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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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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