Victor Emmanuel II

(Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel of Italy)


Victor Emmanuel was the first king of unified Italy. He reigned as King of Sardinia from 1849 to 1861, and was proclaimed King of Italy after the Second War of Italian Independence.

Born the eldest son of Charles Albert of Sardinia and Maria Theresa of Tuscany, Victor fought in the First Italian War of Independence before being made King of Piedmont-Sardinia following his father's abdication. He appointed Camillo di Cavour, a political mastermind, as his Prime Minister, and after the success of the Crimean War Cavour arranged an agreement with the French Emperor: the kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia in exchange for French acquisistion of Nice and Savoy. Napoleon III, however, chose to initate an additional treaty with Austrian leader Franz Joseph I, and as a result France was stripped of its Italian territories and Victor Emmanuel was unable to acquire Venetia. Meanwhile, the Italian king had driven the pope into the Vatican City and was thereafter excommunicated from the Catholic Church, but he managed to save face when Giuseppe Garibaldi obtained for him the territories of Sicily and Naples. The Kingdom of Italy was officially established in 1861, and Victor Emmanuel II was chosen as its king.

Victor obtained additional land during the Third Italian War of Independence, this time allying himself with Prussia. He managed to capture Rome after the French withdrew, and he established the city as the capital of Italy. The remainder of his reign was spent quietly, as he dealt with little more than economic and cultural issues. He passed away in Rome shortly following the reversal of his excommunication by Pope Pius IX and was buried in the Pantheon.

Key events during the life of Victor Emmanuel II:

Born the eldest son of Charles Albert and Maria Theresa of Austria
Fought in First Italian War of Independence
Became King of Piedmont-Sardinia after his father abdicated the throne
Appointed Camillo di Cavour Prime Minister
Crimean War against Russia
Second Italian War of Independence
Beginning of Italo-French campaign against Austria
  Drove the pope into the Vatican City. Was excommunicated from the Catholic Church
Kingdom of Italy was established with Victor Emmanuel as its king
Third Italian War of Independence
Took Rome and established the city as the capital of Italy
Died in Rome

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Garibaldi and Italian Unity  in  Nations of Europe and the Great War  by  Charles Morris
The Expansion of Germany  in  Nations of Europe and the Great War  by  Charles Morris
King of United Italy  in  Growth of the British Empire  by  M. B. Synge
The Liberation of Italy  in  The History of Prussia  by  John S.C. Abbott

Image Links

Garibaldi Welcoming Victor Emmanuel II. as King of Italy
 in Greatest Nations - Germany

Victor Emmanuel III. Taking the Oath of Office
 in Greatest Nations - Germany
Meeting of Victor Emmanuel and Garibaldi
Meeting of Victor Emmanuel and Garibaldi
 in Back Matter

Short Biography
Garibaldi Led several campaigns in the Wars of Italian Unification. Renowned as a hero patriot of Italy.
Napoleon III Nephew of Napoleon, elected emperor of France after revolution of 1848. Deposed after disastrous Franco-Prussian War.
Empress Eugenie Wife of Napoleon III and Empress of France. Influential figure in society and fashion as well as politics.
Kaiser William I First Kaiser of a United German Empire. With Bismarck as Chancellor, defeated Austria and France.