1902 Encyclopedia > Charles Albert of Sardinia

Charles Albert
King of Sardinia

CHARLES ALBERT (1798-1849), king of Sardinia, was the son of Charles Emmanuel of Savoy Cariguano. In his youth Charles became attached to the national party in Italy, and even formed a connection with the Carbonari. In 1821 Victor Emmanuel, on his abdication, appointed him regent ; and he now availed himself of the oppor-tunity for carrying out a liberal policy. He confirmed the constitution which had lately been established on the model of the new Spanish constitution, and which con-sisted of an assembly of one chamber, with a king de-prived of the right of veto and of almost all real power. The approach of the Austrians, however, and the declaration of the new king, Charles Felix, refusing to recognize his acts, caused him to flee secretly from Turin after holding the regency little more than a week, and he was afterwards forbidden to enter the Sardinian court. In 1823 he served as a volunteer in the French army which invaded Spain in order to overthrow its new constitution ; and by thus de-serting his principles he obtained permission to return to Turin. He was for a few months, in 1829, viceroy of Sardinia ; and in 1831 he succeeded Charles Felix on the throne. He felt obliged to resort to severe measures in order to secure his throne against the secret societies, of which the chief at that time was the society of " Young Italy," which had been founded by Mazzini. In 1847 risings took place in Sicily, Rome, Tuscany, and Naples ; the Austrians were expelled from Milan, and the people of Piedmont gained the re-establishment of the constitution which Charles had advocated in his youth. At the same time Charles greatly increased the freedom of the press. During the next year he marched against the Austrians, who had already been broken by defeat, and who at once retreated. On the last day of April 1848 he won the victory of Pastrengo, and in the end of May, that of Goito. But two months after he was defeated at Custozza by Marshal Radetsky, and forced to retire to Milan, where he made an armistice with the Austrians, and, contrary to his promise, surrendered the city. On the expiration of the truce Charles again took up arms. A battle ensued with Radetsky at No vara, in which the Piedmontese army was rapidly and completely routed, though the king risked his life bravely, and some thought even desperately. An armistice was again sought, but the terms offered by Austria were such that Charles abdicated in favour of his son Victor Emmanuel II. He died four months later, on 28th July 1849. Charles did what he could to further commerce and to popularize art and science, and appears, notwithstanding apparent inconsistencies, to have sincerely desired the good of his people.

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