the Congress of Rastadt, but retired to his possessions in Spain after the failure of the Congress. Opposed to the republican régime, he would have preferred a strong monarchic state in northern Italy, to ensure a balance of power between France and Austria; nevertheless, when Napoleon constituted the Italian Republic (Congress of Lyons: 1802), he agreed to become its Vice-President (the President was Napoleon himself). With the advent of the Kingdom of Italy he ceased to hold any position. In 1807 he acquired the title of Duke of Lodi. A friend of Paolo Greppi, he certainly played a very important role in the release of Alexandro Malaspina. During his Vice-Presidency he entrusted to Malaspina a number of public commissions (inspection of the Adriatic coast of the Republic, the setting up of a cordon sanitaire, etc.), and took good account of his opinion.
Updated: December 20, 2005