The King of Tavolara – 4
Going back to the second half of the nineteenth century, who in Italy cared about a naïve act made by an unlucky king of the past? An act that concerned a small island, Tavolara, lost in some bay of that abstruse colony of Sardinia? The royal family of Savoy had other things to hide, and other troubles.
The first king of the new kingdom of Italy, set in 1861, Vittorio Emanuele II (1820 – 1878) was in fact the son of a butcher, Mr Tanaca. Of course, official history denies that. But the truth is that Charles Albert needed to replace his son who died in his cradle in a fire. His nurse died as well. Mr Tanaca accepted the advantageous swap—his son had the same age of the royal dead—and was paid in cash. No surprise that there wasn’t similarity between them: Carlo Emanuele II was short and stocky while Charles Albert was more than two metres tall and slim, with another face, another posture. No surprise if the new king was famous for his ignorance (he did not study, and preferred to hunt and fuck far and wide in the countryside—he was really a forerunner) and his ability to lie, starting from the first official achievement, the negotiation with General Radestzy after the defeat of the Piedmontese army in the First Independence War—I repeat: he was really a forerunner!
I’m not saying that butchers are a bunch of liars, pay attention, but that the Piedmontese historians took great care in creating the legend of the “Re Galantuomo”, the honourable King who was able to strongly oppose the Austrians and was always generous with his subjects, only because he was of plebeian birth.
Actually, our son of a butcher promised General Radestzy that he would cancel the liberal constitution and go back to a strict and conservative monarchy, thus saving the existence of his kingdom.
Speaking instead about generosity, one of his greatest exploits was the bombardment of Genoa—where the population was not so fond of the Piedmontese policies—killing more than five hundred people, women and children included.
Now, let’s make a step back and imagine the Queen Victoria who orders the bombardment, I don’t know, of Birmingham just to calm down the hungry people. I truly mean hungry, starving population, not pushed by political or revolutionary reasons. Do you think that it would have been conceivable? Our honourable King did it, and just in Genoa, one of the best and oldest cities of his kingdom, moreover calling the local people “a vile and infected race of canailles.”
By the way, his son, Umberto I, would have replicated this infamous bombardment against the starving population of Milan—blood doesn’t lie.
Since the Italian ordeal starts with Vittorio Emanuele II, is useful to remember that flocks of historians and journalists, instead of criticizing the dynasty, started to lick the royal Savoy’s ass, creating a national sport that would have continued well after the Savoy dynasty, with the Agnelli’s one—same origins, same historical damages brought to Italy—and with all those in power in Italy, whoever they were (are).
By the way, why ‘Vittorio Emanuele ‘II’ since he was the first King of Italy? The answer is that he neither cared nor understood the noble concept of ‘Italy.’ He thought he was only a Savoy member, a fact much more significant for his limited but determined brain.
How I love him, his proud moustaches, his arrogant and bovine glance! His wives, mistresses and lovers, his hordes of illegitimate children, his preference for French women thanks to their superior “tiraggio”—so he said comparing the results of his deep researches!
Actually I think that Italy deserved a better dynasty, great figures and enlightened men and not this Savoy-Tanaca band of voracious colonialists and womanizers, what a pity.
Yes, because Vittorio Emanuele II, this splendid character, just to avoid the bankrupt of the Piedmontese kingdom (behind the greatest plans there is always an economic reason, of course) accepted and internalized another scenery, the unification of Italy. It was a very romantic idea that a small percentage of romantic thinkers had developed. The illiterates were more that the 97% of the entire community back then—95% at the beginning of the twentieth century; we have to remember. So this ex-post built “great movement of people” pushing for the unification was an elitist dream actually. Whatever. In Vittorio Emanuele II’s mind, the unification was only the conquest of the rest of Italy and mainly of the South, where some legends said that vast treasures were hidden.
It is true that in 1856 the Regno delle Due Sicilie was internationally awarded as the third industrialized nation in the world, after Great Britain and France; it is true that the Turin stock exchange was born in 1850, while the Napoli stock exchange opened in 1810; again, it is true that the Real Opificio Borbonico di Pietrarsa had twice as many workers as Ansaldo, the most valuable company in the kingdom of Piedmont. Nevertheless, just a few years after the unification, the “questione meridionale” tragically emerged in its right dimension: in the South there were not treasures but a disastrous economic situation, worse than the Piedmontese one—you can read “Lettere Meridionali,” by Pasquale Villari, 1878.
As a result of this selfish strategy and especially of the subsequent, inconsiderate action of spoliation of the countryside, the figures of the Italian emigration are impressive—see my blog “Italian Emigration over the years,” July 8, 2013.
A last, due info about Vittorio Emanuele II. As anticipated in the previous article, he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church because he stole the land of the Pope, forcing him into Vatican City. Objectively, the capture of Rome was only an act of violence, illegal. And the first enemy of the Church until 1929 remained the Savoy family.
Moreover, studying the unification process, other wonderful figures magically emerge from history, like brilliant fireworks: the syphilitic Camillo Benso Count of Cavour, the architect of the smart conquest of the South; the international hero Giuseppe Garibadi, freemason, fond of wars and vain until stupidity; not to forget the various whores and mistresses, the international “escort” Contessa di Castiglione, for instance, who pleaded the cause of Italian unity with Napoleone III of France.
In conclusion, a splendid fan of characters. Historians are rightly proud of them.
I’m conscious that I had to tell you about the King of Tavolara, right, but how could I explain the development of the story if you are not conscious of the situation, of Italian history?
In the second part of the nineteenth century, the kingdom of Tavolara was still there, guided by Giuseppe Bertoleoni until 1886, and then by his son Carlo I.
The smallest kingdom in the world, correct. Besides, wasn’t Malta a small island too? And the Rock of Gibraltar just a little cape? It is true. But their strategic importance went (goes) beyond their dimensions. And the Queen Victoria, not used to fucking far and wide in the countryside but well aware of the interests of her empire, wasn’t stupid, sure.
See you next time.