Year: 2009 | Grade: 4
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To some, Mantua is just another city in Italy. To the state of Tyrol (Austria), it has a much more personal meaning. It is where the patriot and freedom fighter, Andreas Hofer (1767-1810) was exectued, for leading the rebellion gainst the Bavarian/French occupation. Tyrol had been under foreign control since 1805, succumbing to Napoleon’s military strength. The occupiers introduced sweeping reforms that disrupted the Tyroleans’ personal and religious lives, and overruled their right to not serve in the army. This forced recruitment of the Tyroleans is what finally led to the uprising of 1809. The work begins with the execution of the Tyrolean hero, Hofer. As he dies, his life flashes before his eyes; his personal story re-enacted one last time.
Born at his father’s ‘Sanwirt Inn’ near St. Leonhard in Passeier, Tyrol, Hofer became an innkeeper and cattle dealer. He joined the Pasecier militia 1796, achieving the rank of Captain. That year also marked the moment when the people of Tyrol prayed to the ‘Heiligsten Herzen Jesu’ for spiritual guidance and support, as the threat from the French grew. During April and May 1809, Hofer led the rebels to three civtories against the Bavarian/French roops at Bergisel near Innsbruck. Soon after, on 13 August 1809, Hofer was named governor of Tyrol by the Austrian emperor. He remained in power only a short time, and was forced to flee together with his closes allies on 1 November 1809. He was betrayed and brought to Mantua, where he was executed on 20 February 1810. His body was returned to Innsbruck in 1823. The Tyrolean folksong ‘Zu Mantua in Banden’ reminds people of their martyr to this very day.