Based on the flag of the French Republic, the Italian tricolour was first used in 1796 in northern Italy after the peaceful French annexation of areas there, releasing it from centuries of Spanish and Austrian Hapsburg domination. The tricolour became a popular nationalist banner in the wars of independence which continued throughout the 19th century. The Kingdom of Italy was finally proclaimed in 1861 under King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, and Rome became the capital after its annexation in 1870. The green, white and red tricolour became the national flag, bearing the arms of Savoy in the centre. After June 19, 1946, those symbols were removed from the tricolour following a referendum that ended the monarchy and established the Italian Republic.