Francis II of the Two Sicilies

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Servant of God
Francis II
Francesco II of the Two Sicilies.JPG
Photo c. 1865
King of the Two Sicilies
Reign22 May 1859 – 20 March 1861
PredecessorFerdinand II
SuccessorKingdom of Italy
Head of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Tenure20 March 1861 – 27 December 1894
SuccessorPrince Alfonso
Born(1836-01-16)16 January 1836
Naples, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
(now Naples, Italy)
Died27 December 1894(1894-12-27) (aged 58)
Arco, Austria-Hungary
(now Arco, Italy)
SpouseDuchess Maria Sophia in Bavaria
IssuePrincess Maria Cristina Pia
Italian: Francesco d'Assisi Maria Leopoldo
HouseHouse of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
FatherFerdinand II
MotherMaria Christina of Savoy
ReligionRoman Catholicism

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, as part 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.


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 Sophie of Bavaria, of the royal Bavarian house of Wittelsbach (a younger sister of Empress Elisabeth "Sissi" of Austria). Maria Sophie, along with Elisabeth, was a great beauty.[citation needed][dubious ] However, their marriage was unhappy. Their only daughter, Maria Cristina, was born ten years after her parents married, and lived only three months (24 December 1869 – 28 March 1870).


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 British 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.


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 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.

Opening of the Process of Canonization[edit]

In December, 2020, Cardinal Sepe of Naples announced the opening of the process of beatification and canonization in the case of Francis II. As such, Francis II can now be recognized with the title, "Servant of God."


Styles of
Francis II of the Two Sicilies
Great Royal Coat of Arms of the Two Sicilies.svg
Reference styleHis Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty


See also[edit]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Francis II. of the Two Sicilies". Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 936.

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-15. Retrieved 2013-04-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Ferdinand Veldekens (1858). Le livre d'or de l'ordre de Léopold et de la croix de fer. lelong. p. 184.
  3. ^ "Caballeros de la insigne orden del toisón de oro". Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish). 1893. p. 137. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Ritter-Orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1894, pp. 62, 64, retrieved 13 August 2020
  5. ^ Lehmann, Gustaf (1913). Die Ritter des Ordens pour le mérite 1812–1913 [The Knights of the Order of the Pour le Mérite] (in German). 2. Berlin: Ernst Siegfried Mittler & Sohn. p. 437.
  6. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern (in German). Königl. Oberpostamt. 1867. p. 8. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  7. ^ Staatshandbuch für den Freistaat Sachsen: 1865/66. Heinrich. 1866. p. 4.
  8. ^ Almanacco Toscano per l'anno 1855. Stamperia Granducale. 1840. p. 275.
  9. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Württemberg (1886/7), "Königliche Orden" p. 22

External links[edit]

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
King of the Two Sicilies
20 March 1861 – 27 December 1894
Succeeded by
Prince Alfonso, Count of Caserta