Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies

Ferdinand II
King of the Two Sicilies
Reign 8 November 1830 – 22 May 1859
Predecessor Francis I
Successor Francis II
Born (1810-01-12)12 January 1810
Palermo, Sicily
Died 22 May 1859(1859-05-22) (aged 49)
Caserta, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Burial Basilica of Santa Chiara, Naples
Spouse Maria Cristina of Savoy
Maria Theresa of Austria
Issue Francis II
Prince Louis, Count of Trani
Prince Albert Maria, Count of Castrogiovanni
Prince Alfonso, Count of Caserta
Maria Annunciata, Archduchess Charles Louis of Austria
Maria Immaculata, Archduchess Karl Salvator of Austria
Prince Gaetan, Count of Girgenti
Prince Giuseppe, Count of Lucera
Maria Pia, Duchess of Parma
Prince Vincenzo, Count of Melazzo
Prince Pasquale, Count of Bari
Maria Luisa Immaculata, Countess of Bardi
Prince Januarius, Count of Caltagirone
Full name
Ferdinando Carlo
House House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Father Francis I of the Two Sicilies
Mother Maria Isabella of Spain
Religion Roman Catholic

Ferdinand II (Ferdinando Carlo, 12 January 1810 – 22 May 1859) was King of the Two Sicilies from 1830 until his early death in 1859.


Ferdinand was born in Palermo, to King Francis I of the Two Sicilies and his wife (and first cousin) Maria Isabella of Spain.

His paternal grandparents were King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Queen Maria Carolina of Austria. His maternal grandparents were Charles IV of Spain and Maria Luisa of Parma. Ferdinand I and Charles IV were brothers, both sons of Charles III of Spain and Maria Amalia of Saxony.

Early reign

In his early years he was fairly popular. Progressives credited him with Liberal ideas and, in addition, his free and easy manners endeared him to the so-called lazzaroni, the lower classes of Neapolitan society.

On succeeding to the throne in 1830, he published an edict in which he promised to give his most anxious attention to the impartial administration of justice, to reform the finances, and to use every effort to heal the wounds which had afflicted the Kingdom for so many years. His goal, he said, was to govern his Kingdom in a way that would bring the greatest happiness to the greatest number of his subjects while respecting the rights of his fellow monarchs and those of the Roman Catholic Church.

The early years of his reign were comparatively peaceful: he cut taxes and expenditures, had the first railway in Italy built (between Naples and the royal palace at Portici), his fleet had the first steamship in the Italian Peninsula, and he had telegraphic connections established between Naples and Palermo, Sicily.

However, in 1837 he violently suppressed Sicilian demonstrators demanding a constitution and maintained strict police surveillance in his domains. Progressive intellectuals, who were motivated by visions of a new society founded upon a modern constitution, continued to demand the King to grant a constitution and to liberalize his rule.

Revolutions of 1848

In September 1847, violent riots inspired by Liberals broke out in Reggio Calabria and in Messina and were put down by the military. On 12 January 1848 a rising in Palermo spread throughout the island and served as a spark for the Revolutions of 1848 all over Europe.

After similar revolutionary outbursts in Salerno, south of Naples, and in the Cilento region which were backed by the majority of the intelligentsia of the Kingdom, on 29 January 1848 King Ferdinand was forced to grant a constitution patterned on the French Charter of 1830.

Piastra of Ferdinand II, 1856.

A dispute, however, arose as to the nature of the oath which should be taken by the members of the chamber of deputies. As an agreement could not be reached and the King refused to compromise, riots continued in the streets. Eventually, the King ordered the army to break them and dissolved the national parliament on 13 March 1849. Although the constitution was never formally abrogated, the King returned to reigning as an absolute monarch.

During this period, Ferdinand showed his attachment to Pope Pius IX by granting him asylum at Gaeta. The pope had been temporarily forced to flee from Rome following similar revolutionary disturbances. (See Roman Republic (19th century), Giuseppe Mazzini.)

In the meantime, Sicily proclaimed its independence under the leadership of Ruggeru Sèttimu, who on 13 April 1848 declared the King deposed. In response, the King assembled an army of 20,000 under the command of General Carlo Filangieri and dispatched it to Sicily to subdue the Liberals and restore his authority. A naval flotilla sent to Sicilian waters shelled the city of Messina with "savage barbarity" for eight hours after its defenders had already surrendered, killing many civilians and earning the King the nickname "Rè Bomba" ("King Bomb").

After a campaign lasting close to nine months, Sicily's Liberal regime was completely subdued on 15 May 1849.

Later reign

Ferdinand II photographed c. 1850.

Between 1848 and 1851, the policies of King Ferdinand caused many to go into exile. Meanwhile, an estimated 2,000 suspected revolutionaries or dissidents were jailed.

After visiting Naples in 1850, Gladstone began to support Neapolitan opponents of the Bourbon rulers: his "support" consisting of a couple of letters that he sent from Naples to the Parliament of London, describing the "awful conditions" of the Kingdom of Southern Italy and claiming that "it is the negation of God erected to a system of government". Gladstone had not actually been to Southern Italy and so some of his accusations were unreliable, but reports of misgovernment in the Two Sicilies were widespread throughout Europe during the 1850s. Gladstone's letters provoked sensitive reactions in the whole of Europe and helped to cause its diplomatic isolation prior to the invasion and annexation of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies by the Kingdom of Piedmont, with the following foundation of modern Italy.

The British government, which had been the ally and protector of the Bourbon dynasty during the Napoleonic Wars, had already additional interests to limit the independence of the kingdom. It had extensive business interests in Sicily and relied on Sicilian sulfur for certain industries.[1] The King had endeavored to limit British influence, which had begun to cause tension. As Ferdinand ignored the advice of the British and the French governments, those powers recalled their ambassadors in 1856.

A soldier attempted to assassinate Ferdinand in 1856, and many believe that the infection he received from the soldier's bayonet led to his ultimate demise. He died on 22 May 1859, shortly after the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia had declared war against the Austrian Empire. This would later lead to the invasion of his Kingdom by Giuseppe Garibaldi and Italian unification in 1861.

Marriage and issue

Name Birth Death Notes
By Princess Maria Cristina of Savoy (married 21 November 1832 in Cagliari; b. 12 November 1812, d. 21 January 1836)
Francesco II of the Two Sicilies16 January 183627 December 1894succeeded as King of the Two Sicilies
married Duchess Maria Sophie in Bavaria; had issue, an only daughter.
By Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria (married 9 January 1837 in Vienna; b. 31 July 1816, d. 8 August 1867)
Luigi, Count of Trani1 August 18388 June 1886married Duchess Mathilde Ludovika in Bavaria; their only daughter, Princess Maria Teresa, married Prince Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
Alberto, Count of Castrogiovanni17 September 183912 July 1844died in childhood.
Alfonso, Count of Caserta28 March 184126 May 1934married his first cousin Maria Antonia of the Two Sicilies and has issue. The current lines of Bourbon-Sicily descend from him.
Maria Annunciata of the Two Sicilies24 March 18434 May 1871married Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria; had issue.
Maria Immacolata Clementina of the Two Sicilies14 April 184418 February 1899married Archduke Karl Salvator of Austria; had issue.
Gaetano, Count of Girgenti12 January 184626 November 1871married Infanta Isabel of Spain (eldest daughter of Queen Isabella II of Spain) and was created Infante of Spain; no issue.
Giuseppe, Count of Lucera4 March 184828 September 1851died in childhood.
Maria Pia of the Two Sicilies21 August 184929 September 1882married Roberto I, Duke of Parma and Piacenza; had issue.
Vincenzo, Count of Melazzo26 April 185113 October 1854died in childhood.
Pasquale, Count of Bari15 September 185221 December 1904married morganatically to Blanche Marconnay; no issue.
Maria Luisa of the Two Sicilies21 January 185523 August 1874married Prince Henry of Bourbon-Parma, Count of Bardi; no issue.
Gennaro, Count of Caltagirone28 February 185713 August 1867 died in childhood.


Titles and styles

Royal styles of
Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir



See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies.

External links

Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 12 January 1810 Died: 22 May 1859
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Francis I
King of the Two Sicilies
8 November 1830 – 22 May 1859
Succeeded by
Francis II
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