Ventura, Rubino

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VENTURA, RUBINO (1794–1858), Italian soldier from *Finale Emilia who became commander of an Indian army in Lahore (Punjab). Ventura enlisted in Napoleon's army in 1814 and following the defeat of Napoleon returned to Finale Emilia. His short and fiery temper caused him problems with the police and he was forced to leave Italy for Constantinople. In 1818 he sailed to Persia, where he volunteered to train the forces of the shah, Faith Ali. Ventura became a colonel in the Persian army but in 1821 after some friction between Persia and England he was dismissed like other officials from Europe. He went to India where he joined the army of Ranjit Singh, Maharaja of Lahore and became General of the Army with a yearly salary of 100,000 francs. After his departure from Italy he always kept his Jewish identity secret. Ventura organized the Lahore army and led it in battle against the Afghans and other enemies of Lahore. Under the name of Jean Baptiste Ventura, he married the Armenian Anna Moses, daughter of a French official, in 1825. From 1830 he engaged in archaeological excavations in Manikyala. In 1831, for his military services, he was appointed governor of Derajat. On the death of Ranjit Singh in 1839 he remained in the service of his successors. Under the rajhas Sher Singh he extended the boundaries of Lahore. In 1841 he left Lahore for Paris, where he lost much of his fortune in unsuccessful commercial speculations. In 1847 he returned to Lahore and tried unsuccessfully to enter the British military service against the Sikhs of Lahore. He repudiated his wife and he came back to Paris in 1853 with his daughter Victorine. He spent his last years in Lardenne. He was buried in the Christian cemetery of the town.


F. Servi, in: Corriere Israelitico, 10 (1871/72), 47ff.; idem, in: Vessillo Israelitico, 31 (1883), 308–11; je, 12 (1907), 417; M.P. Balboni, Ventura. Dal Ghetto del Finale alla Corte di Latore (1993).

[Federica Francesconi (2nd ed.)]