To what extent was Charles Albert a liberal King?
It is debatable whether Charles Albert was a liberal king or not. Much of his earlier career as the ruler of Piedmont was marked by contradictions and led to a change of focus and beliefs; this therefore leaves historians questioning what his true aims were. There is evidence of Charles Albert as an absolutist and oppressive monarch, through his choice to increase the power of the church in Piedmont and his tightening of already severe censorship laws. Despite this, there is also evidence to show that he had liberal sympathies, largely shown by granting the people of the state a constitution which would survive to become the constitution of the united Italy in 1848 to 1849.
It is clear that Charles Albert had an interest in the reform of Piedmont and arguably Italy as a whole. Albert became king in 1831, however no aspect of reform was introduced until after 1837.
This was done through changes made to the legal system and its laws, the full Statuto of March 1848 could be seen as the most influential of changes. It condoned legal equality for all, whatever their religion, and for equal employment opportunities. This was very liberal, however the fact that it was published so late in his reign left a lot of time for a lack of interest in reform and room for oppressive rule.
Charles Albert showed interest in reform as he allowed non-nobles to fill senior posts in the army and the royal advisory council. This therefore was seen to take power away from the monarchy and out in the hand of the people. Additionally, he made helpful changes in trade laws, reducing duties on important goods and signing trade treaties with other states. This can...