Pietro Kandler
Prominent Istrians

ietro Paolo Kandler was born in Trieste on May 23, 1804 in Trieste. His paternal family originated in Scotland (originally spelled as Chandler), but his ancestors had moved to Vienna and then settled in Trieste in the 17th century. His father, Paolo, was a scenic painter of noted distinction; his mother Giovanna Cerutti, from Capodistria, was the daughter of a physician.

historian and archeologist

born in Trieste

He attended elementary school in Trieste and high school (gymnasium) in Capodistria. He then studied law in Padova, Vienna and Pavia, where he received his degree. During his study in Vienna he traveled through Hungary, Croatia, Stajerska and Lower Austria. Starting in 1826, he worked for the Triestine law firm of Domenico Rossetti who established the Trieste municipality. There he helped write the first four issues of the magazine Archeografo Triestino that was founded by Rossetti, then worked in the tax office in Trieste’s city government.

His first works with Istria as their theme were published in 1834 in the publication Osservatore triestino where he remained a collaborator he remained until the final days of that publication. He initiated the publishing of the journal Atti Istriani, but due to financial problems he managed only to publish two volumes about municipal statutes of Pula and Poreč.

From 1842 until his death, Pietro was the Civic Attorney (Procuratore Civico) for the city of Trieste. His main activities there consisted of collecting published historical and cultural materials about Trieste and Istria. These included archeology, epigraphy, political, cultural and industrial history, geography, linguistics, ethnology, demographic and industrial statistics, as well as meteorology and climatology.  In Trieste, he created an intellectual climate, which in the mid 19th century spurred the development of the science of history as well as general culture.

In 1843, he issued the Medieval Statute of Pola in Italian, in 1843, in 1846 that of Parenzo, in 1849 that of Trieste, in 1850 that of Buie, and then Cittanova and Rovigno in 1851.

In 1845 he started publishing the serial L'Istria as an extension (feuilleton) of the journal Osservatore triestino, later as an independent weekly magazine L'Istria from 1846 to 1852, which included a series of documents and articles that became significant sources on Istrian history.

Pietro  Kandler corresponded with many intellectuals of his time, as well as those from Istria. In 1851 he was appointed  an honorary member of the Society for History and Antiquities in Zagreb. He traveled through Istria and the back country around Trieste collecting information about the local residents and comparing their information with source documents. He also documented the geographic and morphological characteristics of the area. He corresponded with Theodor Mommsen on epigraphic information for Corpiis Unscriptionum Latinarum (CIL), a comprehensive collection of ancient Latin inscriptions that Mommsen founded in 1853. The Corpus continues being updated in new editions and supplements and is an authoritative source for documenting the surviving epigraphy of classical antiquity.

Under the pseudonym Giusto Traibor, Kandler wrote for magazines and newspapers - La Favilla, Osservatore Triestino, and L’Eco di Fiume. One of his most significant undertakings was issuing a collection of books of diplomatic sources, Codice Diplomatico Istriano, from 1846 till 1852 (published between 1853 and 1864) encompassing material from Roman times until 1526 (republished in Trieste in 1987). His other important works included: Indicazioni per riconoscere le cose storiche del Litorale (1855), an accumulation of various historical sources about Istria and Trieste, Notizie storiche di Trieste e guida per la città (1851), Storia del Consiglio dei Patrizi di Trieste dall'anno MCCCLXXXII all'anno MDCCCIX con documenti (1858).

In 1863, Kandler published:

Storia cronografica di Trieste dalla sua origine sino all'anno 1695, del Canonico D. Vincenzo Scussa Triestino, Cogli Annali dal 1695 al 1848 del procuratore civico Cav. Pietro Dott. Kandler. Testi manoscritti che si conservano nell'Archivio Diplomatico di Trieste, ora pubblicati per graziosa concessione del manifico podestà Stefano Nob. de Conti. Prima edizione Curata da F. Cameroni, Stab. Tipogra.-Litogr. di C. Coen Editore, Trieste.

After that, came La Provincia dell’Istria from 1867 until his passing, with Kandler oftentimes writing short polemics discussing history and contemporary life of Istria and Trieste without signing his name.

He was an honorary Kaiser’s conservator for Primorje (Conservatore Imperiale per Litorale) and in this capacity he wrote small articles in Trieste’s weekly and daily papers in the epistolary form with very rich text in history, archeology and epigraphy. He also left very rich archival texts in the State Archive in Trieste and other places, which were issued posthumously in the following monographs: Notizie storiche di Montona (1875), Notizie storiche di Pola (1876), and Pirano - monografia storica (1879). He also created very important topographic/archeological maps of Trieste and Istria. Trieste’s historical/political elite considered him an Austrophile and an enemy of irredentism and because of that he was in a sort of intellectual isolation towards the end of his life. However, the modern Italian historiography recognized him as a dedicated and objective collector of rich and diverse material about history and contemporary life of his native Istria and Trieste, which established the foundation for the development of regional historiography for the region.

In Sir Richard Francis Burton's article entitled "Notes on the Castellieri or Prehistoric Ruins of Istria", published in Anthropologia in 1875, he quotes Kandler in his introduction:

The late Dr. Kandler, of Trieste, concerning whom more presently, describes his natal country as follows:—

"He who looks upon this region from the seaboard admires tho regular and beautiful forms of the highlands, the feracity and the glorious vegetation of the lowlands, the number and safety of the roads and harbours; nor has he any difficulty in understanding the high praise lavished upon it by Cassioderus, (Nat. circ. A.D. 468,) who wrote from Ravenna. On the other hand, those who enter it from the interior, compelled to traverse a succession of ground waves, whoso northern slopes are not unfrequently naked and sterile; wearied and confused by the multitude of tumultuous shapes, find every feature presented to the worst advantage. Unable to perceive the general plan, they harsh-judge the country; according to them, the coast, harbours, the rich vegetation of the shores, the smiling fields, the frequent towns, and the monuments of antiquity, are so many accidents which fortune has cast like waifs and strays upon its coast." (3)

Pietro Kandler died in Trieste on January 18, 1872. There is a bust in his honor in the public garden Muzio de Tommasini in Trieste.

Chronology of Works

Selected works:

Other biographies and notes:

  • http://www.retecivica.trieste.it/triestecultura/biblioteche/bibciv/bookshop.htm
  • http://www.leg.it/Ebook/Lib_antiqua/tutti_i_libri_antiqua.asp?pag=35

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Created: Thursday, October 04, 2001; Last updated: Sunday, April 17, 2016
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