The son of Vittorio Emanuele II and of Adelaide, archduchess of Austria, Umberto was born at Turin, capital of the kingdom of Sardinia[?], on 14 March 1844. His education was entrusted to the most eminent men of his time, amongst others to Massimo Taparelli, Marquis d'Azeglio[?] and Pasquale Stanislao Mancini[?]. Entering the army in March 1858 with the rank of captain, he was present at the battle of Solferino in i859, and in 1866 commanded a division at the battle of Custozza[?]. Attacked by the Austrian cavalry near Villafranca[?], he formed his troops into squares and drove the assailants towards Sommacampagna[?], remaining himself throughout the action in the square most exposed to attack. With Bixio[?] he covered the retreat of the Italian army, receiving the gold medal for valour.
On 21 April 1868 Umberto married his cousin, Margherita Teresa Giovanna, princess of Savoy (born at Turin on 20 November 1851, died 1926), daughter of Ferdinand, Duke of Genoa[?] and granddaughter of Carlo Alberto. On 11 November 1869 Margherita gave birth to Victor Emmanuel, prince of Naples, afterwards Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.
Ascending the throne on the death of his father (9 January 1878), Umberto adopted the style "Umberto I of Italy" rather than "Umberto IV" (of Savoy), and consented that the remains of his father should be interred at Rome in the Pantheon, and not in the royal mausoleum of Superga[?] (see Crispi[?]). Accompanied by the premier, Benedetto Càiroli[?], he began a tour of the provinces of his kingdom, but on entering Naples (17 November 1878), amid the acclamations of an immense crowd, was attacked by G. Passanante. The king warded off the blow with his sabre, but Càiroli, in attempting to defend him, was severely wounded in the thigh. The would-be assassin was condemned to death, but the sentence was by the king commuted to one of penal servitude for life. The occurrence upset for several years the health of Queen Margherita.
In 1881 King Umberto, again accompanied by Càiroli, resumed his interrupted tour, and visited Sicily and the southern Italian provinces. In 1882 he took a prominent part in the national mourning for Garibaldi, whose tomb at Caprera he repeatedly visited. When, in the autumn of 1882, floods afflicted Verona and Venetia[?], he hastened to the spot, directed salvage operations, and provided large sums of money for the destitute. Similarly on 28 July 1883 he hurried to Ischia[?], where an earthquake had engulfed some 5000 persons. Countermanding the order of the minister of public works to cover the ruins with quicklime, the king prosecuted salvage operations for five days longer, and personally saved many victims at the risk of his own life.
Compared with the reigns of his grandfather, Charles Albert of Savoy, and of his father, Victor Emmanuel, the reign of Umberto proved tranquil. Scrupulously observant of constitutional principles, he followed, as far as practicable, parliamentary indications in his choice of premiers, only one of whom - Rudini[?] - came from the Conservative ranks. In foreign policy he approved of the conclusion of the Triple Alliance, and, in repeated visits to Vienna and Berlin, established and consolidated that pact. Towards Great Britain he invariably maintained a cordial attitude, and he considered the Triple Alliance imperfect unless supplemented by an Anglo-Italian naval entente.
Favourably disposed towards the policy of colonial expansion inaugurated in 1885 by the occupation of Massawa[?], he was suspected of aspiring to a vast empire in north-east Africa, a suspicion which tended somewhat to diminish his popularity after the disaster of Adowa[?] on 1 March 1896. On the other hand, his popularity was enhanced by the firmness of his attitude towards the Vatican, as exemplified in his telegram declaring Rome "intangible" (20 September 1886), and affirming the permanence of the Italian possession of the Eternal City.
Above all King Umberto was a soldier, jealous of the honour and prestige of the army to such a degree that he promoted a duel between his nephew, Victor Emmanuel, Count of Turin[?] (died 1946), and Prince Henry of Orleans (15 August 18?7) on account of the aspersions cast by the latter upon Italian arms.
The claims of King Umberto upon popular gratitude and affection were enhanced by his extraordinary munificence, which was not merely displayed on public occasions, but directed to the relief of innumerable private wants into which he had made personal inquiry. The regard in which he was universally held was abundantly demonstrated on the occasion of the unsuccessful attempt upon his life made by the anarchist Acciarito near Rome on 22 April 18?7, and still more after his tragic assassination at Monza by the anarchist G. Bresci on the evening of 29 July 1900. Good-humoured, active, tender-hearted, somewhat fatalistic, but, above all, generous, he was spontaneously called "Umberto the Good". He was buried in the Pantheon in Rome, by the side of Victor Emmanuel II, on 9 August 1900.
Umberto and Queen Margherita had children including:
Some text originally from http://1911encyclopedia.org (http://1911encyclopedia.org)
See also: Kings of Savoy -- External link: Genealogy of recent members of the House of Savoy (http://www.chivalricorders.org/royalty/gotha/italygen.htm)