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Massimo Taparelli d'Azeglio

Massimo Taparelli d'Azeglio, born to an aristocratic family in Turin, October 24, 1798, was of rebellious and artistic tempera ment. He left conservative Piedmont and moved to Milan, where he studied painting and joined the literary circle of Alessandro Manzoni, whose daughter Chiara he married. His most famous historical romance was Ettore Fieramosca o la Disfida di Barletta (Ettore Fieramosca or the Tournament of Barletta) (Milan, 1833). This was followed by Niccolò dei Lapi (Milan, 1841), and, posthumously, by La lega lombarda (The Lombard League). All three novels celebrated I ta lian bravery against foreign invaders.

In the mid-1840s, his interests turned to politics, thanks to the influence of his cousin Cesare Balbo, whose book, Delle speranze d'Italia (On the Hopes of Italy) (1844), aroused a strong sense of Italian nationalism. In September 1845 certain liberals urged him to travel through the Romagna and report the political mood in that section of the Papal States. D'Azeglio was critical of the Mazzinian republicans who instigated a rising in Rimini whil e he was there. He urged the Romagnoles to entrust the Italian cause to Piedmont's King Charles Albert. The latter received him in audience in October and told him to inform the Romagnoles he was prepared, at the right moment, to devote all his energies to the national cause. D'Azeglio's Casi di Romagna (On the Events in Romagna) (1846) launched his brilliant career as a pamphleteer for the moderate wing of Italian nationalism.

In February 1847 D'Azeglio went to Rome to encourag e the new pontiff, Pius IX, to enact more reforms. In Rome he wrote several more nationalistic pamphlets. When King Charles Albert declared war on Austria in March 1848, D'Azeglio joined the papal forces that rallied, for a time, to the national cause; but his depiction of this war as a "crusade" greatly displeased the pope. Wounded at Vicenza on June 10, 1848, he convalesced in Tuscany, where he resumed his pamphleteering.

When D'Azeglio returned to Turin in December 1848, the king offered him the prem iership, but he turned this down in favor of Vincenzo Gioberti. Only on May 7, 1849, after Piedmont's second defeat, did he accept this position. Confronted by leftists who opposed Austria's peace terms, he advised the new King Victor Emmanuel II to dissolve parliament and schedule new elections in December. After the new parliament approved the peace settlement, he devoted his energies to reorganizing the armies and pushing anticlerical legislation. Temperamentally ill-suited for the drudgery of govern ment, he resigned the premiership on October 22, 1852, in favor of Count Cavour.

Thereafter, he devoted himself mostly to writing, including I miei ricordi (My memoirs), published posthumously. He supported Cavour in the Crimean War and in the war against Austria in 1859. In its wake, Cavour sent him to Romagna to arrange for its annexation, and in January 1860 named him governor of Milan. D'Azeglio broke with Cavour, however, on the question of the Kingdom of Naples, argu ing that it was too soon to add the south to the new kingdom. He died in Turin on January 15, 1866.

Charles F. Delzell


Massimo D'Azeglio. Scritti e discorsi politici. 3 vols. (Florence, 1933-37).

Walter Maturi. "D'Azeglio," Dizionario biografico degli Italiani. (Rome, 1962), 4: 746-52.

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