Giulio Alberoni

From Academic Kids

Cardinal Alberoni
Cardinal Alberoni

Giulio Alberoni (May 21, 1664 OS - June 26 NS, 1752), Italian cardinal and statesman in the service of Philip V of Spain, was born near Piacenza, probably at the village of Fiorenzuola d'Arda in the Duchy of Parma.


Early years

His father was a gardener, and he himself became first connected with the church in the humble position of a bellringer and verger in the cathedral of Piacenza, where he gained the notice of Bishop Barni, he took priest's orders, and afterwards accompanied the son of his patron to Rome.

During the War of the Spanish Succession Alberoni laid the foundation of his political success by the servics he rendered to the Louis-Joseph, duc de Vendôme, commander of the French forces in Italy, to whom the Duke of parma had sent him; and when these forces were recalled in 1706 he accompanied the duke to Paris, where he was favourably received by Louis XIV.

Middle years

In 1711 he followed Vendôme into Spain as his secretary. He was very active in furthering the accession of the French candidate for the throne of Spain, Philip V. Two years later, the duke having died in the interval, Alberoni was appointed consular agent for Parma at Philip's court, where he was the royal favourite, being raised at the same time to the dignity of count. On his arrival at Madrid he found the princesse des Ursins all but omnipotent with the king, and for a time he judged it expedient to use her influence in carrying out his plans. Upon the death of the Queen (Maria Luisa of Savoy), Alberoni in concert with La Trémoille arranged for a marriage in 1714 between the widowed King and Elisabetta Farnese, daughter of the Duke of Parma.

The influence of the new queen being actively exerted on Alberoni's behalf, within not much more than a year he was made a duke and grandee of Spain, a member of the king's council, appointed bishop of Malaga, and in 1715 prime minister, and was made cardinal by Pope Clement XI, under pressure from the court of Spain, in July 1717. His vigorous internal policy mixed the economic reforms of Colbert for Louis XIV with some conservative Spanish aspects: a regular mail service to the Americas was instituted, yet the school of navigation he founded was reserved for the sons of the nobility. By a series of decreees in 1717, Alberoni reduced the powers of the grandees in royal councils. His main purpose was to produce an economic revival in Spain by abolishing internal custom-houses, throwing open the trade of the Indies and reorganizing the finances along lines that had been established by the French economist Jean Orry.

With the resources thus gained he undertook to enable Philip V to carry out an ambitious foreign policy to undo the Treaty of Utrecht, with the aim of countering the Habsburgs and recovering Spanish possessions in Italy, where he was responsible for unwarranted invasions of Sardinia (November 1717) and Sicily (July 1718), in spite of promises made to the Pope, while pressing Spanish causes in France. Another extravagant scheme of Alberoni's was the plotted restoration of the Stuarts to the British throne in two Jacobite expeditions to Scotland in the spring of 1719. By provoking England, France, the Netherlands and the Empire to form the Quadruple Alliance, his hasty and ambitious plans brought a flood of disaster to Spain, for which Alberoni was held responsible. On December 5, 1719, with Philip V fast becoming the common enemy of all Europe, Alberoni was ordered to leave Spain, Elizabeth herself having taken an active part in procuring the decree of banishment.

Later years

He went to Italy, escaped from arrest at Genoa, and had to take refuge among the Apennines, Pope Clement XI, who was his bitter enemy, having given strict orders for his arrest. On the death of Clement in 1721, Alberoni boldly appeared at the conclave, and took part in the election of Innocent XIII, after which he was for a short time imprisoned by the new pontiff on the demand of Spain, but was cleared of all charges by a commission of his fellow Cardinals. At the next election (1724) he was himself proposed for the papal chair, and secured ten votes at the conclave which elected Benedict XIII.

Benedict's successor, Clement XII (elected 1730), named him legate of Ravenna, where he erected the Porta Alberoni (1739), a magnificent gateway that formerly provided access to the city's dockyards (since moved to the entrance of the Teatro Rasi) [1] ( The same year he incurred the pope's displeasure by the strong and unwarrantable measures he adopted to reduce the little republic of San Marino to subjection to Rome, an episode that remains prominent in local memory [2] ( He was consequently replaced by another legate in 1740, and soon after he retired to Piacenza. Clement XII appointed him administrator of the hospital of San Lazzaro at Piacenza in 1730. The hospital was a medieval foundation for the benefit of lepers. The disease having disappeared from Italy, Alberoni obtained the consent of the pope to the suppression of the hospital, which had fallen into great disorder, and replaced it by a college for the education of seventy poor boys for the priesthood, under the name of the Collegio Alberoni, which it still bears. The Cardinal's collections of art gathered in Rome and Piacenza, housed in his richly appointred apartments, have been augmented by the Collegio. There are remarkable suites of Flemish tapestries, and paintings, among which the most famous is the Ecce Homo by Antonello da Messina (1473), but which also include panels by Jan Provost and other Flemish artists, oil paintings by Viani and Solimena.

Alberoni was a gourmet. Interspersed in his official correspondence with Parma are requests for local delicacies triffole (truffles), salame, ribiola cheeses, and anolini [3] ( The pork "Coppa del Cardinale" a specialty of Piacenza is named for him. A "Timballo Alberoni" combines maccaroni, shrimp sauce, mushrooms, butter and cheese.

Death and afterwards

He died leaving a sum of 600,000 ducats to endow the seminary he had founded, and the residue of the immense wealth he had acquired in Spain to his nephew. Alberoni left a large quantity of manuscripts; but the genuineness of the Political Testament, published in his name at Lausanne in 1753, has been questioned.

External links


  • Early works
    • Jean Rousset de Missy, Histoire du Cardinal Alberoni The Hague, 1719.
    • Stefano Bersani, Storia del Cardinale Giulio Alberoni, Piacenza, 1861. An encomium by a priest educated at his college.
    • Giovanni Bianchi, Giulio Alberoni e il suo secolo, 1901.
    • Lettres intimes de J. Alberoni, edited by M. E. Bourgeois, Alberoni

fr:Giulio Alberoni


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