24 July 2016

Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia

The first king to be called Victor Emmanuel

King Victor Emmanuel I
King Victor Emmanuel I
The King of Sardinia between 1802 and 1821, Victor Emmanuel I was born on this day in 1759 in the Royal Palace in Turin.

He was the second son of King Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia and was known from birth as the Duke of Aosta.

When the King died in 1796, Victor Emmanuel’s older brother succeeded as King Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia.

Within two years the royal family was forced to leave Turin because their territory in the north was occupied by French troops.

After his wife died, Charles Emmanuel abdicated the throne in favour of his brother, Victor Emmanuel, because he had no heir.

The Duke of Aosta became Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia in June 1802 and ruled from Cagliari for the next 12 years until he was able to return to Turin.

During his reign he formed the Carabinieri, which is still one of the primary forces of law and order in Italy.

The Carabinieri, the Italian police corps  recognisable for their elaborate uniforms
The Carabinieri, the Italian police corps
recognisable for their elaborate uniforms
On the death of his older brother in 1819, he became the heir general of the Jacobite succession as Victor Emmanuel I of England, Scotland and Ireland, but he never made any public claims to the British throne.

He abdicated in favour of his brother, Charles Felix, in 1821 and died three years later at the Castle of Moncalieri in Turin.

When the newly-unified Kingdom of Italy was officially proclaimed in 1861, the first monarch chose to call himself Victor Emmanuel II, out of respect for his ancestor, Victor Emmanuel I.

Victor Emmanuel II had become King of Sardinia in 1849 after his father, Charles Albert, had abdicated. He in turn had succeeded his distant cousin, Charles Felix, the brother of Victor Emmanuel I.

Travel tip:

Turin is the capital city of the region of Piedmont in the north of Italy and has a rich history linked with the House of Savoy. There are many impressive Renaissance, baroque and rococo buildings in the centre of the city. Piazza Castello with the royal palace, royal library and Palazzo Madama, which used to house the Italian senate, is at the heart of royal Turin.

The dome of the Cathedral towers over Cagliari's medieval Castello quarter
The dome of the Cathedral towers over Cagliari's
medieval Castello quarter
Travel tip:

Sardinia is a large island off the coast of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. It has sandy beaches and a mountainous landscape. The southern city of Cagliari, from where Victor Emmanuel I ruled, has a medieval quarter called Castello, which has narrow streets, palaces and a 13th century Cathedral.

(Carabinieri photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Castello by Martin Kraft CC BY-SA 3.0)

More reading: 

Camillo Benso di Cavour - Italy's first Prime Minister


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