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King of Italy


King of Italy

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.

Although Napoleon I used the title from 1805 to 1814, it was not until the Unification of Italy in the 1860s that a Kingdom of Italy was restored. From 1861 the House of Savoy held the title as monarchs of the entire peninsula until the last King of Italy, Umberto II, abdicated in 1946 when Italy became a republic.


  • History 1
  • List of kings 2
    • Rex Italiae 2.1
    • Ostrogothic Kingdom (493–553) 2.2
    • Kingdom of the Lombards (568–814) 2.3
    • Kingdom of Italy (781–963) 2.4
      • Carolingian Dynasty (781–888) 2.4.1
      • Feudal Anarchy (888–962) 2.4.2
    • Holy Roman Emperors also crowned kings of Italy (962–1556) 2.5
      • Ottonian dynasty (962–1024) 2.5.1
      • Salian dynasty (1027–1125) 2.5.2
      • Süpplingenburg dynasty (1125–1137) 2.5.3
      • House of Hohenstaufen (1128–1197) 2.5.4
      • House of Welf (1208–1212) 2.5.5
      • House of Hohenstaufen (1212–1254) 2.5.6
      • House of Luxembourg (1311–1313) 2.5.7
      • House of Wittelsbach (1327–1347) 2.5.8
      • House of Luxembourg (1355–1437) 2.5.9
      • House of Habsburg (1437–1556) 2.5.10
    • Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy (1805–1814), House of Bonaparte 2.6
    • Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946), House of Savoy 2.7
    • Full title 2.8
  • Notes 3
  • See also 4


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 III 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, 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 the World War II.[2] The Italian monarchy formally ended on 12 June of that year, and Umberto II left the country.

List of kings

Rex Italiae

Ostrogothic Kingdom (493–553)

Kingdom of the Lombards (568–814)

Kingdom of Italy (781–963)

Carolingian Dynasty (781–888)

Feudal Anarchy (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 Emperors also crowned kings of Italy (962–1556)

Ottonian dynasty (962–1024)

Image Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
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
Otto III 980
23 January 1002
c. February 996[6] 23 January 1002
Arduin I of Ivrea 955
1002[4] 1014
Henry II
6 May 973
13 July 1024
1004[4] 13 July 1024

Salian dynasty (1027–1125)

Image Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Conrad II
4 June 1039
1026[4] 4 June 1039
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 1074
1093[4] 1101
Henry V
8 November 1086
23 May 1125
1106[4] 23 May 1125

Süpplingenburg dynasty (1125–1137)

Image Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Lothair III (or II) 9 June 1075
4 December 1137
1125[4] 4 December 1137

House of Hohenstaufen (1128–1197)

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Conrad III 1093
15 February 1152
(Also crowned in 1128 in opposition to Lothair[10])
Frederick I 1122
10 June 1190
1154 1186
Henry VI November 1165
28 September 1197
1186[4] 28 September 1197

House of Welf (1208–1212)

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Otto IV 1175 or 1176
19 May 1218
1209[4] 1212

House of Hohenstaufen (1212–1254)

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Frederick II
(Friedrich II)
26 December 1194 – 13 December 1250 5 December 1212 13 December 1250
(Heinrich (VII))
1211 – 12 February 1242 23 April 1220 12 February 1242
Conrad IV
(Konrad IV)
25 April 1228 – 21 May 1254 May 1237 21 May 1254

House of Luxembourg (1311–1313)

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Henry VII 1275[11]
24 August 1313
6 January 1311[12] 24 August 1313

House of Wittelsbach (1327–1347)

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Louis IV 1 April 1282
11 October 1347
1327 11 October 1347

House of Luxembourg (1355–1437)

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Charles IV 14 May 1316
29 November 1378
1355[4] 29 November 1378
Sigismund 14 February 1368
9 December 1437
1431[4] 9 December 1437

House of Habsburg (1437–1556)

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Frederick III 21 September 1415
19 August 1493
16 March 1452 19 August 1493
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 use the title.[4] However, the empire continued to claim territory in northern Italy until its dissolution in 1806.

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

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Coronation Ceased to be King
Napoleon I 15 August 1769
5 May 1821
17 March 1805 11 April 1814

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

Image Coat of Arms Name Life Became King Ceased to be King
Victor Emmanuel II 14 March 1820
9 January 1878
17 March 1861 9 January 1878
Umberto I 14 March 1844
29 July 1900
9 January 1878 29 July 1900
Victor Emmanuel III 11 November 1869
28 December 1947
29 July 1900 9 May 1946
Umberto II 15 September 1904
18 March 1983
9 May 1946 12 June 1946

Full title

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

[Name], 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.


  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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o 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.  
  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.

See also

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