Charles Albert of Sardinia

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Charles Albert (Carlo Alberto Amedeo; 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 (1848–49). He abdicated after his forces were defeated by the Austrian army at the Battle of Novara (1849), and died in exile soon thereafter.

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Biography

He was born in Turin in 1798, to Charles Emmanuel of Savoy, "Prince of Carignan" and 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. Two mentors were entrusted with countering the dangerous ideas about national liberation Charles had 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 Modena), 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.

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.

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