The New International Encyclopædia/Alessandria

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ALESSANDRIA, älĕs-sän′drē̇-ȧ. The capital of the Italian province of the same name (1950 square miles; pop., 1900, 812,022), and a strong fortress, situated in a marshy region on the Tanaro, 47 miles from Genoa by rail (Map: Italy, C 3). Its chief ecclesiastical buildings are the cathedral, built in the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the old Church of Santa Maria di Castello. There are a royal palace, an old castle, and extensive barracks. Noteworthy is the Academy of Sciences and Arts, founded in 1562. Alessandria has cotton, woolen, and linen mills, hat factories, etc. The city derives considerable commercial importance from its position on the chief railway lines of Eastern Italy. Population of commune, 1881, 62,464; 1901, 71,293.

Alessandria was founded in 1168 by the inhabitants of Cremona, Milan, and Placentia, as a bulwark against Frederick Barbarossa, and was named Alessandria in honor of Pope Alexander III. Frederick tried to capture it, but failed. As it was a fortress to guard the passage of the Bormida and Tanaro, and also the central point of communication between Genoa, Milan, and Turin, the town was often a scene of battle. It was taken and plundered in 1522 by Duke Sforza; besieged, but without success, by the French, under the Prince of Conti, in 1057; and taken, in spite of obstinate resistance, by Prince Eugene, in 1707. After the prostration of Austria at the battle of Marengo, in 1800, Bonaparte concluded an armistice at Alessandria, in accordance with which upper Italy, as far as the Mincio, was ceded to the French, with twelve fortresses. It was the principal armory of the Piedmontese during the insurrection of Lombardy and Venetia in 1848-49, when many new fortifications were added.