Umberto I of Italy

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Umberto I
King of Italy
Umbertoofitaly.jpg
Portrait in 1878
King of Italy (more...)
Reign 9 January 1878 – 29 July 1900
Predecessor Victor Emmanuel II
Successor Victor Emmanuel III
Consort Margherita of Savoy
Issue Victor Emmanuel III
House House of Savoy
Father Victor Emmanuel II
Mother Adelaide of Austria
Born 14 March 1844
Turin, Kingdom of Sardinia
Died 29 July 1900(1900-07-29) (aged 56)
Monza, Kingdom of Italy
Burial Pantheon, Rome, Kingdom of Italy
Signature
Religion Roman Catholicism

Umberto I or Humbert I (Italian: Umberto Ranieri Carlo Emanuele Giovanni Maria Ferdinando Eugenio di Savoia, English: Humbert Ranier Charles Emmanuel John Mary Ferdinand Eugene of Savoy; 14 March 1844 – 29 July 1900), nicknamed the Good (in Italian il Buono), was the King of Italy from 9 January 1878 until his death.

Umberto's reign saw Italy attempt colonial expansion into the Horn of Africa, successfully gaining Eritrea and Somalia despite being defeated by Abyssinia at the Battle of Adowa in 1896. In 1882, he approved the Triple Alliance with the German Empire and Austria-Hungary.

He was deeply loathed in leftist circles, because of his conservatism and support of the Bava-Beccaris massacre in Milan. He was especially hated by anarchists, who attempted an assassination on him during the first year of his reign. He was killed by another anarchist, Gaetano Bresci, two years after the Bava-Bacharis massacre.

Youth[edit]

Umberto I.
20 Lire of 1888 representing the King.

The son of Victor Emmanuel II and Archduchess Adelaide of Austria, Umberto was born in Turin, which was then capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia, on 14 March 1844, his father's 24th birthday. His education was entrusted to, amongst others, Massimo Taparelli, marquis d'Azeglio and Pasquale Stanislao Mancini.

From March 1858 he had a military career in the Sardinian army, beginning with the rank of captain. Umberto took part in the Italian Wars of Independence: he was present at the battle of Solferino in 1859, and in 1866 commanded the XVI Division at the Villafranca battle that followed the Italian defeat at Custoza.

Because of the upheaval the Savoys caused to a number of other royal houses (all the Italian ones, and those related closely with them, such as the Bourbons of Spain and France) in 1859–60, only a minority of royal families in the 1860s were willing to establish relations with the newly founded Italian royal family. It proved difficult to find any royal bride for either of the sons of king Victor Emmanuel II. (His younger son Amedeo, Umberto's brother, married ultimately a Piedmontese subject, princess Vittoria of Cisterna.) Their conflict with the papacy did not help these matters. Not many eligible Catholic royal brides were easily available for young Umberto.

At first, Umberto was to marry Archduchess Mathilde of Austria, a scion of a remote sideline of the Austrian imperial house; however, she died as the result of an accident at the age of 18. On 21 April 1868 Umberto married his first cousin, Margherita Teresa Giovanna, Princess of Savoy. Their only son was Victor Emmanuel, prince of Naples. She was one of the rare young ladies of any royal house available to the despised Savoy royal family in that decade – being a Savoy herself.

Reign[edit]

Ascending the throne on the death of his father (9 January 1878), Umberto adopted the title "Umberto I of Italy" rather than "Umberto IV" (of Savoy), and consented that the remains of his father should be interred at Rome in the Pantheon, rather than the royal mausoleum of Basilica of Superga.

First assassination attempt[edit]

Italian Royalty
House of Savoy
Lesser coat of arms of the Kingdom of Italy (1890).svg

Victor Emmanuel II
Children
Princess Marie Clothilde
Umberto I (born 1844)
Amadeo I, King of Spain (born 1845)
Maria Pia, Queen of Portugal (born 1847)
Vittoria (born 2 December 1848)
Emanuele Alberto (born 16 March 1851), Count of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda.
Grandchildren
Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Aosta
Vittorio Emanuele, Count of Turin
Luigi, Duke of the Abruzzi
Umberto, Count of Salemi
Great Grandchildren
Amedeo, 3rd Duke of Aosta
Aimone, 4th Duke of Aosta
Great Great Grandchildren
Margherita, Archduchess of Austria-Este
Princess Maria Cristina
Amedeo, 5th Duke of Aosta
Great Great Great Grandchildren
Princess Bianca
Aimone, Duke of Apulia
Princess Mafalda
Umberto I
Children
Victor Emmanuel III
Victor Emmanuel III
Children
Princess Yolanda
Princess Mafalda
Umberto II
Giovanna, Queen of Bulgaria
Princess Maria
Umberto II
Children
Princess Maria Pia
Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples
Princess Maria Gabriella
Princess Maria Beatrice
Grandchildren
Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Venice and Piedmont
Great Grandchildren
Princess Vittoria
Princess Luisa

While on a tour of the kingdom, accompanied by Queen Margherita and the Prime Minister Benedetto Cairoli, he was attacked with a dagger by an anarchist, Giovanni Passannante, during a parade in Naples on 17 November 1878. The King warded off the blow with his sabre, but Cairoli, in attempting to defend him, was severely wounded in the thigh. The would-be assassin was condemned to death, even though the law only allowed the death penalty if the King was killed. The King commuted the sentence to one of penal servitude for life, which was served in a cell only 1.4 meters (4 ft 7 in) high, without sanitation and with 18 kilograms (40 lb) of chains. Passanante would later die in a psychiatric institution.[1] The incident upset the health of Queen Margherita for several years.[citation needed]

Foreign policy[edit]

In foreign policy Umberto I approved the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany, repeatedly visiting Vienna and Berlin. Many in Italy, however, viewed with hostility an alliance with their former Austrian enemies, who were still occupying areas claimed by Italy.

Umberto was also favorably disposed towards the policy of colonial expansion inaugurated in 1885 by the occupation of Massawa in Eritrea. Italy expanded into Somalia in the 1880s as well. Umberto I was suspected of aspiring to a vast empire in north-east Africa, a suspicion which tended somewhat to diminish his popularity after the disastrous Battle of Adowa in Ethiopia on 1 March 1896.

In the summer of 1900, Italian forces were part of the Eight-Nation Alliance which participated in the Boxer Rebellion in Imperial China. Through the Boxer Protocol, signed after Umberto's death, the Kingdom of Italy gained a concession territory in Tientsin.

Umberto's attitude towards the Holy See was uncompromising. In an 1886 telegram, he declared Rome "untouchable" and affirmed the permanence of the Italian possession of the "Eternal City".

Turmoil[edit]

The reign of Umberto I was a time of social upheaval, though it was later claimed to have been a tranquil belle époque. Social tensions mounted as a consequence of the relatively recent occupation of the kingdom of the two Sicilies, the spread of socialist ideas, public hostility to the colonialist plans of the various governments, especially Crispi's, and the numerous crackdowns on civil liberties. The protesters included the young Benito Mussolini, then a member of the socialist party. On 22 April 1897, Umberto I was attacked again, by an unemployed ironsmith, Pietro Acciarito, who tried to stab him near Rome.

Bava-Beccaris massacre[edit]

During the colonial wars in Africa, large demonstrations over the rising price of bread were held in Italy and on 7 May 1898 the city of Milan was put under military control by General Fiorenzo Bava-Beccaris, who ordered the use of cannon on the demonstrators; as a result, about 100 people were killed according to the authorities (some claim[who?] the death toll was about 350); about a thousand were wounded. King Umberto sent a telegram to congratulate Bava-Beccaris on the restoration of order and later decorated him with the medal of Great Official of Savoy Military Order, greatly outraging a large part of the public opinion.

Assassination[edit]

Gaetano Bresci, the killer of Umberto I
Tomb of Umberto I at the Pantheon

On the evening of 29 July 1900, Umberto was assassinated when he was shot four times by the Italo-American anarchist Gaetano Bresci in Monza. Bresci claimed he wanted to avenge the people killed during the Bava-Beccaris massacre.

Umberto was buried in the Pantheon in Rome, by the side of his father Victor Emmanuel II, on 9 August 1900. He was the last Savoy to be buried there, as his son and successor Victor Emmanuel III died in exile and is still buried in Egypt.

American anarchist Leon F. Czolgosz claimed that the assassination of Umberto I was his inspiration to kill U. S. President William McKinley in September 1901.

Titles as King of Italy[edit]

From 1860 to 1946, the following titles were used by the King of Italy:

Umberto the First, by the Grace of God, King of Italy, King of Sardinia, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Armenia, Duke of Savoy, count of Maurienne, Marquis (of the Holy Roman Empire) in Italy; prince of Piedmont, Carignano, Oneglia, Poirino, Trino; Prince and Perpetual vicar of the Holy Roman Empire; prince of Carmagnola, Montmellian with Arbin and Francin, prince bailliff of the Duchy of Aosta, Prince of Chieri, Dronero, Crescentino, Riva di Chieri e Banna, Busca, Bene, Brà, Duke of Genoa, Monferrat, Aosta, Duke of Chablais, Genevois, Duke of Piacenza, Marquis of Saluzzo (Saluces), Ivrea, Susa, del Maro, Oristano, Cesana, Savona, Tarantasia, Borgomanero e Cureggio, Caselle, Rivoli, Pianezza, Govone, Salussola, Racconigi con Tegerone, Migliabruna e Motturone, Cavallermaggiore, Marene, Modane e Lanslebourg, Livorno Ferraris, Santhià Agliè, Centallo e Demonte, Desana, Ghemme, Vigone, Count of Barge, Villafranca, Ginevra, Nizza, Tenda, Romont, Asti, Alessandria, del Goceano, Novara, Tortona, Bobbio, Soissons, Sant'Antioco, Pollenzo, Roccabruna, Tricerro, Bairo, Ozegna, delle Apertole, Baron of Vaud e del Faucigni, Lord of Vercelli, Pinerolo, della Lomellina, della Valle Sesia, del marchesato di Ceva, Overlord of Monaco, Roccabruna and 11/12th of Menton, Noble patrician of Venice, patrician of Ferrara.

Quotes[edit]

  • "Remember: to be a king all you need to know is how to sign your name, read a newspaper and mount a horse".[citation needed]

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Salvatore Merlino, «L'Italia così com'è», 1891 in "Al caffè", by Errico Malatesta, 1922

External links[edit]

Umberto I of Italy
Born: 14 March 1844 Died: 29 July 1900
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Victor Emmanuel II
King of Italy
1878–1900
Succeeded by
Victor Emmanuel III

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.