Alberoni, Giulio

Alberoni, Giulio, a famous Italian cardinal and prime-minister of Spain, was born near Piacenza, May 31,1664. Being the son of a gardener, he at first was a tiller of tie soil. At the age of fourteen years he became clerical bellringer of the Cathedral of Piacenza. He entered the: school of the Barnabites, where he showed a good deal of ability, and sought the protection of Barni, vice- legate of Ravenna, who, having become bishop of Piacenza, placed him in charge of the house and made him a member of the order. Afterwards Alberoni accompanied the son of his protector to Rome, and there learned the French language. He also gained the friendship of the secretary of the duke of Vendeme and of the poet Campistron, which was of great service to him afterwards. During the war of the Spanish Succession he was interpreter to the government of Parma. In 1706 Alberoni accompanied the duke of Vendome to Paris, where he was presented to Louis XIV, who offered him the rectory of Anet; but he refused this, preferring to remain with his patron rather than be placed at the head of a parish. The duke of Vendome having been appointed in 1711 generalissimo of the armies of Philip V, Alberoni accompanied him to Spain as his secretary. A little later the death of his benefactor occurred, and he returned to Paris to inform Louis XIV of the fact. The following year the duke of Parma conferred upon him the title of count, and appointed him his consular agent to Spain. The princess of Ursins had at that time great influence at the Court of Madrid; but at the death of the queen of Louis XIV, Elizabeth Farnese, daughter of the last duke of Parma and niece of the acting duke, was proposed for queen. Alberoni shared with the new queen his unlimited influence with the king. About this time the death of Louis XIV completely changed the policy of the cabinet of Madrid. The age of Louis XV rendered a regency necessary; and Philip V believed that he had a claim to the position. After the death of Innocent XIII (March 7, 1724), cardinal Alberoni obtained ten votes in the conclave. It was on this occasion that the lampoon was posted in Rome "Il cielo vuol Orsini; il popolo, Corsini; le donne, Ottoboni; il diavolo, Alberoni." Cardinal Orsini was chosen under the name of Benedict XIII. Alberoni did not gain the favor of the new pope, and therefore retired to his estate at Castel-Romano, and did not return to Rome until after the death of the pope, which occurred in 1730. The new pope, Clement XII, confided to him several negotiations, and appointed him in 1734 legate of Ravenna. In spite of his advanced age, he was still active. He constructed canals, founded benevolent institutions, reformed the police system, and prohibited vagrants from taking refuge in churches. About this time he became entangled in the affairs of the small republic of San Marino. Alberoni had to the last his health and energy. His conversation was sprightly; and he was able to converse in Italian, French, and Spanish. He died at Rome, June 16, 1752. After his death, a pretended Testament Politique was printed under his name in 1753. The Vie d'Alberoni, by Rousset, which we cite as the principal authority, was completed in 1718. Two letters of his have been found, the first of which is addressed by Alberoni to cardinal Camarlingo Paulucci, and is the famous apology of the cardinalminister. This is followed by a second apology in the form of a letter addressed to a Genoe'se marquis by a Roman prelate. This prelate is Alberoni himself. See Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, s.v.

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