Francis II of the Two Sicilies

Francis II of the Two Sicilies

Infobox Two Sicilies Royalty|majesty
name =Francis II
title =King of the Two Sicilies


imgw =150
caption =
reign =22 May 1859 - 20 March 1861
coronation =
predecessor =Ferdinand II
successor =
spouse =Maria Sophie of Bavaria
issue =
royal house =House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
royal anthem =
father =Ferdinand II
mother =Maria Christina of Savoy
date of birth =birth date|1836|1|16|df=y
place of birth =Naples
date of death =death date and age|1894|12|27|1836|1|16|df=y
place of death =Arco
place of burial =Santa Chiara, Naples|

Francis II ( in Italian Francesco II, christened "Francesco d'Assisi Maria Leopoldo", January 16, 1836December 27, 1894), was King of the Two Sicilies from 1859 to 1861.

Biography

Early life

The only son and heir of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies by his first wife, Maria Christina of Savoy, Francis II was the last of the Bourbon kings of Naples, where he was born in 1836. His education had been much neglected and he proved a man of weak character, greatly influenced by his stepmother Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria, whom he feared, and also by the priests, and by the camarilla, or reactionary court set.

On January 8, 1859 in Bari, Francis married princess Duchess Maria Sophia in Bavaria, of the royal Bavarian house of Wittelsbach (a younger sister of Empress Elisabeth "Sissi" of Austria). Their only daughter, Cristina, only lived three months (24 December 1869 - 28 March 1870).

Reign

Francis II ascended the throne on the death of his father (May 22, 1859). For the post of prime minister he at once appointed Carlo Filangieri, who, realizing the importance of the Franco-Piedmontese victories in Lombardy, advised Francis II to accept the alliance with the Kingdom of Sardinia proposed by Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour. On June 7 a part of the Swiss Guard mutinied, and while the king mollified them by promising to redress their grievances, General Nunziante gathered his troops, who surrounded the mutineers and shot them down. The incident resulted in the disbanding of the whole Swiss Guard, at the time the strongest bulwark of the Bourbon dynasty.

Cavour again proposed an alliance to divide the Papal States between Piedmont and Naples (the province of Rome excepted) but Francis rejected an idea which to him seemed like heressy. Filangieri strongly advocated a Constitution as the only measure which might save the dynasty, but on the king’s refusal he resigned.

Garibaldi's invasion

Meanwhile the revolutionary parties were conspiring for the overthrow of the Bourbons in Calabria and Sicily, and Giuseppe Garibaldi was preparing for a raid in the south of Italy. A conspiracy in Sicily was discovered and the plotters punished with brutal severity, but Rosalino Pilo and Francesco Crispi, who had organized the movement, escaped execution. When Garibaldi landed at Marsala (May 1860) with his Expedition of the Thousand, he conquered the island with astonishing ease.

These events at last coaxed Francis II into granting a constitution, but its promulgation was followed by disorders in Naples and the resignation of several ministers; Liborio Romano became head of the government. The disintegration of the army and navy proceeded apace, and Cavour sent a Piedmontese squadron carrying troops on board to watch over these events. Garibaldi, who had crossed the strait of Messina, was advancing northwards and was everywhere received by the people as a "liberator". After long hesitations and even an appeal to Garibaldi himself, and on the advice of Romano, Francis II left Naples on September 6 with his wife Maria Sophia, the court and the diplomatic corps (except the French and English ministers), and went by sea to Gaeta, where a large part of the army was concentrated.

The next day Garibaldi entered Naples, was enthusiastically welcomed, and formed a provisional government.

Victor Emmanuel invades

King Victor Emmanuel II had decided on the invasion of the Papal States, and after occupying Romagna and the Marche entered the Neapolitan kingdom. Garibaldi’s troops defeated the Neapolitan royalists at the Battle of Volturno (which took place on October 1 and 2), while the Piedmontese captured Capua.

By late 1860, only Gaeta, Messina, and Civitella del Tronto still held out, and Garibaldi took Messina before the end of the year. The Siege of Gaeta by the Piedmontese began on November 6, 1860. Both Francis II and his wife behaved with great coolness and courage. Even when the French fleet, whose presence had hitherto prevented an attack by sea, was withdrawn, they still resisted. It was not until February 12, 1861 that the fortress capitulated.

Overthrow

Thus the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies ceased to exist and its territory was incorporated into that of the Kingdom of Italy, and Francis II was deposed. Francis and Maria Sophia, now royals without a crown, led a wandering life from then on. They lived in Austria, France, and Bavaria. In 1894, Francis died at Arco in Trentino (northern Italy). His widow survived him by 31 years and died in Munich. Upon the death of Francis II, his half-brother, Prince Alfonso, became the pretender to the throne of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Francis II was weak-minded and vacillating, but, although his short reign was stained with some cruel massacres and persecutions, he was less of a tyrant than his father. The courage and dignity he displayed during his reverses inspired pity and respect.

Ancestors

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boxstyle_3=background-color: #ffc;
boxstyle_4=background-color: #bfc;
boxstyle_5=background-color: #9fe;
1= 1. Francis II of the Two Sicilies
2= 2. Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
3= 3. Maria Christina of Savoy
4= 4. Francis I of the Two Sicilies
5= 5. Maria Isabella of Spain
6= 6. Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia
7= 7. Maria Teresa of Austria-Este
8= 8. Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies
9= 9. Marie Caroline of Austria
10= 10. Charles IV of Spain
11= 11. Maria Luisa of Parma
12= 12. Victor Amadeus III of Sardinia
13= 13. Maria Antonietta of Spain
14= 14. Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este
15= 15. Maria Beatrice Ricciarda d'Este
16= 16. Charles III of Spain
17= 17. Maria Amalia of Saxony
18= 18. Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
19= 19. Maria Theresa of Austria
20= 20. Charles III of Spain (= 16)
21= 21. Maria Amalia of Saxony (= 17)
22= 22. Philip, Duke of Parma
23= 23. Princess Louise-Élisabeth of France
24= 24. Charles Emmanuel III of Sardinia
25= 25. Polyxena Christina of Hesse-Rotenburg
26= 26. Philip V of Spain
27= 27. Elisabeth of Parma
28= 28. Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor (= 18)
29= 29. Maria Theresa of Austria (= 19)
30= 30. Ercole III d'Este, Duke of Modena
31= 31. Maria Teresa Cybo Malaspina

ee also

*History of Italy
*Siege of Gaeta

References

s-ttl|title=King of the Two Sicilies
years=22 May 1859 - 20 March 1861


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