Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Regno delle Due Sicilie (it)
Regno d’’e Doje Sicilie (nap)
Regnu dî Dui Sicili (scn)


Flag of the Two Sicilies Coat of arms
Inno al Re
(Hymn to the King)
The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (green).
Capital Naples
Language(s) Italian (official),
Sicilian, Neapolitan
Religion Roman Catholic
Government Absolute monarchy
 - 1816-25 Ferdinand I
 - 1825-30 Francis I
 - 1830-59 Ferdinand II
 - 1859–61 Francis II
 - Established 12 December 1816
 - Italian unification 12 February 1861
 - 1860 111,900 km2 (43,205 sq mi)
 - 1860 est. 8,703,000 
     Density 77.8 /km2  (201.4 /sq mi)
Currency Two Sicilies ducat

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, commonly known as the Two Sicilies even before formally coming into being,[1] was the largest and wealthiest of the Italian states before Italian unification.[2] It was formed of a union of the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Naples in 1816 and lasted until 1860, when it was annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia, which became the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. The Two Sicilies had its capital in Naples and was commonly referred to in English as the "Kingdom of Naples". The kingdom extended over the Mezzogiorno (the southern part of mainland Italy) and the island of Sicily.

The name "Two Sicilies" originated from the division of the medieval Kingdom of Sicily. Until 1285, the island of Sicily and the Mezzogiorno were both part of the Kingdom of Sicily. As a result of the War of the Sicilian Vespers[3] the King of Sicily lost Sicily proper to the Aragonese but remained king over the peninsular part of the realm. Although his territory became known as the Kingdom of Naples, he and his successors never gave up the title of "King of Sicily" and they referred to their realm as the "Kingdom of Sicily". At the same time, the Aragonese rulers of the island of Sicily called their realm the "Kingdom of Sicily". Thus, formally, there were two kingdoms calling themselves "Sicily"[3]: hence, the Two Sicilies



Establishment of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies resulted from the unification of the Kingdom of Sicily with the Kingdom of Naples (called the kingdom of peninsular Sicily), by King Alfonso V of Aragon in 1442. The two had been separated since the Sicilian Vespers of 1282. At the death of King Alfonso in 1458, the kingdom became divided between his brother John II of Aragon, who kept Sicily, and his bastard son Ferdinand, who became King of Naples.

In 1501, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, son of John II, conquered Naples and reunified the two kingdoms under the authority of the newly united Spanish throne. The title King of Sicily and of the Two Coasts of the Strait was then borne by the Kings of Spain until the War of the Spanish Succession. At the end of the war, the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 granted Sicily to the Duke of Savoy, until the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714 left Naples to the Emperor Charles VI. In 1720 the Emperor and Savoy exchanged Sicily for Sardinia, thus reuniting Naples and Sicily.

In 1734, Charles, Duke of Parma, son of Philip V of Spain, took the Sicilian crown from the Austrians and became Charles the VII & V, giving Parma to his younger brother, Philip. In 1754, he became King Carlos III of Spain and resigned Sicily and Naples to his younger son, who became Ferdinand III of Sicily and Ferdinand IV of Naples, and later crowned Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. Apart from an interruption under Napoleon, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies remained under the Bourbon line (Bourbon Duo-Sicilie) continually until 1860.

In January 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte, in the name of the French Republic, captured Naples and proclaimed the Parthenopaean Republic, a French client state, as successor to the kingdom. King Ferdinand fled from Naples to Sicily until June of that year. In 1806, Bonaparte, by then French Emperor, again dethroned King Ferdinand and appointed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as King of Naples. In the Edict of Bayonne of 1808, Napoleon removed Joseph to Spain and appointed his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, as King of the Two Sicilies, though this meant control only of the mainland portion of the kingdom.[4][5] Throughout this Napoleonic interruption, King Ferdinand remained in Sicily, with Palermo as his capital.

King Ferdinand I was restored by the Congress of Vienna of 1815. He established a concordat with the Papal States, which previously had a claim to the land.[6]

There were several rebellions on the island of Sicily against the King Ferdinand II but the end of the kingdom was only brought about by the Expedition of the Thousand in 1860, led by Garibaldi, an icon of the Italian unification, with the support of the House of Savoy and their Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. The expedition resulted in a striking series of defeats for the Sicilian armies against the growing troops of Garibaldi. After the capture of Palermo and Sicily, he disembarked in Calabria and moved towards Naples, while in the meantime the Piedmontese also invaded the Kingdom from the Marche. The last battles fought were that of the Volturnus in 1860 and the siege of Gaeta, where King Francis II had sought shelter, hoping for French help, which never came. The last towns to resist Garibaldi's expedition were Messina (which capitulated on 13 March 1861) and Civitella del Tronto (which capitulated on 20 March 1861). The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was dissolved and annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy, founded in the same year.

The fall of the Sicilian aristocracy in the face of Garibaldi’s invasion is recounted in the novel The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and its film adaptation.

Origins of the two kingdoms

Cappella Palatina, church of first uniter Roger II of Sicily.

The monarchy over the areas which would later become known as the Two Sicilies, existing as one single kingdom including peninsula and insular, in fact goes back to the time of the Middle Ages. The Norman king Roger II formed the Kingdom of Sicily by combining the County of Sicily with the southern part of the Italian Peninsula (then known as the Duchy of Apulia and Calabria) as well as the Maltese Islands. The capital of this kingdom was Palermo — on the actual island of Sicily. The state existed in that form from 1130 until 1285. In the reign of the Capetian House of Anjou king Charles I, the kingdom was split by the War of the Sicilian Vespers.[3] Charles, who was of French origin, lost Sicily proper to the House of Barcelona, who were Aragonese and Catalan, with support from the natives.[3] Charles remained king over the peninsular part of the realm, thereafter informally known as the Kingdom of Naples. Officially he never gave up the "Kingdom of Sicily" name and thus there were two kingdoms calling themselves "Sicily".[3]

Aragonese and Spanish direct rule

Aragonese Empire, fullest extent

It wasn't until the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, sponsored by Pope Boniface VIII, that the two kings of "Sicily" recognized each other's legitimacy; the island kingdom then became the "Kingdom of Trinacria" in an official context, though the populace still called it Sicily.[3] Eventually by 1442 the Angevin line of Kings of Naples was coming to an end. Alfonso V of Aragon who was the King of Sicily in terms of the island itself via direct rule from the Crown of Aragon, conquered Naples and became king of both.

Alfonso V described the geographical area in Latin as Utriusque Siciliæ, which is along the lines of "Both Sicilies", this is the title he used.[7] After the death of Alfonso, both remained under direct rule from the Crown of Aragon, but Naples had a different Aragonese king from the island of Sicily from 1458 until 1501. For a brief period Naples was controlled by a different power than Sicily, in the form of French king Louis XII of France who took the mainland kingdom and held it for around three years. After the Battle of Garigliano led by last Aragonese king Ferdinand II of Aragon however, the two areas were once again under control of the same power and exactly the same king.

From 1516 when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor became the first King of Spain, both Naples and Sicily were under direct Spanish rule. It was during this era that Charles V granted the islands of Malta and Gozo, which had been part of the Kingdom of Sicily for four centuries, to the Knights Hospitaller (thereafter known as the Order of Malta). The period of direct Spanish rule under the same line of kings lasted until 1713, when Spain and both Sicilies passed to Philip, duke of Anjou, who founded the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon. Briefly interrupted by an eight year spell of Savoy rule of Sicily, the two kingdoms fell under the same king after the Treaty of The Hague, as Austrian king Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor was named ruler.


Uniting of the Crowns

The kingdoms were conquered from the Austrians by a young Spanish prince during the War of the Polish Succession who would then become Charles VII of Naples. The two kingdoms were then recognised as both independent and under Charles' rule as a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons by the Treaty of Vienna.[8] After Charles' brother, Fernando VI of Spain died childless, Charles inherited the Spanish Crown in 1759, reigning as Charles III of Spain. His son Ferdinand then became king of the two kingdoms so as to maintain them as separate realms (as required by the treaties restoring junior Spanish dynasts to the southern Italian kingdoms). Ferdinand was highly popular with the lazzaroni class. Ferdinand's reign was highly eventful. For a brief period the Parthenopaean Republic was instated in Naples by French Revolution supporters; however, a counter-revolutionary army of lazzaroni retook Naples in order to restore royal power.[9]

However only eight years later, Napoleon conquered the peninsula part of the kingdom during the War of the Third Coalition and instated his brother Joseph Bonaparte as king.[10] Ferdinand fled to his other kingdom, on the island of Sicily itself; here the alliance he had previously made with George III of the United Kingdom and Tory Prime Minister the Earl of Liverpool saved him. The British protected Ferdinand and the island of Sicily from Napoleonic conquest with the presence of a powerful Royal Navy fleet.[11]

Meanwhile, back on the mainland Joachim Murat had become the second Bonapartist king. In the Edict of Bayonne he was named as "King of the Two Sicilies",[4] though de facto he never actually held the island of Sicily where Ferdinand was, and is usually referred to as just a King of Naples.[12] Murat actually switched sides for a while, abandoning the Grand Army after the disastrous Battle of Leipzig in an attempt to save his Neapolitan throne. However, as the Congress of Vienna progressed, tensions arose as there was strong pressure to restore Ferdinand to the Neapolitan kingdom as well as keeping his Sicilian one.[10] Murat returned to Napoleon and together they declared war on the Austrian Empire, leading to the Neapolitan War in March 1815. Ferdinand and his allies Austria, Britain and Tuscany were victorious, restoring him to his Neapolitan throne. To avoid further French attempts, it was agreed at the Congress of Vienna that Ferdinand would reunite his kingdom.

Invasion by Sardinia

Between 1816 and 1848, the island of Sicily experienced three popular revolts against Bourbon rule, including the revolution of independence of 1848, when the island was fully independent of Bourbon control for 16 months.

Apart from having occurred at the same time as the Revolutions of 1848, there is a clear link between this revolution and the Risorgimento eleven years later.



Neapolitan Giustizierati in 1454

The peninsula was divided into fifteen departments[13] and the island of Sicily was divided into seven departments.[14] The island itself had a special administrative status[citation needed], with its base at Palermo.

In 1860, when the Two Sicilies were conquered by the Kingdom of Sardinia, the departments became provinces of Italy, according to the Rattazzi law.

Peninsula Capital
1 Abruzzo Ultra I.png Abruzzo Ultra I Teramo
2 Abruzzo Ultra.png Abruzzo Ultra II Aquila
3 Abruzzo Citra.png Abruzzo Citra Chieti
4 Contado di Molise.png Contado del Molise Campobasso
5 Terra di Lavoro.png Terra di Lavoro Capua,
from 1818 Caserta
6 Province of Naples (1806-1860).png Naples Naples
7 Principato Ultra.png Principato Ultra Avellino(*)
8 Principato Citra.png Principato Citra Salerno
9 Province of Capitanata.png Capitanata originally San Severo, then Foggia
10 Terra di Bari.png Terra di Bari Bari
11 Terra di Otranto.png Terra d'Otranto Lecce
12 Province of Basilicata.png Basilicata Potenza
13 Calabria Citra.png Calabria Citra Cosenza
14 Calabria Ultra.png Calabria Ultra II Catanzaro
15 Coats of arms of None.svg Calabria Ultra I Reggio

Insular Capital
16 Coats of arms of None.svg Caltanissetta Caltanissetta
17 Coats of arms of None.svg Catania Catania
18 Coats of arms of None.svg Girgenti Girgenti
19 Coats of arms of None.svg Messina Messina
20 Coats of arms of None.svg Noto Noto
21 Coats of arms of None.svg Palermo Palermo
22 Coats of arms of None.svg Trapani Trapani

* The city of Benevento was formally included in this department, but it was occupied by the Papal States and was de facto an exclave of that country.



According to the studies of Francesco Saverio Nitti, the kingdom had 443.3 million golden lire (about 65.7% of all the money circulating in the peninsula), and it was the richest among the other Italian states.

Assets distribution in the Italian peninsula before unification[15]

State Assets (in millions of golden lires) Percentage of circulating money
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies 443,3 65,7%
Papal State 90,7 14%
Tuscany 85,3 12,9%
Kingdom of Sardinia 27,1 4%
Venice 12,8 1,9%
Lombardia 8,1 1,2%
Parma and Modena 1,7 0,3%


The industry, as in many other states at the time, was much less important than agriculture, but it was very well developed and advanced at the time and it was indeed, supported by the government. One of the most important industrial complexes in the kingdom was the Shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia, which employed 1800 workers. Another important complex was the engineering factory of Pietrarsa, the largest industrial plant in the Italian peninsula which produced tools, cannons, rails, locomotives. The complex also included a school for train drivers, and naval engineers and thanks to this school, the kingdom was able to replace the English personnel which was necessary until then. The first steamboat with screw propulsion known in the Mediterranean Sea is the Giglio delle Onde, with mail delivery and passenger transport purposes since 1847.

There was the Fonderia Ferdinandea in Calabria, which was a large foundry where cast iron was produced in huge amounts and the Polo siderurgico di Mongiana (an iron processing complex and weapons factory). The latter employed 2700-2800 workers. In Sicily (near Catania and Agrigento), there was a very well developed mining industry, focused on the extraction of sulphur which was a fundamental element in the production of gunpowder. The sicilian mines were able to satisfy most of the sulphur world demand. The cloth production was focused in San Leucio (near Caserta), particularly silk. The region of Basilicata also had several of such facilities, like the ones in Potenza and San Chirico Raparo, where cotton, wool and silk were processed.

The food industry was scattered all over the territory, and it was particularly focused near the area of Naples (Torre Annunziata and Gragnano), with many exportations of pasta which involved many European states and the United States of America.


In the late 18th century, the road conditions in the kingdom were poor, especially in the country and hinterland areas. This situation made transporting goods and trading inside the kingdom, quite difficult. In the last 30 years of its history, many improvements were made but no attempt was efficient enough to radically improve the overall road conditions.

Technological and Scientific achievements

The kingdom achieved several scientific and technological accomplishments, such as the first steamboat in the Mediterrean Sea (1818), built in the shipyard of Stanislao Filosa al ponte di Vigliena, near Naples, and the first railway in the Italian peninsula (1839), which connected Naples to Portici. However, until the Italian unification, the railway development was highly limited. In the year 1859, the kingdom had only 99 kilometers of rails, compared to the 800 kilometers of Piedmont. This was because the kingdom could count on a very large and efficient merchant navy, which was able to compensate and replace the need for railways. Also , southern landscape was mainly mountainous making the process of building railways quite difficult, as building railway tunnels was much harder at the time. However, the first railway tunnel in the world was built there. Among the other achievements, one worth mentioning is the first suspension bridge in Continental Europe (1832), the first gaslight in Italy (1839), the first volcano observatory in the world, l'Osservatorio Vesuviano (1841), the first and actual archaeological excavations in the world( in the ancient cities of Pompei and Ercolano), the first faculty of Economics in Europe and the first faculty of Astronomy in Italy . The first suspension bridge, built in iron, the "Real Ferdinando" on the river Garigliano and it was built in the Reali Ferriere factory and Weapons factory in Mongiana. The rails for the first Italian railways were built in Mongiana as well. All the rails of the old railways that went from the south to as far as Bologna were built in Mongiana.

Naples was the most populated city in Italy, and third in Europe and, according to many official sources, it was the 7th or 4th most populated city in the world prior to the 19th century. Naples was also the city with the highest amount of typographies in Italy and also had the highest number of theaters and music schools.


Kings of the Two Sicilies

Ferdinand i twosicilies.jpg
Ferdinand I

Francis I of the Two Sicilies.jpg
Francis I

Fernando II de las Dos Sicilias 2.jpg
Ferdinand II

Francis II

In 1860–61 the kingdom was conquered by the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the title dropped. It is still claimed by the head of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies.

Titles of King of the Two Sicilies

Francis I, King of the Two Sicilies, of Jerusalem, etc., Duke of Parma, Piacenza, Castro, etc., Hereditary Grand Prince of Tuscany, etc.

The House of Bourbon in exile

Some Sovereigns continued to maintain diplomatic relations with the exiled Court, including the Emperor of Austria, the Kings of Bavaria, Württemberg and Hanover, the Queen of Spain, the Emperor of Russia, and the Papacy.

Heads of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies, 1861–present

Two Sicilies Royal Family
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.svg
v · Francis II
  • 1894–1934: Prince Alfonso, Count of Caserta
  • 1934–1960: Prince Ferdinando Pius, Duke of Noto, later, Duke of Calabria
  • 1960–1964: Disputed between Infante Alfonso, Duke of Calabria and Prince Ranieri, Duke of Castro
  • 1964–1966: Disputed between Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria and Prince Ranieri, Duke of Castro
  • 1966–2008: Disputed between Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria and Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Castro
  • 2008–present: Disputed between Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria and Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro
  • Upon Ferdinando Pio's death in 1960, there was a dispute about who inherited the headship of the house. Ferdinando's next brother Carlo had, in anticipation of his marriage to the eldest sister and heiress presumptive of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, signed the so-called Act of Cannes on 14 December 1900:

    …Here present is His Royal Highness Prince Don Carlo our dearest loved Son and he has declared that he shall be entering into marriage with Her Royal Highness the Infanta Doña Maria Mercedes, Princess of the Asturias, and assuming by that marriage the nationality and quality of Spanish Prince, intends to renounce, and by this present act solemnly renounces for Himself and for his Heirs and Successors to any right and rights to the eventual succession to the Crown of the Two Sicilies and to all the Properties of the Royal House found in Italy and elsewhere and this according to our laws, constitutions and customs of the Family and in execution of the Pragmatic Decree of King Charles III, Our August ancestor, of the 6th October 1759, to whose prescriptions he declares freely and explicitly to subscribe to and obey.[16]

    The laws of the deposed Sicilian dynasty and Spain's Pragmatic Decree required a renunciation to prevent a union of the Crown of the Two Sicilies in the person of the King of Spain or his heir apparent, which could have happened in the event of a restoration, however unlikely. Most theories advanced to suggest that the 1900 renunciation was in some way unnecessary have been formulated long after the fact.

    Calabria line

    Prince Carlo's son, Infante Alfonso, became the senior male of the house on the death of his uncle, Ferdinando Pio, Duke of Calabria, in 1960 and was proclaimed Head of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies, with the recognition of the Heads of the royal houses of Spain, Parma and Portugal, and the senior line (Bourbon) pretender to the throne of France. Prince Carlo and his descendants continued to be included as Princes of the Two Sicilies in the Almanach de Gotha from 1901–44, and in the Libro d'Oro of the Italian Nobility from the first edition in 1907 until 1964, at which time the editor came out in support of the cadet line claimant. Infante Don Alfonso took the title of Duke of Calabria, considering that the title of Duke of Castro (a Farnese inheritance) had been lost with the sale of the last portions of the duchy to the Italian government in 1941 (a sale from which Prince Carlo received his portion of the proceeds, along with his brothers and sisters, although if the alleged renunciation of 1900 had been valid he would not have been entitled to do so). Prince Carlo married as his second wife, in 1907, Princess Louise of Orléans, and by her had a son (Carlos, killed in the Spanish Civil War) and three daughters (of whom Princess Maria Mercedes married Juan, Count of Barcelona and was the mother of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and Princess Esperanza married Prince Pedro Gastão of Orléans-Braganza). The descent in the senior line is as follows:

    The latter's immediate heir is Pedro, Duke of Noto, married to D. Sofia de Landaluce y Melgarejo (a descendant through her mother of the Dukes of San Fernando de Quiroga).

    Castro Line

    The rest of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies family rejected Alfonso's claims, however, and recognized Ranieri, the next surviving brother of Ferdinando Pius, as head of the house. Ranieri took the style of "Duke of Castro" as his title of pretence. The representatives of the junior branch are as follows:

    They also claim the office of the Grand Master of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George.

    Current lines of succession

    • Line of succession to the throne of the Two Sicilies

    Flags of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

    Description of the arms appearing in the flag. Corrections: the upper part of the block marked "Flanders" is Burgundy Ancient; Burgundy Modern (as it is called in English; shown here as New Burgundy) includes a red-and-white border; the block marked "Aragon Two Sicilies" is only for Sicily proper (the other "Sicily" being the Angevin kingdom of Naples).

    Orders of knighthood

    See also


    1. ^ Swinburne, Henry. Travels in the Two Sicilies (1790). British Library.  In this book the term is a geographical expression, before the territory was in a single state.
    2. ^ De Sangro, Michele (2003) (in it). I Borboni nel Regno delle Due Sicilie. Lecce: Edizioni Caponi. 
    3. ^ a b c d e f "Sicilian History". 7 October 2007. 
    4. ^ a b Colletta, Pietro. History of the Kingdom of Naples (1858). University of Michigan. 
    5. ^ "The Battle of Tolentino > Joachim Murat". 7 October 2007. 
    6. ^ Blanch, L. Luigi de' Medici come uomo di stato e amministratore. Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane. 
    7. ^ "Alfonso V, or Alfonso el Magnánimo". 7 October 2007. 
    8. ^ "Charles of Bourbon – the restorer of the Kingdom of Naples". 7 October 2007. 
    9. ^ "The Parthenopean Republic". 7 October 2007. 
    10. ^ a b "Austria Naples - Neapolitan War 1815". 7 October 2007. 
    11. ^ "Ferdinand IV King of Naples and Sicily (Ferdinand I as King of the Two Sicilies)". 7 October 2007. 
    12. ^ "Joachim Murat,". 7 October 2007. 
    13. ^ (Italian)Pompilio Petitti (1851). Repertorio amministrativo ossia collezione di leggi, decreti, reali rescritti ecc. sull'amministrazione civile del Regno delle Due Sicilie, vol. 1. Napoli: Stabilimento Migliaccio. p. 1. 
    14. ^ (Italian)Pompilio Petitti (1851). Repertorio amministrativo ossia collezione di leggi, decreti, reali rescritti ecc. sull'amministrazione civile del Regno delle Due Sicilie, vol. 1. Napoli: Stabilimento Migliaccio. p. 4. 
    15. ^ Nicola Zitara, L'Unità d'Italia: nascita di una colonia, Milano, 1971, p.36
    16. ^ Sainty, Guy Stair. "". The Two Sicilies Succession. Guy Stair Sainty. Retrieved 2000-10-10. 

    External links

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