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Carlo Felice
King of Sardinia
(1765–1831)


Other names: Carlo Felice Giuseppe Maria

Biographical

King of Sardinia 1821–31†
20th Duca di Savoia 1821–31†
Titular King of Cyprus 1821–31†
Titular King of Jerusalem 1821–31†
Titular King of Armenia 1821–31†
Principe di Piemonte 1821–31†
Prince of the Holy Roman Empire
Principe di Oneglia 1821–31†
Principe di Poirino 1821–31†
Principe di Trino 1821–31†
Prince de Montmélian 1821–31†
Principe di Chieri 1821–31†
Principe di Busca 1821–31†
Principe di Bene 1821–31†
Principe di Brà 1821–31†
Principe di Crescentino 1821–31†
Principe di Riva 1821–31†
Principe di Banna 1821–31†
Principe di Dronero 1821–31†
Duca di Aosta 1821–31†
Duc de Genevois courtesy 1795–76; 1821–31†
Duca di Piacenza 1821–31†
Duca di Carignano Ivoy 1821–31†
Duc de Chablais 1821–31†
Duca del Monferrato 1821–31†
Duca di Genova 1821–31†
Marchese di Saluzzo 1821–31†
Marchese in Italia 1821–31†
Marchese di Ivrea 1821–31†
Marchese di Susa, courtesy 1796; 1821–31†
Marchese di Oristano 1821–31†
Marquis de Tarantaise 1821–31†
Marchese di Borgomanero 1821–31†
Marchese di Cureggio 1821–31†
Marchese di Caselle 1821–31†
Marchese di Govone 1821–31†
Marchese di Saluzzola 1821–31†
Marchese di Racconigi 1821–31†
Marchese di Savona1821–31†
Marchese di Cesena 1821–31†
Marchese di Modane 1821–31†
Marquis de Lanslebourg 1821–31†
Marchese di Livorno Ferraris 1821–31†
Marchese di Santhià 1821–31†
Marchese d'Aglié 1821–31†
Marchese di Centallo 1821–31†
Marchese di Demonte 1821–31†
Marchese di Denzana 1821–31†
Marchese di Ceva 1821–31†
Marchese di Maro 1821–31†
Marquis of Pianezza 1821–31†
Marquis of Rivoli 1821–31†
Marchese di Cavallermaggiore 1821–31†
Marchese di Marene 1821–31†
Marchese di Ghenna 1821–31†
Marchese di Villafranca 1821–31†
Comte de Nice 1821–31†
Comte de Romont 1821–31†
Comte de Maurienne 1821–31†
Conte or prince? di Carmagnola courtesy 1785–96; 1821–31†
Conte di Asti 1821–31†
Conte di Tenda 1821–31†
Comte de Genevre 1821–31†
Conte di Goceano 1821–31†
Conte di Alessandria 1821–31†
Conte di Novara 1802–21 abd.
Conte di Villafranca 1821–31†
Conte di Tortona 1821–31†
Conte di Bobbio 1821–31†
Conte di Sant'Antioco 1821–31†
Conte di Pollenzo 1821–31†
Conte di Roccabruna 1802–21 abd.
Conte di Tricerro 1821–31†
Conte di Bairo 1821–31†
Conte di Oregno 1821–31†
Conte delle Apertole 1821–31†
Baron de Vaud 1821–31†
Baron de Faucigny 1821–31†
Signore di Pinerolo 1821–31†
Seigneur de Monaco? 1821–31†
Signore di Roccabruna 1821–31†
Consignore di Mentone 1821–31†
Signore di Vercelli 1821–31†
Signore di Lomellina 1821–31†
Signore di Valsesia 11821–31†
Seigneur de Arbin 1821–31†
Seigneur de Francin 1821–31†
Signore di Tegerone 1821–31†
Signore di Migliabruna 1821–31†
Signore di Motturone 1821–31†
Patrician of Venice
Patrician of Ferrara
Knight of the Order of the Holy Annunciation 1780 [ITA]

Viceroy of Sardinia 1796–1802; 1814–21

Along with his brothers, Carlo Felice's education was entrusted to various tutors, but as he was only fourth in line to the throne, he had no real education in state affairs, and this was to become evident when he did become king after the abdication of his elder brother, Vittorio Emanuele I. This can be linked to his belief in divine right of royal authority—he was to rule as an absolute sovereign—and his opposition to change and an intolerance to differing views. Culturally inexperience, Charles Felix was impulsive, suspicious, vindictive and possessed an inflexible temperament, however, he was tormented by nervous crises, and it was said that he was honest and capable of feelings of empathy and kindness—a man of contradictory strengths and weaknesses. Although inclined to live a secluded life, Charles Felix was amenable to marriage, and negotiations for his union with Maria Cristina de Bourbon commenced in 1803, and he was against at Naples of the royal family who received him with pomp. The marriage required papal dispensation due to the couple's close kinship, and in 1807 he left Cagliari for Palermo where the wedding was celebrated. The couple returned to Cagliari and lived their life in rural idleness at the Villa d'Orri.

After Napoleon's abdication in 1814, and the return of Vittorio Emanuele I to the throne of Sardinia, Carlo Felice resumed his role as viceroy which he had previously resigned after Vittorio Emanuele I's return to Cagliari. Sardinia was experiencing a famine, and Charles Felix made efforts to import grain from Genoa, and through personal means, supplied food to the needy. He took little action when the plague broke out in 1816, and he eventually left the island with his wife for Naples. He remained nominal viceroy until he ascended the throne in 1821. Charles Felix spent his days at the court of Naples and undertook travels throughout Italy, and eventually returned to Turin, residing at the Villa Govone. Following the Piedmont revolution in 1821, Vittorio Emanuele refused to grant the insurgents a constitution, and he abdicated. Abhorring the idea of being made king as the result of a revolution, Charles Felix reluctantly accepted the crown of Sardinia as his brother's heir. He was, however, away at the court of Modena, and he therefore appointed his cousin, Charles Albert, Prince of Carignano (and heir to the childless king), his regent. Urged by his circle and by the progress of the revolution, Carlo Alberto proclaimed the Spanish constitution at Turin. An enraged Charles Felix issued a decree declaring that the proclamation had been made without his consent and was therefore invalid, and he ordered the reestablishment of absolute government. He had Charles Albert exiled from the capital, and even considered having him put on trial for his actions, and excluded from the royal succession. He eventually forgave his repentant cousin and had him returned from exile, after he signed an oath to keep intact the essential form of the monarchy once he was himself king. In 1825 he named Charles Albert heir in his will.

Charles Felix assumed the role f king with a strong sense of duty and demanded full royal powers. With vigorous measures, he commenced to suppress the revolt, quash political conspiracies, and subversive groups. He began to purge the army, and established councils and commissions to investigate military officers and officials, and death sentences began to be issued. He issued edicts forbidding secret meetings and associations, and took a personal interest in rooting out dissent. With the Pope's permission, the clergy was required to take an oath of fidelity to him, and he relied on them to prevent the spread of liberal ideas. As a result the church became highly influential in the courts and schools. This were all components of the king's plan for the restoration of absolutism. As king, he was more concerned with commercial interests than territorial expansion, and in 1821 he entered a trade deal with the Sublime Porte, mediated by Austria and England. This was the subject of a dispute with the Bey of Tunis in 1825 which ended with an attack at the harbour of Tripoli by Sardinian forces, resulting in casualties on the Tunisian side, and convincing the bey to concede and adhere to the agreement. The reign of Charles Felix was afflicted by economic and financial difficulties, however, there was still some progress in the fields of services and public works. Mining, the steel sector, and communications grew, and with establishment of the Cassa di Risparmio di Torino in 1827, the credit and insurance sector began to flourish. Public works, such and bridges, buildings, squares, ports, and other constructions also increased. He was also responsible for the restoration of Hautecombe Abbey in 1826, the former burial place of members of the Savoy family, declaring its second foundation, and entrusting it to the Cistercians of the convent of the Consolata at Turin as its custodians. Charles Felix spent most of his time at Genoa, Nice and Genova, and although he never visited Sardinia as king, he did make efforts to improve the island's infrastructure and implement economic and legal reforms.

The final dramatic episode during Carlo Felice's reign was in 1830 when revolts broke out in 1830 at Savoy. Although old and sickly, Carlo Felice was still capable of authorising measures to repress the revolutionaries and exiles. A special military congress was established to coordinate measures against the insurgents. Border garrisons, army forces and armaments were strengthened, and strict surveillance of the provinces was ordered. The French press was suppressed and the universities of Turin and Genoa were closed. Aside from failed attempts to ignite a revolution at Savoy and Turin , none eventuated. In April 1831 Carlo Felice transferred power to his queen, and summoned Carlo Alberto, Price of Carignano, confirming publicly as his heir and successor. The king died that month.

Place of birth: Turin
Place of marriage: Palermo
Place of death: Turin
Place of burial: Altacomba

Son of King Vittorio Amedeo III of Sardinia and Infanta María Antonieta of Spain (Borbón). He married Princess Maria Cristina of the Two Sicilies (Borbone) in 1807, and had no issue.



 

Sources

1. Società Genealogica Italiana. Enciclopedia Genealogica del Mediterraneo. 2005–2018.
2. Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol. 20. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 1977.
3. Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, ed. Burke's Royal Families of the World. Volume I: Europe & Latin America. London: Burke’s Peerage Ltd., 1977.

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