As a part of a broader investigation on political sociability in the first Cisalpine Republic (1797–99), the essay reconstructs the organization of constitutional circles, patriotic societies which were promoted by some of the leading exponents of the Italian republican movement, and formed a network over the whole Cisalpine territory. By analyzing the different statutory models and their circulation, the essay outlines the characters of the new democratic and politicized sociability, and delineates the fundamental part played by circles within the patriots’ pedagogic project. The debate on circles’ statutes focuses primarily on three topics: the influence of "moderators" on circles’ activities; the political education of popular audiences; and the part played by Catholicism and the clergy in republican pedagogy. This information can shed new light on the actual nature and the distinctive features of the Italian patriotic movement.
Keywords: Constitutional circles, Jacobinism, Cisalpine Republic, popular instruction, sociability, Triennio