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3. The Statute of the Kingdom of Sardinia, March 4th 1848

Carlo Alberto, by the grace of God King of Sardinia, of Cyprus and of Jerusalem, etc., etc., etc. With the faithfulness of a King and the affection of a Father, We come today to undertake what We announced to Our well-beloved subjects with Our proclamation of 8th of February last, with which We had wished to demonstrate, in the midst of the extraordinary events which surround the country, how Our trust in them is growing with the gravity of the circumstances and how, taking council solely of the impulses of Our heart, how firm is Our intention to align their future to the ideas of the time, to the interests and the dignity of the Nation. We, considering the broad based and strong representative institutions contained in the present Constitutional Statute the most reliable means of redoubling those bonds of indissoluble affection which draws around Our Italian Crown a People, who have given Us so many proofs of faith, of obedience and of love, We have decided to approve it and to promulgate it, trusting that God will bless Our pure intentions and that the Nation, free, strong and contented, will show itself increasingly worthy of its ancient renown and will be capable of meriting a glorious future.

Therefore, certain in Our knowledge, with Royal Authority, having had the opinion of Our Council, We have ordained and We ordain into force as Statute and Constitutional Law of the Monarchy, in perpetuity and irrevocable, the following:

Art. 1. - The Roman, Apostolic and Catholic Religion is the only State Religion. The other beliefs now present are tolerated, so long as they conform to the law.

Art. 2 – The state is ruled by a Representative Monarchical Government. The Throne is hereditary according to Salic law.

Art. 3 – legislative power will be exercised collectively by the King and by two Chambers, the Senate and that of the Deputies.

Art. 4 – The person of the king is sacred and inviolable.

Art. 5 – Executive power belongs to the King alone. He is the Supreme Head of State: He commands all forces of land and sea; he declares war: He makes treaties of peace, of commercial and other alliances, informing the Chambers as soon as the interests and security of the State allow and adding such information as is opportune. Treaties which involve a burden on the finances of, or a variation in the territory of the State will not come into effect until after the approval of the Chambers has been obtained.

Art. 6 – The King makes nominations to all State offices; and makes the decrees and regulations required for the execution of the laws; He may not suspend them or exempt their observance.

Art. 7 – The King alone approves laws and promulgates them.

Art. 8 – The King alone may grant pardon and commute sentences.

Art. 9 – The King will convoke the two Chambers in each year: He can extend their sessions and dissolve the Chamber of deputies, but in this last case He will convoke another within the limit of four months.

Art. 10 – The right to propose laws will belong to the King and to each of the two Chambers. However, every law imposing taxes or for the approval of the finances and accounts of the State will be first presented to the chamber of Deputies.



Art. 24 – All citizens of the kingdom, whatever their title or status, will be equal before the law. All will enjoy civil and political rights in equal measure and will be admissible to civil and military office, save those exceptions determined by the law.

Art. 25 – They will contribute without distinction, according to their wealth, to the exigencies of the State.

Art. 26 – Individual liberty is guaranteed. No-one can be arrested or brought before a court except in those cases provided for by the law and in the form which the law prescribes.

Art. 27 – The home is inviolable. No entry to a home may take place except as allowed by the law and in the form which the law prescribes.

Art. 28 – The press will be free but a law will restrain excesses. However, bibles, catechisms, liturgy and prayer books cannot be printed without the prior permission of the Bishop.

Art. 29 – All property, without any exception, is inviolable. However, when the public interest, legally established, requires it, one can be required to cede it in whole or in part in return for an equitable indemnity in conformity with the law.

Art. 30 – No tax can be imposed or collected if it is not approved by the Chambers and sanctioned by the King.

Art. 31 – The Public Debt is guaranteed. Every obligation of the State towards its creditors is inviolable.

Art. 32 – The right is recognised to gather peaceable and without arms, keeping to the laws which regulate this activity in the interest of the public good. This disposition does not apply to gatherings in public places, or open to the public; such (gatherings) remain entirely subject to police laws.


Art. 33. – The Senate is composed of members, not limited in number, nominated for life by the King and being over forty years of age. [...]


Art. 39. – The elective Chamber is composed of Deputies chosen by Electoral Colleges in conformity with the law.

Art. 40. – No Deputy may be admitted to the Chamber unless he is a subject of the King, has reached thirty years of age, enjoys civil and political rights and fulfils the other requisites required by the law. [...]


Art. 49. – Before being admitted to the exercise of their functions, Senators and Deputies will swear to be faithful to the King, to faithfully observe this Statute and the laws of the State and to exercise their function with the sole objective of the inseparable good of the King and the Fatherland.

Art. 50. – The function of Senator or Deputy do not involve any retribution or indemnity.

Art. 51. – Senators and Deputies cannot be called to account for opinions issued by them or for votes given in the Chambers. [...]


Art. 65. – The King nominates and recalls His Ministers. [...]


Art. 68. – Justice emanates from the King and is administered in His Name by the judges whom He installs. [...]

Art. 71. – No-one may be subtracted from his natural judges. Tribunals or Special Commissions cannot, therefore, be created. [...]

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Source: The Statute of the Kingdom of Sardinia, March 4th 1848.

The uprising in Venice and the proclamation of the Republic

In Venice, a city under the domination of the Hapsburg Empire, on 17th March a large popular demonstration inspired by sentiments of independence forced the Austrian governor to free Tommaseo , Manin and other patriots imprisoned the previous January; on the following day, with another impressive demonstration, the residents asked for, and obtained, the formation of a civil guard. On the 22nd of the same month the whole city, in an almost bloodless protest, freed itself from Austrian domination and proclaimed the Venetian Republic, with its own democratic ordinances, entrusted to the leadership of Tommaseo and Manin, which was to survive until 29th August 1849.


  1. What are the “exceptional events” referred to at the beginning of the document?
  2. Which are the prerogatives granted to the King by the State?
  3. Is legislative power considered the prerogative solely of the Chamber?
  4. Which rights are granted to the kingdom's subjects?

Display teacher's view to find the answers.

Description and Analysis

Summary: among the 1848 constitutions, the Albertine Statute (it was named, as commonly occurred, after the ruler), it was the most long-lived. In 1861 it became the founding law of the Kingdom of Italy and remained so until 1947, when it was replaced by the Constitution of the Republic. Charles Albert's constitutional charter ('statute' was the word commonly used then for a 'constitution') was inspired by the more moderate liberal representatives of the Piedmont government; it stipulates limited suffrage (political rights) granted to only 2% of the population, it recognises Roman Catholicism as the sole official religion of the state, while the justice system is under the direct control of the ruler. The concessions regarding civil rights are further-reaching: the principal of habeas corpus is recognised, as individual freedom and the right to a fair trial are guaranteed, the right to hold peaceful meetings is also granted, as is that to distribute free press (except those cases expressly forbidden) and the right to property too is considered inviolable, (questions 3 – 4).

“The Government, chosen by the crown, answers to the crown and not to Parliament. This system means that the statutes do not foresee the practice of the vote of confidence by the parliament for the government, whose existence depends exclusively on the will of the Crown. Despite these features, the statues make room for liberties that had been unthinkable up to then, granting, in some cases openly, freedom of press and association. They are the first steps towards the recognition of equal rights for Jews and protestants (in the case of Piedmont, a series of laws decreed between March and July 1848 extend to Jews the political and civil rights granted to other citizens. In the Regie patenti del 17 febbraio equal rights had already been granted to the Waldesian protestants” (Alberto Mario Banti, Il Risorgimento italiano, Laterza, 2009).

Following the events in Palermo and the passing of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Naples on February 11th, other rulers follow Ferdinand's lead, in the fear that the uprisings could spread to their states: Leopold signs the Tuscan statute on the 15th of the same month, the Piedmont statute is approved on March 4th, while, finally on March 13th the cardinals and The Pope approve the founding statute for the temporal government of the Church states. At the end of the two-year revolutionary period,and the repression of the ring-leaders that followed,only the statute granted by Carlo Alberto of Savoy was not withdrawn. “Leaving aside some major differences, it can be said that the texts of the constitutions granted in Piedmont, Tuscany, The Papal States and Naples share the same structure. Based on the French constitutions of 1830 and the Belgian one of 1831, these statues stipulate a Parliament with two chambers with legislative powers. The members of the lower house are voted in through census or education-requirement limited suffrage (that is to say the right to vote is limited to those over a certain level of income, determined on the basis of the sum of taxes paid or on the basis of one's profession or level of education, while in the Kingdom of Sardinia a minimum level of literacy is also stipulated). The members of the upper house are granted life-long nomination by the crown. Given the fact that they are octroyées charters (granted by a ruler) it is hardly surprising that they set the monarch at the heart of the constitutional framework, conceding legislative initiative (along with parliament) and reserving executive power, the appointment of civil servants and the charge of foreign affairs and the command of the armed forces”. (domande 1 -2).

The text of the Albertine Statute could be compared with the texts of the constitutions granted by the temporary governments of Venice and Rome between 1848 and ’49 as well as the constitutional charter of the Italian republic drafted in the wake of the fascist era. This charter, drawn up by a constitutional assembly made up of all the political forces that had taken part in the war for liberation, was largely modelled on the Piedmont statute. Our constitutional charter is available in English at http://www.comune.fi.it/costituzione/inglese.pdf