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Victor Emanuel II

VICTOR EMMANUEL II (1820-1878) First king (1861-1878) of united Italy and last king of Piedmont-Sardinia (1849-1861). 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. 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. 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. 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.
Emiliana P. Noether


F. Cognasso, ed. Le Lettere di Vittorio Emanuele II. (Turin, 1966).

Denis Mack Smith. Victor Emanuel, Cavour and the Risorgimento. (New York, 1971).

Denis Mack Smith. Italy and Its Monarchy. (New Haven, 1989).

H. McGaw Smyth, "The Armistice of Novara: A Legend of a Liberal King," Journal of Modern History (1935): 141-74.

F. Valsecchi, ed. Le Relazioni diplomatiche fra l'Austria e il Regno di Sardegna (1849-1860). (Rome, 1963).

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