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Victor Emmanuel III (11 November 1869 – 28 December 1947), born Vittorio Emanuele Ferdinando Maria Gennaro di Savoia, was King of Italy from 29 July 1900 until his abdication on 9 May 1946. A member of the House of Savoy, he also reigned as Emperor of Ethiopia (1936–1941) and King of the Albanians (1939–1943). During his reign of nearly 46 years, which began after the assassination of his father Umberto I, the Kingdom of Italy became involved in two world wars. His reign also encompassed the birth, rise, and fall of the Fascist regime in Italy.
|Victor Emmanuel III|
|King of Italy|
|Reign||29 July 1900 – 9 May 1946|
|Prime ministers||Full list|
|Emperor of Ethiopia|
|Reign||9 May 1936 – 5 May 1941|
|Predecessor||Haile Selassie I|
|Successor||Haile Selassie I|
|King of the Albanians|
|Reign||16 April 1939 – 8 September 1943|
|Successor||Zog I (formally)|
|Prime ministers||Full list|
|Born||(1869-11-11)11 November 1869|
Naples, Kingdom of Italy
|Died||28 December 1947(1947-12-28) (aged 78)|
Alexandria, Kingdom of Egypt
Sanctuary of Vicoforte, Vicoforte, Italy
|Father||Umberto I of Italy|
|Mother||Margherita of Savoy|
The first fourteen years of Victor Emmanuel's reign were dominated by prime minister Giovanni Giolitti who focused on industrialization and passed several democratic reforms such as the introduction of universal male suffrage; in foreign policy, Giolitti's Italy distanced itself from the fellow members of the Triple Alliance (Germany and Austria) and colonized Libya following the Italo-Turkish War. Giolitti was succeeded by Antonio Salandra, Paolo Boselli, and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. The First World War brought about Italian victory over the Habsburg Empire and the annexation of the Italian-speaking provinces of Trento and Trieste. For this reason, Victor Emmanuel was labelled the "King of Victory". In practice, the peace treaties failed to give Italy all the territories promised in the 1915 Treaty of London. Italian nationalists protested against what they defined as a "mutilated victory", demanded the annexation of territories in Dalmatia, and temporarily occupied the town of Fiume without royal assent.
During the early 1920s, several short-serving prime ministers, including the well-respected Giolitti, serving an unprecedented fifth term as prime minister, could not unify the country in the face of the growing Italian fascist movement. Strengthened by the economic downturn facing the country, the National Fascist Party led the March on Rome, and he appointed Benito Mussolini as prime minister. Victor Emmanuel remained silent on the domestic political abuses of Fascist Italy, and he accepted the additional crowns of the Emperor of Ethiopia in 1936 and the King of Albania in 1939 as a result of Italian imperialism under fascism. When World War II broke out in 1939, Victor Emmanuel advised Mussolini against entering the war. In June 1940, he relented and granted Mussolini sweeping powers to enter and conduct the war.
Amidst the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943, Victor Emmanuel deposed Mussolini and signed the armistice of Cassible with the Allies in September 1943. In the face of the coming German reprisal (Operation Achse), he and the government fled to Brindisi while the Germans established the Italian Social Republic as a puppet state in northern Italy. He switched sides and declared war on Germany in October. He battled constantly with Allied command and under pressure from the Allies he transferred most of his powers to his son in June 1944, effectively ending his involvement in the war and in the government of Italy. Victor Emmanuel officially abdicated his throne in 1946 in favour of his son, who became King Umberto II, hoping to strengthen support for the monarchy against an ultimately successful referendum to abolish it.
After the 1946 Italian institutional referendum, Victor Emmanuel went into exile to Alexandria, where he died and was buried the following year in St. Catherine's Cathedral, Alexandria. In 2017, his remains were returned to rest in Italy following an agreement between presidents Sergio Mattarella and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Victor Emmanuel was also called Sciaboletta ("little saber") by some Italians.