Alessandria is a city in Piedmont, Italy, and the capital of the Province of Alessandria. The city is situated between the Tanaro and the Bormida rivers, about 90 kilometres southeast of Turin. Alessandria was founded in 1168 with a charter as a free comune. It was sited upon a preexisting urban nucleus, to serve as a stronghold for the Lombard League, defending the traditional liberties of the communes of northern Italy against the Imperial forces of Frederick I Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor. Alessandria stood in the territories of the marquis of Montferrat, an ally of the Emperor. The name assumed in 1168 honoured the Emperor's opponent, Pope Alexander III. In 1174–1175, Alessandria resisted an Imperial siege. From 1348, Alessandria was ruled by the Visconti and passed with their possessions to the Sforza. In 1707 it was ceded to the House of Savoy and henceforth formed part of Piedmont. With Napoleon's success at the Battle of Marengo in 1800, Alessandria fell to France and became the capital of the Napoleonic Département of Marengo. From 1814 Alessandria was a Savoyard territory again, part of the Kingdom of Sardinia until the Unification of Italy in 1861. As a free comune, Alessandria received its right to mint coins in 1197 from Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1194-1250) and minted coins until the middle of the 14th cantury. It issued again necessity coinage while it was besieged by Franco-Iberic forces during the Battle of Piacenza in 1746.
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