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Ignazio Giuseppe Bertola Roveda

Tortona, 1676 – Turin, 22 May 1755

Count of Exilles

Born in Tortona in 1676, he was a member of a local bourgeois family, the Roveda. He lost his father while he was a child. His mother married the Advocate Antonio Bertola (1647 – 1719). Bertola was also famous as an expert in military fortifications, and he was soon called to the Savoy Court with the rank of military engineer. He decided to adopt Ignazio Giuseppe and to give him his surname. So he became Ignazio Giuseppe Bertola. Ignazio Giuseppe was near his adoptive father during the Spanish Succession War, especially during the great works around the Citadel of Turin, in the years 1704-705. An extremely well planned countermine system was excavated around the fortress, while three earth made counterguards were built before the western bastions. A tenaille was created in the middle of the central Place of Arms, and it was called the “Tagliata Reale” (the Royal Tenaille). All these fortifications were under the direct control of Bertola father and son. At the end of the war the new Kingdom of Sardinia had new frontiers to be fortificated. Antonio Bertola had the commission to project the new great Fortress of Susa, La Brunetta, and a new construction over the old French Fortress of Exilles. In 1719 Antonio Bertola died, and his son Ignazio became the ideal successor. He continued the works of the father around the Fortress of La Brunetta, and began the construction of the new Fort of Exilles, and he began to project the new Placefort of Fenestrelle, in Chisone Valley. Ignazio was also present around the walls of the Fortress of Demonte, in Stura Valley. The 20 December 1726 Victor Amadeus II decide that all the military engineers, before then civilians, had to be in the Battalion de l’Artillerie. Ignazio became the “Master of Fortifications”,

with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry, the 23 April 1728. In the same year he had the charge to build a new great hexagonal Citadel in Alessandria, on the River Tanaro. This Citadel was the fulcrum of the eastern defence of the Kingdom, as the Maillebois’s campaign should illustrate quite well in 1745. In 1732 Bertola became Primo Ingegnere di S.M. (First Engineer of H.M.). The new King Charles Emmanuel III confirmed Ignazio Bertola the First Engineer. At the outbreak of the Polish Succession War Ignazio Bertola was attached to the Artillery Regiment and with his colleague de Wullancourt he directed the siege of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan (16 December – 2 January 1734). Fenestrelle, Alessandria and Exilles were completed in their general outline just before the Austrian Succession War. Since the grandiosity of the new fortifications the sun of Bertola had to rise more and more: in 1739 he had the possibility to open inside the barracks of the great Arsenal of Turin the new Regia Scuola Teorica e Pratica d’Artiglieria e Fortificazione (Royal School of Theory and Practice of Artillery and Fortifications). He was the first Director of this school. In Turin he worked also as Civil Engineer, rebuilding the Via Dora Grossa, the main street of Capital to the western gates. At the beginning of the Austrian Succession War he was created Compte de Exilles, the 2 march 1742. He had to plan the strategic defence of the Varaita and Maira Valleys. A new mountain road was create to favourite the transport of artillery and troops over the watershed of the two Valleys. Little artillery pieces were designed and cast under his direction. The 4 pounds had their fuses divided in two sections, a particular device for the transport with mules. In 1743 he fortificated the section of Varaita Valley at the gorge of Chateau Dauphin. These field fortifications were quite useful to stop the French – Spanish autumnal offensive. The follow year a new fortified line was created to close completely the Varaita Valley, and three Forts, in stone and wood, were erected by Bertola around the Village of Chateau, In any case the heavy guns had little effect on the Prince Conti’s offensive in summer 1744. The French column under the Balive De Grivy, after an extremely bloody battle around the Redoubt of Mount Passet (Battle of Pierrelongue, 19 July 1744), were able to break the defensive line just in its central section. The 1744 was the bleak year for the First Engineer: the Fortress of Demonte, completely rebuilt under his direction, had fallen after less than a week of artillery bombardment. The King and his powerful Minister of War, Giovambattista Bogino, defended the Compte de Exilles from the adverse criticisms by many army’s officers and his career was in safe. In 1745 the Fort of Exilles proved to be far better balanced than its “brother” of Demonte. The French army under General Lautrec had no possibility to obtain its surrender with artillery fire. In the same time the great Citadel of Alessandria became the main stronghold against the enemy invasion of eastern Piedmont. Anyway, the other Fort of Tortona, again rebuild under his will, had the same trouble of Demonte, and the stronghold finally fell in September 1745. With the Minister of War Bogino, Ignazio Bertola planned the counter offensive that at the beginning of 1746 cleared the east side of Piedmont from all the French garrison. Under the offensive of Baron Leutrum’s Army were captured the City of Asti, Casale, Valenza and Alessandria, and its Citadel liberated from the block. The counter offensive was so well planned in detail that the field Engineer Vedano had to said: The bread is too much minutely cut! About this plan all is yet decided and previously calculated, with the precisely order to Baron Leutrum and Messieur Vedano to conform completely to it. Engeneer Vedano In 1746 Ignazio Bertola saw his last field service: the 5 October he began the siege of the Fort St. Paul over Veintemille. The garrison was under the Major Diafthalez with the 214 Swiss soldiers of 3rd battalion of the Regiment Visier and 7 cannons. With the 2nd battalion of the Regiment Fusilliers

and the Battalions of Aoste and Chablais, the siege began the 10 October, under the eyes of the King Charles Emmanuel III. Bertola placed a first battery of eight cannons of 24 and 32 pounds. Since the fire created no visible damage, another battery of four 16 pounds cannons and two mortars was posted in a better collocation, while the miners reached the walls of the Fort. The 23 October the garrison surrender. At the end of the war, the 4 July 1752, Charles Emmanuel III ordered that the Engineers had to leave the Artillery to create a new Corp des Ingegneurs de S.M. Ignazio Bertola d’Exilles the 7 July was ranked Chef of the Corp. Celebrated, flattered and famous, he died in Turin the 22 may 1755. He is buried in the crypt of the Basilica Magistrale dei SS. Maurizio e Lazzaro in Turin.

1676 Born 1728 “Master of Fortifications”, Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry, 23 April 1728 1732 First Engineer de S.M. 1739 Director of the new Regia Scuola Teorica e Pratica d’Artiglieria e Fortificazione 1742 Compte de Exilles, 2 march 1742 1752 Chef des Corp des Ingenieurs de S.M., Colonel of infantry, 4 July 1752 1755 Died, 22 may

Fortress Built by Ignazio Bertola Placefort of Fenestrelle (Fort St. Carlo, Fort Tre Denti, Fort Valli) Citadel of Alessandria Fort of Exilles (Ravelin de St. Carlo) Fort de Demonte

Giovanni Cerino-Badone