Victor Emmanuel III

Victor Emmanuel III
(1869–1947)
   King of Italy from 1900–1947, Victor Emmanuel III of Savoy came to the throne in July 1900 at the age of 29 after his father, Umberto I, was assassinated by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci. The ascension of this young prince occurred at a critical junction in Italy’s political life, near the end of constitutional government and a possible military dictatorship. The collapse of the Crispi government in 1896 had demonstrated the weakness of Italy’s political consensus. The political right was opposed by a growing socialist movement, which had made gains in parliament amid political violence unleashed by extremists. General Luigi Pelloux, head of the current government, circumvented parliament to deal with the problems by having King Umberto issue royal decrees. In June, this practice was declared unconstitutional so the government demanded new parliamentary elections hoping to bypass the opposition. When he lost the vote, Italy was on the verge of a coup. Victor Emmanuel III abandoned the reactionary politics of his father and embraced a policy of political reconciliation and governmental reform. He appointed a well-known reformer, one of the leaders of the parliamentarian alliance that opposed Pelloux, Zanardelli to form the new government. When Zanardelli retired for health reasons, the king appointed his deputy, Giovanni Giolitti. While politics of the son and father were different, it was their character that was even more remarkably different. Umberto was larger than life, romantic, decisive, and unafraid to enter politics. Not so Victor Emmanuel who could be very indecisive and timid.
   FURTHER READING:
    Di Scala, Spencer. Italy from Revolution to Republic: 1700 to the Present. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998.
   FREDERICK H. DOTOLO

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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