1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Casale Monferrato

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CASALE MONFERRATO, a town and episcopal see of Piedmont, Italy, in the province of Alessandria, 21 m. N.N.W. by rail from the town of Alessandria. Pop. (1901) 18,874 (town); 31,370 (commune). It lies in the plain on the right bank of the Po, 377 ft. above sea-level, and is a junction for Mortara, Vercelli. Chivasso and Asti; it is also connected by steam tramways with Alessandria, Vercelli and Montemagno. The fine Lombard Romanesque cathedral, originally founded in 742, was rebuilt in the early 12th century and consecrated in 1106; it suffered from restoration in 1706, but has been brought back to its original form. It contains some good pictures. The church of S. Domenico is a good Renaissance edifice, and there are some fine palaces. The church of S. Ilario is said to occupy the site of a pagan temple, but the name of the ancient town (if any) which occupied this site is not known. About 10 m. distant is the Sacro Monte di Crea, with eighteen chapels on its slopes containing terra-cotta groups of statues, resembling those at Varallo. Casale Monferrato was given by Charlemagne to the church of Vercelli, but obtained its liberty from Frederick I. (Barbarossa). It was sacked by the troops of Vercelli, Alessandria and Milan in 1215, but rebuilt and fortified in 1220. It fell under the power of its marquises in 1292, and became the chief town of a small state. In 1536 it passed to the Gonzagas of Mantua, who fortified it very strongly. It has since been of considerable importance as a fortress: it successfully resisted the Austrians in 1849, and was strengthened in 1852. There is a large Portland cement factory here.