Kingdom of Two Sicilies 1815-1860 - 19th Century Encyclopedia Entries



Meyer 1902-1909


Meyer's Konversationslexikon 1902-1909, Article : Sizilen, Königreich beider
Ferdinando IV. after his return united mainland and island into one state, accepted the title of a king of both Sicilies, and as such called himself Ferdinando I.; the liberal constitution introduced on Sicily at the request of the English [!] again was aboilished. In a secret treaty with Austria (1815) Ferdinando obliged himself not to introduce a constitution, and not to implement any institutions which were more liberal than those of Lombardy. The lethargic, incapable king did little to change the institutions he inherited from the French, but he let them fall into ruin. The administration was weak and not capable of maintaining order, in all provinces brigandry appeared. Dissatisfaction with the existing conditions was fed by the secret organization of the Carbonari, and also extended into the army. When in 1820 news of the revolution in Spain arrived, a lieutenant of the garrison at Nola, Morelli, with just over 100 men moved to Avellino, proclaimed the Spanish constitution of 1812, then marched on Naples, and on his march was joined by so many, that at court any opposition was abandoned. The king appointed his son, Duke Francesco of Calabria, as stadholder general, and the latter entrusted liberal general Guglielmo Pepe with supreme command over the troops and promised the introduction of the Spanish constitution, on which the old king himself ceremoniously swore an oath on July 13th. In the meantime, Sicily demanded not the Spanish, but her own constitution of 1812; in Palermo on July 18th a provisional government was instututed, which only wanted to accept a personal union with Naples. The Neapolitan troops under General Pepe did soon force the island into submission, and on October 5th took Palermo. But by this action the new government was weakened, and while Naples on January 21st 1821 celebrated the introduction of the new constitution, Austria, Prussia and Russia on the Congress of Laibach, where Ferdinando appeared in person, and denied the constitution on which he had sworn, decided on an intervention in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. After a short skirmish at Rieti (March 7th) the Neapolitan troops commanded by General Pepe dissolved facing the Austrian army, the Austrians entered Naples on March 24th, where, as was in Sicily, to where an Austrian corps under Wallmoden was sent, the old order was restored with bloody severity. Ferdinando, who returned in May, abolished the liberal institutions and restored the former maladministration.
Ferdinando's son Francesco I. (1825-1830) during his short rule remained faithful to the system of his father, while his son Ferdinando II. (1830-1859) implemented a number of useful reforms. But as he maintained the absolutist system of his predecessors, and forcefully suppressed liberal movements, already in January 1848 a rebellion broke out on Sicily, which spread victoriously over the island. In vain Ferdinando gave a constitution to both parts of his kingdom; Sicily on April 13th seceded from the Bourbons and on July 11th elected the Duke of Genoa, a son of Carlo Alberto of Sardinia, as their king. But the Neapolitans held on to the eastern half of the island, and when the negotiations during the truce mediated by England [!] and France did not produce a result, the fight was resumed in April 1849 and [Neapolitan troops] entered Palermo on May 15th, thus completing the submission of Sicily. Also in Naples on February 13th 1849 parlament was dissolved and the constitution set out of force.
The reaction which followed on the rebellion in Naples and on Sicily, was worse than elsewhere. 22,000 persons were arrested for political violations, the king sent his liberal ministers to the galleys. His rule turned into a military despotism, while revolutionary secret societies undermined the state. Ferdinando rudely rejected complaints by England [!] and France against this maladministration, in consequence of which the western powers in October 1856 recalled their ambassadors from Naples. Attempts ot rebellions which were made in 1856 and 1857 failed. Finally the king no longer dared to remain in Naples, but took up in Caserta Palace, where he was guarded by numerous troops. After his death (May 22nd 1859) his young, poorly educated and inexperienced son Francesco II. succeeded, who rejected the offer of Sardinia to negotiate the unification of Italy. Already a year after his accession to the throne, the latter collapsed under the irresistible drive for Italian unification. On May 11th 1860 Garibaldi landed near Marsala on Sicily, and already on June 6th he was in control of Palermo. Too late Francesco II. appointed a liberal cabinet, declared his willingness to an amnesty and to an alliance with Sardinia, and restored the constitution of 1848. Already in August Garibaldi set foot on the mainland, on September 6th the king left Naples, in order to defend himself with the part of the army which has remained faithful to him, 40,000 men, behind the Volturno, on September 7th Garibaldi entered the capital, on October 21st 1860 the plebiscite was held, which with overwhelming majority (1,732,000 yes versus 11,000 no) decided on unification with the Kingdom of Italy. The conquest of the kingdom was completed by Sardinian troops, which after taking Capua (November 2nd) laid siege to Gaeta, to where the king had withdrawn, and after valiant defense forced him to surrender on February 13th 1861. The citadel of Messina held until the 12th, Civitella del Tronto until March 20th, since the Kingom of Two Sicilies forms part of the Kingdom of Italy.

source in German, posted by Zeno





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