Monday, December 28, 2009

Countess sues Italian king for maintenance

December 28, 1907

Italian Countess Cesarina Gaddi Hercolani has filed suit again King Victor Emanuel "for provision for her son of whom she swears" was fathered by the late King Umberto, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The Countess "bitterly resents the aspersions cast upon her character" by the King's lawyers.
She has released the following statement to the press:

"Signor Rossi, the King's counsel, not content with denying as false what I know to be true, continues his persecution by defaming me. His underhand devices and his abuse of his power representing the Royal House, do no honor to the memory of an exalted personage, to that memory which he pretends to vindicate.

"My sole desire was that this painful affair should be settled quietly and quickly. But as King Victor Emanuel has thought it well to put upon me and the public the disputes affecting his father. I can tolerate this attacks no longer. Therefore, I break my silence.

"True, my honor is dead; it was killed when I was a girl of 15, but my childhood was passed under different conditions from those Signor Rossi represents. Reduced to misery, I asked humbly and submissively for some small compensation for what I have suffered from the King's father, which King Humbert himself promised, but his untimely death prevented.

"I know my plea reached the eyes of King Victor Emanuel himself, the brother of my son, but he rejected it. When, in desperation, I appeal to the courts for justice, the King's Counsel, knowing I have no redress, abuses his prerogatives to savagely and pitilessly assail my character.

"I protest against this infamous onslaught on a woman, weak, alone, abandoned. I claim justice against my base accusers by heaping defamation and falsehoods on me."

The countess is alleged to have had a relationship with the late King Umberto between 1880 and 1883. She gave birth to a son in 1882 when she was fourteen years old.

The first inklings of the Countess' suit was made public in August 1907. She declared that when she was 15, she met King Umberto at a ball. The king, "fascinated by her beauty," persuaded the young woman to become his mistress, according to the lawsuit. She claimed that Umberto promised to "provide for her handsomely," but the payments were never made, due to the king's "untimely death." In 1900, King Umberto was assassinated.

The Countess is seeking $100,000. The Quirinal had hoped to keep the matter quiet, but the countess' "extortionate demands prevented any agreement being reached."

On October 3, according to a Los Angeles Times dispatch, "the scandal of the suit shocks all of Italy." Public opinion is "strongly against the determination of King Victor Emanuel to fight the case." The royal family is contesting the Countess' suit in order to "put a stop to the numerous demands of other women, who claim they were victims of the gay Humbert."

Countess Hercolani announced that she "will not be deterred to from showing the kind of man that Humbert was."

The list of allegations "reads like a court intrigue of the times of 200 years ago." The Countess' father was a "gentleman of the provinces," who brought the family to Rome when Cesarina was 15. The family moved in the "highest social circles."

It was a ball where Cesarina first met King Umberto. A "few days later the intrigue began." A gentleman of the court sent for the young girl, knowing that her family sought a position for her brother in the royal household. He inquired about the family's interest, and by "wily methods finally brought the King and the girl together without her parents knowing of it."

After Cesarina gave birth to the king's son, "royal influence induced her family to make no scandal." After her father died poor, King Umberto "provided for the family," and arranged for Cesarina to marry Count Hercolani. The count died not long after, "leaving the Countess in poor circumstances." She asked Victor Emanuel for help, but after he refused, the countess filed suit.


Cabri said...

Hi Marlene

that is an interesting story. How was that resolved? Was the King really the father?

Thanks for posting it!!

best regards

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...


I have no idea. Umberto's relationship was not denied, so it is possible.