Kingdom of Italy
Vittorio Emanuele II, King 1861-1878
KM 10.2, PCGS graded AU-58
Rome. VITTORIO EMANUELE II, head of Vittorio Emanuele II left, 1871 below. Reverse: REGNO D’ITALIA around, L 20 acrosss field, crowned and gartered arms within laurel wreath.
From 1849 to 1861, Victor Emmanuel II reigned as King of Sardinia-Piedmont. His respect for constitutional government and liberal reform made him the symbol of the Risorgimento movement for the unification of Italy in the 1850s. With the help of French agreements and the conquests of the Italian nationalist general Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1860, Victor Emmanuel II became the first king of a united Italy since the sixth century on March 17, 1861. Unfortunately, he caused offense by continuing to style himself as Victor Emmanuel II rather than as Victor Emmanuel I of Italy. Whereas the former would have given the impression of a new start with a new monarchy for the whole of Italy, the latter gave the distasteful impression that the Italian peninsula had been conquered by Sardinia-Piedmont. In 1864, Victor Emmanuel II was described by the British Foreign Secretary as “an imbecile; he is a dishonest man who tells lies to everyone; at this rate he will end up losing his crown and ruining both Italy and his dynasty.”