On this day in 1820, Victor Emmanuel II was born, King of Sardinia between 1849-1861 and King of Italy between 1861-1878. Showing an early interest in politics and the military, he fought in the First Italian War of Independence in 1848 under his father, King Charles Albert. He became King of Sardinia in 1849 after his father’s abdication.
When Italy was involved in the Crimean War of 1853-1856, Emmanuel quickly became a strong advocator of the unification of Italy and became a universal symbol of the Risorgimento, the movement that was dedicated towards it. Much of Emmanuel’s life was dedicated to warfare, such as the Crimean War, the Italo-French Campaign against Austria and the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866, in which he allied himself with Prussia.
The new Kingdom of Italy was established in 1861after his success at the Battle of Castelfidardo in 1861 with Emmanuel as its King, but Rome, Trentino and Veneto still had not been conquered. Rome was taken in 1870 and made the capital of Italy in 1871. Despite being successful in creating a unified Italy, Emmanuel was met with criticism as he still made himself known as King Victor Emmanuel II instead of King Victor Emmanuel I of Italy, which signified to people that Italy was still not unified among its people.
He died in 1878 and was buried in the Pantheon, succeeded by his son Umberto I of Italy. He left behind 14 children.