World Exhibition Paris 1878

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May 1, 1878 - October 31, 1878


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San Marino

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Wine, wool, cheese and agricultural products are the main wealth of this small republic.

Its oldest industry is stone mining. Building stones are exported in large quantities and ensure the prosperity and well-being of the working population.

Count C. de Bruc, who is the chargé d'affaires of the Republic of San Marino in Paris, has published an interesting volume on the country he represents.

Founded in the second century by a follower of Catholicism who settled on Mount Titan and attracted to himself a large number of those who had to fear Roman persecution, this small state, which was called San Marino, after its founder, the stonecutter Marinus, since canonised, has been able to resist all its enemies and to preserve its existence and independence in the midst of the commotions of Europe and the collapses that have taken place around it. It is to the virtues and the spirit of justice of its founder, whose doctrine it has always observed, that it owes its fortunate and exceptional situation.

Twenty times the neighbouring nations, twenty times the bishops or the papacy tried to enslave the Marinese; they were always able to save themselves, either through the courage of the citizens or through the intercession of neighbouring friendships.

The regime governing the Republic of San Marino today is as follows:
The legislative power is exercised by the Great Princely and Sovereign Council, composed of sixty members appointed for life. The Council in which the nobility, the bourgeoisie and the rural property are represented in equal parts.

Following the example of the ancient Florentine republic, San Marino's legislation has maintained the aristocratic class in the sharing of public functions, which it exercises without enjoying any kind of privilege.

It is to this Legislative Body, the agent of the people's sovereignty, that belong the vote and reform of laws, the right of amnesty and the right of pardon.

It is also responsible for the election of Captains-Regent, magistrates and public officials. At his side, a sort of Senate functions, composed of twelve members, two thirds of whom are renewed every year.

Finally, the exercise of supreme authority belongs to the two Captain-Regents who are invested with executive power every six months. They have the title of Excellence; in official ceremonies they are dressed in black and wear the Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of San Marino, of which they are Grand Masters during the exercise of their magistracy.

The election of the two Captains Regent takes place every year on 1 April and 1 October. Twelve names are drawn by lot from among the sixty members of the Council, and each of these councillors must propose an eligible candidate for the office of Captain-Regent. These twelve candidates are then put to the vote of the Council. The six who obtain a majority are the only ones retained and are written, two by two, on the three ballot papers that each voter must deposit. Each of these ballot papers bears the name of a nobleman and the name of a burgher or landowner, rigorously coupled. Special representatives were appointed by the Council to ensure the regularity of the ballot.

The election was held in the cathedral, behind the altar of Saint Marin, to the singing of the Te Deum. Every citizen who has reached the age of twenty-five places his three ballots in the ballot box, from which a child then takes out a single ballot. The two names on the ballot are then solemnly proclaimed by the priest, coram populo.

Immediately after this ceremony, the two Regents, wearing their insignia, go to the State Palace, in the middle of a procession made up of the Bishop of San Marino, delegations of religious brotherhoods, civil and military authorities, representatives of the nobility and the people, carrying a rich flag. The military band preceded and the town militia escorted the two magistrates, who were surrounded by a detachment of guards of honour called the Prince's Guards. Respectfully welcomed and harangued by the Regents who had just left office, they were again led with the same pomp to the cathedral, where they received the episcopal blessing.

At the presbytery, while the outgoing Regents are placed on a throne, their successors wait on a simple bench for the archpriest's blessing, after which the procession goes to the Grand Council Chamber where the civil ceremony takes place. The newly elected, on taking possession of power, receive from their predecessors the standard, the seals of the State, the keys of the city, and take the oath on the Gospel!

Let us complete the above information:
Two doctors and a surgeon appointed by the state owe their care free of charge to all citizens.

The judicial system consists of civil courts and a supreme court. The magistrates, elected for three years, are chosen from among foreign jurisconsults.

The death penalty has long been abolished in San Marino.

The small army of the republic is composed of all able-bodied citizens between the ages of eighteen and sixty; exceptions are made only for teachers, magistrates, students, priests, public officials and graduate scholars. Appointment to the various ranks, the highest of which is that of general, currently held by Commander Palamede Malpelli, is the responsibility of the government.

The privilege of an honorary rank in the San Marino army is particularly sought after by the sons of the noble families of Rome and Tuscany. The uniform is sky-blue cloth with white cloth lapels embroidered with gold. On 3 September, the day of Saint Agatha, a general review of the small army takes place every year.

Two special corps complete San Marino's military organisation: an elite corps, composed of the most distinguished citizens of the State, which is exclusively destined to serve as the guard of honour of the Great Council in public ceremonies, and the rock or fort guard, recruited from among the veterans of the city militia. It is to these that the military service of the town and the citadel is devolved.

A gendarmerie brigade was responsible for the security police; but here again, to ensure the independence of repression, the agents of the law were all recruited from outside the State.

©Les Merveilles de l'Exposition de 1878