Francis II of the Two Sicilies

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Francis II
Francesco II of the Two Sicilies.JPG
King of the Two Sicilies
Reign 22 May 1859 – 20 March 1861
Predecessor Ferdinand II
Successor None
Spouse Maria Sophie of Bavaria
Issue Princess Maria Cristina Pia
Full name
Italian: Francesco d'Assisi Maria Leopoldo
House House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Father Ferdinand II
Mother Maria Christina of Savoy
Born (1836-01-16)16 January 1836
Naples
Died 27 December 1894(1894-12-27) (aged 58)
Arco
Burial Basilica of Santa Chiara, Naples
Religion Roman Catholic

Francis II (Italian: Francesco II, christened Francesco d'Assisi Maria Leopoldo, 16 January 1836 – 27 December 1894) was King of the Two Sicilies from 1859 to 1861. He was the last King of the Two Sicilies, as successive invasions by Giuseppe Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia ultimately brought an end to his rule, and marked the first major event of Italian unification. After he was deposed, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Kingdom of Sardinia were merged into the newly formed Kingdom of Italy.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

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 3 February 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, Maria Cristina, lived only three months (24 December 1869 – 28 March 1870).

Reign[edit]

Francis II ascended the throne on the death of his father (22 May 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 Cavour. On 7 June a part of the Swiss Guard mutinied, and while the king mollified them by promising to redress their grievances, General Alessandro 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.

Francis II photographed with his wife Maria Sophie c. 1860.

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 heresy. 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[edit]

King Francis II of Naples and Queen Maria Sofia leave Gaeta of the Two Sicilies

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 6 September 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.

Piedmontese invasion[edit]

King Victor Emmanuel II had decided on the invasion of the Papal States, and after occupying Umbria and the Marche entered the Neapolitan kingdom. Garibaldi’s troops defeated the Neapolitan royalists at the Battle of Volturno (which took place on 1 October 1860), while the Piedmontese captured Capua.

By late 1860, only Gaeta, Messina, and Civitella del Tronto still held out. The Siege of Gaeta by the Piedmontese began on 6 November 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 13 February 1861 that the fortress capitulated.

Overthrow[edit]

Thus the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies ceased to exist and its territory was incorporated into that of the Kingdom of Sardinia (soon renamed the Kingdom of Italy), and Francis II was deposed. Francis and Maria Sophia, now non-royals, first lived in Rome as guests of the Pope, where they maintained a government in exile recognized by some Catholic powers including France, Spain, Austria and Bavaria.[1] After the Prussian victory against Austria in 1866 and subsequent expansion of Italian territory, they disbanded this government and left Rome before it was occupied by the Italians in 1870. They led a wandering life from then on, living in Austria, France, and Bavaria. In 1894, Francis died at Arco in Trentino (now north-eastern Italy, at the time Austria-Hungary). 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.

Ancestors[edit]

Titles, styles, honours and arms[edit]

Royal styles of
Francis II of the Two Sicilies
Great Royal Coat of Arms of theTwo Sicilies.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 16 January 1836 – 22 May 1859 His Royal Highness The Duke of Calabria
  • 22 May 1859 - 27 December 1894 His Majesty The King of the Two Sicilies

Honours[edit]

Foreign decorations

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Francis II of the Two Sicilies at Wikimedia Commons

Francis II of the Two Sicilies
Cadet branch of the House of Bourbon
Born: 16 January 1836 Died: 27 December 1894
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ferdinand II
King of the Two Sicilies
22 May 1859 – 20 March 1861
Kingdom Abolished
Italian Unification under the House of Savoy
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Himself
— TITULAR —
King of the Two Sicilies
20 March 1861 – 27 December 1894
Succeeded by
Prince Alfonso, Count of Caserta