Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies

Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies

Infobox Two Sicilies Royalty|majesty
name =Ferdinand I
title =King of the Two Sicilies

caption = Ferdinand with Vesuvius in the background.
reign =12 December, 1816-4 January, 1825
coronation =
predecessor =Charles VII
successor =Francis I
succession = King of the Two Sicilies
spouse =Marie Caroline of Austria
Lucia Migliaccio of Floridia
issue =Maria Teresa, Empress of Austria
Maria Luisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
Francis I
Maria Christina, Queen of Sardinia
Maria Amalia, Queen of the French
Maria Antonia, Princess of Asturias
Leopold, Prince of Salerno
issue-link =#Children
issue-pipe =More
royal house =House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
royal anthem =
father =Charles VII
mother =Maria Amalia of Saxony
date of birth =birth date|1751|1|12|df=y
place of birth = Naples, Naples
date of death =death date and age|1825|1|4|1751|1|12|df=y
place of death = Naples, Two Sicilies
place of burial =|

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


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

On January 23, 1799, the Kingdom of Naples was declared to be abolished and replaced by the Parthenopaean Republic which only lasted until June 13, 1799. Ferdinand was restored to the throne for a while. On December 26, 1805, Napoleon I of France declared Ferdinand deposed again and replaced him with his own brother Joseph Bonaparte on March 30, 1806. Ferdinand was restored for a third time by right of the Austrian victory at the Battle of Tolentino (May 3, 1815) over rival monarch King Joachim I. On December 8, 1816 he merged the thrones of Sicily and Naples to the throne of the Two Sicilies. He continued to rule until his death on January 4, 1825. However, his reign up until 1812 was mainly dominated by his wife.Fact|date=July 2008



Ferdinand was born in Naples. 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."


Ferdinand'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, but cruel and treacherous, 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 Marie Caroline, 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 afterwards 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 (Marie Caroline's sister) were executed, Ferdinand and Marie Caroline 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 (November 29), 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.

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 Marie Caroline (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).

The French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz on December 2 enabled Napoleon to despatch an army to southern Italy. Ferdinand with his usual precipitation fled to Palermo (January 23, 1806), followed soon after by his wife and son, and on February 14, 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.


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 (December 12, 1816).

Ferdinand was now completely subservient to Austria, an Austrian, Count Nugent, being even made commander-in-chief of the army; and for four years he reigned as a despot, every tentative effort at the expression of liberal opinion being ruthlessly suppressed.

1820 revolution

The suppression of the liberal opinion expression 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 subscribing a constitution on the model of the impracticable 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 that 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 (March 7, 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.



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1= 1. Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies
2= 2. Charles III of Spain
3= 3. Maria Amalia of Saxony
4= 4. Philip V of Spain
5= 5. Elisabeth of Parma
6= 6. Augustus III of Poland
7= 7. Maria Josepha of Austria
8= 8. Louis, Dauphin of France
9= 9. Maria Anna of Bavaria
10= 10. Odoardo II Farnese
11= 11. Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg
12= 12. Augustus II the Strong
13= 13. Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
14= 14. Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor
15= 15. Wilhelmina Amalia of Brunswick
16= 16. Louis XIV of France
17= 17. Maria Theresa of Spain
18= 18. Ferdinand Maria, Elector of Bavaria
19= 19. Henriette Adelaide of Savoy
20= 20. Ranuccio II Farnese, Duke of Parma
21= 21. Isabella of Modena
22= 22. Philipp Wilhelm, Elector Palatine
23= 23. Landgravine Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt
24= 24. John George III, Elector of Saxony
25= 25. Anne Sophie of Denmark
26= 26. Christian Ernst, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth
27= 27. Sophie Luise of Württemberg
28= 28. Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
29= 29. Eleonore-Magdalena of Neuburg
30= 30. John Frederick, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
31= 31. Benedicta-Henrietta of Simmern


External links

* [http://www.royalgenealogy.com/d763.htm Pedigree of Ferdinand I]


NAME= Ferdinand I
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Antonio Pasquale Giovanni Nepomuceno Serafino Gennaro Benedetto, Ferdinando; Ferdinand III of Sicily; Ferdinand IV of Naples
SHORT DESCRIPTION=King variously of Naples, Sicily, and the Two Sicilies
DATE OF BIRTH=12 January, 1751
DATE OF DEATH=4 January, 1825

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