City (its district is the Alessandrino) and province in northwestern Italy. The city, which stands on the River Tanaro, a tributary of the Po, lies ESE of Turin and southwest of Milan. It was built by the anti-Imperial Lombard League in 1168, and named after their protector, Pope Alexander III.
In the 1260s it came under the control first of the Marquis of neighbouring Montferrat, later of Uberto Pavallicini, who controlled Cremona, and then of the advancing champion of Papal interests, Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily. Charles was over-stretched, so that, by 1269, Alessandria had come back into the hands of the Marquis of Montferrat, who was eventually overthrown in 1290, and died in an Alessandrian prison.
Alessandrian freedom was short-lived; Milan intervened in its affairs in the 1290s; later Robert, King of Naples, dominated it as Papal Vicar in northern Italy, from 1310 until 1315, when Milan resumed control. Visconti, Sforza, French Valois and Spanish Habsburg successively held Alessandria. During the War of Spanish Succession, Savoyard troops occupied it in 1706. Savoy’s possession was confirmed by treaty in 1713.
With the rest of Piedmont Alessandria was annexed by France in 1802 and became the capital of the French department of Marengo. When the Kingdom of Sardinia was restored, the department became a province, named after its capital.
The province of Alessandria is today in the Piemonte Region.