Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

Balbo, Cesare

Balbo, Cesare, a prominent Piedmontese historian and political figure, was born November 21, 1789, in Turin. His father, Count Prospero Balbo, educated him and took him with him on diplomatic assignments to Paris, Barcelona, Bologna, and Tuscany. In 1808 he entered the French imperial service in Florence and Rome, and later was auditor in the Council of State in Paris. he did not work for the Italian cause until the Napoleonic Empire collapsed, at which time he became a Piedmontese army officer. In 1816-19 he was with his father in the embassy in Madrid. There he wrote an account of the Spanish wars of independence. Rejoining the Piedmontese army in 1 820, he urged Prince Charles Albert to recommend a British-type parliamentary system, but this was rejected in 1821 by King Charles Felix, who forced the young officer into exile. Upon Balbo's return from France in 1824 he turned again to history writing. His most important book was Delle speranze d'Italia (On the hopes of Italy) (1844). In it he corrected Gioberti's program by insisting that Charles Albert of Sardinia-Piedmont, rather than the pope, must preside over an Italian federati on. He hoped that Austria might give up northern Italy in return for Turkish lands.

In December 1847 Balbo founded and edited the Turin newspaper, Il Risorgimento. When King Charles Albert granted the Statuto in February 1848, he asked Balbo to prepare the parliamentary electoral law and then named him Piedmont's first premier. He served briefly from March 8 until July 26, 1848. A conservative liberal, he faced opposition from democratic factions; his government fell a fter t he defeat at Custozza. His conservative religious views led him to oppose the anticlerical Siccardi laws of 1850 and civil marriage in 1852. He died prematurely on June 3, 1853, in Turin.

Charles F. Delzell


Ettore Passerin d'Entrèves. "Cesare Balbo," in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani. (Rome 1963), V: 395-405.

Nino Valeri. "Cesare Balbo," in Cesare Balbo, Pagine scelte. (Milan, 1960).

Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

Krista Durchik revised this file ( on May 4, 1998.

Please E-mail comments or suggestions to

© 1998 James Chastain.