March 25 – Anniversary of the Arengo in San Marino

Posted on March 25, 2017

This holiday celebrates the 1906 Arengo of San Marino, which led to an elected parliament.

I immediately wondered - wait! I thought San Marino was supposed to be the oldest constitutional republic... So surely it had an elected parliament before 1906?

San Marino, which is an "enclaved microstate" (in other words, a really teeny-tiny country that is surrounded by another country - in this case, Italy), was founded as a monastic community (a community of monks) by a stonemason named Marinus, way back in 301 CE. This was during the time of Ancient Rome, but when Rome looked like it was about to collapse, and Goths looked likely to attack, eight neighboring towns joined the "land of San Marino" (Saint Marinus). At that point, some sort of central government was needed, and so the Arengo was formed by the head of each of the Great Families. There was no head of state, but this gathering of representatives of the nine municipalities was able to make decisions for the country.

These maps show the nine municipalities of
San Marino, above, and San Marino's location
inside Italy - near, but not on, the Adriatic Sea.

By the thirteenth century, the Arengo wasn't getting anything done, because the Great Families were feuding with one another. So the citizens of San Marino elected their own assembly, called the Grand and General Council.

But by the seventeenth century, the Grand and General Council also became too oligarchic - all the power was held by just a few landowners. 

What happened in 1906 is that the Sammarinese Socialist Party worked to get universal male suffrage. It achieved its goal by convening a new Arengo, a gathering of representatives from the Great Families, descendants of the founders of the nine municipalities. These representatives agreed to allow all adult male citizens of San Marino to vote, and the new parliament that was created has functioned ever since.

This patriotic holiday is celebrated by flag-raising ceremonies, speeches, and a military parade. 

 Here are some photos of the loveliness of this teeny nation:


Also on this date:

Independence Day in Greece

Maryland Day

Earth Hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., local time

Plan ahead:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

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