Friday, September 24, 2010

Two Romanovs for the Price of One (Oldenburg, Part 2)

Some people may find it strange that the best-known dynasty in Russian history was partially (predominantly) German. I mean, it didn't start that way. The original Romanov family was from Russia, but the Danish-German Oldenburg family eventually inherited the throne through a female line and, much like the Habsburgs, kept the name of the older family for tradition's sake. But Russia's sullied past has many similar moments and the story of the House of Romanov, both Russian and German, is a rather interesting one.
Michael and Alexis, Tsars of Russia
The story of the original Romanovs begins with Ivan IV, first Tsar of Russia. His wife, Anastasia, was the daughter of an increasingly prominent politician named Roman and when she was murdered, Ivan IV became Ivan the Terrible as he spread a wave of angry destruction across Russia. Anastasia's son, Feodor, was a sickly and bad king who rivaled with his brother-in-law and various factions of the Romanov family for power. His death in 1605 ended the 700-year-old House of Rurik and prompted an era of civil war in Russia. After an almost complete loss of political power through the first decade of the 17th century, the Russian magnates gave the throne to Michael Romanov who hesitantly took power, using his in-law relationship to Ivan IV as a propaganda tool. It was a successful gambit and the early Romanov rulers were almost university acclaimed by the populace.
Peter I the Great, Tsar of Russia
Yet the old Romanov family was never one to succeed for long. Michael was succeeded by Alexis, who was a wise tsar able spread the borders of Russia far into the east. His one major mistake, however, was being too prolific. Four sons survived him as well as an ambitious daughter. When Alexis died, the five of them struggled and fought over the throne, throwing Russia back into dynastic mayhem. Feodor III came first. His progressive reforms such as removing noble privilege for a meritocracy stagnated Russian politics for centuries. His somewhat expected death in 1682 led to a rare joint-rule by his two brothers, Peter I and Ivan V. Ivan was the legitimate heir but was disfigured and mentally ill, and so Peter ruled with him. Peter I is better known now as Peter the Great, for it is he who expanded Russia's borders to the far east and modernized the state to nearly western European norms. In 1721, Peter declared himself Emperor of All Russia, a title which remained with the family until 1917. Upon Peter's death in 1725, his wife Catherine I ruled since no immediate heir was present to succeed. Catherine's rule maintained Peter's bureaucracy and established the precedent of female rule.
Elizabeth, Tsarina of Russia
Russia's history only gets more muddled after this. In normal succession practice, wives never succeed husbands, yet in Russia this happened twice. Catherine I was succeeded by Peter II, a grandson of Peter the Great by his first wife. In 1727 he succeeded to the throne but he died three years later on the day of his marriage, having accomplished nothing. His distant relative, Anna, daughter of Ivan V, came next. Anna was an intelligent ruler who worked against noble control of the government. But she was bitter and attempted to quiet the happy memory of Peter I by setting up her grandnephew, Ivan VI, to succeed her. Upon Anna's death, though, Ivan was locked up by the legitimized daughter of Peter I, Elizabeth, and died twenty years later in prison. Elizabeth inherited the throne, the last of the original Romanovs. Elizabeth is fondly remembered in Russian history as the one Romanov ruler not to surround herself with German courtiers. Rather ironically, therefore, it was Elizabeth who ensured that the dynasty continued through the line of her German nephew, Peter.
Catherine II the Great, Empress of Russia
Peter III was the first and shortest reigning emperor of the House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov, which was a cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg. He was an unstable and immature ruler who was very pro-Prussian in his political views. In 1745, he married his German cousin, Sophia, who was converted to the Russian Orthodox faith and renamed Catherine. The couple only produced one son, Paul, whom Catherine would later claim was a bastard. At the time of Peter's death six months after his accession, he had succeeded in moving Russia toward a more capitalistic society. Unfortunately, Peter was arrested and murdered under orders of his wife, and Catherine II ascended the throne. Catherine the Great was a non-dynastic ruler who took the Russian Empire and made it into a Great Power in the age of absolutism. From 1762 until 1796 she ruled Russia with the authority of an autocrat, but she also spread the bureaucracy across the whole of Russia, dividing the country up into districts, townships, etc.

 With her death, the Romanov family began its slow decline as a force to be reckoned with. Peter III and Catherine II's son, Paul I, succeeded to the throne finally but his primary goal was to pass legislation to establish succession law. He downsized the military and bureaucracy and, because of that, was assassinated in 1801. Alexander I, his son, succeeded and the Napoleonic Wars came soon after. Although Alexander began his reign by being a reformist, he ended it repealing the majority of those reforms. He mysteriously died in 1825 and was succeeded by his brother, Nicholas I. Nicholas began the persecution of non-Russians and non-Orthodox which would continue into the 1910s. He led successful wars against the Ottomans but died during the Crimean War in 1855. Alexander II, his son, came next and Alexander was again a liberal emperor. His great achievement was the emancipation of the serfs (peasants), which somewhat led to the overthrow of the monarchy two generations later. His assassination in 1881 led to his son's short reactionary reign where Alexander III undid much of his father's progressive reforms. His son, Nicholas II, was likewise against reform, preferring to maintain the autocracy that had been a part of Russian politics since time immortal. Entry into World War I sparked the end of the Romanov dynasty as disenchanted peasants and communists rallied against the state-run tyranny of conscription. Nicholas was finally forced to abdicate the throne in 1917 but even in prison, his family was deemed too dangerous. In 1918, all of them—Nicholas, his wife, and his five children—were murdered by their Bolshevik captors. The Bolsheviks then went throughout Russia, hunting down and killing any Romanovs they could find. Most fled to western Europe where they still live in exile today.
Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and his Family
The end of the Romanov dynasty in Russia was a harsh and bitter moment in history. In reality, it paralleled the fate of many Russian monarchs throughout the centuries, but no royal murder has become as well-known. The surviving Romanovs descend from Alexander II or through female lines from Alexander III. Their are two rival lines of pretension: that of Cyril, Grand Duke of Russia, and that of Nicholas, a descendant of Nicholas I. The rivalry is due to different interpretations of succession law regarding unequal marriages (those between royalty and a commoner).

Friday, September 17, 2010

What's So Old About an Oldenburg? (Oldenburg, Part 1)

House of Oldenburg Coat of Arms

 I have spent considerable time discussing extinct and dissolved dynasties but have not yet completed my survey of extant dynasties. There are primarily two remaining for Europe, and a few smaller singular ones as well. However, no other has been able to maintain such an expansionist vision as the House of Oldenburg.
The Kalmar Union

The Kalmar Union was in crisis in 1448. The precarious union of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway had never been strong and certainly was wavering when the former king, Christopher of Bavaria, died. His widow, the Dowager Queen Dorothea of Brandenburg, needed to keep the union together and the Danish courts turned to a distant descendant of a bygone king, Count Christian of Oldenburg, to reunify the three states. Sweden and Norway were caught unawares. Sweden elected its own king, Charles VIII, instead of returning to the union, while Norway was fought over by the two rivals. Norway first went to Sweden, but quickly an agreement was made that attached it to Denmark in perpetuity. At the same time, Christian I married Dorothea, solidifying his claim to the Danish throne. Political catastrophe befell Charles VIII and the Kalmar Union was reestablished under the rule of Christian I and the the House of Oldenburg. In 1460, Christian I added to his Oldenburg lands the duchy of Schleswig, in Denmark, and country of Holstein, in the Holy Roman Empire. Holstein was elevated to a duchy soon after, allowing Christian I to play in the realm of German politics.

Oldenburg power in Sweden declined steadily over the next 100 years until Christian II, in 1520, massacred 100 anti-Union protesters in the Stockhold Bloodbath. The subsequent withdrawl by Sweden from the Kalmar Union the next year was no surprise and the House of Vasa took power there for the next century or so. Norway suffered from the dissolution, and in 1536 was permanently made into a Danish province, with all its hereditary lands such as Greenland and Iceland being transferred to Danish control (Greenland remains a Danish possession today). Denmark then jumped headlong into the Reformation, with Frederick I declaring Denmark-Norway to be a Lutheran country in 1526. However, religious tolerance toward Catholics caused internal strife and external war. When Frederick I died, the Catholic members of the Danish courts refused to acknowledge Frederick's son, Christian III, as king. The Catholics raised up Count Christopher of Oldenburg, a distant cousin of Christian's, as a possible regent for Christian III, while other Catholics tried to return Christian II, who had been deposed in 1523, to the throne. All of it was for naught, though. Despite a thorough ravaging across his lands, Christian III survived it all, defeated all his enemies, and reestablished Danish control. Denmark has been Lutheran ever since.
Christian IV, King of Denmark
Denmark was now a power to be reckoned with. After watching the progress of the Thirty Years War, in 1625 King Christian IV built up an army and set out for Catholic possessions in Germany. Unfortunately, his allies were weak and distracted, unwilling to give him more than lip-service aid. The Catholic army of Emperor Ferdinand II, on the other hand, was strong and had the element of surprise, since Christian IV didn't know it existed. After many failures and the conquest of half of Denmark, Christian IV negotiated a treaty that removed Denmark from German politics in perpetuity. More failures in the Torstenson War against the Netherlands and Sweden resulted in the loss of duties from ships passing through Danish waters in the Baltic Sea. Sweden took control of a large chunk of southern Norway and the Dutch no longer had to pay transport taxes to trade with Sweden. When Christian died, Frederick III decided to get revenge on Sweden. The Second Northern War, as it was called, was yet another Danish failure. Denmark was ravaged by Sweden and the Swedes were even able to invade Copenhagen, with the ice connecting it to the mainland frozen over in a rare cold spell. Charles X of Sweden wished to remove Denmark from existance but Copenhagen held fast against the Swedish army, especially once Dutch help finally came. When Prussia, Poland, and Austria all joined the side of Denmark, Sweden finally capitulated. In the Treaty of Copenhagen, borders were agreed upon and the territorial borders of Denmark and Sweden have remained the same ever since.

Frederick III and his successors entered into the age of absolutism as monarchs with a cause but no power to do anything about it. Twice they tried to go to war with Sweden again in hopes of reclaiming lost lands, and twice they failed to do so. Over the course of the 18th century, Denmark centralized around Copenhagen even while the Danish nobles stole power from the king. This all ended in 1807. The Napoleonic Wars had forced most of Europe to take sides, but Denmark was resolute on remaining neutral. Nonetheless, Britain feared that France would invade Denmark and take their ships, so Britain captured the majority of the Danish navy and added it into their own. Denmark stayed out of the war until it joined with France against the Sixth Coalition. It won some victories but lost the war and, in 1814, was forced to cede Norway to Sweden despite strong Norweigan resistance.

Kingdom of Denmark-Norway
The age of revolutions followed and on June 5, 1849, Denmark became a constitutional monarchy. King Frederick VII was forced to cede some power to the courts although he still retained significant executive power. Meanwhile, the problem of what to do with the Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, which was majority German, came to the forefront. Two wars took place from 1849 until 1864 to determine its rightful place in the Danish government. In the end, Prussia won out and annexed both duchies to Brandenburg-Prussia. Denmark had to reinvent itself after this, and in 1901, King Christian IX finally allowed the population to run itself by permitting the majority in parliament to run the government. Prior to this time, the nobles still controlled govenrment regardless of parliamentary majorities.
Queen Margarethe II of Denmark
King Christian X was the last king to truly use his executive power when he dismissed the government in 1920. This sparked an event known as the Easter Crisis, after which the king promised to not interfere in politics again, despite the constitution permitting royal interference. In 1918, Iceland became an independent country in personal union with Denmark, with Christian X remaining king of both. However, after Iceland's conquest by Britain during World War II, the union dissolved in 1944 with Iceland becoming a republic. Queen Margarethe II has been the ruler of Denmark since 1972 and when she dies, the House of Oldenburg will at last be at an end in Denmark, being replaced with the House of Laborde de Monpezat.

In Norway, despite Sweden's annexation of the state in 1814, the House of Oldenburg returned in 1905. Political unrest against the Swedes ended with Sweden renouncing their overlordship over Norway and Norway becoming an independent kingdom. The government rejected a republican government and instead elected Prince Charles of Denmark, second son of King Frederick VIII Denmark, as their new king. Charles took on the regnal name Haakon VII and led his country through a harsh neutrality during World War I. He attempted the same during World War II but was forced to flee in 1940 to London, where he set up his wartime headquarters to retake Norway.
Harald V, King of Norway
Since the war, the kings of Norway have been held in the highest esteem and are quite possibly the most highly favored monarchs in Europe. Both Haakon VII and his son, Olav V, had massive funeral ceremonies fully funded by the people with overwhelming public support. The current king, Harald V, is popular in both Norway and the United Kingdom, where he spent much of his youth. His powers are much weaker than those of his predecessors but he still retains some say in the Norwegian government.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How to Rule Someone Else's Kingdom (Dowager Queens)

It was brought to my attention this week that while I have focused on the concept of female monarchs, I never have delved into the topic fully. Additionally, someone mentioned the concept of dowager queens, a rather unique role for women in history. Thus, this week I will discuss what happens to the wife of a monarch when said monarch dies using some fun examples throughout history.

First, however, we have a new term that needs defining:
  • Dowager — A term reserved almost exclusively for females, a dowager is the spouse of a deceased monarch, and thereby a widow, who technically has no inherent powers.
With that being said, let us look at some dowager queens who quite certainly had inherent powers after the death of their husbands.
Eleanor of Aquitaine, Dowager Queen of England
Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitiers has already been mentioned before in these Dynastology posts. However, she also played an important role after the death of her second husband, Henry II of England, in 1189. Almost as soon as Henry II died, Richard the Lionheart released his mother from prison and returned her to London. She, rather than Prince John, acted as Richard's regent while Richard was on the Third Crusade. Eleanor also negotiated his release from captivity in Germany. When Richard died, Eleanor continued to aid King John during the early years of his reign starting in 1199. She went to Castile and negotiated with the king for a bride for King John. During the trip she was even captured and negotiated her own release. In 1201, John's nephew Arthur conspired with King Philip II of France to take over England. Eleanor sided with John and acted as a focus for both the armies of John and Arthur to attack. Arthur was defeated but Eleanor had finally had enough and took the veil as a nun, dying three years later. Eleanor is perhaps one of the most famous and exciting dowager queens in history, but she is certainly not the only one.
Isabella of France, Dowager Queen of England
Let us progress a few generations later in England, to the reign of Edward II and his wife Isabella of France. The barons of England were in riots even as the Scottish were actively achieving their independence. Edward II was a poor excuse for a ruler and his blatant homosexuality was injuring the government and his prestige. Isabella was stuck in the thick of this, being constantly pushed aside for men of questionable repute. By 1325, her marriage was effectively over, her children had been taken away from her, her staff arrested, and her lands redistributed. Her brother, King Charles IV of France, seized Edward's French possessions without much effort and Edward sent Isabella to negotiate for their return. However, Isabella became a rallying point for disenfranchised English nobles and Isabella decided to fight back against her hated husband. She agreed to a cease-fire and convinced Edward II to send his eldest son, Edward, to France to pay homage to the French king. Soon after, however, she took on as her co-conspirator and lover Roger Mortimer and the two of them began planning a systematic take over of Britain.

Within months, Isabella and Roger were ready with a small army of mercenaries and ships, having reached agreements with France and Scotland to not get involved in the ensuing conflict. As soon as Isabella touched land in England, the barons began rallying to her. Isabella wore widow's clothing to imply to the country that she was no longer Edward's queen. The campaign was fairly swift and saw the death or execution of the majority of Edward's followers. Edward, meanwhile, was captured and surrendered the Great Seal to Isabella. Soon after, in 1327, Isabella convinced Parliament to elevate her son to the throne as Edward III. Edward II was moved to the Welsh border to be imprisoned for life, but died mysteriously within a few months. Isabella and Roger ruled England together for four years until 1330 when Edward III violently removed Mortimer and took the throne by force. During that time, Isabella personally wore armor and fought against insurgent forced led by the Duke of Lancaster, her former ally. However, Isabella and Roger ruled an unstable realm and it was inevitable that the rightful king would claim his heritage at last. Isabella ended her time as dowager as first a family matron and then a nun, following the pattern of many dowager queens before her.
Catherine de' Medicis, Dowager Queen of France
From England, we travel to France and the multiple regimes of Catherine de' Medici, widow of King Henry II of France. When Henry II died in 1559, she was left with three young sons including the new king, Francis I. The irony is that Henry had disallowed Catherine from participating in any level of government, and directed most of his interest toward his mistress. Thus his death tossed Catherine firmly into an arena she had not yet known. To make things worse, France had just become engulfed in the Wars of Religion which would ultimately see the end of the House of Valois, of which her three sons would be its end. Catherine's role during the reign of her eldest son was, thus, troubled. The Duke of Guise took power as the regent but Francis preferred the aid of his mother. While the Guise faction fought against the Huguenots, Catherine sought a more neutral stance. When Francis II was about to die in 1560, Catherine negotiated a treaty with the Huguenot leader, Anthony de Bourbon, which allowed her to become regent while he was returned certain prisoners of war.

Charles IX became king soon after and Catherine was his regent. Unfortunately for Catherine, France was in no position to listen to any ruler, be it king or regent. Guise continued his war against the Huguenots while Catherine tried to mend the rift between the two sides. Ultimately, it was not to be and an international conflict ensued. Catherine took on the leadership of the Royalist army while Guise fought against both Huguenots and Royalists. His death in 1563 did little to stop the conflict. When Charles IX came of age later that year, few noticed including the Dowager. Catherine and Charles toured across France until the Huguenots finally became the enemy of the royalists through deception and backstabbing. Catherine did manage to marry her daughter off to Henry III of Navarre, the senior Bourbon heir and leader of the Huguenots, but the death of Henry III's mother in Paris suggested foul play. In August 1572, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre occurred and it has stained Catherine's reputation ever since, despite the fact that she may or may not have been involved. The slaughter of Huguenots throughout France lasted for months and Henry III of Navarre converted to Catholicism to end the bloodshed.

Charles died in 1574 unexpectedly, and he named his mother regent for Henry III, since Henry was currently the elected king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Henry returned three months later, having given up his eastern throne. Unlike his predecessors, he was an adult and did not need Catherine to rule in his stead. In the succeeding years, Catherine became the chief political broker for her family, negotiating marriages and scolding her children for their bad family decisions. Her eldest son, Francis, caused a near collapse of royal power, forcing Henry to sign a treaty with the Huguenots. Francis' death in 1584 signalled the end of any good fortunes for the family as Henry III had as yet failed to produce a son. Catherine also acted as a diplomat and roamed France forming alliances and treaties. In 1588, facing renewed warfare and an occupation of Paris by the Duke of Guise, Henry III gave into Catholic demands, dissolved the parliament and fled the city. Catherine was effectively removed from power and she didn't even know it. Henry III murdered in cold blood the Duke of Guise a few months later and it is partially due to this that Catherine died on 5 January 1589.

And so I have presented for you just three cases of Dowager Queens who made a significant difference in royal politics. Their desires for power and stability, often in spite of incompetent or underage children, led the course of their nations for many years. There are many MANY more Dowager Queens in history and I wish I could present more of them today, but alas I have run out of time. Until again...

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Savory Piedmont Sardines of Italy (Savoy)

House of Savoy Coat of Arms
Ah, at last we meet, fair Savoy. Your intricate plays of second-place during my biweekly quizzes were becoming predictable and thus you finally acted. Well I will try and not shame you now, in your moment of triumph. The House of Savoy is actually a quite old Western European royal house. It has perhaps one of the simplest names for a royal house in Europe and it is named after a region called Savoy.
Duke Amadeus VII of Savoy
Much like the House of Habsburg, Savoy started its life as a small commune in Switzerland in the early 1000s. The region expanded southward toward the modern French and Italian borders. The House of Savoy was never a strong military power and expanded slowly over the centuries through marriage and politics. The first of the family to rule in Savoy was a man named Humbert I of Saxon descent. He was given his land by the last King of Arles, a descendant of the Carolingian dynasty. His house quickly took control of some important mountain passes in the Alps and they began to gain prominence in Franco-Italian politics. When Humbert's son Otto inherited his wife's ancestral lands of Susa, the important cities of Turin and Pinerolo were added to the Savoyard house and the great powers of the eleventh century began to watch Savoy with interest. The acquisition of Nice soon after brought Savoy to the Mediterranean Coast, and the continental borders were fairly-well established for the remainder of the medieval era. Emperor Sigismund acknowledged this new powerbase in 1416 by elevating Count Amadeus VII to the title of Imperial Duke.
Kingdom of Sardinia (in perspective)
The late Middle Ages proved to be a trying time for the House of Savoy. In 1494 France invaded Savoy and the ruling house fled to Turin in Piedmont where the family would remain for the next four centuries. To reclaim the lost lands, Duke Emmanuel Philibert allied with the House of Habsburg, France's enemy, and retook Savoy from foreign hands, reorganizing many aspects of the government in the process. Savoy continued to succeed, expanding its territory outward and being rewarded by foreign governments with lands in Northern Italy and a special prize in the form of the Kingdom of Sicily.
Duchy of Piedmont-Savoy with Kingdom of Sardinia imprinted
King Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia
Sicily was only a Savoyard possession for a few years before Victor Amadeus II traded it with the Kingdom of Sardinia, an island nation in the western Mediterannean. From 1720 onwards, Savoy was an undeniably major player in European politics. The family owned a large swath of land between France and Italy (technically, they were vassals of the Holy Roman Empire), and they had a large island nation. Their prestige had been established through generations of competent duke-generals who had aided whichever side would profit Savoy more. And marriages had placed Savoy in such a position that its members would claim the senior Catholic line of the House of Stuart after 1807. Savoy was set for greatness.

Then Napoleon came. He defeated Piedmont handedly and forced Savoy to sign a treaty allowing them to march right on through Savoy without trouble. It sucked to be Italy in 1796. Two years later, Duke-King Charles Emmanuel IV was forced out of office and the duchy-kingdom was dissolved by French invasion. Sardinia remained nominally a French vassal state but it avoided any further conflict with France. When the war ended in 1814, Savoy returned to the stage, got all its former lands back, and was enlarged with the addition of its eastern Republican neighbor, Genoa. But Savoy decided to play it safe for a while and avoided angering anyone else. The Congress of Vienna had established it as a buffer state between angst-ridden post-Napoleonic France and the increasingly revolutionary Austro-Italian states.

The Revolutions of 1848 were too much for Savoy and the country finally broke, but not in an expected way. Giuseppe Mazzini was fighting for a unified Italy and he looked on Sardinia, the largest entirely independent state, as its leader. Count Camillo Benso di Cavour was the new Sardinian Prime Minister under Duke-King Victor Immanuel II and Cavour was very pro-unification. He influenced Victor Immanuel to join against Russia in the Crimean War, bringing combat experience to the Savoyard people and reminding the other European states that Savoy still was in the game. In 1859, Savoy joined with France to expel Austria and the Bourbons from Italy. The so-called Austro-Sardinian War was short and decisive, with Italy conquering the entirety of northern Italy except Venice, which remained an Austrian possession. The next year, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was conquered, as well as most of the Papal States except Rome. A new Kingdom of Italy was declared on March 17, 1861, with Victor Emmanuel being crowned king. The House of Savoy had reached its zenith.
King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy
The Italian Unification continued well into the subsequent decades and even into World War I. Italy began the war as a member of the Triple Alliance (Central Powers) but military defeats and a lack of motivation caused the country to switch sides in 1915. It was the first time in history that the House of Savoy overplayed its political hand. But it would not be its last. Savoy wanted to use the war to expand its borders into Italian-speaking regions of Austria and Yugoslavia. But Woodrow Wilson wouldn't hear of it and the promises of the alliance with Italy were nullified in the Treaty of Versailles. The Italians grew angry at both the royal government and the allied powers. Victor Emmanuel III had one chance to stop the rise of Benito Mussolini but he didn't take it, forfeiting any chance for forgiveness by the people when World War I ended. It is clear now in retrospect that members of the House of Savoy chose to tolerate Mussolini rather than face civil war or a socialist government. In 1922, in the midst of economic turmoil, Victor Emmanuel permitted Mussolini to become Prime Minister of Italy in exchange for a promise to support and uphold the Italian Savoyard monarchy. Two decades later, in 1943, Victor Emmanuel removed Musollini from office and accidentally caused the defeat of the Italian army to German forces. The monarchy was in trouble and Victor Emmanuel abdicated in favor of his son Umberto in order to save the monarchy. But the people voted and decided that the House of Savoy should rule no longer. The royal family was forced to leave Italy in 1946 and male members of the family were banned from ever returning to Italy. The ban was only removed in 2002 with the proviso that family members must renounce their rights prior to returning to Italy.

As a final aside to the story of the family, two members of the family were granted lands outside of the traditional Savoyard inheritance. Amadeo, son of Victor Emmanuel II, was elected King of Spain in 1870 following the deposition of Queen Isabella II. Unfortunately, the primary person backing his elevation was assassinated soon after and the country fell into a nightmare of a situation. After three terrible years of rule, Amadeo abdicated, declaring to the Spanish Parliament that the country was ungovernable. Amadeo's grandson, Aimone, was chosen in 1941 by the fascist puppet government of Croatia to rule the titular state under the name King Tomislav II. The funny thing is: Aimone was afraid to go to Croatia due to various disputes the state had with Italy, especially recent territorial acquisitions made at their expense. Thus, Aimone never actually ruled IN Croatia and was viewed by the majority of the populace as a relatively powerless figurehead. He abdicated in 1943 soon after Mussolini was removed from power in Italy.

And so you have the House of Savoy, the only "native" ruling kingdom in Italy during much of the Early Modern Era and the eventual unifier of Italy, even if the house itself ceased to rule it sixty-four years ago.


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