King Victor Emmanuel II, head of the House of the Dukes of Savoy. It was in great part due to his intelligent minister, Cavour, and the Freemasons, to which he belonged, that Italy was unified under the royal scepter. A larger than life character, and a ladies’ man, he was loved by Queen Victoria, who nonetheless found him lacking the dignity that one expected from the kings of old Europe.
Queen Margherita and her son Victor Emmanuel. Margherita of Savoy Genes married her cousin, King Umberto of Italy. This prodigious woman, through her elegance, culture, and intelligence, brought great prestige to a dynasty that was in need of it. Not because this old family was lacking, but rather the manner in which Italy was unified to its benefit gave the family a poor reputation among their royal colleagues.
King Umberto I was the second ruler of a unified Italy, a dynasty which, due to the dispossession of other rulers who brought unity to Italy, was not very popular with other royal families. His was a calm reign, during which he consolidated his dynasty. He was assassinated in Monza, while returning from a romantic rendezvous with his mistress, Marquessa Lita.
Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta, the younger brother of King Umberto I, was offered the crown of Spain when the legitimate ruler, Queen Isabella II, was chased from the country. He accepted and arrived in Spain with his wife. Amedeo quickly realized the anarchic situation of the country, and the untenable position he was put into. So, after a few years he said ciao to Spain and returned with relief to Italy.
Maria Vittoria del Pozza della Cisterna was a rich aristocrat from Piedmont. She married Amedeo, the Duke of Aosta, and was for a brief time Queen of Spain. She left her heirs with a considerable fortune.
Helen of France, sister to my grandmother the Duchess of Guise, became the second Duchess of Aosta when she married Duke Emmanuel Philibert. The Duke was one of the victors of World War I, a general of great talent. She herself was active during the war, caring for the wounded and seeing that they we tended to. This alluring woman had a volcanic personality. She also knew her was around a horse, as this photograph illustrates.