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historic area of northwestern Italy covering most of the modern province of Alessandria in the Piedmont region. During the Middle Ages, Montferrat was an independent march (or marquessate). Its local autonomy ended when the Gongazas of Mantua were recognized as its rulers in 1536. In 1708 Montferrat was annexed by the House of Savoy, rulers of neighbouring Piedmont, who had long contested for it.