LA MARMORA, Alfonso Ferrero, Marchese del, (1804 - 1878) Italian General and Politician
b. Turin 17 November, 1804 - d. Florence 5 January, 1878
Alfonso La Marmora graduated from the prestigious Turin military academy in 1822 before going on a European study tour. In 1823 he was commissioned by the Sardinian king to direct the modernisation of the Sardinian artillery. On 18 June, 1836, he founded the elite Bersaglieri corps. In 1848 he was promoted to the rank of colonel and awarded a silver medal for his action during the siege of Peschiera. On 5 August, 1848, he rescued the Piedmontese king, Carlo Alberto, from Milanese revolutionaries. In October of the same year he became general and War Minister in Perrone's cabinet, a post which he shared with Vincenzo Gioberti the following year. After the Italian defeat at Novara in 1848, La Marmora was sent to Genoa to put down a Ligurian independence movement (Liguria with its capital, Genoa, was a Sabauda fief). The rebellion was quashed (La Marmora was promoted to Lieutenant General) but his forces acted brutally, first bombarding the city of Genoa and then subjecting it to rape and pillage.
In a triumvirate with Massimo d'Azeglio and Camillo Cavour, La Marmora was once again appointed War Minister, during which period he made modifications to the Piedmontese army, attempting to make it stronger and more flexible, notwithstanding the reduced numbers of men.
In 1855 he commanded the Piedmontese regiments which took part in the Crimean war, distinguishing himself during the combat at Cernaia.
After the Peace of Paris, La Marmora was appointed general of an army corps and as such was present at the combat at San Martino, facing Austrian troops under Benedek. The combat at San Martino took place simultaneously with (and was part of) the Battle of Solferino, 24 June, 1859. After the Armistice of Villafranca, La Mamora was for six months Presidente del Consiglio, in place of Cavour who had resigned.
On the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860 La Marmora was sent on a diplomatic mission to obtain official recognition of the Italian kingdom in both Prussia and Russia. Thereafter he became governor of Milan before, in 1861, being appointed prefect of Naples and commander of the city.
On 15 September, 1864, government head, Marco Minghetti, signed a Franco-Italian treaty whereby Napoleon III would dismantle the French garrison in Rome, in return for which the Italian capital would be transferred from Turin to Florence. The Italian king then sacked Minghetti by telegram and, on 28 September, 1864, put La Marmora in the latter's place. La Marmora enacted the transferral of the capital by 3 February, 1865, and obtained recognition of the Kingdom of Italy from Spain. After resigning in 1865, La Marmora received a request by the king to form a new government, and as Prime Minister he made an alliance with Prussia (1866) in context of the latter's conflict with Austria. In accordance with this alliance, he refused an Austrian offer of the Veneto in return for neutrality in the conflict with Prussia.
On 20 June, 1866, he resigned from the government so as to enter the war as commander of the army in the fight against Austria. After the Italian defeat at Custoza on 23 June, 1866, he was exonerated of all blame for the result during the Armistice of Cormons (12 August, 1866). Though he served briefly as leader of a Florentine army corps and at the taking of Rome (where he was first lieutenant for the Italian king), the defeat at Custoza weighed heavily on La Marmora, and he was to retire from public life. He died in Florence and was buried in Biella in the church of San Sebastiano.
La Marmora's works include: Un episodio del Risorgimento italiano, Florence: G. Barbera, 1875 (first edition 1849) I segreti di stato nel governo costituzionale, Florence: G. Barbera, 1877 Un po' più di luce sugli eventi politici e militari dell'anno 1866, Florence: G. Barbera, 1873