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Charles Albert of Sardinia

charles albert of sardinia
Charles Albert Italian: Carlo Alberto I; 2 October 1798 – 28 July 1849 was the King of Sardinia from 27 April 1831 to 23 March 1849 His name is bound up with the first Italian constitution, the Albertine Statute and the First Italian War of Independence 1848–1849

During the Napoleonic period, he resided in France, where he received a liberal education As Prince of Carignano in 1821, he granted and then withdrew his support for a rebellion which sought to force Victor Emmanuel I to institute a constitutional monarchy He became a conservative and participated in the legitimist expedition against the Spanish liberals in 1823

He became king of Sardinia in 1831 on the death of his distant cousin Charles Felix, who had no heir As king, after an initial conservative period during which he supported various European legitimist movements, he adopted the idea of a federal Italy, led by the Pope and freed from the House of Habsburg in 1848 In the same year he granted the Albertine Statute, the first Italian constitution, which remained in force until 1947

Charles Albert led his forces against the Imperial Austrian army in the First Italian War of Independence 1848–1849, but was abandoned by Pope Pius IX and Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies and was defeated in 1849 at the Battle of Novara, after which he abdicated in favour of his son, Victor Emmanuel II Charles Albert died in exile a few months later in the Portuguese city of Oporto

The attempt to free northern Italy from Austria represents the first attempt of the House of Savoy to alter the equilibrium established in the Italian peninsula after the Congress of Vienna These efforts were continued successfully by Victor Emmanuel II, who became the first king of a unified Italy in 1861

Charles Albert received a number of nicknames, including "the Italian Hamlet" given to him by Giosuè Carducci on account of his gloomy, hesitant and enigmatic character1 and "the Hesitant king," because he hesitated for a long time between th establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the reinforcement of absolute rule


  • 1 Early life and studies
    • 11 The Napoleontic period
  • 2 First Period in Turin 1814-1821
    • 21 Marriage and personality
    • 22 Participation in the Revolution of 1821
    • 23 The regency and the Spanish Constitution
  • 3 Reactionary period 1821-1831
    • 31 Florence
    • 32 Spanish Expedition
    • 33 Visit to Paris and return to Turin
    • 34 Accession to the throne
  • 4 Pro-Austrian period 1831-1845
    • 41 Conflict with Louis Philippe's France
    • 42 Philosophy of rule
    • 43 Reforms and cultural initiatives
    • 44 Support for Spanish and Portuguese reactionaries
    • 45 Opposition to "Young Italy"
    • 46 Law reform
    • 47 Beginning of crisis with Austria
  • 5 Liberal sovereign 1845-1849
  • 6 Legacy
  • 7 Family and children
  • 8 Ancestry
  • 9 See also
  • 10 Notes
  • 11 Further reading
  • 12 External links

Early life and studiesedit

Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Carignano, father of Charles Albert Maria Christina of Saxony, mother of Charles Albert

He was born at the Palazzo Carignano in Turin on 2 October 1798, to Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Carignano and Maria Cristina of Saxony2 His father was the great-great-great-grandson of Thomas Francis, Prince of Carignano, youngest legitimate son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, and founder of the Carignano line of the House of Savoy Since he did not belong to the main line of the House of Savoy his chances at birth of succeeding to the kingdom were slim Although the reigning king, Charles Emmanuel IV, had no children, at his death the throne would pass to his brother Victor Emmanuel and then to the latter's son Charles Emmanuel After that in the line of succession there were two further brothers of Charles Emmanuel IV: Maurizio Giuseppe and Charles Felix But in 1799, two of these heirs died: the young Charles Emmanuel aged only three years and Maurizio Giuseppe from malaria in Sardinia2

The Napoleontic periodedit

Charles Albert's father, Charles Emmanuel of Carignano, had studied in France and had been an officer in the French army Sympathetic to liberalism, he travelled to Turin in 1796, in the wake of the Napoleonic invasion of 1796 and King Charles Emmanuel IV's flight into exile There Charles Emmanuel of Carignano and his wife joined the Napoleonic cause Despite this, the pair were sent to Paris, where they were placed under serveillance and forced to live in poor conditions in a house in the suburbs These were the circumstances in which their children, Charles Albert and his sister Maria Elisabeth born 13 April 1800, grew up3

On 16 August 1796, Charles Emmanuel of Carignano died suddenly It was up to Charles Albert's mother to deal with the French, who had no intention of recognising her rights, titles or property However she refused to send her son to the Savoy family for a conservative education In 1808, Maria Christina married for a second time, to Giuseppe Massimiliano Thibaut di Montléart whose relationship with Charles Albert was poor

When he was twelve years old, Charles Albert and his mother were finally granted an audience with Napoleon, who granted the boy the title of count and an annual pension Since it was no longer appropriate for him to be educated at home, Charles Albert was sent to the Collège Stanislas in Paris in 1812 He remained at the school for two years, but did not attend regularly; instead he attended only to sit exams, apparently with success In the meantime, Albertina had moved to Geneva, where Charles Albert joined her from March 1812 to December 1813, and she was married to the Protestant Pastor, Jean-Pierre Etienne Vaucher 1763-1841, a follower of Jean-Jacques Rousseau45

After Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, the family left Geneva, fearing the arrival of Austrian forces and returned to France At the beginning of 1814, Charles Albert enrolled in the military school in Bourges, hoping to become an officer in the French army He was sixteen years old6 Napoleon named him a lieutenant of dragoons in 1814

First Period in Turin 1814-1821edit

Youthful portrait of Charles Albert

After Napoleon was defeated for good, the new king Louis XVIII celebrated the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty in Paris on 16 May 1814 Among those present at the festivities were princess Maria Christina di Carignano and her children Charles Albert and Elisabetta Despite their past, the family was treated well, although Charles Albert had to renounce the title of Count of the Empire, which had been conferred upon him at the military school in Bourges and the annuity which Napoleon had granted him7

The re-establishment of peace in Europe meant that Charles Albert could return to Turin, and he was advised to do so by his tutor, count Alessandro Di Saluzzo di Menusiglio it, and by Albertina He left Paris and his step-father and arrived in Turin on 24 May There he was welcomed affectionately by king Victor Emmenuel I Charles IV had abdicated in 1802 and his wife Maria Theresa Habsburg-Este His property and lands were restored to him and he was granted the Palazzo Carignano as a residence8 Given the dynastic situation neither Victor Emmanuel nor his brother Charles Felix had male children9 Charles Albert was now the heir presumptive

Thus he was assigned a mento to counter the liberal ideas that he had learnt in France The first of these was Count Filippo Grimaldi del Poggetto, and after he had failed, the dragoon, Policarpo Cacherano d'Osasco Although he was better equipped for the task, he was not able to influence the mindset of Charles Albert, who began to suffer from anxiety at this time10

Marriage and personalityedit

Maria Theresa von Habsburg-Lorraine, Charles Albert's wife

The court decided that marriage would provide the prince with internal equilibrium The chosen bride, accepted by Charles Albert, was the sixteen-year-old daughter of Ferdinand III of Tuscany, Maria Theresa von Habsburg-Lorraine, a relative of the queen of Sardinia, Maria Theresa of Austria-Este Charles Albert traveled to the Grand duchy of Tuscany and then to Rome on 18 March 1817 and, after a 6 month engagement, he married Maria Theresa on 30 September in Florence Cathedral11

The wedding was followed by a ball organised by the Sardinian embassy in Florence After that, on 6 October, the couple departed for Piedmont On 11 October, they reached Castello del Valentino and from there they made their formal entrance into Turin12

The young Maria Theresa was very shy and religious - very different from Charles Albert's temperament The couple resided in the Palazzo Carignano, to which Charles Albert began to invite young intellectuals with whom he shared liberal ideas The most intimate of these friends were Santorre di Rossi de Pomarolo, Roberto d’Azeglio, Giacinto Collegno, Cesare Balbo, Guglielmo Moffa di Lisio Gribaldi and Carlo Emanuele Asinari di San Marzano13

In these years, Charles Albert also suffered from a deep religious crisis This led to a friendship with the French diplomat Jean Louis de Douhet d'Auzers and a visit by the prince to Rome in 1817 to visit the former king Charles Emmanuel IV, who had retired to a monastery In the years following his marriage, however, Charles Albert had extramarital affairs with several women, including Marie Caroline de Bourbon, widow of the Duke of Berry14

Maria Theresa had two miscarriages - the second in 1819 as a result of a carriage accident - but gave birth to a son on 14 March 1820, Victor Emmanuel, the future king of Italy15

Participation in the Revolution of 1821edit

Charles Albert promises his support to the conspirators behind the 1821 revolution, in a print from 1850-1875

After the 1820 uprising in Cadiz, King Ferdinand VII of Spain was forced to grant the Spanish Constitution of 1812 Hope of obtaining similar constitutions arose in many European states Insurrections broke out in Naples and Palermo On 6 March 1821, Santorre di Rossi de Pomarolo, Giacinto Provana di Collegno, Carlo di San Marzano and Guglielmo Moffa di Lisio all military officers, officials, or sons of ministers and Roberto d'Azeglio met with Charles Albert The young liberals were ready to act and had identified the prince as a new type of man for the House of Savoy - one ready to break with the absolutist past16

The conspirators had no desire to abolish the House of Savoy, but claimed, on the contrary, that they hoped to force it to grant reforms which would grant it the gratitude of the people During the months of preparation, Charles Albert had assured them of his support and on 6 March he confirmed this, declaring that he supported armed action They were to raise troops, surround King Victor Emmanuel I's residence at Moncalieri and demand that he grant a constitution and declare war on Austria Charles Albert was to play the role of mediator between the conspirators and the king17

But on the morning of the next day, 7 March, Charles Albert had second thoughts and informed the conspirators of this Indeed, he summoned the Minister of War, Alessandro Di Saluzzo di Menusiglio and told him that he had discovered a revolutionary plot There was an attempt to halt the conspiracy, which nevertheless continued to grow more bold on the next day, with another visit by di Rossi and di Marzano Yet, they grew uncertain and gave orders to cancel the insurrection, which was due to break out on 10 March The same day, Charles Albert, full of regret, raced to Moncalieri, where he revealed everything to Victor Emmanuel I and begged for a pardon The situation had reached a tipping point In the night, the garrison of Alessandria, commanded by one of the conspirators Guglielmo Ansaldi, rose up and took control of the city At this point the revolutionaries decided to act, despite the abandonment of the prince18

The regency and the Spanish Constitutionedit

Victor Emmanuel I The decree by which Charles Albert announced the Spanish Constitution of 1821

On 11 March 1821, Victor Emmanuel I called a meeting of the council of the Crown, in which Charles Albert also participated Along with the majority of those who were present, Charles Albert declared his willingness to grant the constitution Rumours spread however that armed intervention to restore order in Italy by a joint Austrian and Russian force were imminent The king decided to wait, therefore, but the next day, the Citadel of Turin fell into the hands of the rebels Victor Emmanuel I then asked Charles Albert and Cesare Balbo to negotiate with the carbonari, but the latter refused any contact with the two That evening, as the armed uprising spread, the king abdicated in favour of his brother Charels Felix Since the latter was in Modena at the time, Charles Albert was appointed regent19

Only 23 years of age, Charles Albert found himself in charge of resolving a serious political crisis which he himself had been responsible for provoking The old ministers abandoned him and he wasforced to nominate a new government: the lawyer Ferdinando dal Pozzo as Minister of the Interior, the general Emanuele Pes di Villamarina as Minister of War, and Lodovico Sauli d'Igliano as Minister of Foreign Affairs He tried to negotiate with the rebels, with no results Terrified, he claimed that it was impossible to take any decisions without the agreement of the new king and therefore sent Charles Felix a letter with an account of the events that had taken place and a request for instructions But he was also afraid that he would become the object of popular anger if he continued to delay and so, on 13 March 1821, Charles Albert published a proclamation conceding the Spanish Constitution, with the reservation that this grant was pending the approval of the king20

On 14 March, the regent decided to form a Junta which would be able to act as guardians of the parliament The head was Canon Pier Bernardo Marentini, a Jansenist, who was Vicar-General of the Archdiocese of Turin and had been chosen as Bishop of Piacenza in 1813 but denied the role by the Pope Charles Albert replaced the minister of war he had appointed the previous day with Santorre di Rossi, the leader of the armed uprising On 15 March, in the presence of the Junta, Charles Albert swore to observe the Spanish Constitution, which had been emended with a few clauses requested by Victor Emmanuel I's queen, Maria Theresa21

Meanwhile, the representatives of liberals of Lombardy had arrived: Giorgio Pallavicino Trivulzio, Gaetano Castiglia, and Giuseppe Arconati Visconti They asked Charles Albert to declare war on Austria in order to free Milan, but the prince refused Instead, he accepted the advice of Cesare Balbo, who reported the discipline of the armed forces, stopped excesses and firmly established the troops loyal to the king Charles Felix himself, however, had responded very badly to the news of his brother's abdication, which he considered an "abominable act of violence" and, from Modena, he sent an order to Charles Albert, ordering him to come to Novara, and declaring any actions taken in the name of the king after the abdication of his brother, including the concession of the Spanish Constitution, to be null and void22

Reactionary period 1821-1831edit

Charles Albert, Prince of Carignano in a French lithograph of the period

At midnight on 21 March 1821, Charles Albert secretly departed from the Palazzo Carignano His departure was not discovered by the revolutionaries until the next day From Rondissone, on the 23 of March he made for San Germano, from which he intended to travel to Novara, which remained loyal to the king At Novara he remained for six days before a dispatch arrived from Charles Felix on the 29th, ordering him to depart immediately for Tuscany23


On the afternoon of 2 April 1821, the prince arrived in Florence His wife and son, who had been in France, followed on the 13th The Prince's father-in-law, Grand Duke Ferdinand III granted them the Palazzo Pitti as a residence24 In May, Charles Felix, who had successfully secured Austrian assistance to restore order, met with Victor Emmanuel I at Lucca The two discussed Charles Albert's conduct for a long time and, although the new queen Maria Christina spoke in his defense, they decided that he was responsible for the conspiracy25

As a result of this decision and the circumstances, Charles Albert decided to disavow his liberal ideas - especially as Charles Felix had entertained the idea of eliminating him from the line of succession and passing the crown straight to his son Victor Emmanuel Charles Felix asked the opinion of Metternich on this, who was unexpectedly opposed to the idea26

On 16 September 1822, the infant Victor Emmanuel barely escaped from a fire in his cot, exposing the tenuous nature of the line of succession, which was taken out of danger by the birth of a second son, Ferdinand, on 15 November In Florence, Charles Albert cultivated various cultural interests He became a collector of old books, but was also interested in contemporary authors, acquiring the poetry of Alphonse de Lamartine and the conservative Joseph de Maistre27

Spanish Expeditionedit

See also: Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis Charles Albert as a hero of the Battle of Trocadero Charles Albert in the assault on Trocadero From a miniature donated by King Charles X of France

At the beginning of 1823, Duke Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême assumed command of the French expeditionary force which the European powers had entrusted with the task of suppressing the liberal revolution there and restoring King Ferdinand VII to the Spanish throne, after he had been captured by Spanish revolutionaries in Cadiz Charles Albert wished to demonstrate his penitence and therefore asked to be part of the contingent He wrote to Charles Felix on this subject for the first time on 20 February 1823, but only received permission to depart on 26 April28

On 2 May, Charles Albert embarked on the Sardinian frigate Commercio at Livorno, which arrived in Marseilles on 7 May The next day, Charles Albert set out, arriving in Boceguillas on the 18th By the time he arrived there he had been assigned to the division of the French General Étienne de Bordesoulle on the 24th, he arrived at Madrid, where he remained until 2 June, and then he set out for the south At a clash with the enemy during the crossing of the Sierra Morena, he demonstrated courage and the French made him a member of the Legion of Honour He proceeded to Córdoba, Utrera, Jerez de los Caballeros and El Puerto de Santa María, where he waited for the order to attack the fortress of Cadiz, the Trocadero, which was the last remaining refuge of the Spanish constitutional government29

At the end of August 1823, with the French fleet aiding from the sea, the troops launched an assault on the Trocadero Charles Albert fought at the head of the troops crossing the canal - the sole point of entry to the fortress He plunged into the water holding the flag of the 6th regiment of the royal guards, forded the canal and leapt into the enemy trenches He sought to prevent the enemy prisoners being killed,30 and the French soldiers gave him the epaulettes of an officer killed in the assault, so that he might be distinguished from a regular granadier31

He remained at his post until nightfall and the next day he was among the first to break into Trocadero King Ferdinand VII and queen Maria Josepha, his cousin, were freed and embraced him in joy at seeing him On 2 September there was a grand military parade, after which the Duc d'Angoulême decorated Charles Albert with the Cross of the Order of Saint Louis32

Visit to Paris and return to Turinedit

The facade of Racconigi Castle, the preferred residence of Prince Charles Albert Charles Albert returns to Turin in February 1824, after the Spanish Expedition - painting of Horace Vernet, 1834

With the dissolution of the expeditionary force, Charles Albert travelled from Seville to Paris, arriving on 3 December 1823 In the French capital he participated in balls, receptions, and parties, and developed a close relationship with Marie Caroline, widow of the Duc de Berry On 15 December, King Louis XVIII held a grand reception for the victors of Trocadero, at which Charles Albert was among the guests of honour33

King Charles Felix of Sardinia decided that, as a result of his success, it was time for Charles Albert to return to Turin The prince was required, however, to swear "to respect and religiously maintain all the fundamental laws of the monarchy when I ascend to power, which have led to fortune and glory over the centuries" On 29 January 1824, Charles Albert received permission to depart for Turin At a final meeting with Louis XVIII, he received some advice on rulership and was enrolled in the Order of the Holy Spirit, the most prestigious chivalrous order of the French monarchy34

On 2 February, Charles Albert departed and on the 6th he reached Mont Cenis, where he received orders to enter Turin by night, in order to avoid protests Charles Albert did so, probably on the 23rd35

Once he had returned to Turin, Charles Albert resided mainly at Racconigi Castle, where he began preparations for reigning He began to study a subject whichreceived little attention at court - the economy - and in 1829 he received permission to visit Sardinia As a result of this visit, he gained an accurate understanding of conditions on the island He was a prolific writer In 1827, along with his wife, he wrote 38 fairy tales for their children in French, the language which the family used at home, entitled Contes moraux "Moral Tales" The next year, he tried his hand at comedy and after that he occupied himself with literary criticism and history He would publish three works: Notes on the Waldensians, Records of Andalusia and Voyage to Sardinia Charles Albert regretted all of these and subsequently ordered them to be withdrawn from circulation He also wrote a great volume of letters and literary exercises36

Despite the conservative attitudes of the period, Charles Albert also supported literati who held liberal ideas, such as Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo Botta, whose books were banned in Piedmont He own the works of Adam Smith and the Collection of Classic Italian Writers on Political Economy, edited by Pietro Custodi, a supporter of Napoleon37

Accession to the throneedit

Charles Albert after his coronation, by Ferdinando Cavalleri 1831

In 1830, Charles Felix became very ill He summoned Charles Albert to his sick-bed on 24 April 1831 The entire government was present in the room as the king said to the ministers, "Behold my heir and successor, I am sure that he will act for the good of his subjects"38

Charles Felix died on 27 April at 2:45 pm Charles Albert closed the corpse's eyes and kissed its hand and then assumed the throne He received the dignitaries of court and brought his sons into the Royal Palace At 5pm, the troops in rendered their oaths to the new king at the direction of Governor Ignazio Thaon di Revel, who published the proclamation relating to this Thus the throne passed to the house of Carignano and the direct line of Savoy came to an end39

Pro-Austrian period 1831-1845edit

Thus Charles Albert came to the throne aged 33 His health was poor; he suffered from a liver disease His faith added to his suffering; he wore a cilice and slept alone on an iron bed, waking at 5am every morning and celebrating two masses per day He worked from 10am to 5pm everyday without interruption He ate little and suffered from frequent religious crises, but never renounced extramarital affairs even so The most significant of these was his relationship with Maria Antonietta di Robilant 1804-1882, daughter of Friedrich Truchsess zu Waldburg 1776-1844, the Prussian ambassador to Turin40 and wife of Maurizio di Robilant 1798-186241

Conflict with Louis Philippe's Franceedit

Charles Albert at the time of his accession to the throne Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Sicile, duchesse de Berry, whom Charles Albert assisted in a failed attempt to place a Bourbon on the French throne Portrait by Thomas Lawrence, 1825

The new king was affected by the July Revolution, which had deposed Charles X of France and led to the accession of Louise Philippe, an ex-revolutionary, and as a result he decided to make an alliance with the Austrian Empire The treaty, signed on 23 July 1831 and ratified in 1836, entrusted the defence of the Kingdom of Sardinia to Austria However, in the event of war, the commander of the joint forces was to be Charles Albert He wrote to the Austrian ambassador, Ludwig Senfft von Pilsach 1774-1853, " the most beautiful day of my life will be the day on which there is war with France and I have the good fortune to serve in the Austrian army"42

In accordance with this legitimist position, Charles Albert lent support to his close friend Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Sicile, duchesse de Berry in December 1823 when she sought to place her son, Henri, on the French throne She was the widow of the Duc de Berry, second son of Charles X, whose eldest son, Louis Antoine had renounced the throne Henri's claim to the throne had been denied by the king43

Despite the advice of the French ambassador to exercise prudence, in 1832, Charles Albert loaned Marie-Caroline a million francs and placed a steamer at her disposal for transporting legitimist volunteers to France The plot was discovered and failed; the steamer was stopped at Marseilles and the volunteers were defeated at Vendée in a few hours Marie-Caroline fled, but was soon arrested in Nantes and imprisoned in the Citadel of Blaye, near Bordeaux44

Philosophy of ruleedit

Charles Albert displayed similar conservativism in internal politics When the minister of war, Matteo Agnès Des Geneys 1763-131 died, he replaced him with Carlo San Martino d'Aglie, who was not very popular at the time He retained Vittorio Amedeo Sallier della Torre as Minister of Foreign Affairs until 1835, when he replaced him with the extremely conservative Clemente Solaro These apppointments were made with the intent of restoring a ministerial oligarchy In 1831 he appointed Gaudenzio Maria Caccia, Count of Romentino 1765-1834 as minister of Finance, Giuseppe Barbaroux as Minister of Justice, and the reformer, Antonio Tonduti, Count of Escarèna 1771-1856, as minister of the Interior On 5 April 1832, d'Aglie was replaced as Minister of War by Emanuele Pes di Villamarina4546

In June 1831, Giuseppe Mazzini, who was in exile in Marseilles, addressed a letter to Charles Albert as "an Italian," in which he encouraged him to focus on the unification of Italy, in vain For the moment, the new King of Sardinia cleaved to almost the same ideas as his predecessors47

Reforms and cultural initiativesedit

A room in the Turin City Museum of Ancient Art in the Palazzo Madama, founded by Charles Albert in 1832, as the Pinacoteca Regia e della Galleria Reale Charles Albert in 1833

Notwithstanding this conservatism, Charles Albert established a Council of State of 14 members who were to investigate the laws and made some moves to modernise the country He abrogated the special exemptions on import duty for members of the royal family and royal officials, abolished torture, prohibited the mutilation of the corpses of executed criminals and the confiscation of the property of criminals He also gave notable attention to culture In 1832, he established the Pinacoteca Regia e della Galleria Reale in the Palazzo Madama now the Turin City Museum of Ancient Art and the library of the Palazzo Reale, he built several monuments and palaces, refounded the Academy of Art as the Accademia Albertina in 1833 and established the "Royal Foundation for the Study of the History of the Fatherland", which would become the model for all the similar foundations for historical studies established in the nineteenth century, in the same year48

Charles Albert accompanied these measures with an economic policy of liberalisation of commerce In 1834, the tax on grain was reduced and the next year, the export of raw silk was made legal Duties on the import of raw materials coal, metals, textiles were subsequently reduced and the acquisition of industrial machinery from abroad was supported Despite having impinged on some minor sources of state income, the balance of the kingdom was positive from 1835, and it was possible to entertain ambitions for the improvement of agriculture, roads, railroads, and ports49

Charles Albert also reformed the army, reformed the law codes, instituted a Court of cassation, and eliminated feudalism in Sardinia, in 1838 He enabled the opening of institutes of credit, he reformed the public agencies and the state, and reduced the control of the religious hierarchy somewhat The royal court, however, was full of clerics - at least fifty of them - and the court was sumptuous for such a small kingdom There were a great number of cooks, butlers, waiters, carpenters, squires, stallers, pages, footmen, masters of ceremonies, etc5051

Support for Spanish and Portuguese reactionariesedit

After the death of king Ferdinand VII of Spain, the nation was divided into two factions: the anti-liberal reactionaries who supported the legitimist aspirations of Don Carlos and the constitutionalists who defended Maria Christina's regency on behalf of Isabella II The Holy Alliance of Russia, Austria, and Prussia supported Don Carlos; Great Britain, France and Portugal supported the constitutionalists Charles Albert sides with the former group, but in the Carlist War of 1833-1840, the constitutionalists prevailed52

Similarly, in the Portuguese Liberal Wars 1828-1834, which followed the death of John VI, Charles Albert sided with the absolutists under Dom Miguel, who spent time in Piedmont In this case too, the liberals, led by Dom Miguel's brother Dom Pedro, enjoyed the support of Great Britain and Louis-Philippe's France and were ultimately successful52

Opposition to "Young Italy"edit

The meeting of Mazzini and Garibaldi at the headquarters of "Young Italy" in Marseilles 1833 Both of them plotted against Charles Albert and his kingdom and were condemned to death in absentia

At the time of Charles Albert's ascent to the throne in 1831, there were riots in Rome, the carbonari revolt of Ciro Menotti in Modena, and an insurrection in Bologna and Parma which led to the flight of Francis IV and Marie Louise But Austria was able to restore order and Charles Albert decided that his alliance with the Habsburgs was essential

The Kingdom of Sardinia was also troubled by the plots of revolutionaries in these years, and even by an attempted invasion In April 1833 in Genoa, two low-ranking officers were arrested for a scuffle and it was discovered that they belonged to Giuseppe Mazzini's Young Italy They supplied various names and investigations were expanded to other garrisons Charles Albert, who considered Mazzini's association the "most terrible and bloody," ordered the investigation to continue until it got to the bottom of the matter, acting in accordance with the law, but with utmost severity53

In the end, twelve people were executed by firing squad and two committed suicide in gaol Twenty-one were condemned to death but could not be executed because they had escaped or, like Mazzini, had been abroad the whole time Charles Albert granted no pardons and the ambassadors of France, and Britain in Turin protested at court about the severity of the punishment and the lack of any mercy The King of Sardinia showed his gratitude to the investigators by granting honours to those who had played a leading role in the repression54

Since the insurrections had failed, Mazzini began to plan a military expedition In 1834, he attempted to organise a force in Switzerland, which would attack Savoy then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and the population would simultaneously rise against the king But information about this plan was leaked and Charles Albert arranged an ambush55 However, the invasion, undertaken on 2 February 1834 failed completely Partly this was due to disorganisation, partially to Swiss efforts to prevent Mazzini's efforts Only a few conspirators attacked a barracks in Les Échelles Two of them were captured and executed by firing squad Giovanni Battista Scapaccino was killed in the process, in whose honour Charles Albert instituted the first gold medal for Italian history Meanwhile, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was preparing to lead a rising in the city received a report that it was all over and fled He was condemned to death in absentia56

Law reformedit

In these circumstances, Charles Albert realised the necessity of granting reforms to make the kingdom more modern and to satisfy the needs of the populace Immediately on ascending to the throne he had named a commission which had been tasked with creating new civil, criminal, commercial and procedural laws

This process of reform took a very long time, but eventually, on 20 June 1837, the new civil code, partially inspired by the Napoleonic Code, was promulgated The king also participated in the drafting of the new criminal code, which was published on 26 October 1839 During the process, Charles Albert insisted on the concept of corrective justice, limiting the death penalty as much as possible Nevertheless, he ordained very severe penalties for those guilty of sacrilege or suicide whose last wills and testaments had no legal power In 1842, finally, the commercial code and the code of criminal procedure, with innovative guarantees of the rights of the accused, were promulgated49

Beginning of crisis with Austriaedit

In 1840 the Oriental Crisis, which placed Louis Philippe's France in conflict with the other European great powers, inspired Charles Albert to begin thinking about a programme of territorial expansion in the Po valley51 In the same year, a commercial crisis erupted between Turin and Vienna, regarding an old treaty in which the Kingdom of Sardinia undertook not to provide salt to Switzerland Following the breach of this treaty, Austria increased the customs duty on Piedmontese wine entering Lombardy-Veneto by 100% Charles Albert's response was to threaten to build a railroad from Genoa to Lake Maggiore, in order to capture the German commerce which sustained the Austrian port of Trieste for the Ligurian ports57

These were still only minor disputes and diplomatic relations between the two states continued to be generally good, culminating in the magnificent wedding of Charles Albert's eldest son, Victor Emmanuel and Adelaide of Austria, daughter of Ranier Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, who was the Austrian Viceroy in Lombardy-Veneto and Charles Albert's brother-in-law, since he had married his sister Elisabeth in 1820 Victor Emmanuel and Adelaide were thus first cousins

Liberal sovereign 1845-1849edit

Carlo Alberto in the Anti-Austrian period The elderly Austrian chancellor, Klemens von Metternich, who requested clarification on the policy of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1846

In 1845, revolutionary movements erupted in Rimini and in the Papal States To Massimo d'Azeglio, who had gone to report on the events, Charles Albert said, "that on the day of conflict with Austria, he would throw himself in with his sons, with his army, with all his substance, to fight for the independence of Italy"58

Understandably, on 8 June 1846, on the orders of Chancellor Metternich, the Austrian ambassador to Turin, Karl Ferdinand von Buol, asked Charles Albert to clarify his position - was he with Austria or with the revolutionaries The King of Sardinia hesitated In the meanwhile, on 16 June, Pope Pius IX had been elected as Pope His first order of business was to grant an amnesty to those condemned of political crimes The new pope then protested against Austria for having occupied Ferrara, in the Holy See, without its consent Charles Albert, who saw in Pius IX a way of reconciling his loyalty with his old liberal ideas, wrote to him offering his support59

In the same way, in September 1847, Cesare Trabucco, Charles Albert's secretary, was authorised to write a letter on 2 September, in which the king expressed his hope that God would grant him the power to undertake a war of independence in which he would take command of the army and the Guelph cause These declarations made Charles Albert far more popular However, he continued to break up anti-Austrian demonstrations because the court and government remained divided De La Tour, Foreign Minister Solaro della Margarita, and Archbishop Liugi Fransoni considered the anti-Austrian policy exceptionally dangerous, but it was supported by Minister of War di Villamarina, Cesare Alfieri di Sostegno, Cesare Balbo, Massimo and Roberto d’Azeglio, and the young Count Cavour60

Meanwhile the demands of the people became pressing and were not always accepted In this period, for example, Charles Albert did not accept a Genoese delegation which called for the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Kingdom, whom he had already banned from polical writings58 He did however implement the so-called Perfect Fusion of the Savoyard state on 29 November 1847, which extended the reforms carried out on the mainland to the island of Sardinia

At the beginning of 1848, news arrived that following the outbreak of the Spring of Nations, Ferdinand II had granted a constitution in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies In Turin there were acclamations for the King of Naples and the Pope, while Charles Albert remained bound by the oath he had sworn to Charles Felix to respect religiously all the fundamental laws of the monarchy, and to retain absolutist rule61

Coat of Arms of the Kings of Sardinia of the House of Savoy after 1815

He introduced a series of reforms following the many Revolutions of 1830 that convulsed Europe He abolished domestic customs and trade barriers within the Kingdom, supported the arts and sciences, and promulgated the Statuto Albertino, a constitution The Statuto was inspired by the earlier reforms of Louis Phillippe, the new moderate "King of the French", of the new kingdom of Belgium, and even later the reforms and parliamentary laws instituted in Great Britain

During the Revolutions of 1848, he agreed to a constitutional regime which remained in place for the century that the Kingdom of Italy lasted The same year he declared war on Austria The small army of Piedmont was supported by volunteers from the whole of Italy However, after his initial victories lost him the support of the Pope and the other Italian rulers, he was defeated at Custoza 24 July 1848, and forced to sign an armistice at Vigevano on 9 August Under the increasing influence of the Republicans in Piedmont, he resumed the war the next year But the Piedmontese were again defeated, at Novara Rather than redrawing the Statute, he abdicated in favor of his son, Victor Emmanuel, and went into exile in Portugal

He died at Porto the same year His remains were transferred to the Royal Basilica of Superga, outside Turin


Friedrich Engels:

Among the indigenous princes, the number one enemy of Italian freedom was and is Charles Albert Italians should bear in mind and repeat every hour the old saying: "God watch over my friends, so that I can watch over my enemies" From Ferdinand of the House of Bourbon, there is nothing to fear; he has for a long time been discredited Charles Albert on the other hand calls himself pompously the "liberator of Italy" while on the very people he is supposed to be liberating he imposes as a condition the yoke of his rule62

An American historian says he was

A strange pathetic being, at odds with himself and his time; compounded of monkish asceticism and soldierly courage; autocratic, but irresolute; holding his honor dearer than his life, yet pursued through life by accusations of dishonor: such was Charles Albert, to whom when he had passed beyond the reach of their praises or their blame, his countrymen gave the epithet 'magnanimous'63

Family and childrenedit

In 1817, Charles Albert married his second cousin once removed, Maria Theresa of Austria, the youngest daughter of Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Princess Luisa of Naples and Sicily The couple had the following children:

  1. Victor Emmanuel II 1820–1878; married Adelaide of Austria
  2. Prince Ferdinand of Savoy 1822–1855, Duke of Genoa; married Princess Elisabeth of Saxony
  3. Princess Maria Cristina of Savoy 1826–1827 died in infancy


See alsoedit

  • Statuto Albertino
  • First Italian War of Independence
  • Risorgimento


  1. ^ Bertoldi & p 252
  2. ^ a b Bertoldi & pp 25-26
  3. ^ Bertoldi & pp 26-27
  4. ^ In this period, Charles Albert grew a great deal As an adult he was 203 m tall
  5. ^ Bertoldi & 28, 31-32
  6. ^ Bertoldi & 33
  7. ^ Bertoldi & pp 34-35
  8. ^ Bertoldi & 35-36
  9. ^ Victor Emmanuel I's second child had been male, but died at the age of three, and his other four children were daughters who were excluded from the succession by Salic law Charles Felix had no children at all
  10. ^ Bertoldi & 36-40
  11. ^ Bertoldi & 41-44
  12. ^ Comandini & Vol I dal 1801 al 1825, pp 954, 956
  13. ^ Bertoldi & pp 46-47
  14. ^ Bertoldi & pp 52-55, 57
  15. ^ Bertoldi & p 59
  16. ^ Bertoldi & p 63
  17. ^ Bertoldi & 65, 76
  18. ^ Bertoldi & pp 75-79
  19. ^ Bertoldi & 85-89, 98
  20. ^ Bertoldi & 91-95
  21. ^ Bertoldi & pp 95-96
  22. ^ Bertoldi & pp 97-99
  23. ^ Bertoldi & pp 103-106
  24. ^ Bertoldi & pp 109-110
  25. ^ Bertoldi & pp 116-118
  26. ^ Bertoldi & p 119
  27. ^ Bertoldi & pp 135-136, 149
  28. ^ Bertoldi & pp 123-125, 127-128
  29. ^ Bertoldi & pp 128-131
  30. ^ Bertoldi & pp 140-141
  31. ^ Comandini & Vol I dal 1801 al 1825, p 1222
  32. ^ Bertoldi & pp 141-142
  33. ^ The event involved a very large dinner Charles Albert generally ate very little and noted a certain "terror" at such occasions Bertoldi & pp 142-144
  34. ^ Bertoldi & pp 144-145
  35. ^ Bertoldi & pp 145-146
  36. ^ Bertoldi & pp 153-156
  37. ^ Bertoldi & p 156
  38. ^ Bertoldi & pp 159-162
  39. ^ Comandini & Vol II dal 1826 al 1849, p 290
  40. ^ Bertoldi & pp 164-167
  41. ^ Maria Antonietta i Robilant was mother of Carlo Felice Nicolis, conte di Robilant, diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Italy
  42. ^ Bertoldi & pp 173-174
  43. ^ Bertoldi & pp 174-175
  44. ^ Bertoldi & pp 175-176
  45. ^ Bertoldi & p 177
  46. ^ "Maria Alberta Sarti, Barbaroux Un talento della diplomazia e della scienza giuridica alla corte sabauda, CEDAM, Milano, 2011, p 71" Retrieved 8 January 2016 
  47. ^ Bertoldi & pp 178, 181
  48. ^ Bertoldi & pp 181-182
  49. ^ a b "Carlo Alberto re di Sardegna in Dizionario Biografico Treccani" Retrieved 8 January 2016 
  50. ^ Bertoldi & p 182
  51. ^ a b “Carlo Alberto re di Sardegna” in La Piccola Treccani, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana fondata da Giovanni Treccani, Milano, 1995, Vol II
  52. ^ a b Bertoldi & p 184
  53. ^ Bertoldi & pp 187-191
  54. ^ Bertoldi & pp 192-194
  55. ^ He wrote to Francis IV of Modena in Novmber 1833m "I am tired of the state of anxiety that "Young Italy" keeps me in, with its repeated threats of invasion, doubting that there is anything its members won't do given that the Great Powers have decided not to eliminate the evil at the root, I ordered a secure agent, about six weeks ago, to encourage the heads of "Young Italy" to organise a movement against me, letting them think that a major in the Fenestrelle Fort shared their views Then they arrived there in great numbers with Ramorino, Mazzini, Carlo Bianco di Saint Jorioz, and their other major leaders: the possibility of going there myself with considerable forces in a few hours, induces me to attempt this trick in order to capture their major leaders"
  56. ^ Bertoldi & pp 194-198
  57. ^ Bertoldi & p 201
  58. ^ a b Bertoldi & p 203
  59. ^ Bertoldi & pp 201-202
  60. ^ Bertoldi & pp 202-203
  61. ^ Bertoldi & pp 203-204
  62. ^ Neue Rheinische Zeitung, No 73, 12 August 1848
  63. ^ Thayer, 1:103

Further readingedit

  • Robertson, Priscilla Revolutions of 1848: a social history 1952 pp 309-401
  • Smith, Denis Mack, Modern Italy: A Political History University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, 1997
  • Thayer, William Roscoe 1911 The Life and Times of Cavour vol 1  old interpretations but useful on details
  • "Charles Albert" 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

External linksedit

  • Carlo Alberto at the Wayback Machine archived February 23, 2006
  • Genealogy of recent members of the House of Savoy
  • Marek, Miroslav "Home page" GenealogyEU 
Charles Albert of Sardinia House of Savoy Born: 2 October 1798 Died: 28 July 1849
Italian nobility
Preceded by
Charles Emmanuel
Prince of Carignano
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles Felix
King of Sardinia
Succeeded by
Victor Emmanuel II

charles albert of sardinia

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Charles Albert of Sardinia

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