Charles Albert becomes king of Sardinia in 1821?

Tagging @LordKalvan since he seems to be this site's resident expert on everything involving Italy.

Charles Albert, king of Sardinia from 1831 to 1849, became known as the Hesitant King due to an inability shown throughout his life to decide to support absolutism or liberalism. After an initial liberal period, he became a reactionary only to later support the 1848 revolutions and start a war with Austria that led to his abdication.

In 1821, before becoming a conservative, he supported a conspiracy whose aim was to force the incumbent king Victor Emmanuel I to enact a liberal constitution similar to the Spanish one, which Ferdinand VII was forced to accept one year before. However, he betrayed his fellow conspirators, and even though there was an uprising in Turin that led to VE I's abdication, the throne was eventually occupied by the archconservative Charles Felix.

WI Charles Albert hadn't betrayed his colleagues, a decision that (apparently) completely derailed the revolution that was supposed to happen? Could he have become king ten years earlier tha he did IOTL and turn Sardinia-Piedmont into a constitutional monarchy as soon as he took power, or would he have been overthrown by an Austrian invasion similar to what the French did in Spain?

How could this have affected the Revolutions of 1848 in Italy?
 
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In 1821, before becoming a conservative, he supported a conspiracy whose aim was to force the incumbent king Victor Emmanuel I to enact a liberal constitution similar to the Spanish one, which Ferdinand VII was forced to accept one year before. However, he betrayed his fellow conspirators, and even though there was an uprising in Turin that led to VE I's abdication, the throne was eventually occupied by the archconservative Charles Felix.
And this would set all the other reactionary/conservative governments on edge. They just defeated Napoleon 6 years earlier and instituted the Congress of Vienna and the system known as the Concert of Europe just to deal with these Revolutionary agitation. This was the height of the Age of Metternich and there's no way this state wouldn't immediately encounter opposition. Austria is also right next door via Italy and Sardinia was heavily dependent on France to fight it. France is still ruled by the Bourbons here. There's no way Louis XVIII, nor Ferdando VII would accept something like this. This might scare Louis XVIII to allow more conservatives in his government causing a deviation from his more moderate/ "centrist" political stance. Louis XVIII for example right after the final defeat of Napoleon, personally financed a military expedition to boot Murat from Naples and restore the Sicilian Bourbons to its throne resulting int the formation of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.

There's no reason not to suspect that Metternich or Louis would not immediately send aid, or that Victor-Emmanuel I wouldn't call on Austria to help him deal with these liberal revolutionaries.

he supported a conspiracy whose aim was to force the incumbent king Victor Emmanuel I to enact a liberal constitution similar to the Spanish one, which Ferdinand VII was forced to accept one year before.
The Spanish Constitution was overturned and this uprising against Ferdinand VII led to the intervention of the Concert of Europe with the expedition of the Hundred Thousand Sons of Saint Louis forcefully restoring the King back into power. If another such coup attempt occurred on France's doorstep, France would likely not take chances. This might lead to more Conservative/Reactionary suppression of these movements which at the time, didn't have as much widespread support as in 1848 or even the 1830's. Louis XVIII becoming more conservative, might actually empower the Ultraroyalists slightly, and this could have massive implications such as perhaps as successful or maybe a longer lasting Bourbon Restoration in France with Louis XVIII firmly setting precedent of the King being more of a presence in the nation's affairs. Though Charles X being his usual self would likely screw the pooch with his lack of tact. Though then again if the Duc d'Berry survives as a butterfly of this event, there might be more moderate voices in Charles' court that perhaps allows him to keep his throne as an unpopular but still legitimate King with everyone waiting for his more popular and moderate son to take over much like they did with Louis-Philippe and his son Ferdinand-Philippe prior to 1848 in otl.

or would he have been overthrown by an Austrian invasion similar to what the French did in Spain?
I think this is more likely. Emperor Franz would be highly supportive of this as he hated the Revolution which saw his sister murdered and himself humiliated with Napoleon who was the embodiment of the Revolution.

How could this have affected the Revolutions of 1848 in Italy?
You could perhaps see Austria wanting to cement a tighter grip on Italy. This could maybe lead to them deciding to reneg on their deal with the Bourbons of Parma, keeping it for the House of Habsburg. They might give it to Napoleon II who might live longer as a butterfly of all this. Napoleon II got tb by chance when in Austria, and its also likely that he never catches it. Either way this would likely lead to a more violent Italian Revolution in say 1830 or 1848 as a reaction to Conservative order in Europe further tightening its repression of liberal ideas like nationalism. If Napoleon II lives this could see him put into command of an Austrian battalion fighting against Italian Revolutionaries that overthrew his mother Marie Louise who was the Duchess of Parma. This would have very interesting consequences as this could mean the circumstances leading to the Second French Empire would be different. Perhaps if Napoleon II lives, the reaction to the increased Conservatism in France might lead to a more Revolutionary riot break out it France with Napoleon II or Napoleon III (if Napoleon II is dead like in otl) perhaps attempting to pull a coup in 1830 leading to an earlier restoration of the Second French Empire.
 
Yeah, that's the main thing I'm concerned about: foreign intervention.

Could Charles Albert pull a 180° turn, fabricate a story ("I'm not a revolutionary, they forced me to act like one!") and use the Austrians to crush the liberals at home? He seems like the exact kind of person who would do that, considering what he was like.

IOTL, after he became king in 1831, despite already being a conservative, he instituted a series of economic reforms (lowering tariffs and taxes on some products, among other things) that improved the Sardinian economy. If he becomes king ten years earlier and enacts similar reforms, could the kingdom be in a better position to fight Austria in 1848? It wouldn't be able to beat the Habsburgs single handedly, Sardinia-Piedmont is just too small for that, but could they at least capture the fortresses of the Quadrilatero?

Also, just a little nitpick, but Victor Emmanuel abdicated IOTL even though the conspiracy was quite disorganized thanks to the prince's betrayal. The man who would call for help from abroad would probably be Carlo Felice, should he be interested in taking the throne.
 
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Carlo Alberto cannot become king in 1821, since the legal heir to the throne is Carlo Felice whose brother is Vittorio Emanuele I. Therefore, for CA (who belongs to a collateral line, the Savoia Carignano) being considered for the succession
Carlo Felice should renounce to his succession right, and there is not a chance in a blue moon he'd do that, or die.
However, even if CF were conveniently to die, it is still impossible for CA to be accepted as a king by the Powers upholding the Vienna system, since he's tainted by his association with the Piedmontese liberals as well as by the fact that he was educated in a liberal environment in Paris and Geneva. There are other claimants with a (more or less) valid claim to the throne, chief among them the House of Habsburg (and in particular the duke of Modena, Francesco IV of Habsburg-Este, who had married one of the daughters of VE I in 1812. I know that the House of Savoy always followed the Salic law of succession, but it's always a matter of who has the best friends around, and in any case the is already a male son, also named Francesco, born in 1819 who might get the crown with a veeery long regency which might well suit the Vienna's Habsburgs).

It's a bit unfair to accuse CA of having coldly betrayed the insurgents of 1821. Leaving aside the fact that the liberal conspiracy in Piedmont was very poorly organized, CA showed some sympathy for them, was aware of their aims and, upon the abdication of VE I, granted, as Regent for Piedmont, a constitution similar to the Spanish one. This grant was countermanded by CF, who had been crowned in the meantime, and CA was ordered to repair to Novara, where the main portion of the Piedmontese army was stationed. I don't believe he might have done otherwise, and if he opposed the order of the legitimate king he would end up very badly (even IOTL he had to go in a kind of exile to Florence, at the court of his father in law), and obviously there was no chance to oppose the restauration armies which would come from both Lombardy and France (see what happened to Spain). The constitutional insurrections of 1821 came too early after the fall of Napoleon, and they failed everywhere.

After 1821, CA had a crisis of conscience and went into depression (melancholy was a normal state of mind afterwards).
Afterwards he fought in Spain, for the restauration, not the insurgents, and spent the next 10 years to try to prove himself a good Catholic and untainted by the liberalism plague. My take is that he truly believed he had sinned by opposing the throne and the altar, although there was a possible self-serving aspect in all of this. In the end, he continued with repressive policies after being crowned (the military convention with Austria, the repression of liberals and carbonari, the support to the Jesuits, but also the the insurrection attempt of the duchess of Berry in France and to the Sonderbund in Switzerland), but he also managed to keep the Piedmontese independence (more or less). Something changed after the election of Pius IX, but he still was an absolutist king even after granting the Statute in 1848, and his participation in the war of 1848 was motivated by dynastic ambitions rather than by liberal ideals. He also made a pig's ear of the war, wasting an incredibly good opportunity, but obviously he was not a general, and his indecisiveness and lack of strategic vision ruined everything.

I do not like CA, same as I don't like any of his descendants in the line of succession, but he was also dealt a very poor deck of cards. OTOH, the idea of replacing him with an utter piece of s**t as king (Francesco IV of Habsburg-Este) makes me shudder.
 
First of all, I would like to apologize for any blatant mistakes, since my knowledge in this subject is very lacking.

Well, perhaps "betraying" was a poor choice of words, but it would probably be too much for him to try to convince the inevitable Austrian invaders to leave him in power even if Felice conveniently died right before the liberal insurrection. Alberto wouldn't get the chance to participate in the Spanish expedition, for one, which proved his conservative credentials.

Moving on to something entirely different, but that still has to do with what we're talking about, could the Piedmontese have captured the Quadrilatero in 1848, or at least convincingly defeat Radetzky before he can take shelter there?

EDIT: You also said in your post that Alberto wasted an incredibly good opportunity. What was that opportunity? Was it the fact that he dragged his feet before finally declaring war on Austria, only doing so after Radetzky fled Milan towards the Quadrilatero?
 
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Moving on to something entirely different, but that still has to do with what we're talking about, could the Piedmontese have captured the Quadrilatero in 1848, or at least convincingly defeat Radetzky before he can take shelter there?
There are two questions to be addressed:
  • the ideal outcome is defeating Radetzky before he can hole up in the Quadrilateral. In order to do that, CA must not dither (easier to say this than having him do this, his nickname was "the Italian Hamlet"), and above all he must not, not, not waste the time to visit Milan (once again, this proves that he had not a clear idea of strategies).
  • assuming he still dithers, and Radetzky holes up, there's nothing more stupid that the siege of Peschiera, and obsolete fortress of little value either to him or to the Austrians. The Quadrilateral was made up of 4 fortresses (duh!), two of them smallish (Peschiera and Legnago) and 2 large ones (Verona and Mantua). Of the two bigger fortresses, the most important is Verona (Mantua is more to the south, and has less relevance to the war): it is obviously impossible to storm Verona, and it's not needed. It is enough to blockade Verona, which would also cut the supply line of Radetzky, as well as the communication with Austria. CA should have recognized that what he did not need was a "decisive battle". Let Radetzky rot in Verona, and proceed east, into Veneto. General Nugent had entered Friuli on the 17th of April, with 12-13,000 men, moving west to blockade the fortress of Palmanova and moving to besiege Udine. Half of the Piedmontese army crossed the Mincio river on 26th April (why only half and why so late?), moving toward the Adige river to invest the Austrian beachead at Pastrengo, on the western side of the river. The battle of Pastrengo went against the Austrians, but then CA ordered to move against Verona, rather than crossing the Adige and entering Veneto (he was still trying for a decisive victory). This was the decisive turning point of the war: after the victory of Pastrengo and the indecisive battle at Santa Lucia, near Verona, CA lost the initiative. Note also that the battle of Pastrengo was fought before the Non Semel oration spoke by Pius IX on 2nd May, by which he effectively retired from the war against Austria. If the Adige had been crossed, a portion of the Piedmontese army (say 15,000 men at most) might have marched against Nugent and stopped him from crossing the Piave river (there were also 15,000 men of the Papal army in Veneto, who would have supported such a move since IOTL they refused the papal order to cross back into the papal states). All of this means that not only Thun Valsassina, who replaced Nugent, could not bring 16,000 men to Verona, but also that a general panic would have swept the Austrian empire, and Hungary might have rebelled too. It's a case of lack of a strategic vision
 
Two ideas:

  1. Carlo Alberto doesn't dither and declares war on March 18 or 19, rather than 23, crossing the Ticino soon after. Radetzky is unable to flee Milan on time and is captured/killed by the Piedmontese/Milanese, depriving the Austrians of a very talented and experienced commander.
  2. The Piedmontese don't besiege Peschiera for more than a month and instead go straight for Verona, capturing that fortress after starving its defenders into surrender. This allows the Sardinians to support the Venetians, and since the Austrian Empire will later have to divert most of its attention to Hungary, the Italians will have valuable time to breathe and organize their forces. The Republic of San Marco votes to unite with Sardinia, and the victorious CA becomes king of Piedmont, Lombardy and Venetia. Should the Habsburgs survive their confrontation with the Hungarians and go for round 2 (like what CA tried to do in Novara), all they win is a bloody nose, with no choice left but to admit their defeat.
Are either of these proposals plausible?
 
It's also an interesting time as the main line is dying out. If I recall correctly, Charles Albert was the first Prince of Carignano to obtain the throne.
 
Two ideas:

  1. Carlo Alberto doesn't dither and declares war on March 18 or 19, rather than 23, crossing the Ticino soon after. Radetzky is unable to flee Milan on time and is captured/killed by the Piedmontese/Milanese, depriving the Austrians of a very talented and experienced commander.
  2. The Piedmontese don't besiege Peschiera for more than a month and instead go straight for Verona, capturing that fortress after starving its defenders into surrender. This allows the Sardinians to support the Venetians, and since the Austrian Empire will later have to divert most of its attention to Hungary, the Italians will have valuable time to breathe and organize their forces. The Republic of San Marco votes to unite with Sardinia, and the victorious CA becomes king of Piedmont, Lombardy and Venetia. Should the Habsburgs survive their confrontation with the Hungarians and go for round 2 (like what CA tried to do in Novara), all they win is a bloody nose, with no choice left but to admit their defeat.
Are either of these proposals plausible?
I'm sorry but no.
Piedmont Sardinia started to mobilize on 1st March 1848, which means that having the field army ready to cross the border by the end of March is perfectly reasonable (and two advance forces crossed on 23rd March, to prepare the way.
The time was lost in crossing Lombardy: my guess is that CA didn't have a clear strategy in mind, and his aim was to secure Lombardy, not to cross into Veneto, much less kicking out the Austrians from Italy.
The key of the strategy I'm advocating is to cross the Adige river and take Vicenza, rather than rolling the dice with an ill-advised march against Verona. That's because the goal is to avoid Nugent reinforcing Radetzky.
Incidentally, it's quite likely that Veneto would vote for annexation. However, Venice proper would balk at the idea. In the end they voted for annexation when their situation had become desperate.
 
Thank you very much for your input. By the way, what are the sources you use? Though I'm not going to write a new TL so soon (not when I have two unfinished ones and a fanfic on AO3), I've gotten a sudden new interest in the Savoys, particularly CA and Carlo Emanuele III, the latter of whom seems to be one of the dynasty's more capable kings.
 
I cannot give you a comprehensive list of the books on Italian history that I've read during my life. However a good source (in Italian) for biographies of notable persons is the Dizionario Biografico Treccani, which is accessible online (http://www.treccani.it/biografie/). It's very extensive, and new entries are added constantly. The good thing is that all the entries are written by professional historians and are, in my opinion, quite well done. To give you a taste, here's the entry for Carlo Emanuele III: http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/carlo-emanuele-iii-di-savoia-re-di-sardegna_(Dizionario-Biografico)/

As far as the critical 50 years between the fall of Napoleon and the proclamation of the kingdom of Italy, Rosario Romeo's Vita di Cavour (Cavour's life) is still a cornerstone, even if it was written 50 years ago. Cavour e il suo tempo - 1810 to 1842" (Cavour and His Times" by the same author goes much more into details of the early life of the count of Cavour, and the situation of Piedmont-Sardinia.
I also strongly recommend "The Siege of Venice" by Jonathan Keates (a recension is here: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-siege-of-venice-by-jonathan-keates-519580.html). You can find it on Amazon.
It's a very good book, which is obviously centered on the insurrection of Venice, but also gives a good picture of both the campaigns in Italy of 1848-49 and the diplomatic background to them.
 
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