August 24, 2012


Aristocrat, painter, author, and statesman who was a leader of the movement that advocated a national revival (Risorgimento) by the expulsion of all foreign influences from the then-divided Italian states. His political influence far outweighs his artistic achievements.

After a youth dedicated to painting (1820-30) at Rome), D´Azeglio frequented high society circles and wrote two obscurely political novels, Ettore Fieramosca (1833) and Niccolò de´Lapi (1841). These marked him as a relatively moderate leader of the Risorgimento. His chief work, Gli ultimi casi de Romagna (1846, "The Last Chances for Romagna") is a trenchant political critique of the papal government of Romagna; it demanded that its populace renounce local revolts and show confidence in the Piedmontese king of Sardinia, Charles Albert, who would head a liberal Italian federation.

D´Azeglio fought against the Austrians in the Italian liberation movement of 1848. When Charles Albert, defeated by the Austrians first at Custoza (1848) and then at Novara (1849), abdicated to his son Victor Emmanuel II, D´Azeglio was named prime minister, on May 7, 1849.

His most important piece of legislation, the Siccardi laws of 1851, abolished ecclesiastical courts and immunities. He resigned Oct. 30, 1852, because of a long-standing disagrement with his finance minister, Count Cavour. He retired from public life and served only in minor political roles thereafter.

He continued to write articles that fostered a consciousness of the Italian nation among the people. During his last years he wrote his memoirs, I miei ricordi, unfinished and published posthumously in 1867.

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