King of Italy

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King of Italy
Re d'Italia
Great coat of arms of the king of italy (1890-1946).svg
Style His Majesty
First monarch Odoacer
Last monarch Umberto II of Italy
Formation4 September 476
Abolition12 June 1946
Residence Quirinal Palace
Pretender(s) Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples
Iron Crown of Lombardy Iron Crown.JPG
Iron Crown of Lombardy

King of Italy (Latin: Rex Italiae; Italian: Re d'Italia) was the title given to the ruler of the Kingdom of Italy after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The first to take the title was Odoacer, a barbarian military leader, in the late 5th century, followed by the Ostrogothic kings up to the mid-6th century. With the Frankish conquest of Italy in the 8th century, the Carolingians assumed the title, which was maintained by subsequent Holy Roman Emperors throughout the Middle Ages. The last Emperor to claim the title was Charles V in the 16th century. During this period, the holders of the title were crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy.


A Kingdom of Italy was restored from 1805 to 1814 with Napoleon as its only king, centered in Northern Italy. It was not until the Italian unification in the 1860s that a Kingdom of Italy covering the entire Italian Peninsula was restored. From 1861 the House of Savoy held the title of King of Italy until the last king, Umberto II, was exiled in 1946 when Italy became a republic.


After the deposition of the last Western Emperor in 476, Heruli leader Odoacer was appointed Dux Italiae ("Duke of Italy") by the reigning Byzantine Emperor Zeno. Later, the Germanic foederati, the Scirians and the Heruli, as well as a large segment of the Italic Roman army, proclaimed Odoacer Rex Italiae ('King of Italy). [1] In 493, the Ostrogothic king Theoderic the Great killed Odoacer, and set up a new dynasty of kings of Italy. Ostrogothic rule ended when Italy was reconquered by the Byzantine Empire in 552.

In 568, the Lombards entered the peninsula and ventured to recreate a barbarian kingdom in opposition to the Empire, establishing their authority over much of Italy, except the Exarchate of Ravenna and the duchies of Rome, Venetia, Naples and the southernmost portions. In the 8th century, estrangement between the Italians and the Byzantines allowed the Lombards to capture the remaining Roman enclaves in northern Italy. However, in 774, they were defeated by the Franks under Charlemagne, who deposed their king and took up the title "king of the Lombards". After the death of Charles the Fat in 887, Italy fell into instability and a number of kings attempted to establish themselves as independent Italian monarchs. During this period, known as the Feudal Anarchy (888–962), the title Rex Italicorum ("King of the Italians" or "King of the Italics") was introduced. After the breakup of the Frankish empire, Otto I added Italy to the Holy Roman Empire and continued the use of the title Rex Italicorum. The last to use this title was Henry II (1004-1024). Subsequent emperors used the title "King of Italy" until Charles V. At first they were crowned in Pavia, later Milan, and Charles was crowned in Bologna.

In 1805, Napoleon I was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy at the Milan Cathedral. The next year, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II abdicated his imperial title. From the deposition of Napoleon I (1814) until the Italian Unification (1861), there was no Italian monarch claiming the overarching title. The Risorgimento successfully established a dynasty, the House of Savoy, over the whole peninsula, uniting the kingdoms of Sardinia and the Two Sicilies to form the modern Kingdom of Italy. The monarchy was superseded by the Italian Republic, after a constitutional referendum was held on 2 June 1946, after World War II. [2] The Italian monarchy formally ended on 12 June of that year, and Umberto II left the country.

As "Rex Italiae"

vassal of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Ostrogothic Kingdom (493 – 553)

Kingdom of the Lombards (568 – 814)

Kingdom of Italy (781 – 962)

Carolingian Dynasty (781 – 888)

Instability (888 – 962)

After 887, Italy fell into instability, with many rulers claiming the kingship simultaneously:

vassal of the German King Arnulf of Carinthia, reduced to Friuli 889-894, deposed by Arnulf in 896.
opponent of Berengar, ruled most of Italy but was deposed by Arnulf.
subking of his father Guy before 894, reduced to Spoleto 894–895.

In 896, Arnulf and Ratold lost control of Italy, which was divided between Berengar and Lambert:

seized Lambert's portion upon the latter's death in 898.
opposed Berengar 900-902 and 905.
defeated Berengar but fled Italy in 926.
elected by Berengar's partisans in 925, resigned to Provence after 945.
jointly with his son:

In 951 Otto I of Germany invaded Italy and was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy. In 952, Berengar and Adalbert became his vassals but remained kings until being deposed by Otto.

Holy Roman Empire (962 – 1556)

Ottonian dynasty (962 – 1024)

ImageNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Otto the Great.jpg
Otto I 23 November 912
7 May 973
962 [4] 7 May 973
Otto II 955
7 December 983
c. October 980 [5] 7 December 983
Meister der Reichenauer Schule 002.jpg
Otto III 980
23 January 1002
c. February 996 [6] 23 January 1002
Arduino d'ivrea (2).jpg
Arduin 955
1002 [4] 1014
Ubf Richard-Wagner-Platz Mosaik Heinrich II.jpg
Henry II
6 May 973
13 July 1024
1004 [4] 13 July 1024

Salian dynasty (1027 – 1125)

ImageNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Conrad I
4 June 1039
1026 [4] 4 June 1039
Heinrich III. (HRR) Miniatur.jpg
Henry III 29 October 1017
5 October 1056
1039 [4] 5 October 1056
Henry IV 11 November 1050
7 August 1106
1056 [4] December 1105
Conrad II of Italy.jpg
Conrad II of Italy 1074
1093 [4] 1101
Henry V
8 November 1086
23 May 1125
1106 [4] 23 May 1125

Süpplingenburg dynasty (1125 – 1137)

ImageNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Siegel Lothar III.jpg
Lothair III 9 June 1075
4 December 1137
1125 [4] 4 December 1137

House of Hohenstaufen (1128 – 1197)

ImageNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Konrad III Miniatur 13 Jahrhundert.jpg
Conrad III 1093
15 February 1152
1138 [4]
(Also crowned in 1128 in opposition to Lothair [10] )
Wgt Stifterbuchlein 43r.jpg
Frederick I 1122
10 June 1190
JindrichVIStauf trun.jpg
Henry VI November 1165
28 September 1197
1186 [4] 28 September 1197

House of Welf (1208 – 1212)

ImageNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Otto IV 1175 or 1176
19 May 1218
1209 [4] 1212

House of Hohenstaufen (1212 – 1254)

ImageCoat of ArmsNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Frederick II and eagle.jpg
Arms of Swabia (lions passant regardant).svg
Frederick II
(Friedrich II)
26 December 1194 – 13 December 12505 December 121213 December 1250
Arms of Swabia (lions passant regardant).svg
(Heinrich (VII))
1211 – 12 February 124223 April 122012 February 1242
Conrad IV of Germany.jpg
Arms of Swabia (lions passant regardant).svg
Conrad IV
(Konrad IV)
25 April 1228 – 21 May 1254May 123721 May 1254

House of Luxembourg (1311 – 1313)

ImageCoat of ArmsNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Henric van Lusenborch.svg
Henry VII 1275 [11]
24 August 1313
6 January 1311 [12] 24 August 1313

House of Wittelsbach (1327 – 1347)

ImageCoat of ArmsNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Ludwig der Bayer.jpg
Bavaria Wittelsbach coa medieval.svg
Louis IV 1 April 1282
11 October 1347
132711 October 1347

House of Luxembourg (1355 – 1437)

ImageCoat of ArmsNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Charles IV-John Ocko votive picture-fragment.jpg
Insigne Cechicum.svg
Charles IV 14 May 1316
29 November 1378
1355 [4] 29 November 1378
Zikmund Zhorelecka radnice.jpg
Sigismund Arms Hungarian Czech per pale.svg
Sigismund 14 February 1368
9 December 1437
1431 [4] 9 December 1437

House of Habsburg (1437 – 1556)

ImageCoat of ArmsNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Hans Burgkmair d. A. 005.jpg
Bindenschild Privilegium maius 1512.svg
Frederick III 21 September 1415
19 August 1493
16 March 145219 August 1493
Charles I of Spain.jpg
Bindenschild Privilegium maius 1512.svg
Charles V 24 February 1500
21 September 1558
24 February 1530 [13] 16 January 1556

Charles V was the last emperor to be crowned king of Italy, or to officially use the title. [4] The Habsburg emperors claimed the Italian crown until 1801. The empire continued to include Italian territories until its dissolution in 1806.

Kingdom of Italy (1805–1814), House of Bonaparte

ImageCoat of ArmsNameLifeCoronationCeased to be King
Napoleon I of France by Andrea Appiani.jpg
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Italy (1805-1814), round shield version.svg
Napoleon I 15 August 1769
5 May 1821
17 March 180511 April 1814

Full title

This title is present on Italian laws proclaimed by Napoleon I:

[Name], by the Grace of God and the Constitutions, Emperor of the French and King of Italy.

Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946), House of Savoy

ImageCoat of ArmsNameLifeBecame KingCeased to be King
Ritratto di S.M. Vittorio Emanuele II.jpg
Great coat of arms of the king of italy (1890-1946).svg
Victor Emmanuel II 14 March 1820
9 January 1878
17 March 18619 January 1878
Fratelli Vianelli (Giuseppe e Luigi, flor. 1860-1890 ca) - VE - Umberto I di Savoia 1.jpg
Great coat of arms of the king of italy (1890-1946).svg
Umberto I 14 March 1844
29 July 1900
9 January 187829 July 1900
Vittorio Emanuele III (c. 1924-1934).jpg
Great coat of arms of the king of italy (1890-1946).svg
Victor Emmanuel III 11 November 1869
28 December 1947
29 July 19009 May 1946
Umberto, Crown Prince of Italy.png
Great coat of arms of the king of italy (1890-1946).svg
Umberto II 15 September 1904
18 March 1983
9 May 194612 June 1946

Kings in pretense (since 1946)

Italy voted to abolish its monarchy on 2 June 1946, after which Umberto II became king in pretense. On his death in 1983, he was succeeded by his son Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples. However, due to Vittorio Emanuele marrying Marina, Princess of Naples without his father's permission, his cousin Amedeo, Duke of Aosta argues that Vittorio Emanuele's claim to the throne is invalid and that he is the rightful head of the House of Savoy. (See House of Savoy#House of Savoy today for details). [14] [15]

ImageCoat of ArmsNameLifeBecame King in pretenseCeased to be King in pretense
Hrh Prince Umberto of Italy, May 1944 TR1836.jpg
Great coat of arms of the king of italy (1890-1946).svg
Umberto II 15 September 1904
18 March 1983
12 June 194618 March 1983
Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia (2009).jpg
Great coat of arms of the king of italy (1890-1946).svg
Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples Born 12 February 193718 March 1983

Full title

Up until the dissolution of the monarchy in 1946, the full titles of the Kings of the Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) were:

[Name], by the Grace of God and the will of the Nation, King of Italy, King of Sardinia, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Armenia, Duke of Savoy, count of Maurienne, Marquis (of the Holy Roman Empire) in Italy; Prince of Piedmont, Carignano, Oneglia, Poirino, Trino; Prince and Perpetual Vicar of the Holy Roman Empire; Prince of Carmagnola, Montmélian with Arbin and Francin, Prince bailiff of the Duchy of Aosta, Prince of Chieri, Dronero, Crescentino, Riva di Chieri and Banna, Busca, Bene, Bra, Duke of Genoa, Monferrat, Aosta, Duke of Chablais, Genevois, Duke of Piacenza, Marquis of Saluzzo (Saluces), Ivrea, Susa, of Maro, Oristano, Cesana, Savona, Tarantasia, Borgomanero and Cureggio, Caselle, Rivoli, Pianezza, Govone, Salussola, Racconigi over Tegerone, Migliabruna and Motturone, Cavallermaggiore, Marene, Modane and Lanslebourg, Livorno Ferraris, Santhià, Agliè, Centallo and Demonte, Desana, Ghemme, Vigone, Count of Barge, Villafranca, Ginevra, Nizza, Tenda, Romont, Asti, Alessandria, of Goceano, Novara, Tortona, Bobbio, Soissons, Sant'Antioco, Pollenzo, Roccabruna, Tricerro, Bairo, Ozegna, delle Apertole, Baron of Vaud and of Faucigni, Lord of Vercelli, Pinerolo, of Lomellina, of Valle Sesia, of the Marquisate of Ceva, Overlord of Monaco, Roccabruna and eleven-twelfths of Menton, Noble Patrician of Venice, Patrician of Ferrara.[ citation needed ]

The king of Italy was the monarch with the largest number of titles.[ citation needed ]

See also


  1. Bury, History, vol. 1 p. 406
  2. Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN   978-3-8329-5609-7
  3. Bryce, James The Holy Roman Empire (1913), pg. xxxv
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Lodovico Antonio Muratori, Giuseppe Oggeri Vincenti, Annali d'Italia , 1788, pp. 78-81.
  5. According to Sismondi, History of the Italian Republics in the Middle Ages (pg. 29), although Otto II was crowned King of the Romans in 961 and Holy Roman Emperor in 967, he only obtained the Iron Crown at Pavia in late 980, during his descent into Italy, and prior to his celebrating Christmas at Ravenna.
  6. Although Otto III was crowned Holy Roman Emperor at Rome on 21 May 996, he was crowned King of Italy at Milan prior to the death of Pope John XV in early March 996 - see Comyn, History of the Western Empire, Vol. 1, pg. 123
  7. enumerated as successor of Henry I who was German King 919–936 but not Emperor.
  8. enumerated as successor of Conrad I who was German King 911–918 but not Emperor
  9. Barraclough, Geoffrey (1984). The Origins of Modern Germany. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN   0-393-30153-2.
  10. Comyn, Robert. History of the Western Empire, from its Restoration by Charlemagne to the Accession of Charles V, Vol. I. 1851, p. 191.
  11. Kleinhenz, Christopher, Medieval Italy: an encyclopedia, Volume 1, Routledge, 2004, pg. 494
  12. Jones, Michael, The New Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. VI: c. 1300-c. 1415, Cambridge University Press, 2000, pg. 533
  13. Philip Pandely Argenti, Chius Vincta , 1941, p. xvii.
  14. Heads of the House of Savoy since 1946 from The Royal Families in Europe V by Lars Ulwencreutz
  15. Royal cousins fight for defunct Italian throne from The Telegraph

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