umberto ii

Umberto II of Italy

Umberto II, occasionally anglicized as Humbert II, (September 15, 1904 - March 18, 1983) the last King of Italy, nicknamed the King of May (Re di Maggio), was born the Prince of Piedmont. He was the third child of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Princess Elena of Montenegro. He served as the last King of Italy for slightly over a month, from May 9, 1946 to June 12, 1946. He renounced the title of King of Albania, which was held by his father after Italy's invasion of the country and personally asked King Zog I for forgiveness for taking his throne.

He was married in Rome on January 8, 1930 to Marie José of Belgium (August 4, 1906 - January 27, 2001). His children included: Maria Pia (born 1934), Vittorio Emanuele (born 1937), Maria Gabriella (born 1940) and Maria Beatrice (born 1943).

Prince of Piedmont

The Prince of Piedmont was bron in Racconigi and educated to a military career and in time became the commander in chief of the Northern Armies, and then of the Southern ones. However his role was merely formal, the concrete command belonging to Mussolini. By mutual agreement Umberto and Mussolini always kept at distance. An attempt on the life of the Prince had taken place in Brussels on Oct 24th, 1929. (The day of the announcement of his betrothal to Princess Marie José) The Prince was about to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Belgian Un-known Soldier at the foot of the Colonne du Congrès. With a cry of 'Down with Mussolini!' the culprit, Fernando de Rosa, fired a single shot that missed the Prince of Piedmont. De Rosa was arrested and under interrogation claimed to be a member of the Second International.

It has been conjectured that Mussolini had collected a secret dossier on Umberto, but this folder (which is said to have been found after the dictator was shot), was never seen.

Following the Savoyards' tradition ("Only one Savoy reigns at a time"), he kept apart from active politics until he was finally named the Lieutenant. Only in one case, while he was in Germany for a royal wedding, did he make an exception (Adolf Hitler asked for a meeting). This action was not considered proper, given the international situation, and Umberto was later even more severely banned from political events.

On October 29, 1942, Umberto was awarded with the rank of Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia).

In 1943, the Crown Princess Maria José, the daughter of King Albert I of Belgium, was involved in vain attempts to arrange a separate peace treaty between Italy and the United States, and her interlocutor from the Vatican was Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, a senior diplomat who later became Pope Paul VI. Her attempts were not sponsored by the king and Umberto was not (directly, at least) involved in them. After her failure (she never met the American agents), she was sent with her children to Sarre, in Aosta Valley, and isolated from the political life of the Royal House.

Following the overthrow of Benito Mussolini in 1943, King Victor Emmanuel handed over his constitutional functions to Umberto, who was made Lieutenant General of the Realm, and left Italy for Egypt.

King of Italy

Umberto earned for himself widespread praise for his role in the following three years. Some believe that had Victor Emmanuel III handed over the throne in 1943, the monarchy would have won the 1946 referendum on its survival. Victor Emmanuel's failure to do so proved to be one of his many major misjudgments.

Many Italian monarchists expressed doubts about the correctness of the referendum, claiming that millions of voters, many of them pro-monarchist, were unable to vote because they had not yet been able to return to their own local areas to register. Nor had the issue of Italy's borders, and so the voting rights of those in disputed areas, been satisfactorily clarified. Other allegations too have been made about voter manipulation, while even the issue of how to interpret the votes became controversial, as it appeared that not just a majority of those validly voting but of those votes cast (including spoiled votes), was needed to reach an outcome in the event the monarchy lost by a tight margin.

Umberto had by the time of the referendum become king, Victor Emmanuel having reluctantly and belatedly abdicated a few weeks before. Umberto served as king for 33 days. The monarchy formally ended on June 12, 1946 and Umberto became a king in exile, leaving Italy forever. Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi assumed office as Italy's interim Head of State.

Umberto and Maria José separated in exile; it was an arranged marriage, following a long tradition of royal families, even if some observers alleged that she was really fascinated by her husband. Aldrich and Wotherspoon report that Umberto's sexual interests may have lain elsewhere in their book Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History. As early as the 1920s, Mussolini had collected a dossier on his private life for possible future blackmail. During the war, newspapers asserted that Umberto was homosexual, and in the information continued to be spread in the leadup to the post-war referendum on the monarchy. Umberto's custom of giving a fleur-de-lis made of precious stones to the young officials and lovers in his entourage was well known; they flaunted the gifts in public. Even Aldrich and Wotherspoon, however, conclude that they can not prove the rumors. Umberto's lovers may have included Luchino Visconti and Jean Marais; a former army lieutenant published details of Umberto's advances to him. Except for public appearances, Umberto and Maria Jose generally lived apart.

In exile

King Umberto lived for 37 years in exile, in Cascais in Portugal, a popular old gentleman, nicknamed "Europe's grandfather", at many of Europe's royal weddings. While during Umberto's lifetime the 1947 constitution of the Italian Republic barred all male heirs to the defunct Italian throne from setting foot on Italian soil again, female members of the Savoy family were not barred, but out of respect for Umberto and his son, Crown Prince Victor Emmanuel, Maria José and her daughters declined to return to their native land, the exiled queen making her first return to her late husband's kingdom only in the 1980s. When it was revealed that the exiled king was terminally ill, President Sandro Pertini, who as a young republican firebrand had played a leading role on the republican side in campaigning against the monarchy and Umberto, urged the Italian Parliament to amend the constitution to let the King return to die in his homeland. However, before this could happen, Umberto died in Geneva. The funeral for the last King of Italy was held in Savoy, but no member of the Italian Government attended. Looking back later, former Prime Minister Andreotti believed their absence a mistake and disrespectful to a decent and honourable man, who in different circumstances could have made a fine Italian King. Observers found Umberto to be always gentlemanly, affable and caring, with a deep love for his country. But by the time he inherited the throne, the monarchy, through its association with Mussolini and fascism, had been fatally undermined. The 980-year reign of the Savoyards in various duchies and kingdoms, first in Northern Italy, then over the whole peninsula, had come to an end.

Patrilineal descent

Patrilineal descent is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the generations - which means that if Umberto II were to have chosen an historically accurate house name it would have been Ferreolus, as all his male-line ancestors were of that house.

Assuming the section between Humbert and Childebrand is correct, Umberto II was the last reigning monarch in the world to be descended from the Romans. However, most genealogists reject this possibility, since the ancestry and even the very filiation of Humbert I of Savoy is not yet clear, with four possibilites in open, one of them giving him a Teutonic ancestry including as his ancestor Widukind. Beside that, Christian Settipani proved through contemporary documents that Arnulf of Metz and his ancestors were Frankish in male line, since they were ruled by the Frankish Law, giving the Gallo-Roman ancestry as a female one. The claim of a (Gallo-)Roman male line ancestry is more funded in political and legitimacy grounds.

  1. Ferreolus, b. 390
  2. Tonantius Ferreolus (prefect), 412 - 475
  3. Tonantius Ferreolus (senator), 445 - 515
  4. Ferreolus, Senator of Narbonne, 470 - 531
  5. Ansbertus, 520 - 591
  6. Arnoald, 560 - 611
  7. Arnulf of Metz, 582 - 641
  8. Ansegisel, 602 - 662
  9. Pepin of Herstal, 635 - 714
  10. Childebrand, 684 - 751
  11. Nivelon of Perracy, 725 - 768
  12. Childebrand II of Perracy, 760 - 831
  13. Theodoric I, Duke of Burgundy, 799 - 881
  14. Richard of Autunois, 833 - 885
  15. Garnier of Troyes, 870 - 925
  16. Hugh, Count Palatine of Vienna, 900 - 948
  17. Hubert of Vienna, 928 - 976
  18. Humbert I of Savoy, 980 - 1047
  19. Otto of Savoy, 1015 - 1057
  20. Amadeus II of Savoy, 1039 - 1080
  21. Humbert II of Savoy, 1070 - 1103
  22. Amadeus III of Savoy, 1095 - 1148
  23. Humbert III of Savoy, 1135 - 1189
  24. Thomas I of Savoy, 1176 - 1233
  25. Thomas II, Count of Piedmont, 1199 - 1259
  26. Amadeus V, Count of Savoy, 1251 - 1323
  27. Aimone, Count of Savoy, 1291 - 1343
  28. Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy, 1334 - 1383
  29. Amadeus VII, Count of Savoy, 1360 - 1391
  30. Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy, 1383 - 1451
  31. Louis, Duke of Savoy, 1402 - 1465
  32. Philip II, Duke of Savoy, 1438 - 1497
  33. Charles III, Duke of Savoy, 1486 - 1553
  34. Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, 1528 - 1580
  35. Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, 1562 - 1630
  36. Thomas Francis, 1st Prince of Carignano, 1596 - 1656
  37. Emmanuel Philibert Amadeus, 2nd Prince of Carignano, 1628 - 1709
  38. Victor Amadeus I, 3rd Prince of Carignano, 1690 - 1741
  39. Louis Victor, 4th Prince of Carignano, 1721 - 1778
  40. Victor Amadeus II, 5th Prince of Carignano, 1743 - 1780
  41. Charles Emmanuel of Savoy, 6th Prince of Carignano, 1770 - 1800
  42. Charles Albert of Sardinia, 1798 - 1849
  43. Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, 1820 - 1878
  44. Umberto I of Italy, 1844 - 1900
  45. Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, 1869 - 1947
  46. Umberto II of Italy, 1904 - 1983

See also


Additional reading

  • Denis Mack Smith Italy and Its Monarchy (Yale University Press, 1989)
  • Robert Katz The Fall of the House of Savoy


External links

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