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Charles Albert, King of Sardinia

Charles Albert, King of Sardinia

Charles Albert (1798-1849) was king of Sardinia (Piedmont) from 1831 to 1849. He played an important part in liberalizing the institutions of the Piedmont and in starting it on its path as the leader of Italian unification.

Born on Oct. 12, 1798, Charles Albert was the son of Prince Charles of Savoy-Carignano and Princess Albertine of Saxe-Courland, and the cousin of the Piedmontese king Charles Emmanuel IV. In October 1798 the French seized Piedmont, and the entire court took refuge in Sardinia, where Charles Albert spent the first 16 years of his life. In 1802 Charles Emmanuel abdicated in favor of his brother Victor Emmanuel I. On Napoleon's defeat in 1814, the family returned to Turin, the capital of Piedmont, where Charles Albert was given rigorous training to prepare him for the throne.

On Oct. 1, 1817, Charles Albert married the archduchess Maria Theresa of Tuscany. In early 1821 he refused a request by the liberals to participate in a revolt against the reactionary government. On March 10, 1821, however, Turin was taken by the revolutionaries. Their aims were to establish constitutional government in Piedmont and to drive Austrian rule from Italy.

Victor Emmanuel abdicated at once in favor of his brother Charles Felix and named Charles Albert regent. Charles Albert then granted a constitution, but it was revoked when he was forced into exile by Austrian troops, who quickly put down the revolutionary movement. He was allowed to return to Turin, however, after promising to uphold the principles of absolute monarchy.

On the death of Charles Felix in 1831, Charles Albert became king of Piedmont. He promptly manifested considerable administrative ability in reforming the financial system and the army. In 1846, when the apparently liberal Pope Pius IX assumed office, Charles Albert became convinced that a government of broader freedom was needed and issued a decree to that effect. On Feb. 8, 1848, he finally granted the eagerly awaited constitution.

When Milan revolted in March 1848 against its Austrian rulers, Charles Albert also declared war on Austria. But Austrian power was too great, and by 1849 Piedmont was soundly defeated. Forced to accept bitter terms from the victors, Charles Albert believed he could be of no further help to his country and abdicated in favor of his son Victor Emmanuel II. Charles Albert died in a monastery in Oporto, Portugal, on July 28, 1849. The day of Italian liberation was not yet at hand, but it had been brought nearer by his work.

Further Reading

There is almost nothing specific in English on Charles Albert. The most thorough general treatment is in Bolton King, A History of Italian Unity (2 vols., 1899; rev. ed. 1924). The most complete account of the Risorgimento in English is George Martin, The Red Shirt and the Cross of Savoy: The Story of Italy's Risorgimento, 1748-1871 (1969). □

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"Charles Albert, King of Sardinia." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Charles Albert, King of Sardinia." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/charles-albert-king-sardinia

Charles Albert

Charles Albert, 1798–1849, king of Sardinia (1831–49, see Savoy, house of). Because he had not been entirely unsympathetic to the revolutionary movement of 1821 in Sardinia, Charles Albert developed an ambiguous political reputation prior to acceding to the throne in 1831. His first years in power were unexceptional, however. He set to work rejuvenating the troubled kingdom by reorganizing its finances, creating an army, and instituting a limited amount of political reforms. As the political situation became more tumultuous in the late 1840s, Charles Albert issued a new code of law, abolished internal tariffs, and, to forestall a revolution, granted (1848) a constitution. Resentful of Austria's rule over Italy and wanting to incorporate Lombardy into his own domain, Charles Albert welcomed the Milanese revolt of Mar., 1848, against the Austrians and sent out his army to support it. Initially successul, his army was beaten back at Custozza, and he was forced to ask for an armistice in July, 1848. Reviled by the Milanese for his failures, and under strong political pressure from the Italian nationalists in Turin, Charles Albert denounced the armistice and, with an army of 80,000 men, attacked the Austrians in Mar., 1849. He was beaten once again, whereupon he abdicated in favor of his son, Victor Emmanuel II, and went into exile in Portugal, where he soon died. A mysterious, complex, and controversial man, Charles Albert was a leading figure in the Risorgimento and helped inspire the growing drive for national independence.

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"Charles Albert." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Charles Albert." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/charles-albert

"Charles Albert." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/charles-albert