Vincenzo Cuoco 1770 – 1823
Italian writer, jurist, politician, historian and economist, he was born in Civitacampomarano in the province of Campobasso to a bourgeois family. He was recognized as the one who knew more than any other how to elaborate that Italian political culture from which all the great figures of the Italian Risorgimento drew. The historiographical criticism of the second half of the 20th century painted Molise as the most genuine representative of moderate culture, especially in terms of the coincidence of popular education with the political formation of the Italian people. All his works, besides being historical, have practical and social aims. His theories on education are still real, concrete and current.
In 1804 he founded the Italian Journal and held important positions in Naples, a few years later he presented a report to King Murat for the re-organization of Public Education. In 1806 the public school had practically disappeared in the South. In a society dominated by the privileges of the nobility and clergy, the inefficiency of the local Administrations, the backwardness and the deep ignorance of the peasant classes, Cuoco had pointed out the need for a political-educational project within which the problem of popular education and public education could represent the engine of economic and social development of the Kingdom.
He was one of the protagonists of the Neapolitan Revolution of 1799 and, for this reason, he was condemned to the confiscation of goods, to some months of imprisonment and 20 years of exile as soon as the Bourbons were back in power. During the exile he began to write the “Historical essay on the Neapolitan Revolution of 1799”, his best known work. Passionate and profound connoisseur of the southern Italian reality, in this essay he attributes the failure of the revolutionary action to the wrong application of Jacobin models to the social reality of the southern kingdom, totally different from the French one. He wrote numerous works that remained unfinished, except the one where he discussed controversial themeof the primacy of the Italians so dear to Gioberti, and celebrates ancient Italy as a mythical place of wisdom, claiming the supremacy of Italy over France. Among the many interests of the young people of Molise, had a particular role in the study of the history and culture of the ancient Italic populations and it is here that we can find, in his attention to the particular realities, the germs of the Romanticism of the new century.