Victor Emanuel II


Vittorio Emmauel II


Was origionally the Prince of Naples and King of Piedmont-Sardinia until 1861, then assumed the title of First king  of  Italy(1861-1878).Victor Emmanuel succeeded his father Charles Albert to the throne of Piedmont-Sardinia on March 24, 1849, following the abdication of Charles Albert after two humiliating defeats (1848 and 1849) by Austria. The first task to face the young, inexperienced monarch was making peace with Austria, which he successfully achieved by August 6, 1849, with the signing of the Treaty of Milan. Although opposed to constitutionalism and a believer in unrestrained royal authority, Victor Emmanuel retained the constitution, or Statuto, granted by his father in January 1848. Under the guidance of two able prime ministers Massimo d’Azeglio and then Camillo Benso di Cavour, both veterans of the 1848-49 turmoils, Victor Emmanuel successfully met various crises in the early years of his reign. However, during this time Emmanuel convinced Cavour to ally with Britain and France during the Crimean War against the Russian Empire. this war while providing powerful allies to Italy would help the expansion of France as their assistance in wars against Austria cost Italy the regions of Nice and Savoy. In the 1850s Piedmont-Sardinia remained the only constitutional state in Italy, a haven for persecuted Italian nationalists and liberals who had been involved in the 1848-49 revolutions.


Emmanuel Meeting Garibaldi in Teano (Garibaldi Left, Emmanuel Right)



By 1859, assured of military support by Napoleon III of France in the Treaty of Plombières, Piedmont-Sardinia once again went to war with Austria. As a result of this conflict, Austria ceded Lombardy. In 1860 Emmanuel set out to fight the Papal Army, while this proved successful as he successfully captured Rome and drove the Pope back into Vatican city, it came at a cost. Emmanuel was then excommunicated for his actions.Successive upheavals in the smaller states of central Italy and Giuseppe Garibaldi’s successful campaign in southern Italy against the Neapolitan Bourbons led to the creation of a united Italy. On March 17, 1861, the kingdom of united Italy was proclaimed at Turin, capital of Piedmont-Sardinia, in a national parliament composed of deputies elected from all over the peninsula and the 1848 Statuto extended to all of Italy. Victor Emmanuel became the new country’s first king. To the disappointment of many, however, he insisted on retaining his dynastic designation of Victor Emmanuel II, rather than becoming Victor Emmanuel I of Italy.


This is a speach given by Emmanuel during his inaguaration as first king of Italy.

Free, and nearly entirely united, the opinion of civilized nations is favorable to us; the just and liberal principles, now prevailing in the councils of Europe, are favorable to us. Italy herself, too, will become a guarantee of order and peace, and will once more be an efficacious instrument of universal civilization. . . .These facts have inspired the nation with great confidence in its own destinies. I take pleasure in manifesting to the first Parliament of Italy the joy I feel in my heart as king and soldier. 

Monument in Rome to Vittorio Emanuel

Monument in Rome to Vittorio Emanuel

Emiliana P. Noether (

D. Zanichelli, ed., The Writings of Count Cavour (Bologna, 1892), II:4-50; The Annual Register or a View of the History and Politics of the Year 1858 (London, 1859), pp. 186-188; Count C. Arrivabene, Italy under Victor Emmanuel (London, 1862), I:349-353.

This is a brief description of Victor Emanuel II and what he did while he was in power. As well as a primary source from Emmanuel during his Inauguartion.

~Caroline DeLuca (edited by Brendan Helms)


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