Verri, Alessandro and Pietro

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Verri, Alessandro (1741-1814) and Pietro (1728-1797): Italian Jurist and Economist.

Born in Milan, the Veri brothers were the sons of Count Gabrielle, a prominent jurist in the city. At the center of a circle of enlightened thinkers committed to bringing Milan into line with theintellectual tenor and technological advances of the time, they were founders of the Academia dei Pugni (Academy of Fists), which included Beccaria, Cesare Bonesana, Marchese di. The group published a critical review Il Caffe from 1764-1766, which was modeled after Addison, Joseph and Steele, Richard’s The Spectator.

Alessandro pursued a career in jurisprudence and was an advocate of liberal legal reform in Lombardy. After the cessation of Il Caffe, Alessandro moved to Rome, where he continued to maintain an active correspondence with his brother.

Pietro, the more distinguished of the two, traveled to Vienna in 1760, where he became interested in the writings of the philosophes and was introduced to political economy. After his return to Milan, he published Consideration of Commerce (1763), in which he examined the failure of economic development in Lombardy. Verri was convinced that development would lead to desirable social reform and attributed lagging development to foreign domination and internal tolls and duties. On the strength of this work, he was appointed to public office, a career that lasted until 1786. There he consistently sided with landowners against the system of state control and tax farmers. That same year he also published Meditations on Happiness and Meditations on Political Economy in 1771. In general, Verri advocated free market reforms with reduction in internal tolls and duties. An advocate of the rule of law rooted in a constitutional government, he initially supported the French Revolution, but later reacted negatively to its excesses.

Further Reading:

Emiliana Noether, Seeds of Italian Nationalism 1700-1815, 1969.

Kevin E. Dodson

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