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Ferdinand I
King of the Two Sicilies
Ferdinand with Mount Vesuvius in the background.
King of the Two Sicilies
Reign 12 December 1816 – 4 January 1825
Predecessor Charles, King of Naples and Sicily
Successor Francis I of the Two Sicilies
Spouse Maria Carolina of Austria
Lucia Migliaccio of Floridia
Issue
Maria Teresa, Empress of Austria
Maria Luisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
Carlo, Duke of Calabria
Francis I of the Two Sicilies
Maria Christina, Queen of Sardinia
Princess Maria Cristina Amelia
Maria Amalia, Queen of the French
Maria Antonia, Princess of Asturias
Leopold, Prince of Salerno
Full name
Italian: Ferdinando Antonio Pasquale Giovanni Nepomuceno Serafino Gennaro Benedetto
House House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Father Charles, King of Naples and Sicily
Mother Maria Amalia of Saxony
Born 12 January 1751(1751-01-12)
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Died 4 January 1825 (aged 73)
Naples, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Burial Basilica of Santa Chiara, Naples

Ferdinand I (Ferdinando Antonio Pasquale Giovanni Nepomuceno Serafino Gennaro Benedetto, Naples, 12 January 1751 – Naples, 4 January 1825) was King variously of Naples, Sicily, and the Two Sicilies from 1759 until his death. He was the third son of King Charles, King of Naples and Sicily, later Charles III of Spain, King of Sicily by his wife Maria Amalia of Saxony. On 10 August 1759, Charles succeeded his brother as King Charles III of Spain. Treaty provisions made Charles unable to hold the titles of all three Kingdoms. On 6 October 1759 he therefore abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinand (Charles's eldest son, Infante Felipe, was mentally retarded and the second son, Charles, was destined to inherit the Spanish throne).

Contents

Styles

Ferdinand was styled both Ferdinand III of Sicily (6 October 1759 - 8 December 1816) and Ferdinand IV of Naples (6 October 1759 - 23 January 1799; 13 June 1799 - 30 March 1806; 3 May 1815 - 8 December 1816).

On 23 January 1799, the Kingdom of Naples was declared to be abolished and replaced by the Parthenopaean Republic which only lasted until 13 June 1799. Ferdinand was restored to the throne for a while. On 26 December 1805, Napoleon I of France declared Ferdinand deposed again and replaced him with his own brother Joseph Bonaparte on 30 March 1806.

Ferdinand was restored for a third time by right of the Austrian victory at the Battle of Tolentino (3 March 1815) over rival monarch King Joachim I. On 8 March, 1816 he merged the thrones of Sicily and Naples to the throne of the Two Sicilies. He continued to rule until his death on 4 January 1825. However, his reign up until 1812 was mainly dominated by his wife.[citation needed]

Biography

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Childhood

Prince Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily was born in Naples. Ferdinand grew up seeing the expansion and cultivation of his fathers domains. His parents left many of the monuments in Naples which can be seen today; the Palaces of Portici, Caserta and Capodimonte.

Ferdinand was born as his parents third son. As a result, Ferdinand was not groomed to be the ruler of Naples and Sicily; that position was to be filled by Prince Charles. Ferdinand's older sister was Princess Maria Luisa; she was the future wife of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor.

When his father ascended the Spanish throne in 1759, Ferdinand, in accordance with the treaties forbidding the union of the two crowns, succeeded him as king of Naples, under a regency presided over by the Tuscan Bernardo Tanucci. The latter, an able, ambitious man, wishing to keep the government as much as possible in his own hands, purposely neglected the young king's education, and encouraged him in his love of pleasure, his idleness and his excessive devotion to outdoor sports.

Ferdinand grew up athletic, but ignorant and ill-bred. He delighted in the company of the lazzaroni, the common citizens of the city, whose dialect and habits he affected. An avid sportsman, he often hunted and fished, even selling his catch in the market place, after haggling over the price, though then giving his profits to the poor. How much of Ferdinand's behavior was calculated is hard to determine.

Although poorly educated, he was apparently intelligent and often displayed considerable insight, once remarking that, like children, Naples was best ruled by "sticks and sweets."

Reign

Ferdinand in 1760, at age nine.

Ferdinande's minority ended in 1767, and his first act was the expulsion of the Jesuits. The following year he married Archduchess Maria Carolina, daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and sister of Emperor Joseph II of Austria and the future Queen Marie Antoinette of France. By the marriage contract the queen was to have a voice in the council of state after the birth of her first son, and she was not slow to avail herself of this means of political influence.

Beautiful, clever and proud, like her mother, her ambition was to raise the kingdom of Naples to the position of a great power; she soon came to exercise complete sway over her husband, who much preferred to leave the government in her hands.

Tanucci, who attempted to thwart her, was dismissed in 1777, and the Englishman Sir John Acton, who in 1779 was appointed director of marine, succeeded in so completely winning the favour of Maria Carolina, by supporting her in her scheme to free Naples from Spanish influence and securing a rapprochement with Austria and Great Britain, that he became practically and afterward actually prime minister. Although not a mere grasping adventurer, he was largely responsible for reducing the internal administration of the country to a system of espionage, corruption and cruelty.

On the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 the Neapolitan court was not hostile to the movement, and the queen even sympathised with the revolutionary ideas of the day. But when the French monarchy was abolished and the king and queen (Maria Carolina's sister) were executed, Ferdinand and Maria Carolina were seized with a feeling of fear and horror and joined the first coalition against France in 1793.

French occupation and Parthenopaean Republic

Although peace was made with France in 1796, the demands of the French Directory, whose troops occupied Rome, alarmed the king once more, and at his wife's instigation he took advantage of Napoleon's absence in Egypt and of Nelson's victories to go to war. He marched with his army against the French and entered Rome (29 November), but on the defeat of some of his columns he hurried back to Naples, and on the approach of the French, fled on board Nelson's ship the Vanguard to Sicily, leaving his capital in a state of anarchy. Sadly, while on the ship Ferdinand lost his son Prince Albert who died on board on 25 December 1798 aged just 6.

The French entered the city in spite of the fierce resistance of the lazzaroni, and with the aid of the nobles and bourgeois established the Parthenopaean Republic (January 1799). When a few weeks later the French troops were recalled to Northern Italy, Ferdinand sent a hastily assembled force, under Cardinal Ruffo, to reconquer the mainland kingdom. Ruffo, with the support of English artillery, the Church and the pro-Bourbon aristocracy was completely successful, and reached Naples in May 1800, and the Parthenopaean Republic collapsed. After few months King Ferdinand returned to the throne.

The king, and above all the queen, were particularly anxious that no mercy should be shown to the rebels, and Maria Carolina (a sister of the executed Antoinette) made use of Lady Hamilton, Nelson's mistress, to induce the latter to carry out her vengeance.

Third Coalition

The king returned to Naples soon afterwards, and ordered wholesale arrests and executions of supposed Liberals, which continued until the French successes forced him to agree to a treaty which included amnesty for members of the French party. When war broke out between France and Austria in 1805, Ferdinand signed a treaty of neutrality with the former, but a few days later he allied himself with Austria and allowed an Anglo-Russian force to land at Naples (see Third Coalition).

Piastra of Ferdinand IV of Naples, dated 1805.

The French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December enabled Napoleon to despatch an army to southern Italy. Ferdinand with his usual precipitation fled to Palermo (23 January 1806), followed soon after by his wife and son, and on 14 February 1806 the French again entered Naples. Napoleon declared that the Bourbon dynasty had forfeited the crown, and proclaimed his brother Joseph King of Naples and Sicily. But Ferdinand continued to reign over the latter kingdom under British protection. Parliamentary institutions of a feudal type had long existed in the island, and Lord William Bentinck, the British minister, insisted on a reform of the constitution on English and French lines. The king indeed practically abdicated his power, appointing his son Francis regent, and the queen, at Bentinck's instance, was exiled to Austria, where she died in 1814.

Church of San Francesco da Paola, Naples, in a ponderous academic neoclassical style, completed in 1816 as Ferdinand's ex voto for his return

Restoration

After the fall of Napoleon, Joachim Murat, who had succeeded Joseph Bonaparte as king of Naples in 1808, was dethroned in the Neapolitan War, and Ferdinand returned to Naples. By a secret treaty he had bound himself not to advance further in a constitutional direction than Austria should at any time approve; but, though on the whole he acted in accordance with Metternich's policy of preserving the status quo, and maintained with but slight change Murat's laws and administrative system, he took advantage of the situation to abolish the Sicilian constitution, in violation of his oath, and to proclaim the union of the two states into the kingdom of the Two Sicilies (12 December 1816).

Ferdinand was now completely subservient to Austria, an Austrian, Count Nugent, being even made commander-in-chief of the army. For the next four years he reigned as an absolute monarch within his domain, granting no constitutional reforms.

1820 revolution

The suppression of liberal opinion caused an alarming spread of the influence and activity of the secret society of the Carbonari, which in time affected a large part of the army. In July 1820 a military revolt broke out under General Guglielmo Pepe, and Ferdinand was terrorised into signing a constitution on the model of the Spanish Constitution of 1812. On the other hand, a revolt in Sicily, in favour of the recovery of its independence, was suppressed by Neapolitan troops.

The success of the military revolution at Naples seriously alarmed the powers of the Holy Alliance, who feared that it might spread to other Italian states and so lead to a general European conflagration, which it was their main preoccupation to avoid. After long diplomatic negotiations, it was decided to hold a congress at Troppau (October 1820). The main results of this congress were the issue of the famous Troppau Protocol, signed by Austria, Prussia and Russia only, and an invitation to King Ferdinand to attend the adjourned Congress of Laibach (1821), an invitation of which the United Kingdom approved "as implying negotiation". At Laibach Ferdinand played so sorry a part as to provoke the contempt of those whose policy it was to re-establish him in absolute power.

He had twice sworn, with gratuitous solemnity, to maintain the new constitution; but he was hardly out of Naples before he repudiated his oaths and, in letters addressed to all the sovereigns of Europe, declared his acts to have been null and void. An attitude so indecent threatened to defeat the very objects of the reactionary powers, and Friedrich von Gentz congratulated the congress that these sorry protests would be buried in the archives, offering at the same time to write for the king a dignified letter in which he should express his reluctance at having to violate his oaths in the face of irresistible force. But, under these circumstances, Metternich had no difficulty in persuading the king to allow an Austrian army to march into Naples "to restore order".

The campaign that followed did little credit either to the Austrians or the Neapolitans. The latter, commanded by General Pepe, who made no attempt to defend the difficult defiles of the Abruzzi, were defeated, after a half-hearted struggle at Rieti (7 March 1821), and the Austrians entered Naples. The parliament was now dismissed, and Ferdinand inaugurated an era of savage persecution, supported by spies and informers, against the Liberals and Carbonari, the Austrian commandant in vain protesting against the savagery which his presence alone rendered possible.

Ferdinand died in Naples in January 1825.

Issue

Ancestors

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Titles and styles

Royal styles of
Ferdinand, King of Naples and Sicily

Flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies 1738.gif

Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir
  • January 12, 1751 - August 10, 1759 His Royal Highness Prince Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily, Infante of Spain
  • August 10, 1759 - September 8, 1814 His Majesty the King of Naples and Sicily
    • January 12, 1799 to 13 June 1799 Titular King of Naples and Sicily
    • 26 May 1805–1814 Titular King of Naples and Sicily
  • 12 December 1816 - 4 January 1825 His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies

Honours

References

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Titles


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