Charles Albert of Sardinia

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Charles Albert
King of Sardinia
Reign 27 April 1831 – 23 March 1849
Predecessor Charles Felix
Successor Victor Emmanuel II
Spouse Maria Theresa of Austria
Issue Victor Emmanuel II of Italy
Ferdinand, Duke of Genoa
Full name
Carlo Alberto Amedeo di Savoia
House House of Savoy
Father Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Carignano
Mother Maria Christina of Saxony
Born (1798-10-02)2 October 1798
Palazzo Carignano, Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia
Died 28 July 1849(1849-07-28) (aged 50)
Porto, Kingdom of Portugal
Burial Basilica of Superga, Turin

Charles Albert (Carlo Alberto Amedeo; 2 October 1798 – 28 July 1849) was the King of Piedmont-Sardinia from 1831 to 1849. His name is bound up with the first "Italian statute" (constitution) and the First Italian War of Independence (1848–1849). He abdicated after his forces were defeated by the Imperial Austrian army at the Battle of Novara (1849), and died in exile soon thereafter.

He was born in Turin in October 1798, to Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Carignano and Maria Cristina of Saxony. His father was the fifth successor of Thomas Francis, Prince of Carignano, who was founder of the Savoy-Carignano line of the House of Savoy as the last legitimate son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy. Because none of the sons of his distant cousin Victor Amadeus III themselves had sons, Charles Albert was throughout his life known to be their likely successor on the throne of Sardinia-Piedmont.

He was educated in the intellectually liberal atmosphere of the Geneva, then in Paris during the First French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). Napoleon I of France named him lieutenant of the dragoons (cavalry) in 1814. After the final fall of Napoleon the following year, Charles Albert returned to Turin. Two mentors were entrusted with countering the dangerous ideas about "national liberation" ("liberte, egalite, fraternite/liberty, equality, fraternity") Charles had learned in France. However, he continued to display some sympathies with the liberals.

In 1821, as regent for the Kingdom in the absence of the new king, Charles Felix (then in Modena), he conceded a "constitution" that was soon disavowed by the king, who sent him to join the restored reactionary/conservative King Louis XVI's Royal French army in Spain to suppress the liberal revolution breaking out there and restore the earlier conservative/autocratic monarch, Ferdinand VII. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Trocadero in 1823, which annihilated hopes of a constitutional monarchy at that time for Spain and also gained him the favour of the leading conservative European power, the Austrian Empire along with the continued autocratic Bourbon monarchy in France of Charles X (1757-1836), who reigned 1824 to 1831.

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

Charles Albert succeeded his cousin Charles Felix to the throne of Sardinia in 1831. Although an Italian patriot who allegedly was opposed to the Austrian hegemony and domination in Northern Italy, he put down the Giuseppe Mazzini conspiracy. He introduced a series of reforms following the many Revolutions of 1830-31 that convulsed Europe. They abolished domestic customs and trade barriers within the Kingdom, promulgated a constitutional law code (Statuto Albertino) which inspired to follow the earlier reforms of those of the new progressive/moderate French monarchy (following the "July Revolution" of 1830) of Louis Phillippe (1773-1851), "King of the French" (former Duke of Orleans), and the newly established neutral kingdom of Belgium, and even later the reforms and parliamentary laws instituted in Great Britain, and supported the arts and sciences.

During the Revolutions of 1848 he agreed to a constitutional regime that remained in place for the century that the Kingdom of Italy lasted. The same year he declared war on Austria, with the small army supported by volunteers from the whole of Italy. However, after his initial victories lost him the support of the Pope and the other Italian monarchs, he was defeated at Battle of Custoza (24 July 1848), being forced to sign an armistice at Vigevano on 9 August. When, pushed by the increasing influence of the Republicans in Piedmont, he attempted to resume the war the next year, the Piedmontese were again crushed by Radetzky's troops at Novara. Rather than redrawing the Statute, he abdicated in favour of his son, Victor Emmanuel fleeing in exile to Portugal.

He died at Porto the same year. His remains were transferred to the Basilica of Superga.

Friedrich Engels said of Charles Albert:

Among the indigenous princes, the number one enemy of Italian freedom was and is Charles Albert. The 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 rule (Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 73, 12 August 1848).

Family and children[edit]

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 (1820–78) married Adelaide of Austria
  2. Prince Ferdinand of Savoy (1822–55), Duke of Genoa married Princess Elisabeth of Saxony
  3. Princess Maria Cristina of Savoy (1826–27) died in infancy.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Charles Albert of Sardinia
Born: 2 October 1798 Died: 28 July 1849
Italian nobility
Preceded by
Charles Felix
King of Sardinia
Succeeded by
Victor Emmanuel II