The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Kingdom of Sardinia

The Kingdom of Sardinia is a former kingdom in Italy.

Early history

The traditional giudicati of Sardinia, which were independent tribal territories each presided over by its "judge", having come under the control either of Genoa or Pisa, the Kingdom came into being in 1297, when Pope Boniface VIII, intervening between the Houses of Anjou and Aragon, established on paper a "regnum Sarduniae et Corsicae" that would be a fief of the Papacy. Then the Pope offered his newly-invented fief to the Catalan Jaume II the Just, king of the Crown of Aragon (a confederation made up of the kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia, and the County of Catalonia), promising him papal support should he wish to conquer Pisan Sardinia in exchange for Sicily.

In 1323 Jaume II formed an alliance with the giudici of Arborea and, following a military campaign which lasted a year or so, occupied the Pisa territories of Cagliari and Gallura along with the city of Sassari, claiming the territory as the "Kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica". In 1353 Aragon made war on Arborea, then fought with its heroic leader Eleonora di Arborea but did not reduce the last of the autochthonous giudicati until 1410.

The Kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica retained its separate character and was not merely incorporated into the Kingdom of Aragon. At the time of his struggles with Arborea, Pere IV of Aragon granted an autonomous legislature to the Kingdom, which had one of Europe's most advanced legal traditions. The Kingdom was governed in the king's name by a viceroy.

When in 1409 Marti the younger, king of Sicily and heir to Aragon, defeated the last Sandinian giudicato but then died in Cagliari of malaria, without issue, Sardinia passed with the crown of Aragon to a united Spain. Corsica, which had never been conquered, was dropped from the formal title.

In 1720 the kingdom of Sicily was exchanged for that of Sardinia, and the House of Savoy was enabled to call itself royal, as Kings of Sardinia. Although its name was the Kingdom of Sardinia, the main part of the kingdom was Savoy, under which royal house (the House of Savoy) the kingdom resorted. The capital of the kingdom was Turin.

In 1743 the kingdom was combined with Piedmont as the Kingdom of Sardinia. When in 1796 Napoleon conquered the kingdom along with the rest of Northern Italy, the king, Charles Emmanuel IV fled to Sardinia.

Restoration and Risorgimento

In 1814 the kingdom was restored and enlarged with the addition of the former Republic of Genoa, now a duchy, and it served as a buffer state against France. In the 19th century the alternative name Sardinia-Piedmont came in use. See map, upper right.

In the conservative reaction after Napoleon, the country was ruled by conservative monarchs: Vittorio Emmanuele I and Carlo Felice, who fought at the head of a contingent of his own troops at the Battle of Trocadero that set the reactionary Ferdinand VII on the Spanish throne. In 1831 Carlo Felice was succeded by the more moderate conservative Charles Albert. Sardinia industrialized from 1830 onward. A constitution was enacted in the year of revolutions, 1848, under liberal pressure and under the same pressure war was declared on Austria. After initial success the war took a turn for the worse and Sardinia lost.

Like all of Italy, Sardinia was troubled with political instability with alternating governments. After a very short and disastrous second war with Austria Charles Albert abdicated on March 23, 1849, in favour of his son Vittorio Emmanuele II. In 1850 a liberal ministry under Count Camillo Benso di Cavour was installed and Sardinia became the engine driving the Italian Unification. Sardinia (Piedmont) took part in the Crimean War, allied with Turkey, Britain and France, and fighting against Russia. In 1859 Sardinia sided with France in a war against Austria. Napoleon III didn't keep his promises to Cavour. Napoleon seized Lombardy. In 1860, however, Sardinia gained Lombardy from France in exchange for Savoie and Nice.

On March 5, 1860, Parma, Tuscany, Modena and Romagna voted in referenda to join Sardinia. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi started his campaign to conquer southern Italy in the name of Sardinia. He quickly toppled the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and marched to Gaeta, were he met Vittorio Emmanuel. Cavour was actually the most satisfied with the unification while Garibaldi wanted to conquer Rome. Garibaldi was too socialistic for the king and his prime minister. On March 17, 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed thus ending Sardinia as a separate kingdom. Sardinia (and especially Piedmont) would become the most dominant and wealthiest region in Italy. The House of Savoy would rule Italy until 1946 when a republic was proclaimed.

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Last updated: 05-16-2005 08:05:34