Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Italian King of Croatia

Ever since the end of World War II, during which it was created, lived and died, everything about the Independent State of Croatia is subject to controversy and that has extended to the nominal King of the newly freed Croatia; the Italian Duke of Spoleto who was, on paper at least, His Majesty Tomislav II. He has been accused of being a puppet for puppets, a fascist (what a surprise) and probably more than anything else that he was an uninterested playboy who was a never a real king. However, because he is not often remembered, and when he is it is mostly as the nominal King of Croatia during World War II, it is easy to allow opinion to overtake the facts and much of what is assumed about the last King of the Croats may not be anywhere near the truth at all. He was born Prince Aimone Roberto Margherita Maria Giuseppe Torino of the Italian royal house of Savoy on March 9, 1900 in Turin. He was the second son of Prince Emanuele Filiberto, 2nd Duke of Aosta and Princess Helene. His paternal grandparents were the controversial King Amadeus I of Spain and Princess Maria Vittoria and his maternal grandparents were Prince Philippe of Orleans and the Infanta Maria Isabel of Spain. King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy was his great grandfather and, as such, on September 22, 1904 he was given the title of Duke of Spoleto to be held for the rest of his life.

An avid outdoorsman, the Duke of Spoleto made the news when he tried to climb K2 in Karakorum in the Himalayas, the second highest mountain on earth in 1929. His uncle, the Duke of the Abruzzi had tried twenty years before and Prince Aimone decided to focus his efforts purely on scientific research rather than a race for the top. He also became known, in his adulthood, as something of a ladies man. The tall, handsome prince was considered quite a prize by most women and there were numerous rumors about him, especially concerning a relationship with the daughter of King Alfonso XIII of Spain the Infanta Beatriz. However, he did finally settle down when he married Princess Irene of Greece on July 1, 1939 in Florence. This brought about some new family connections for the House of Savoy as Princess Irene was the daughter of the Greek King Constantine I and Princess Sophie of the German Imperial Family of Prussia. The couple eventually had one son, Prince Amedeo, who was born on September 27, 1942. Little did he know on his wedding day in 1939 that in a few years he would be declared the reigning monarch of a new country.

In April of 1941 the Axis forces of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy invaded and conquered the Serbian dominated Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Of the many minority nationalities who had been handed over to Serbia after the Allied victory in World War I none were so eager for liberation as the Croatians and they quickly set up the Independent State of Croatia under the leadership of the Ustashe party of Head Man Ante Pavelic. A new government was quickly established under Italian supervision as southern Europe was considered by the Axis to be within the sphere of the Kingdom of Italy and the new Roman Empire Benito Mussolini dreamed of creating around the Mediterranean. The following month Ante Pavelic went to the Quirinal Palace in Rome to meet with His Majesty Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, Albania and Emperor of Ethiopia, to request that he appoint a member of the House of Savoy to be the king over the new Croatian State recently established. On May 18, 1941 the ceremony was held in which the Italian monarch named his cousin Prince Aimone as the new King over Croatia, which also included what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This is where the story becomes really interesting since many enemies of Croatia, especially enemies of the Ustashe but really enemies of a free Croatia period, like to state that Aimone was never really a true Croatian monarch. However, that argument is obviously false and these people contradict their claim by their own arguments as we shall see. The ancient Crown of Zvonimir was solemnly given to Prince Aimone who took as his reigning name King Tomislav II in honor of the heroic Tomislav who was the first King of an independent Croatia in ancient times. This in itself shows that Aimone or Tomislav II was serious about his new position. Enemies like to repeat the story that when Aimone first heard of the appointment he thought his cousin the King was playing a joke on him, implying that he never considered the job anything more than that himself, but such an implication is obviously false. By taking the name of an honored hero from Croatian history Tomislav II was obviously making an effort to adopt the culture of his land and illustrate that a new period of greatness was upon them again and that free Croatia had been reborn.

The enemies of Tomislav II and Croatia also like to point out that the reigning monarch never actually set foot in Croatia, trying to make the case that his reign was never more than a matter of titles which he nor anyone else gave the slightest thought to. This is an argument that is a lot like rat poison; mostly good food but just enough strychnine to kill you. It is true that Tomislav II never resided in Croatia yet it was specifically because he took his job so seriously and was committed to being a truly Croatian monarch for his people and not simply an Axis puppet for Italy. Everything was set up for him to be given a formal Catholic coronation in Duvansko Polje in Bosnia but he refused to do so out of protest to the seizure of certain coastal areas of Dalmatia by Italy. He refused on the grounds of the sovereignty and national integrity of the country over which he was king! Tomislav II stated that this land was never going to be able to be fully integrated into Italy and by the Italian seizure of the territory it only served as an obstacle to better Italian and Croatian friendship. His refusal to enter the country was well thought out and based on a principled stand of putting his new country first, even before Italy.

This was based on agreement by which Mussolini would support Pavelic in restoring Croatian independence, in exchange for which the Italians would receive territorial concessions on the coast, basically consisting of Dalmatia. As compensation, the new Croatia was to include all of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which it did. And, actually, Italian and Croatian nationalist collaboration actually had a history behind, united as they were by a shared opposition to Yugoslavia and the extensive territorial concessions to Serbia after World War I. When Gabriele D’Annunzio and his Italian nationalists had seized Fiume, on the Dalmatian coast, they gave their moral support to the Croatian nationalists of the region, encouraging them to rise up against the Serbs to reclaim their independence. It is also true that, in the past, even under the Empire of Austria-Hungary (Croatia being a part of the Kingdom of Hungary) that Dalmatia and Croatia were always identified separately. So, there was certainly grounds for a legitimate difference of opinion over who Dalmatia should belong to. However, King Tomislav II, an Italian by birth and by blood a member of the proud Italian House of Savoy, took his new title seriously and refused to automatically take the Italian point of view and instead insisted that Dalmatia was Croatian and would not just be instantly turned over to Italy.

Enemies of the Croatian King also like to say that Tomislav II was simply a powerless figurehead who had nothing to do with Croatian life, cared nothing about it and was only a symbol of the Ustashe regime of Ante Pavelic which held the real power in the country (and which has the worst reputation). An easy response to that allegation is simple: Well So What?! Was King George VI of the UK and the British Empire no less a real monarch because he reigned while a government ruled in his name? What other monarch in any European country at the time actually ruled his country personally in an absolutist manner during World War II? He reigned but did not rule and this was the accepted practice of all monarchs of his time and still is today. He was, like any monarch then or now, a symbol of Croatian unity and tradition and was never meant to be a political administrator. However, that does not mean he did nothing or took no interest in his country. In the areas for which the monarchy was responsible he was quite active. For instance, while King he granted 60 titles of nobility such as duke, marquis, count, viscount and baron for Croatia; something he certainly would not have done if he considered his position purely honorary and nothing more than an additional title. He had enough of those anyway as one year after becoming King his full title was extended to: His Majesty Tomislav II (or Zvonimir II) King of Croatia, Prince of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Voivode of Dalmatia, Tuzla and Temun, Duke of Aosta, Prince of Cisterna and of Belriguardo, Marquess of Voghera and Count of Ponderano.

The final change came on March 3, 1942 when he inherited the title of Duke of Aosta from his elder brother Prince Amedeo, Third Duke of Aosta who died in Tanzania as a British prisoner of war after having been taken in the fighting in Italian East Africa. His time as King of Croatia came to an end the following year though when the fortunes of war forced the Italians to seek an armistice and King Tomislav II abdicated the throne on July 31, 1943. One of the absurd things about the enemies of the King and Croatia is that they will claim he was never really king and yet know by heart and openly talk about the date of his abdication. They never care to explain how someone who was never really a king can abdicate his throne. In any event, Prince Aimone, now Fourth Duke of Aosta, went on doing his duty as best he could for his native land. Before World War II ended he took command of the important Italian naval base at Taranto however he was soon labeled as “too fascist” by the new powers that be when he expressed his disapproval of the judges who had handed a guilty verdict to General Mario Roatta. The Duke of Aosta, by then a Squadron Admiral in the Royal Italian Navy, was dismissed and at the end of the war pressure forced him to move to South America. He died in Buenos Aires in 1948. As far as Axis military figures go he was mostly forgotten but he is still widely remembered today as the last King of the Croatian people and their first (and so far only) independent monarch of modern times.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Italy Enters the Great War

On this day in 1915 the Kingdom of Italy officially entered World War I by declaring war on Austria-Hungary. It would be a cruel and costly conflict but Italy did emerge victorious.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

King Carlo Felice of Piedmont-Sardinia

His Majesty Carlo Felice, Duke of Savoy, Piedmont and Aosta, King of Sardinia is often overshadowed by his dynamic nephew and successor, Carlo Alberto, famous for giving his kingdom and later Italy its constitution but his reign was one to cheer the heart of any ultra-royalist reactionary. He was born Prince Carlo Felice Giuseppe Maria on April 6, 1765 in Turin, the fifth son and eleventh child of King Vittorio Amadeo III and Queen Maria Antoinetta of Spain. As the fifth son, no one gave any thought to the idea that he might one day wear the Savoy crown himself and it was expected that he would have a military or religious career as was common for the younger sons of kings. In the case of Prince Carlo Felice, most assumed it would be the priesthood for him as, fairly early in life, he seemed most suited for that type of vocation. He spent his childhood at the family castle of Moncalieri, mostly with his sister Princess Maria Carolina (who would go on to marry the Prince-Elector of Saxony) and the Count of Moriana. He was a fairly withdrawn boy, solemn, lonely and austere. As he grew older he developed an exalted view of the monarchy even for a member of the House of Savoy. He held to the monarchy as being a sacred institution, that to reign was a religious duty for the monarch and he seems to have held to the Divine Right of Kings.

It came as a great shock then when French revolutionary forces conquered Piedmont in 1796, forcing the Royal Family to leave Turin and depriving them of the Savoy crown. The Prince lost his own primary title, Duke of Genoa (as it was conquered by the French) but was given the title of Marquis of Susa to make up for it. He formed a clique of ultra-royalists with other members of the family and friends opposed to the concessions which King Carlo Emanuele IV had been obliged to make and which had nothing but contempt for any supporters of the Revolution or, indeed, any who did not oppose them as vociferously as they did. He blamed it on the godlessness of the intellectuals of the ‘chattering class’ which had turned people against their monarch as well as the Church and the nobility which were the ‘Pillars of the Throne’. Prince Carlo Felice participated in the Italian campaign against the French, at least as much as he was allowed to but was constantly frustrated by the fact that his brother the King did not keep him or his other brothers very well informed of events. Carlo Emanuele IV and Carlo Felice had never been close but their relationship cooled even more as a result of this. When the Royal Family was forced out of Piedmont they officially relocated to Sardinia but most preferred to stay in Rome. In 1802, after the death of his beloved wife, King Carlo Emanuele IV abdicated and his brother succeeded him as King Vittorio Emanuele I. It was he who named Prince Carlo Felice Viceroy of Sardinia and entrusted him with the government of the island.

This was his first chance to rule and Viceroy Carlo Felice proved to be tough but fair. Much of Sardinia had fallen prey to banditry and lawlessness and, of course, the revolutionary poison was present as well. Carlo Felice eradicated it with ruthless determination and was not afraid to make extensive use of the death penalty in restoring law and order to the island. He famously wrote to his brother the King, “Kill, kill for the good of mankind”. Of course, some complained that his regime seemed more like a police state and executions were plentiful, however, he got the job done and improved conditions dramatically on the island. His reputation improved when people learned that their Viceroy was not arbitrary but ruled fairly and would show no favoritism to the Piedmontese. He was just as strict toward the feudal lords who failed in their responsibility to their people as he was toward the people who embraced rebellion simply for the sake of rebellion. He also worked to improve agriculture, mining, trade and promoted the cultivation of olive trees in an effort to invigorate the Sardinian economy.

Family matters also came to be a priority due to a lack of sons and the deaths of two royal brothers. With King Vittorio Emanuele I having only daughters, Prince Carlo Felice became heir to the throne so a marriage was necessary. Although not popular in all quarters, a dynastic arrangement was made and on March 7, 1807 the Prince was married to Princess Maria Cristina of Naples and Sicily, daughter of King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and Queen Maria Carolina of Austria (sister of the martyred Queen Marie Antoinette). They had a happy marriage but it did not solve the problem of the succession as they were unable to have children. King Vittorio Emanuele I then began looking to Prince Carlo Alberto of the Savoy-Carignano line as the hope for the future of the Royal Family. After the final defeat of Napoleon (whom Carlo Felice referred to as “the rascal”) in 1814, King Vittorio Emanuele I returned in triumph to Turin and Prince Carlo Felice followed, leaving his wife to act as Viceroy of Sardinia in his place, which she did until his return. He continued to oversee the government of the island until 1821 when revolution broke out in Turin and his older brother abdicated the throne.

This was the result of the secret society known as the Carbonari (charcoal-burners), some of whom were revolutionary republicans, others of whom were constitutional monarchists but all of whom opposed absolutism and wanted a united, liberal Italy. When four students were arrested on their way to the theatre on suspicion of belonging to the Carbonari there was an uproar, mostly by university professors and students. They protested, soldiers were sent in, they clashed, people were killed and events escalated to a disastrous level. Prince Carlo Alberto knew some of these people and they intended to use him as their go-between. They had shrewdly waited until Prince Carlo Felice was away in Modena and planned to swarm the royal castle and force King Vittorio Emanuele I to grant a constitution and declare war on Austria to liberate northern Italy. To his credit, Prince Carlo Alberto backed out of the scheme and warned his cousin the King what was up. While he tried to decide what to do the situation deteriorated further with rebel forces seizing control of the citadel in Turin. He tried to deal with the rebels, but they had turned their back on Carlo Alberto and no communication was possible. Not wishing to start shooting down people in the streets, King Vittorio Emanuele I abdicated in favor of his brother but, as he was in Modena, named Prince Carlo Alberto regent in the interim.

Rather out of his depth, the young Prince Carlo Alberto finally agreed to grant a constitution, similar to the one recently issued in Spain, and began forming a council that would take the place of the old parliament. The new King Carlo Felice would have none of it. As soon as he heard, he ordered a halt to everything, remaining in Modena and refused to even accept that he was monarch as he considered his brother to have abdicated under duress and that it was thus invalid. He sent a letter voiding the new constitution and any action taken since the abdication of his brother. Prince Carlo Alberto carried out his instructions and even, reluctantly, addressed the Emperor of Austria on the possibility of sending troops to aid in suppressing the rebellion. King Carlo Felice did not want to be known as one who owed his crown to a rebellion but, with the support of the international community, Vittorio Emanuele I insisted that his abdication would stand and so, on April 25, 1821 Carlo Felice had his royal status reassured. He appointed Ignazio Thaon di Revel his Lieutenant General of the Realm in his absence and ordered an immediate crack-down on all rebels and revolutionaries. With King Carlo Felice it was a case of “no more Mister Nice Guy”. Eventually, simple participants were pardoned but the ringleaders were all brought to justice and executed and all talk of a constitution was silenced.

As monarch, King Carlo Felice was fairly “hands-off”. His ideas about the sacred nature of the monarchy and his insistence that royal power was absolute did not translate to the idea that the King had to do everything himself. He was happy to delegate power and did not spend much time in Turin, which he felt to be somewhat tainted by revolutionary sentiment. He could always be expected to show up in ‘theatre season’ as he loved the theatre, music and was a patron of the arts. Ordinarily though, he preferred to reside in Savoy, Nice or Genoa and many complained that the country, under Carlo Felice, was dominated by a few stuffy chamberlains, old ladies and a cohort of priests and religious. They were not entirely wrong in that but it should not be stated as though it were a bad thing. King Carlo Felice, despite his reputation as a reactionary, did preside over some needed legal reforms. He did away with special courts, enacted regulations that the punishment must fit the crime and, to the surprise of some, resisted papal encroachment on royal authority in his country as well as that from the political class. He also abolished the slave trade and ordered that anyone born on Piedmontese soil or on a ship flying their flag would be free. He improved the infrastructure of the country (yes, roads and bridges), restored the port at Nice and gave a boost to the steel industry and encouraged agriculture as well as manufacturing and trade.

Ever watchful for any hint of revolutionary sentiment, King Carlo Felice liked to speculate about expansion but never took any action in that direction, ultimately preferring to focus on building up the economy and preventing any potential unrest. Preserving the Savoy monarchy was his overriding concern. His involvement in foreign affairs was rather minimal. The year he came to the throne he gained a trade treaty with the Ottoman Empire thanks to the mediation of Great Britain and Austria but he could be spurred to action when the situation warranted it. In 1825 the Bey of Tripoli imprisoned some Genoese merchants and the King dispatched two frigates, a corvette and a brig under Captain Francesco Sivori to pressure the Bey into releasing them. When this failed the Italian forces took punitive action and the Bey was at last persuaded to be more merciful. It was the one piece of “action” on the world stage for a monarch better known for building theaters and opera houses than launching military operations. King Carlo Felice died on April 27, 1831 in Turin after a reign of ten years, in some ways, the last Savoy monarch of the ‘old school’. At his funeral the Bishop of Annecy reportedly said, “Gentlemen, today we bury the monarchy”. It was undoubtedly a reference to the succession of Prince Carlo Alberto who was known to have much more liberal tendencies than King Carlo Felice. This was something that worried the King in his final days but which he was adamant that he had no power to control. As a believer in the sacred nature of monarchy and a lifelong opponent of any tinkering with the succession, if the throne was to pass to Carlo Alberto then it must be the will of God and that was all there was to it. King Carlo Alberto would go in a rather different direction, granting a constitution and, perhaps inadvertently, setting Italy on the road to unification and independence but all the while retaining a powerful monarchy with a strict protocol that King Carlo Felice would have found very familiar and very proper.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Italian Underwater Ace Gianfranco Gazzana-Priaroggia

When it came to submarine warfare in World War II, numerous countries produced great, successful commanders and undoubtedly the Germans were at the top, sinking more enemy ships than anyone else by a considerable margin. However, apart from the German U-Boat commanders, the most successful submarine commander of World War II was an Italian officer, Lieutenant Commander Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia. During his career, this Italian submarine ace sent more enemy shipping to the bottom than anyone from the Soviet, Japanese, British or American navies. When it came to undersea warfare, he was the best Italy had, the best anyone outside of Germany had and his name will always be remembered as one of the great, legendary figures in the submarine community. He was born in Milan to a family of Genoese ancestry on August 30, 1912 and entered the Italian Naval Academy in 1931. In January, 1935 he earned his appointment as a midshipman and in January of the following year was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant to complete his training on board the cruisers Trento and Trieste. In 1937 he volunteered for service in the submarine force.

Gazzana-Priaroggia’s first action in the submarine force was two special missions during the Spanish Civil War aboard the Balilla class submarine Domenico Millelire. This was the second boat of the Balilla class which were the first Italian subs built after the First World War. In October of 1938 he was posted to the Malachite, one of the Perla class submarines of the 600 Series. He was serving on the Malachite when the Kingdom of Italy entered World War II but was soon promoted to full Lieutenant and executive officer on the submarine Durbo, one of the Adua class of the 600 Series. Later, he served again as second-in-command of the submarine Tazzoli, after April 5, 1941 under the command of the Italian submarine ace Lieutenant Commander Carlo Fecia di Cossato. In that capacity he contributed to the sinking of twelve Allied ships, accounting for 68,000 tons. This was in the difficult waters of the Atlantic, heavily guarded by the massive British Royal Navy but one day Gazzana-Priaroggia would go on to break the record of even his capable commander who would himself go on to sink a total of 18,000 tons of Allied shipping.

After gaining all of this valuable experience, Gazzana-Priaroggia was finally given command of his own submarine, the Archimede, one of the five Brin class subs built to replace those handed over to the Spanish Nationalists. It had made a harrowing escape from Italian East Africa to reach the French coast to participate in the war in the Atlantic. On August 10, 1942 Gazzana-Priaroggia was given his most famous command, the Marconi class submarine Leonardo da Vinci which would prove the most successful Italian submarine of the war. Operating out of Bordeaux, the Italian submarine base in the Atlantic (Betasom), Gazzana-Priaroggia took a terrible toll as he hunted along the Allied shipping lanes. On May 6, 1943 he was given a battlefield promotion to Lieutenant Commander and during his career earned 3 Bronze Medals of Military Valor and 2 Silver Medals of Military Valor. Ultimately, his total would be 90,601 Gross Registered Tons of Allied shipping sunk, higher than any other non-German submarine commander. Because of his record of success and the regard the sailors who served under him had for their captain, he was nicknamed Ursus atlanticus.

Leonardo da Vinci
However, for a captain who saw so much action and faced death so fearlessly, his good fortune was bound to run out. On his way back to base from another successful patrol (for which he earned his promotion to Capitano di corvetta) his submarine was spotted by the British destroyer HMS Active and the frigate HMS Ness just west of Cape Finisterre. Hopelessly outmatched, Gazzana-Priaroggia and his sailors fought to the last but the Leonardo da Vinci was sunk and lost with all hands, the captain going down with his boat. This was a terrible blow for the Regia Marina and the Italian nation as a whole as their most successful submarine commander was gone. In death, he was given his final recognition being posthumously awarded the Knight’s Iron Cross from Germany and the Gold Medal for Military Valor by King Vittorio Emanuele III. He had not survived the war but his name will live on forever in the submarine community as one of the best there has ever been. As a testament of his legacy, in 1993 the Italian navy named the last of the Nazario Sauro class boats, the Primo Longobardo sub-class boat S525 the Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia in his honor.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Columbus Flagship Discovered

After more than 520 years a group of researchers believe that they have found the remains of the Spanish carrack Santa Maria (Officially La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción) which was the largest ship of the exploration fleet led by the intrepid Italian explorer Christopher Columbus on his voyage that "discovered" the New World. The remains have been found in the area where the ship ran aground off the northern coast of Haiti.

British researcher Barry Clifford said, "All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria," which is something new, even though the wreckage has long been known. It was first found and photographed in 2003 but no one knew exactly what ship it was and it is only now that experts are saying it is the Santa Maria, the largest of the three ships Columbus used on his voyage which claimed the New World for the Catholic Monarchs of Spain in 1492.

The evidence cited for this is that the location matches that recorded by Columbus in his diary, the ship is the right size and the topography of the area matches up with what researchers believe it was like when the Santa Maria was wrecked on Christmas Day in 1492. They have also poured over the photos taken in 2003 and have identified objects dated from the time of the Columbus voyage. They have to use the photographs because, evidently, much of it is not there anymore, including a ship's cannon, due to being looted by treasure-hunters.

Clifford has said that his hope is for the remains of the ship, if they are confirmed to be that of La Santa Maria to be salvaged from the sea, restored and preserved and placed in a museum in Haiti.

Christopher Columbus, a native of the Republic of Genoa, requested patronage for his voyage of exploration from King John II of Portugal and King Henry VII of England before finally receiving support from King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile in Spain.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Savoy Connection to Papal Saint

On April 27, 2014 Pope Francis presided over the formal canonization of Pope St John XXIII, the man known as the "Good Pope" who is remembered for his approachable style and for calling the Second Vatican Council. He also has a connection with the Italian Royal Family and it relates to his years of service in the papal diplomatic corps. In 1925 he was appointed by Pope Pius XI to be the Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria. It was a post he had reservations about but finally accepted and ultimately proved to be of good service there. Later, in 1930, Princess Giovanna of Italy was married to Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria and the marriage, which included both a Catholic ceremony in Italy and then a Bulgarian Orthodox ceremony in Sofia, upset many even though the new Queen Ioanna (taking the Bulgarian form of her name) remained a Roman Catholic. There were some hard feelings on both sides and it was a difficult transition for the Italian princess. One of the friendly faces she was able to rely on was that of the future papal saint, Archbishop Roncalli.

Angelo Roncalli, despite coming from a very humble farming family, was a native of Lombardy and was known to the Italian Royal Family and a familiar face to the new Tsaritsa of Bulgaria. She relied on him and he was a great help in her initial settlement in Bulgaria, her time as a royal newlywed and the starting of their own family. When the children of the royal couple were baptized into the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, rather than the Roman Catholic Church, this upset many people in Italy (though it probably shouldn't have been such a surprise) and Archbishop Roncalli helped her through it. That was, at least, for the birth of Princess Marie Louise as Archbishop Roncalli had since been reassigned to Turkey before the birth of the future Tsar Simeon II (the last Bulgarian monarch). Perhaps some of the saintliness of the future Pope John XXIII rubbed off on the Italian princess-turned-Bulgarian Queen consort. She was beloved for her great compassion, charitable work and help for the persecuted during World War II. She saw her old friend Cardinal Roncalli elected Pope John XXIII while she was in exile after the abolition of the Bulgarian monarchy. No doubt they were together again for his canonization.