1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alessandria

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ALESSANDRIA, a city and episcopal see of Piedmont, Italy, capital of a province which bears its name, situated on the river Tanaro, 57 m. E. by S. of Turin by rail. Pop. (1901) 71,298, of which about half reside in the actual town: the rest are distributed over the suburbs. Alessandria was founded in 1168 by the inhabitants of the district in order to defend themselves against the marquis of Monferrato and the town of Pavia, at whose request it was besieged in 1174 by Frederick Barbarossa for six months, but without success. The Lombard League now included it among the allied cities and named it Alessandria, after Pope Alexander III. The traditional account of its foundation by the Lombard League has been disproved by F. Graf, Die Gründung Alessandrias: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Lombardenbundes (1888). After falling into various hands, it was ceded to Savoy by the peace of Utrecht in 1713, and its citadel was begun in 1728. During the French occupation (1800-1814), which began after the battle of Marengo, it was still more strongly fortified; the works were entirely destroyed by the Austrians in 1815, but were afterwards reconstructed, and Alessandria is still an important fortress and the headquarters of the second army corps. The citadel is on the left bank of the Tanaro, the town being on the right bank. It is regularly built and contains few buildings of architectural interest, but is a flourishing and important commercial town, not merely owing to its own manufactures (which are miscellaneous) but for the products of the district, and one of the greatest railway centres in Italy. Lines diverge from it to Turin via Asti, to Valenza (and thence to Vercelli, Mortara—for Novara or Milan—and Pavia), to Tortona, to Novi, to Acqui and to Brà.