Heirs and Their Wives: Setting the Scene for Umbertian Italy

  • Axel Körner
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy book series (PSMM)


Italian literature from the Risorgimento period — the works of D’Azeglio, Guerrazzi or of Verdi’s librettist Solera — portrayed Italian women as the defenders of morality and of the purity of Italian blood. They fulfilled their role as good wives and mothers by bearing future Italians and by holding the nation together. This description of the nation in terms of direct blood relations and kinship influenced a growing audience of patriots in Risorgimento Italy.1 Meanwhile, what divided these patriots were Italy’s future constitutional arrangements. The question of republic versus monarchy was only resolved, at least temporarily, after the revolutions of 1848–49, when the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia took the lead in the struggle for Italian unification. Piedmont created Italy through a series of wars and the deposition of long-reigning dynasties. There were also annexations of external territories, which as late as the uprisings of 1831 had still been described as ‘foreign’ by the revolutionaries themselves.


Royal Family Constitutional Order Military Career Constitutional Arrangement Italian Literature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Alberto M. Banti (2000), La nazione del Risorgimento. Parentela, santità e onore alle origini dell’Italia unita, Turin. Marina d’Amelia (2012), ‘Between Two Eras: Challenges Facing Women in the Risorgimento’, in: Silvana Patriarca and Lucy Riall (eds), The Risorgimento Revisited: Nationalism and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Italy, New York, 115–33. On the representation of women in Verdi’s operas see Susan Rutherford (2013), Verdi, Opera, Women, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Linda Colley (1992), Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837, New Haven and London. Although it is important to differentiate between the two queens’ offices, Catherine Brice has argued that Queen Victoria’s emphasis on domesticity served Margherita as a model: Catherine Brice (2006), ‘Queen Margherita (1851–1926): “The Only Man in the House of Savoy”’, in: Regina Schulte (ed.), The Body of the Queen: Gender and Rule in the Courtly World, 1500–2000, New York, 195–215.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Umberto Levra (1992), Fare gli Italiani. Memoria e celebrazione del Risorgimento, Turin, 8Google Scholar
  4. Umberto Levra (1997), ‘Vittorio Emanuele II’, in: Mario Isnenghi (ed.), I luoghi della memoria. Strutture ed eventi dell’Italia unita, Rome and Bari, 47–64.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Claudio Alberto Andreoli (2010), Regine e dame alla corte dei re d’Italia, Città di Castello, 68ff.; Ugoberto Alfassio Grimaldi (1971), Il re ‘buono’, Milan, 47ff.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Frank Lorenz Müller (2011), Our Fritz: Emperor Frederick III and the Political Culture of Imperial Germany, Cambridge, MA, 32ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 13.
    Filippo Mazzonis (2003), La Monarchia e il Risorgimento, Bologna, 169. For a rare personal account of Margherita’s character, though during later years, see the diary of Umberto’s aiutante di campo during the mid-1890s: Paolo Paulucci (1986), Alla corte di Re Umberto. Diario segreto, edited by Giorgio Calcagno, Milan.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    Giulia Guazzaloca (2009), Sovrani a metà: monarchia e legittimazione in Europa tra Otto e Novecento, Soveria Mannelli, 89. See also Catherine Brice (2010), Monarchie et identité nationale en Italie (1861–1900), Paris, 25–38. For a more detailed discussion of the monarch’s constitutional position see Mazzonis (2003), 53 sq, in particular 63ff., 107 sq, 118.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    Paolo Colombo (2004), ‘Una Corona per una nazione: considerazioni sul ruolo della monarchia costituzionale nella costruzione dell’identità italiana’, in: Marina Tesoro (ed.), Monarchia, tradizione, identità nazionale. Germania, Giappone e Italia tra ottocento e novecento, Milan, 21–33, 22; Mack Smith (1989), 4–5, 54–55.Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    George Mosse (1985), Nationalism and Sexuality, New York, 10.Google Scholar
  11. 25.
    Giuseppe Ugliengo (1879), Re Umberto o l’anno primo del suo regno, Turin, 33.Google Scholar
  12. 28.
    Anna Tedesco (2008), ‘“Queste opere eminentemente sinfoniche e spettacolose”: Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Influence on Italian Opera Orchestras’, in: Niels Martin Jensen and Franco Piperno (eds), The Opera Orchestra in 18th- and 19th-Century Europe, vol. 2: The Orchestra in the Theatre — Composers, Works, and Performance, Berlin, 185–227, 202.Google Scholar
  13. 30.
    Anselm Gerhard (1998), The Urbanization of Opera: Music Theater in Paris in the Nineteenth Century, Chicago and London.Google Scholar
  14. 32.
    Onorato Roux (1901), La Prima Regina d’Italia nella vita privata, nella vita del paese — nelle lettere e nelle arti, Milan, 71.Google Scholar
  15. 37.
    Giovanni Gigliozzi (1997), Le regine d’Italia, Rome, 37–38.Google Scholar
  16. 47.
    Carlo Casalegno (2001), La regina Margherita, Bologna, 26 sq.Google Scholar
  17. 49.
    Felice Venosta (1885), Umberto I Re d’Italia. Studi biografici popolari, Milan, 5.Google Scholar
  18. 56.
    David D’Avray (1994), Death and the Prince: Memorial Preaching before 1350, Oxford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 58.
    Paul W. Schroeder (2004), ‘Did the Vienna Settlement Rest on a Balance of Power?’, in: Paul W. Schroeder, Systems, Stability, and Statecraft: Essays on the International History of Modern Europe, New York, 37–58.Google Scholar
  20. 59.
    David Cannadine (1983), ‘The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and the “Invention of Tradition”, c. 1820–1970’, in: Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds), The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge, 101–64, 102. On the connection between symbolic behaviour and the creation of consensus see David Kertzer (1988), Ritual, Politics, and Power, New Haven and London, 8–9, 78. See also Paolo Colombo (1999), Il Re d’Italia. Prerogative costituzionali e potere politico della Corona (1848–1922), Milan, 33–34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Axel Körner 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Körner

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations