This chapter focuses on the first stage of reform and the direct rule of the Austrian Habsburgs, from the early eighteenth century, in Lombardy. It highlights the powerful axis with an agenda of reform for Milan and Lombardy. The local nobility was at first hesitant or even hostile, and some of them remained so, but there were also individuals and groups who themselves nurtured ambitious plans for reform, and saw the attractions of service in the imperial administration. The 'Lombardian Enlightenment' was the product of the working together of these two forces. The chapter also examines the period of maximum cooperation between the imperial power and the progressive aristocracy of Milan and Lombardy in the 1760s and 1770s. Ultimately, it discusses the most progressive nobles during the time and the house of Count Pietro Verri: the self-styled Accademia dei Pugni or 'Academy of Fisticuffs.'
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