Republic of San Marino: Europe's Oldest Constitutional Republic - Educational Travel Lesson Plan

Educational Travel Lesson Plans

Republic of San Marino: Europe's Oldest Constitutional Republic

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Description

Through an in-depth analysis of primary and secondary sources, students in this lesson will identify, understand and be able to explain the history behind San Marino, Europe’s oldest constitutional republic, how the tiny microstate was able to stay independent over the centuries, and what status the little republic holds today in the twenty-first century.

Subjects

European History

World History

Government

Grade Level

11-12

Duration

90 minutes

Tour Links

  • Republic of San Marino

Essential Questions

  • Where is San Marino?
  • What is the history of San Marino?  When was it founded?  How did it remain independent? 
  • Why is San Marino not a part of Italy?  What is its status today? 

Key Terms

  • City-state
  • Constitution
  • Microstate
  • Republic
  • San Marino

Excerpts from the Convention between Italy and San Marino for the Preservation of the Independence of San Marino; for the Promotion of Friendly Intercourse; and for the Mutual Surrender of Criminals

Signed at Turin, 22 March 1862

His Majesty the King of Italy, wishing to give a proof of his particular regard and kindly feeling for the Republic of San Marino, and to comply with the requests which have been made to him by citizens thereof, by granting them facilities for procuring merchandize and commodities, and for the supply of salt and tobacco, as well as to regulate the friendly relations existing between the two states; and the Republic, on its part, thankful to His Majesty the King of Italy for these gracious concessions, and heartily desiring still further to consolidate their neighborly and friendly relations, as well as to remove all causes that might give rise to disputes between the two Governments, have settled … 

Article 1
The sentences passed by the tribunals of the Kingdom of Italy shall have execution in the Republic of San Marino, and those passed by the tribunals of the Republic shall have execution in the Kingdom of Italy without the necessity of any depilatory judgment.

Article IV
Persons accused by the judicial authorities of the Kingdom of Italy of crimes committed therein, on being arrested in the territory of the Republic, shall be sent back to by the tribunal of the place where they are arrested to the prosecuting tribunal on simple demand.  The same shall take place in regard to persons accused by the judicial authorities of the Republic.

Article XXIII
The produce, goods, cattle, manufactures, and merchandize of either of the two States may freely circulate in the other, excepting only goods that are monopolies of the two Governments.

Article XXIV
The money which the Republic of San Marino shall think fit to coin, in the course of time, may be current with the Kingdom of Italy, provided that the coins be arranged on the decimal system and have the same names and weight as the royal ones. 

Article XXIX
The Republic of San Marino, having every reason to trust that it will never experience any diminution of His Majesty the King of Italy’s protecting friendship for the preservation of its most ancient liberty and independence, declares that it will not accept that of any other Power whatsoever.

 

San Marino... part of Italy or a separate country?

Tucked away in the northeastern corner of the Italian peninsula a few hours south of Venice and only a few kilometers from the Adriatic Sea, San Marino is a European “microstate” surrounded by the Republic of Italy.  Its territory, consisting of about 24 square miles, lies within the Apennine Mountains (the mountain range that on maps of the peninsula looks like Italy’s “spine”). 

According to an ancient tradition, San Marino is named after Saint Marinus, a 4th century CE Christian who founded a monastery in the mountains after fleeing Roman persecution in 301 CE.  Over the centuries, the little remote settlement attracted a small but thriving group of settlers.  By the late Renaissance period, San Marino had been recognized by the Papacy as an independent republic.

Italy unified under King Victor Emmanuelle in the 1860s, but San Marino steadfastly maintained its independence, which the new kingdom formally recognized in an international treaty in 1862.  Under the terms of that agreement (and subsequent ones signed since), Italy is responsible for recognizing and protecting San Marino’s independence.  The 1862 agreement between Italy and the tiny republic inspired the concordat between Italy and the Papacy in 1929 that created Vatican City (the other microstate within Italy’s borders).  

Since the early days of the 17th century CE, San Marino has been governed by a constitution.  Similar in scope to many modern constitutions, the one in San Marino contains many documents instead of a single document like the one found in the United States.  The government consists of a unicameral legislature called the Grand and General Council with 60 representatives and an executive branch consisting of 10 departments.  Two “Captains Regents” are appointed by the council every 6 months to be co-heads of state, a system similar to that practiced in the ancient Roman republic.

Today the country of San Marino has a population of about 30,000.  Its largest “city” Dogana, at only 7000 people, is on the Italian border on the road to Rimini.  Those numbers do not include the influx of tourists who flood into the tiny republic every year lured by duty free shopping and a chance to step back in time.     

Through an in-depth analysis of primary and secondary sources, students in this lesson will identify, understand and be able to explain the history behind San Marino, Europe’s oldest constitutional republic, how the tiny microstate was able to stay independent over the centuries, and what status the little republic holds today in the twenty-first century.

educational tour image
  1. Students will identify, understand and be able to explain the history behind the microstate of San Marino, Europe’s oldest constitutional republic.
  2. Students will identify, understand and be able to explain how San Marino was able to stay independent over the centuries in the face of much larger neighbors.
  3. Students will identify, understand and be able to explain what status San Marino holds today in the international community of the twenty-first century.

To view resource web pages, download the lesson plan PDF above.

I. Anticipatory Set

  • Writing / Question: where did the founding fathers get the idea for a constitutional republic? (5 min)
  • Handouts – Copies of the primary sources and readings from the websites listed below (5 min)

II. Body of Lesson

  • Lecture / PPT – San Marino (20 min)
  • Video – Little Europe: San Marino (10 min)
  • Independent Activity – Students read the primary sources and articles on San Marino, taking notes as appropriate. (20 min)
  • Suggestion: Have the students read some of these articles for homework.
  • Group Activity – Discussion on San Marino. (20 min)

III. Closure

  • Exit Ticket / Assessment – Short Essay: Explain in detail the history behind San Marino, how and why it was founded, how the tiny microstate was able to stay independent over the centuries, and what status the little republic occupies today in the twenty-first century.  Would you want to live in such a “micro-state”?  What might be the advantages?  What might be the disadvantages?

Extension

On tour: San Marino Post Office

While on tour in San Marino, be sure to stop at the Post Office. As an independent country, San Marino mints small quantities of its own Euro coins (which be used anywhere the Euro is used) and prints small quantities of its own stamps (which are only good in the San Marino post office). These items are mostly made for tourists. The post office is open from 8:15 am to 4:45 pm Monday through Friday and 8:15 am to 11:45 pm on Saturdays. Tourists can also pick up San Marino post cards in the same building.

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