Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Alessandria

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ALESSANDRIA, a province of Italy, in the former duchy of Piedmont, bounded on the N. by Novara, on the E. by Pavia, on the S. by Genoa, and on the W. by Turin; with an area of 1951 square miles. There are no hills of much elevation in the province, and the surface generally is flat. The chief rivers are the Po, the Tanaro, the Belbo, the Orba, and the Bormida. The soil is fertile, the chief products being wheat, maize, wine, silk, madder, hemp, flax, and fruit. The capital is Alessandria; population of the province in 1871, 683,361.

Alessandria, a city of Italy, the capital of the above province, is situated in a marshy district near the confluence of the Tanaro and the Bormida. It is a strongly fortified place, its citadel, on the left bank of the Tanaro, being one of the most important in Europe. The town itself, which lies chiefly on the right bank of the river, is the seat of a bishop, and contains a cathedral and more than a dozen other churches, besides monasteries and nunneries. The principal manufactures of Alessandria are silk, linen, and woollen goods, stockings, and hats. Large quantities of fruit and flowers are also produced in the neighbourhood. The trade of the city is extensive, and there are two important fairs held every year that are much resorted to by merchants from all parts of Italy. Alessandria was built in 1168 by the Lombard League as a bulwark against Frederick Barbarossa. It received its present name in honour of Pope Alexander III., but it was also called Cesarea for a time. In 1174 it was unsuccessfully besieged by Frederick Barbarossa, who nicknamed it in derision Della Paglia, i.e. “of straw.” It was ceded to Savoy by the peace of Utrecht in 1713, after having belonged, at different periods, to the houses of Montferrat and Milan. Its fortifications were greatly enlarged and strengthened by Bonaparte during the French occupation, which lasted from 1800 to 1814. The citadel of Alessandria was taken by the Austrians after the battle of Novara in 1849. Near Alessandria is Marengo, where Napoleon defeated the Austrians in 1800. In consequence of this defeat the Austrians concluded the armistice of Alessandria, ceding all Italy north of the Mincio to the French. Population (1862), 27,027; of commune, 56,545.