Gherardo Rangoni (1744-1815), of an ancient and noble Modenese family, attended the Collegio de' Nobili in Parma and finished his studies at the Academy of Savoy in Vienna. In 1773 Francesco III d'Este, Duke of Modena, named him Minister of the Collegio d'Educazione dei Nobili and member of the administration department of the University of Studies. In these institutions he introduced major reforms, directed towards the development of various disciplines, both humanistic and scientific. Duke Ercole III, as soon as he succeded his father, required him as Minister of Internal Affairs. In this activity too Rangoni was distinguished for his reforming zeal: he modified the Civil Code, liberalized the grain trade, suppressed the Inquisition (in whose place he founded the Academy of Fine Arts), opposed the ecclesiastical manomorta (i.e. the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the Catholic Church), and opened cemeteries. During this time he founded an academy of sciences - located in his own palace - that was frequented by the best Modenese talents (Girolamo Tagliaboschi, Giovan Battista Vandelli, Michele Rosa...). Resigning (or being dismissed) from the government, he attended to his own affairs for a while, but, on the arrival of the French army, Ercole III, before abandoning his state, founded an administrative Regency and set Rangoni at its head. With the advent of the Republic, the statesman January 3, 2006he ended his days. His legacy includes writings in philosophy, law, economy and history.
For further information, see:
G.B. VENTUNI, Memoria intorno alla vita del marchese Gherardo Rangone [sic] letta al Cesareo-Regio Istituto di Scienze in Milano il giorno XIC dicembre MDCCCXVI dal cavaliere..., Modena, Eredi Soliani, 1818, 68 pp.
Updated: December 20, 2005