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CAVALIERE TRENCA,

IN walking down the Rue St. Michael, the passenger's eye is arrested by a large house, on which, over the doorway, is a marble tablet inscribed —

A CARLO TRENCA
CAVALIERE COMMENDATORE DEI SANTI MAURIZIO E
LAZZARO, PRESIDE AL GOVERNO, AGLI STUDI, ALLA
MILIZIA NAZIONALE DI MENTONE E ROCCABRUNA,
PER DOTTRINA, PER PATRIA CARITA, PER VIRTU
PRECLARO; BENEMERITO CARISSIMO
I MEMORI CONCITTADINI
4 GUIGNO 1854.

Then he will ask, who was this Cavaliere Trenca so beloved by his fellow countrymen; and in answer to his questions concerning his life, will come such an outpouring of praise, mingled with recollections of his life, that it may be well to give a short sketch of what that life was.

The Trenca family can trace back its pedigree to the foundation of its native town of Mentone, where one of the first houses which existed was built by one of its members. The great grandfather of Col. Trenca obtained the rank of baron from the king of Poland, but the grandson of the 1st baron was induced to destroy his patent of nobility in 1793, at the time when the terrors of the revolution, often caused the name of aristocrat to be fatal both to the life and fortunes of its possessor. On the maternal side also Cavaliere Trenca was of honorable birth, his mother Felicite Levamis having been taken under the protection of the princesses of Piedmont, when her father Antoine fled from Mentone, to escape the vengeance of the Prince of Monaco, which he had incurred through his devotion to the royal house of Savoy. One of the princesses was godmother to Felicité, who was well educated by her care, and endowed with a marriage portion, which descended to her son Charles.

Nature had bestowed brilliant talents upon Charles Trenca, and these were carefully cultivated by his parents; at Nice, at Marseilles, and at Turin, his education was successfully carried on in turn, and at the age of eighteen he had not only been well grounded in all the more solid branches of learning, but had become distinguished among the musicians of his native land by his musical compositions, which were chiefly on sacred subjects. At eighteen he was appointed Lieutenant of the Guard by Honorius V. of Monaco, and in the following year was married to Mademoiselle Francoise de Monleon, the daughter of an old and noble Mentonese family. In 1828 he was appointed Captain of the Carabineers, and in 1831 Portuguese Consul in the Principality. But in the same year his discontent with the government of the Princes of Monaco was first openly manifested, and it soon became the great object of his life to free the people of his native place from the heavy burdens which were inflicted on them by the tyranny of their rulers. The feelings of Charles Trenca, were too clearly manifested to escape the notice of the ruling powers, and led in 1835 to his being deprived of his military rank; but this was voluntarily restored to him by Prince Honorius V. two years later; and his successor Florestan, anxious to gain Trenca as a partisan, chose him as one of the deputation which was sent to Turin to receive the investiture of Mentone, Roccabruna and their dependencies, while the Duke of Valentinois, the hereditary prince, chose him as his equerry during his stay at Turin, in preference to all his other officers. Here Charles Trenca received the cross of a knight of the order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, and was admitted to a private audience with Charles Albert, in which, after the king had questioned him on the political state of Mentone, he took leave of him with these words: "M. Trenca je suis charmé de vous avoir connu, si je puis être utile à vous ou à votre famille j'en saisirai toujours l'occasion avec plaisir."

The honours conferred upon him in Sardinia, induced the prince of Monaco to offer M. Trenca the appointment of Comptroller General of the Finances on his return home, an office which he accepted with reluctance. The year following he again accompanied the Duke of Valentinois to Turin, and on this occasion was entrusted by the Sardinian Minister of Foreign Affairs with the delicate mission of sounding his master as to his intentions regarding the cession of Monaco to Sardinia. The suspicion which this difficult task threw upon his fidelity, led to an accusation that he was in secret correspondence with the Sardinian government. Trenca, who had never concealed his sympathy with Sardinia, and his desire to establish more intimate relations between that court and his own, immediately resigned his offices, and called for a public enquiry into his conduct; but both were equally refused by the Prince of Monaco, who, to show his continued confidence in him, conferred on him the additional office of High Treasurer. In this and in all his other employments, his one object still continued to be the interests of the people, and to raise his voice against the daily increasing burdens which the tyranny of the government imposed upon them. At length 1847 arrived, when the people had to choose between absolute ruin and a revolution; and then, when once more Charles Trenca exhorted the Prince of Monaco to save himself, and secure the gratitude of his subjects, by a generous change of conduct, the Prince only replied by abruptly depriving him of all his offices, and dismissing him at once from his favour. Thus, without seeking it, he was released from all his oaths of allegiance, and when a bloodless revolution had given freedom to his native land, Trenca at once found himself looked upon as the chief mover in the provisional government, where he continued to maintain a patriotic course of conduct, from which his former masters, now only too sensible of what they had lost, vainly endeavoured to withdraw him. The gratitude of his fellow citizens first appointed him Colonel Commander-in-Chief of the municipal guard, and President of the government, and afterwards sent him as the head of the Commissioners appointed to carry to Turin and Paris the unanimous vote of the people for annexation to Sardinia. This deputation met with a favorable reception at Turin, and left it, animated by hopes of a speedy and successful result at Paris; but there they found that their adversaries had raised every possible obstacle against them. After a month, however, of incessant toil, they were overcome by M. Trenca's unwearied efforts, and he had the joy of announcing to his eagerly-expectant fellow citizens, that their wishes were accomplished. On this the brightest day of his life, he exclaimed, "Quel triomphe, je suis heureux j'ai sauvé mon pays, jè puis mourir maintenant et entonner le cantique du prophète, nunc dimitte," &c. After winding up the affairs of the annexation, the Commissioners returned to Mentone, where they were greeted with the utmost enthusiasm by the whole population, who rushed out in crowds along the Genoa road to meet them. A triumphal arch, with the inscription "Ai deputati di Mentone e Roccabruna reduci da Torino, la Patria Riconoscente," was erected at the entrance of the town, and the whole population, and the National Guard with music and flags flying, came to the house of M. de Monleon where M. Trenca had alighted, to compliment him on the success of his important mission.

In the following month the provisional government resigned its office into the hands of the commissioner extraordinary of the King of Sardinia, who immediately applied to have the honour of Col. of S.S. Maurice and Lazare conferred upon Trenca, as the most meritorious citizen of Mentone. Soon after this he was appointed by Charles Albert to attend the Marchese Ricci at the Congress of Brussels, of which the object was the amicable settlement of the differences between Austria and Sardinia. At Turin he was again received by his sovereign with the most flattering marks of attention. But the conferences at Brussels were soon cut short by the fatal battle of Novara and the abdication of the king, when Trenca, who was overcome with grief at the misfortunes of his benefactor, flew to Paris to endeavour to arrest the dangers which threatened Mentone in consequence, and obtained from the French court a ratification of their former promises ; thence he proceeded to Turin, and after numberless difficulties, he obtained from Victor Emmanuel the decree which united the communes of Mentone and Roccabruna to the division of Nice. The proclamation of this decree, and of the measures for the future government of the country, gave the greatest satisfaction to the people, and the vote of the Piedmontese Chambers being all that was now wanted to complete legally the desired annexation to Sardinia, Col. Trenca was again chosen to go to Turin on the meeting of Parliament, to bring the subject before it as speedily as possible. Circumstances rendered this a very difficult task, but after some months of vexatious delay, the annexation was almost unanimously agreed to by the Chamber of Deputies; and it had only to be confirmed by the Senate, when the dissolution of the Parliament in November once more caused a delay.

The following year, 1850, M. Trenca again hastened to Turin, and after ten months of the most harassing delays, he was at last able to return to Mentone, with the assurance of the Sardinian ministry, that the vote for the annexation should be fully and legally ratified. Great was the joy of the people when M. Trenca brought them these happy tidings; the day of his return was kept as one of public rejoicing, and a grand banquet was prepared in his honour by his fellow-citizens. The next six months passed quietly away, till another vexatious obstacle to the prosperity of the town arose, from the French government objecting to receive Mentonese vessels bearing the Sardinian flag. This again called M. Trenca to Turin, and from thence to Paris, where, aided by his friend Comte Maurice de Partouneaux, a warm and constant defender of the Mentonese people, he was at last able to overcome all the difficulties raised by designing partisans of the Prince of Monaco, and gained the desired permission, that for the future Mentonese vessels might enter all French ports on the same conditions and under the same flag as the Sardinian ships.

Matters being thus satisfactorily arranged in Mentone, Charles Trenca devoted some months to a political tour in Germany and Russia, after which he gave himself up with new experience to the organization of schools in his native town, and to the improvement of the public instruction in all its branches. His duties as Colonel of the National Guard also occupied a large portion of his time.

The last political transaction in which Trenca took a part, was heading the deputation sent to meet the President of the French republic, Prince Louis Napoleon, at Toulon, where his gracious reception and promises of protection raised the brightest hopes in the minds of all those who were admitted to converse with him. Soon after this Col. Trenca's health began to fail; still he could not be persuaded to leave his work unfinished. "Que je puisse régénérer mon pays," he often said, "et je mourirai content. Je ne demande rien pour moi, mon seul desir est de voir ma patrie affranchie et heureuse." But too soon an attack of typhus fever, supervening upon other maladies, proved fatal; and thus at the age of 52, this good man was lost to his country. His funeral was attended by almost the whole population of Mentone and Roccabruna, headed by the clergy, the national guard, the garrison and the various schools. His praises were rehearsed in sermons preached by the clergy in the churches which were hung with mourning, and in the funeral orations which were pronounced over his grave both in French and Italian. But more lasting than these, or even than the inscription on. the tablet, which the whole population of the two communes once more assembled to place (June 4, 1854) over the door of his house, is the feeling of love and respect which still encircles his memory, and which will prevent his name from ever being forgotten in his native town.