Bertoleoni family

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King Carlo I Bertoleoni and his family, which the Bertoleoni family claims was displayed in Buckingham Palace with the caption "The royal family of Tavolara, in the gulf of Terranova, the smallest kingdom in the world."[1]

Bertoleoni is the self-proclaimed ruling family of the self-styled "Kingdom of Tavolara" (Sardinia, Italy), which claimed to be "the smallest kingdom of the world" (now extinguished). The members of this family were also the only inhabitants of this island (whose land is owned partly by the Marzano family in Rome, and partly by a NATO military base) that had been abandoned in the 1730s because of North-African piracy in the area. They sustained themselves by goat farming and fishing. Currently, the mock-kingdom is a tourist attraction for the 50 or so native inhabitants of the island, where the current "king" and "crown princess" run its two restaurants and sell souvenirs to visitors of the Natural Park.

A Giuseppe Bertoleoni claimed that during a hunting trip, Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, verbally appointed him "king of Tavolara" in 1836. According to Giuseppe Bertoleoni, Charles Albert also (verbally) sanctioned the use of the title "Prince" for the oldest male heir, and the titles "Lord of the Islands" (Signore delle Isole) and "Lady of the Sea" (Signora del Mare) for the younger children of the king.

The present pretender to the throne is "King" Tonino, an Italian citizen who runs Da Tonino, a restaurant on the island.

Giuseppe (1836–1845)[edit]

Born December 20, 1778, on the nearby island of La Maddalena, Giuseppe Celestino Bertoleoni Poli was a shepherd and the only inhabitant of the island before Carlo Alberto's visit. He claimed to have impressed him as an educated man and to have been made king of the island shortly thereafter. He brought his two families from other islands to live with him. The Italian government tried to prosecute him for bigamy, but failed because of his title.[2][3] Passed kingdom to son Paolo in 1845; died 1849.[4][5][6] Giuseppe's origins are a mystery. Because he claimed to be more highly educated than the average Sardinian shepherd, some have speculated on no ground that he was a fugitive member of the Carbonari, an exiled French aristocrat, or even the Lost Dauphin.[7]

Paolo I (1845–1886)[edit]

Royal tomb of Paolo I and Pasqua Favale

Son of Giuseppe Bertoleoni and Laura Ornano, born 1815. In 1839 he visited King Charles Albert in Turin and obtained a royal charter to Tavolara. During this period, the Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi was associated with the Bertoleoni family, often visiting Paolo's relatives on the islands of La Maddalena and Caprera.[8][9]

After the creation of the Italian Kingdom in 1861, Paolo pressed and obtained recognition for Tavolara from Victor Emmanuel II[citation needed]. After he fell ill in 1882, his wife Pasqua Favale acted as regent until his death on May 30, 1886.[10][11] A number of newspapers published the report that on his deathbed he asked that the kingdom die with him, and that his family therefore established a republic. These reports, however, were erroneous.[12]

King Carlo I, royal consort Maddalena Favale, and three Ladies of the Sea (Hale, 1904).

Carlo I (1886–1927)[edit]

Son of Paolo I and Pasqua Favale, born 1845. In the summer of 1900 the British naval vessel HMS Vulcan visited Tavolara, and the officers took a photograph of King Carlo and his family to hang in Queen Victoria's collection of royal portraits in Buckingham Palace.[13][14] By 1904, however, Carlo was king in name only, having no ambition to rule. He is reported to have said, "I do not care to be a king. It is enough for me to make as fine lobster-pots as did my father." He was persuaded to reign, however, until his death, which was reported either Nov 6, 1927, at Olbia, or Jan 31, 1928, at Ventimiglia on the Italian Riviera.[15][16]

Mariangela (1927–1929)[edit]

Daughter of Paolo I and Pasqua Favale, born 1841, she took up the crown at the request of her nephew Paolo (Carlo's son and designated successor) during his absence from the island (he had left the island looking for a job). When Mariangela died April 6, 1934, it was reported that Italy would inherit the kingdom.[17][18]

Paolo II (1929–1962)[edit]

Son of Carlo I and Maddalena Favale, born 1897. Married 1930 to Italia Murru and initiated a renaissance of the monarchy. Appointed his cousin Prince Ernesto Carlo Geremia as Lieutenant General of the Kingdom. After Paolo's death Dec 2, 1962, the widowed Queen Italia Murru retired to Porto San Paolo on Sardinia, wintering at Capo Testa, until her death in 2003 at age 95. Paolo II was the last to actively rule Tavolara (numbering then about 50 inhabitants). At the end of his reign, half the island was occupied by a NATO military installation.[19]

Carlo II (1962–1993)[edit]

Eldest son of Paolo II and Italia Murru, born 1931. Married, no issue. Died May 1993 at Capo Testa, Sardinia.[20] During the 1960s and 70s, his cousins Maria Molinas Bertoleoni (1869–1974) and Laura Molinas Bertoleoni (d. 1979), both daughters of Mariangela and Bachisio Molinas, also laid claim to the vacant "throne".[21][22][23][24]

Tonino (1993– )[edit]

Antonio (Tonino) Bertoleoni, second son of Paolo II and Italia Murru, was born in 1933. He is the owner of Da Tonino restaurant; his sister Princess Maddalena owns La Corona restaurant nearby. Following the return of Vittorio Emanuele of Naples to his native Italy in 2002, Tonino vowed an appeal to him, as heir to the House of Savoy, for recognition of the Tavolaran kingdom.[25] Tonino's children by Maria "Pompea" Romano (1932–2010) are Loredana, Paola, and Giuseppe.[26] [27]


  1. ^ "Semana". Semana. 60 (1154–1166). 1962.
  2. ^ Ferrero della Marmora, Alberto (1860). Itinéraire de l'ile de Sardaigne pour faire suite au Voyage en cette contrée. Turin. pp. 190–193.
  3. ^ Wallechinsky, David, and Amy Wallace (2005), The New Book of Lists, pp 383-384, ISBN 1-84195-719-4
  4. ^ Valery, Antoine-Claude Pasquin (1837). Voyages en Corse, à l'ile d'Elbe et en Sardaigne. 2. Paris. p. 9.
  5. ^ "The Island of Sardinia", Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, July 1849, p 43
  6. ^ Vuillier, Gaston (1896), The Forgotten Isles: Impressions of Travel in the Balearic Isles, Corsica and Sardinia, trans. Frederic Breton, p 386
  7. ^ Meissner, Hans Otto (1963). Unknown Europe. trans. Florence and Isabel McHugh. London and Glasgow: Blackie & Sons. pp. 15–16.
  8. ^ Curato, Federico, ed. (1961). Le relazioni diplomatiche fra la Gran Bretagna e il Regno di Sardegna. ser. 3, vol. 2. Rome: Istituto Storico Italiano per l'Eta Moderna e Contemporanea. p. 287. Egli, il Garibaldi, passa il suo tempo alla pesca e alla caccia, la notte va di frequente a visitare la Famiglia Bertoleoni, ed il giorno, che resta a casa, se la fa leggendo.
  9. ^ Vecchi, Candido Augusto (1862). Garibaldi at Caprera. Cambridge: Macmillan and Company. pp. 95–108.
  10. ^ "E morto il Re!" La Sardegna, June 8, 1886, p 1
  11. ^ Saragat, Giovanni, "Paolo I Re di Tavolara. Un principe per burla. Storia e aneddoti." Il Nuovo Giornale, Oct 16-17, 1895
  12. ^ Meissner, Hans Otto (1963). Unknown Europe. trans. Florence and Isabel McHugh. London and Glasgow: Blackie & Sons. p. 23.
  13. ^ "Semana". Semana. 60 (1154–1166). 1962.
  14. ^ "Forgotten Flags: Tavolara". The Flag bulletin. Winchester, Mass: Flag Research Center. 15-17: 131. 1976.
  15. ^ Hale, Walter (Nov 1904). "The Search for a Lost Republic". Harper's Monthly Magazine. CIX (DCXLIX): 929–936.
  16. ^ "Tavolara's King Dies; Ruled Tiniest Realm; Charles Bartoleoni Was Monarch of Small Island Off Sardinia's Coast". New York Times. February 1, 1928. p. 27. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  17. ^ "Princess Dies at Age of 100 on Lonely Island," Chicago Daily Tribune, July 1, 1934, p F2
  18. ^ "Italy Gets Queen's Island of Tavolara," Hartford Courant, July 9, 1934, p 15
  19. ^ "E' morto ieri il "re" dell'isola di Tavolara". La Stampa. Dec 3, 1962. p. 11. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  20. ^ Grandesso, Corrado (May 9, 1993). "E' morto il "re pescatore"". La Stampa. p. 13. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Oldest Claimant to Royalty is 100," Associated Press, July 5, 1969
  22. ^ "La principessa di Tavolare ha compiuto ieri 104 anni". La Stampa. July 3, 1973. p. 9. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  23. ^ "Morta la principessa dell'isola di Tavolara ha compiuto ieri 104 anni". La Stampa. Feb 12, 1974. p. 8. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  24. ^ "Morta ultracentenaria l'ultima principessa del regno di Tavolara". La Stampa. Feb 28, 1979. p. 11. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  25. ^ Padovani, Gigi (Aug 3, 2005). "Cartoline d'estate: La favola del re barcaiolo". La Stampa. p. 16. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  26. ^ Pirina, Alessandro (March 13, 2010). "È morta Pompea, moglie dell'ultimo re di Tavolara". La Nuova Sardegna. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  27. ^ Liven, Ido (May 31, 2008). "The island realm of an 'ordinary' king". Toronto Star. Retrieved 12 February 2009.


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