VENTURA, Giovanni

VENTURA, Giovanni (Jean-Baptiste V., originally Rubino ben Torah). Finale near Modena 25.5.1794 — Lardenne near Toulouse 3.4.1858. Italian Officer in India. Son of Gavriel Massarani (Reuben Ben Torah) and his wife Vittoria. He had traditional Jewish education, but joined army in the age of 17. Rising into colonel of infantry in Napoleon’s army he participated in the Russian campaign. He lost his position after Waterloo and returned home, but soon met difficulties because of his Napoleonic opinions. In exile from 1817, he went to Persia and India (arriving 1822 at Lahore) and served Rañjit Singh as an infantry general in 1822-43, modernizing the Sikh army in collaboration with Allard and Court. In 1838-40 visited France and from 1843 was living in Paris. Married 1825 Anna Moses, a French-Armenian lady living in Ludhiana, had one daughter. The wife remained in India and died in Ludhiana 10.7.1873 in the age of 70.

Like his colleagues —> Allard and Court GV became interested in local archaeology. He was a member of the A.S.B., and opened in 1830 the stupa of Manikyala finding a great number of Indo-Greek and Kushan coins.

Publications: Apparently wrote nothing himself, but offered information to Prinsep and others.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; Sheo Narain, “General V.”, JPHS 6, 1917 (1918), 149-158; Wikipedia with further references, a portrait and a drawing.

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