17 November 2015

Umberto I assassination bid

First attempt to kill the king is foiled

Umberto I was unpopular over how he dealt with civil unrest
Umberto I was unpopular over how
he dealt with civil unrest
An unsuccessful attempt was made on the life of King Umberto I of Italy on this day in 1878 in Naples.

Umberto was making a tour of the kingdom accompanied by his wife, Queen Margherita, and the Prime Minister, Benedetto Cairoli.

While saluting the crowds in Naples from his carriage, Umberto was attacked by a young man, Giovanni Passannante, who was employed as a cook at the time, but was later described as an anarchist. Passanante jumped on the carriage and attempted to stab the King. Umberto warded off the blow with his sabre but the Prime Minister, who came to his aid, was wounded in the thigh.

This was the first of three attempts on the life of Umberto I, who despite being nicknamed il Buono (the good), lost popularity with his subjects as his reign progressed.

An attempt was made on the life of King Umberto I of Italy on a Naples street in 1878.
A street in the centre of Naples
He had won the respect of people because of the way he conducted himself during his military career and as a result of his marriage to Margherita of Savoy and the subsequent birth of their son, who was to become King Victor Emmanuel III.

But Umberto became increasingly unpopular because of his imperialist policies and his harsh ways of dealing with civil unrest.

Queen Margherita was loved in Naples, where she visited schools and hospitals and organised collections of toys and clothes for the children of poor families. She was seen to hold the hands of cholera victims without wearing gloves and to join the ordinary women in their processions to the Duomo.

As a result, Pizza Margherita, with its tomato, basil and mozzarella topping representing the colours of the Italian flag, was created in Naples and named after her.

However, her popularity didn’t help Umberto, who in 1897 was attacked again, this time by an unemployed ironworker who tried, but failed, to stab him in Rome.

But in July 1900 the anarchists were finally successful. Umberto was shot and killed in Monza by Gaetano Bresci, who later claimed he wanted to avenge those killed in a recent massacre in Milan, when military force had been used against ordinary people protesting about rising bread prices.

The Duomo in Naples
The Duomo in Naples
Travel tip:

Visit the Duomo in Naples, in Via Duomo, off Via Tribunali in the heart of the city. The cathedral was built over the ruins of two earlier Christian churches for Charles I of Anjou at the end of the 13th century. It is open 8.30 to 1.30 and 2.30 to 8 pm Monday to Saturday and 8.30 to 1.30 and 4.30 to 7.30 pm on Sundays.

Travel Tip:

Monza, the third largest city in Lombardia, is a few miles north of Milan . You can see the spot where King Umberto I was assassinated in Via Matteo da Campione. It is now marked by an Expiatory Chapel, built on the orders of Umberto’s son and successor, King Victor Emanuel III. The monument was designed by architect Giuseppe Sacconi.


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