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CHARLES AUGUSTUS

But the king was piqued by Austria’s interference, and as both the grand-duke of Tuscany and the duke of Wellington supported him, Charles Albert’s claims were respected. France having decided to intervene in the Spanish revolution on the side of autocracy, Charles Albert asked permission to join the duc d’Angoulême’s expedition. The king granted it and the young prince set out for Spain, where he fought with such gallantry at the storming of the Trocadero (1st of September 1823) that the French soldiers proclaimed him the “first Grenadier of France.” But it was not until he had signed a secret undertaking binding himself, as soon as he ascended the throne, to place himself under the tutelage of a council composed of the higher clergy and the knights of the Annunziata, and to maintain the existing forms of the monarchy (D. Berti, Cesare Alfieri, xi. 77, Rome, 1871), that he was allowed to return to Turin and forgiven.

On the death of Charles Felix (27th of April 1831) Charles Albert succeeded; he inherited a kingdom without an army, with an empty treasury, a chaotic administration and medieval laws. His first task was to set his house in order; he reorganized the finances, created the army, and started Piedmont on a path which if not liberalism was at least progress. “He was,” wrote his reactionary minister, Count della Margherita, “hostile to Austria from the depths of his soul and full of illusions as to the possibility of freeing Italy from dependence on her.... As for the revolutionaries, he detested them but feared them, and was convinced that sooner or later he would be their victim.” In 1833 a conspiracy of the Giovane Italia Society, organized by Mazzini, was discovered, and a number of its members punished with ruthless severity. On the election in 1846 of Pius IX., who appeared to be a Liberal and an Italian patriot, the eyes of all Italy were turned on him as the heaven-born leader who was to rescue the country from the foreigner. This to some extent reconciled the king to the Liberal movement, for it accorded with his religious views. “I confess,” he wrote to the marquis of Villamarina, in 1847, “that a war of national independence which should have for its object the defence of the pope would be the greatest happiness that could befall me.” On the 30th of October he issued a decree granting wide reforms, and when risings broke out in other parts of Italy early in 1848 and further liberties were demanded, he was at last induced to grant the constitution (8th February).

When the news of the Milanese revolt against the Austrians reached Turin (19th of March) public opinion demanded that the Piedmontese should succour their struggling brothers; and after some hesitation the king declared war. But much time had been wasted and many precious opportunities lost. With an army of 60,000 Piedmontese troops and 30,000 men from other parts of Italy the king took the field, and after defeating the Austrians at Pastrengo on the 30th of April, and at Goito on the 30th of May, where he was himself slightly wounded, more time was wasted in useless operations. Radetzky, the Austrian general, having received reinforcements, drove the centre of the extended Italian line back across the Mincio (23rd of July), and in the two days’ fighting at Custozza (24th and 25th of July) the Piedmontese were beaten, forced to retreat, and to ask for an armistice. On re-entering Milan Charles Albert was badly received and reviled as a traitor by the Republicans, and although he declared himself ready to die defending the city the municipality treated with Radetzky for a capitulation; the mob, urged on by the demagogues, made a savage demonstration against him at the Palazzo Greppi, whence he escaped in the night with difficulty and returned to Piedmont with his defeated army. The French Republic offered to intervene in the spring of 1848, but Charles Albert did not desire foreign aid, the more so as in this case it would have had to be paid for by the cession of Nice and Savoy. The revolutionary movement throughout Italy was breaking down, but Charles Albert felt that while he possessed an army he could not abandon the Lombards and Venetians, and determined to stake all on a last chance. On the 12th of March 1849 he denounced the armistice and took the field again with an army of 80,000 men, but gave the chief command to the Polish general Chrzanowski. General Ramorino commanding the Lombard division proved unable to prevent the Austrians from crossing the Ticino (20th of April), and Chrzanowski was completely out-generalled and defeated at La Bicocca near Novara on the 23rd. The Piedmontese fought with great bravery, and the unhappy king sought death in vain. After the battle he asked terms of Radetzky, who demanded the occupation by Austria of a large part of Piedmont and the heir to the throne as a hostage. Thereupon, feeling himself to be the obstacle to better conditions, Charles Albert abdicated in favour of his son Victor Emmanuel. That same night he departed alone and made his way to Oporto, where he retired into a monastery and died on the 28th of July 1849.

Charles Albert was not a man of first-rate ability; he was of a hopelessly vacillating character. Devout and mystical to an almost morbid degree, hating revolution and distrusting Liberalism, he was a confirmed pessimist, yet he had many noble qualities: he was brave to the verge of foolhardiness, devoted to his country, and ready to risk his crown to free Italy from the foreigner. To him the people of Italy owe a great debt, for if he failed in his object he at least materialized the idea of the Risorgimento in a practical shape, and the charges which the Republicans and demagogues brought against him were monstrously unjust.

Bibliography.—Besides the general works on modern Italy, see the Marquis Costa de Beauregard’s interesting volumes La Jeunesse du roi Charles Albert (Paris, 1899) and Novare et Oporto (1890), based on the king’s letters and the journal of Sylvain Costa, his faithful equerry, though the author’s views are those of an old-fashioned Savoyard who dislikes the idea of Italian unity; Ernesto Masi’s Il Segreto del Re Carlo Alberto (Bologna, 1891) is a very illuminating essay; Domenico Perrero, Gli Ultimi Reali di Savoia (Turin, 1889); L. Cappelletti, Storia di Carlo Alberto (Rome, 1891); Nicomede Bianchi, Storia della diplomazia europea in Italia (8 vols., Turin, 1865, &c.), a most important work of a general character, and the same author’s Scritti e lettere di Carlo Alberto (Rome, 1879) and his Storia della monarchia piemontese (Turin, 1877); Count S. della Margherita, Memorandum storico-politico (Turin, 1851).


CHARLES AUGUSTUS [Karl August] (1757–1828), grand-duke of Saxe-Weimar, son of Constantine, duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and Anna Amalia of Brunswick, was born on the 3rd of September 1757. His father died when he was only nine months old, and the boy was brought up under the regency and supervision of his mother, a woman of enlightened but masterful temperament. His governor was Count Eustach von Görz, a German nobleman of the old strait-laced school; but a more humane element was introduced into his training when, in 1771, Wieland was appointed his tutor. In 1774 the poet Karl Ludwig von Knebel came to Weimar as tutor to the young Prince Constantine; and in the same year the two princes set out, with Count Görz and Knebel, for Paris. At Frankfort, Knebel introduced Karl August to the young Goethe: the beginning of a momentous friendship. In 1775 Karl August returned to Weimar, and the same year came of age and married Princess Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt.

One of the first acts of the young grand-duke was to summon Goethe to Weimar, and in 1776 he was made a member of the privy council. “People of discernment,” he said, “congratulate me on possessing this man. His intellect, his genius is known. It makes no difference if the world is offended because I have made Dr Goethe a member of my most important collegium without his having passed through the stages of minor official professor and councillor of state.” To the undiscerning, the beneficial effect of this appointment was not at once apparent. With Goethe the “storm and stress” spirit descended upon Weimar, and the stiff traditions of the little court dissolved in a riot of youthful exuberance. The duke was a deep drinker, but also a good sportsman; and the revels of the court were alternated with break-neck rides across country, ending in nights spent round the camp fire under the stars. Karl August, however, had more serious tastes. He was interested in literature, in art, in science; critics, unsuspected of flattery, praised his judgment in painting; biologists found in him an expert in anatomy. Nor did he neglect the government of his little state. His reforms were the outcome of something more than the spirit of the