Victor Emmanuel

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Victor Emmanuel


(Vittorio Emmanuele), kings of the Savoy dynasty in Sardinia (Piedmont) and in the United Kingdom of Italy.

Victor Emmanuel I. Born July 24, 1759; died Jan. 10, 1824. King of Sardinia from 1802 to 1821. From 1793 to 1796 he commanded the Sardinian Army in the war against revolutionary France. After the French occupation, the Kingdom of Piedmont was located mainly on the island of Sardinia. After the fall of Napoleon I, Victor Emmanuel I returned to Turin in 1814, and by the terms of the Peace of Paris of 1814-15 he regained his previous domains, to which the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) added the territory of the liquidated Genoese Republic. In his domains (except Genoa) he re-stored the laws effective before 1798. At the beginning of the bourgeois revolution in Piedmont (March 1821), Victor Emmanuel I, not desiring to make constitutional concessions, abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Karl Felix.


Victor Emmanuel II. Born Mar. 14, 1820; died Jan. 1, 1878. King of Sardinia from 1849 to 1861 and first king of united Italy from 1861 to 1878. In the period of struggle for national liberation and the unification of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II supported the plans of the liberals (under Cavour’s leadership), aiming at the unification of Italy “from above” around the Sardinian monarchy by means of dynastic arrangements with the Italian sovereigns and foreign powers, first with France. Conducting a bitter struggle with the republican-democratic camp of the national liberation movement, he attempted to attract individual representatives of that camp, especially G. Garibaldi, to the side of the monarchy to use them for his own purposes.

Thus, in the course of the Austro-Italo-French War of 1859, Victor Emmanuel II entrusted Garibaldi with the command of a corps of volunteers. During the march of The Thousand (1860), the king occupied a dual position. Not openly opposing Garibaldi’s expedition, he nevertheless tried to limit its scope and independence; but when in the course of the Revolution of 1859-60 The Thousand liberated southern Italy, the king dispatched a Piedmontese army to the south in order to suppress the revolution and keep Garibaldi from power. The Piedmont bourgeois-monarchic bloc took advantage of the successes of the popular uprisings in order to annex the states of central and southern Italy to the Kingdom of Sardinia after those states were freed from the power of local sovereigns.

In 1861, Victor Emmanuel II was proclaimed king of Italy. He headed the Italian Army during the Austro-Italian War of 1866. Fearing the discontent of France, which had stationed a garrison in Rome, Victor Emmanuel II obstructed Garibaldi’s attempts to liberate Rome from papal power. However, after the fall of the French Empire in 1870, he sent troops to Rome and occupied the city simultaneously with Garibaldi’s forces. The secular power of the papacy was liquidated. After 1870, in the sphere of foreign policy, the king took the first steps toward a rapprochement with Austria and Germany through an exchange of visits with the courts of Vienna and Berlin in 1873-75.


Victor Emmanuel III. Born Nov. 11, 1869; died Dec. 28, 1947. He was the last king of Italy (1900-46). He supported the fascist dictatorship (established in Italy with his assistance in 1922) until its collapse in 1943, when, under the threat of mass disturbances in the country, he removed Mussolini from power (the so-called palace coup of July 25, 1943). Striving to preserve the monarchy, Victor Emmanuel III transferred royal functions to his son Umberto, making him vicegerent on June 5, 1944; on May 9, 1946, he abdicated the throne and later left the country. On June 18 of that year Italy was declared a republic by referendum.