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Charles Albert ( ) (2 October 1798 – 28 July 1849) was the King of Piedmont-Sardinia from 1831 to 1849. He succeeded his distant cousin Charles Felix, and his name is bound with the first Italian statute and the First War of Independence . He abdicated after his forces were defeated by the Austrian army at the Battle of Novaramarker (1849), and died in exile soon thereafter.


He was born in Turinmarker in 1798, to Charles Emmanuel of Savoy, 6th Prince of Carignano and Albertina Maria Cristina of Saxony. His father was a fifth-generation descendant of Thomas Francis, Prince of Carignano, founder of the Savoy-Carignano line of the House of Savoy. Because none of the sons of Victor Amadeus III themselves had sons, Charles Albert was throughout his life known to be their likely successor on the throne of Sardinia.

He was educated in the intellectually liberal and Francophile atmosphere of Geneva, then in Paris during the First French Empire. Napoleon I of France named him lieutenant of the dragoons in 1814. After the fall of Napoleon, Charles Albert returned to Turin, were he was entrusted to two praeceptors who were to delete in him the dangerous libertarian ideas learned in France. However, he continued to display some sympathies with liberals.

In 1821, as regent for the kingdom in the absence of the new king, Charles Felix (then in Modenamarker), he conceded a constitution that was disavowed by the king, who sent him to join the French army in Spain to suppress the liberal revolution there and restore Ferdinand VII. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Trocadero in 1823, which annihilated hopes of a constitutional monarchy for Spain and also gained him the favour of Austria.

Coat of Arms of the Kings of Sardinia of the House of Savoy after 1815.
Charles Albert succeeded Charles Felix to the throne of Sardinia in 1831. Although an Italian patriot allegedly opposed to the Austrian hegemony in Northern Italy, he put down the Mazzini conspiracy. He introduced a series of reforms that abolished domestic customs barriers within the kingdom, promulgated a constitutional law code (Statuto Albertino) inspired to those of France and Belgium, 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 Custozamarker (July 24, 1848), being forced to sign an armistice at Vigevano on August 9. 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 Novaramarker. Rather than redrawing the Statute, he abdicated in favour of his son, Victor Emmanuel fleeing in exile to Portugal.

He died at Portomarker the same year. His remains were transferred to the Basilica of Supergamarker.

Friedrich Engels said of Charles Albert:

Among the indigenous princes, the number one enemy of Italianmarker 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 he liberating he imposes as a condition the yoke of his rule (Neue Rheinische Zeitung No.
73, August 12, 1848).

Family and children

In 1817, Charles Albert married his second cousin once removed, Maria Theresa of Tuscany, the youngest daughter of Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Princess Luisa Maria Amelia Teresa of the Two Sicilies. The couple had the following children:
  1. Vittorio Emanuele II (1820–78)
  2. Ferdinand, Duke of Genoa (1822–55), 1st Duke of Genoamarker
  3. Maria Cristina (fl 1826–27)

See also

External links

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