Victor Emmanuel II (Vittorio Emanuele Maria Alberto Eugenio Ferdinando Tommaso di Savoia) was King of Sardinia from 1849 until 17 March 1861. At that point, he assumed the title of King of Italy and became the first king of a united Italy since the 6th century, a title he held until his death in 1878. The Italians gave him the epithet of Father of the Fatherland (Italian: Padre della Patria).
Victor Emmanuel was born as the eldest son of Charles Albert, Prince of Carignano, and Maria Theresa of Austria. His father succeeded a distant cousin as King of Sardinia-Piedmont in 1831. He lived for some years of his youth in Florence and showed an early interest in politics, the military, and sports. In 1842, he married his cousin, Adelaide of Austria. He was styled as the Duke of Savoy prior to becoming King of Sardinia-Piedmont. He became King of Sardinia-Piedmont in 1849 when his father abdicated the throne, after a humiliating military defeat by the Austrians at the Battle of Novara.
In 1860, Victor Emmanuel II sent his forces to fight the papal army at Castelfidardo and drove the Pope into Vatican City. His success at these goals led him to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church. Then, Giuseppe Garibaldi conquered Sicily and Naples, and Sardinia-Piedmont grew even larger. On 17 March 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was officially established and Victor Emmanuel II became its king.
Victor Emmanuel died in Rome in 1878, after meeting with Pope Pius IX's envoys, who had reversed the excommunication, and received last rites. He was buried in the Pantheon. His successor was his son Umberto I.