- Victor Emmanuel II
- Vittorio Emanuele II (1820–1878)Born in Turin on 19 March 1820, this last king of Sardinia and first king of a united Italy grew up in Tuscany and Piedmont. He was the son of Charles Albert and Maria Teresa of Tuscany. As a young man, he married Maria Adelaide, daughter of the Austrian viceroy in Lombardy-Venetia. Despite his lack of command experience, he led a division in the War of Independence of 1848–1849. Defeat at Novara led his father to abdicate and brought young Victor Emmanuel to the throne. In that position, he negotiated an armistice with General Radetzky. He revealed his absolutist inclinations by twice dissolving Parliament when its majority objected to the resultant treaty. The king twice called for new elections until the majority that he preferred was realized. Parliament approved the treaty with Austria in 1850. The king further circumvented the parliament by making a secret arrangement with France for the dispatch of Piedmontese troops to the Crimea in 1854, just as he was later to make a secret alliance with France in the event of war with Prussia. After Giuseppe Garibaldi had ceded southern Italy to Piedmont (18 March 1861), his influence with the new king of Italy grew, to the intense chagrin of Camillo Benso di Cavour. In fact, Victor Emmanuel retained secret contacts with both Giuseppe Mazzini and Garibaldi throughout his reign. When Rome was absorbed, the Piedmontese king of united Italy began to be called “Father of his Country.” His dynastic policy often put him at odds with his government, his claims to uphold the Statuto Albertino notwithstanding. His maneuvering brought down the governments of both Bettino Ricasoli and Marco Minghetti. One of his sons, Amadeo, was king of Spain from 1870 to 1873.His wife, having produced eight children (three of whom died in childhood), passed away in 1855. He remarried morganatically. His new wife was Rosa Vercellana Guerrieri, whom he gave the title of Countess of Mirafiore e Fontanafredda. Victor Emmanuel laid the groundwork for the Triple Alliance by visiting both Berlin and Vienna in 1873. He died in Rome in 1878, aged 58, and was succeeded by his son, Humbert I (Umberto I).
Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. Mark F. Gilbert & K. Robert Nilsson. 2007.