King Francis II of Bourbon King Francis II of Bourbon

Francis II is the last sovereign to reign over the Two Sicilies; it is with him that happens the invasion of the Kingdom by the first of Garibaldi and then the army of Savoy, and then annexed to the newborn Kingdom of Italy. All this only a year after the death of Ferdinand II, which occurred when he was only 48, while Francis found himself unexpectedly on the throne at the young age of 23 years.
He was in fact born January 16, 1836 the eldest son of Ferdinand II and his first wife Maria Cristina of Savoy (beatified Jan. 25, 2014), which will leave him lost his mother only fifteen days after his birth. Both father and his second wife, Queen Maria Theresa of Austria, the imparted, with the help of the Jesuit fathers, strongly religious education, but not lacking in general knowledge, even though he never had the military that Ferdinand was rich. For another, they always taught him the love of the Kingdom and his duties towards his subjects, who came before all else, after those to God, of course. In any case, the relationship with his stepmother did not have to be easy, since, as is also natural, she thought first of all to their children (they had 11, including the future head of the Royal House after Francis' death, Alfonso Maria, Count of Caserta), but never conflict; Francis by his respected the Queen, and this took care to follow the future sovereign.
Ferdinand chose him as his wife Maria Sofia of Bavaria, daughter of Duke Maximilian and sister of Elizabeth, the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. Maria Sofia, as we will see shortly, will prove, in the tragic days of their life, an exceptional woman, never forgotten by his subjects and admired throughout Europe.

M.S. Maria Sofia Wittelsbach, Queen of the Two Sicilies M.S. Maria Sofia Wittelsbach, Queen of the Two Sicilies

The early days were not easy for the Court to Maria Sofia, destined not to be understood with the Queen; but on the contrary he had all the sympathy of the King, that he was sincerely attached. The problem was just that with his arrival in Naples began the illness that led Ferdinand to death; elevation to the Throne of Francesco and Maria Sofia made even more critical relations with the Queen Mother; but now other problems were preparing the horizon, and Mary Queen Sofia will prove strong and courageous like no other in history: the thoughts can not but go to the Marie Antoinette of the last days of his life, and although Maria Sofia Fortunately he was spared the tragedy of her death and of her husband, a slower pain touched in luck for the rest of his long life (he died in 1925).
Francis actually was able to free reign sovereign only the span of a year; then she had to deal with to face the invasion of the Kingdom. Yet even in such a short time he was able to provide some minimal demonstration of what would be his kingdom if he had been allowed to govern peacefully as his ancestors.
Certainly he did not possess the strength of character of the father, nor, of course, political experience, but he was a man full of goodness and humanity, man of deep faith and sense of duty to his subjects, and especially to those in need. He united the capacity for reform of his ancestors, even more of them a deep sense of religious duties, which in effect made him perhaps the best of the sovereign for his subjects.
Moreover, the fierce pro-Bourbon resistance that occurred in the sixties (in this regard see the appropriate heading) and saw that involved tens of thousands of men and women - as in the times of outbreaks - in arms in defense of his legitimate rights, is the best evidence of what just said.

The Royal Neapolitans in exile in Rome The Royal Neapolitans in exile in Rome

Since its ascent to the throne, gave many amnesties, he appointed special commission to visit the places of punishment and make the necessary improvements; would grant greater autonomy to local municipalities, and lessened the weight of bureaucratic ties; Palermo and Messina granted exemptions of duty, in Catania established a Commercial Court and the Speaker of account and discount; He forgave Sicily leftovers of duty and halved the tax on flour, abolished the duty on earthly homes where poor people lived and reduced customs duties, especially that on foreign books; also diminished taxes on foreign goods, granted Borse Exchange in Chieti and Reggio Calabria; He ordered to be opened frumentari mountains and mountains of pledges, and boxes Loan and Savings in countries that lacked; Since there was a dearth of wheat, while the rebels have accused the King of wanting to put the burden on the poor, he gave order to deploy very low price to whole batches of grain to foreign populations, to other with economic losses from the government. Also created chairs, high schools and colleges, and established a committee for the improvement of urban Naples (he had in mind in regard to build steam mills government to offer free grinding grain, but the idea could not be implemented for the arrival of Garibaldi); He expanded the rail network and churches close account of the delays in construction of private previously agreed, and a decree of 28 April 1860 he ordered the expansion of the network with the Naples-Foggia and Foggia-Capo d'Otranto; Then he ordered the lines Basilicata-Reggio Calabria and another for the Abruzzi, while already thinking even to Palermo-Messina-Catania.
On 1 March 1860 he ordered the servants to all the funds of the aqueducts, and thus avoiding swamping favored crop irrigation and thus public health; then dispose the desiccation of Lake Fucino, did continue the straightening of the river Sarno digging a navigable channel, he commanded to continue the work in Neapolitan marshes and the removal of foci of Sebeto. All this in a year. Still in 1862, now in exile in Rome, he sent a large sum to the Neapolitans victims of a strong eruption of Vesuvius.
After the fall of the Kingdom, the King and Queen were hosted in Rome by Pope Pius IX (who returned in this manner the hospitality received by Ferdinand II in 1848-1850) prior to the Quirinale and then at Palazzo Farnese, until 1870. During these years, they first they attempted to foment pro-Bourbon resistance that was taking place in the former kingdom, but then they realized that all was lost and did not want to cause more blood, more hatred and pain.
Deprived of their personal assets by the Savoy (had been seized without any right or justification to Garibaldi, not just real estate, but also mobile ones, that Francis did not want to bring along), they had to move often, and lived for a long time in Paris, and from time to time in Bavaria in the estates of the family of Maria Sofia, leading peaceful life and modest. In one of those trips, in 1894, at peace with God, with others and then with his conscience, Francis II was extinguished in Arco (Trento). Head of the Royal House, since he had not heirs, became the brother Alfonso Maria of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Count of Caserta.

The invasion of the Kingdom

Battle of the Volturno Battle of the Volturno

It is certainly not possible here to do a history of the Risorgimento, the conquest of the kingdom by the Piedmontese. What can be said, is that today fortunately there are now so many historical reconstructions of the events of those days much more serene, truthful and objective of the "official" provided and ye say in these 140 years of the "Vulgate" historiographical Risorgimento. They are now legion historians (and not all sympathizers with the Bourbon cause, indeed) who are rebuilding honestly the tragic pages of the invasion and conquest of the Kingdom. We limit ourselves only to list the most proven and now undisputed historical acquisitions, well known in the world of specialists, but still completely or almost unknown to the general public and not Italian, yet influenced by memories of school on the heroic conquest of the Thousand among the people Southern elated to be "liberated" from "barbarism Bourbon". These fables today tells hardly anyone, and yet survive in the collective. Moreover, the player who had the patience to read the previous entries, you will realize how false the "Vulgate" Bourbons, how exactly antithetical to the historical truth.


Not for the spirit of controversy, then, but only as a service to historical truth and the common memory of the Italian people, we just remember the most obvious, undisputed (although still not known at all) historical acquisitions on these events, referring the reader interested in special studies of the best historians, of which we report the item Recommended Books.


Since the fifties, and in particular in 1858 with Patti of Plombières, Cavour had prepared, with the help of Napoleon III and Great Britain, and the help of the Italian democratic world, the invasion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, State sovereign seven times secular, peaceful, friend, ally of the Kingdom of Sardinia, whose last King was cousin to another of the King Vittorio Emanuele II;
Napoleon III put Cavour hoping (later revealed as chimerical) that the Kingdom would go to his cousin Luciano Murat, whereas Great Britain in the hope that a new Kingdom of Italy, with it and grateful friend, could oppose both the French and the Hapsburg predominance ;


Garibaldi, for his expedition, received men, ships, weapons but also by the Kingdom of Sardinia, while the money they received from the UK and the international freemasonry in abundance [It is 3 million French francs (data Garibaldi in plates Turkish gold in Genoa before boarding) and 1 million ducats (stratospheric figures), in the hands of Admiral Persano, to which should be added the 300,000 lire gold procured in Milan by banker Garavaglia and dates directly in the hands of Garibaldi. See. AA-VV, A time to be rewritten: the Italian Risorgimento, Show in Rimini in 2000, The Circle, p. 21. See. Also for the whole question the excellent work of R. MARTUCCI, The invention of a united, Sansoni, Florence 1999];
such money were used for the corruption of top officials Bourbon, who since the landing in Sicily never fought seriously Garibaldi's soldiers (think that Garibaldi arrived in Naples by train! And only a few dead and wounded in all), delivering cowardly entire fortresses and various military posts to the invader; but also they served to the corruption of the leading statesmen, who always advised Francis II in the worst way possible, until you get outdoors treason, as is the case, just to name the most famous, of Liborio Romano, Prime Minister and First traitor to the King;
Cavour ordered Admiral Persano, commanding the Savoy fleet, to follow from afar the expedition of Garibaldi and help him if everything had gone well; and so punctually it happened;
also he made Britain, which deployed an entire fleet in battle in the Gulf of Naples while Garibaldi arrived, a clear sign of what would happen if Francis II had tried to resist;
while Vittorio Emanuele II swore friendship with his cousin in Naples and deprecated what was happening, Cavour gave order to General Cialdini to go down with the army to Naples to take possession of the Kingdom (for other invading the Papal States), and the King himself was at the Savoy south to get to Garibaldi conquered the kingdom (the meeting of Teano);
as you know, in front of what was happening, for his part Napoleon III, who publicly condemned the expedition as an act of international piracy (and how could it be otherwise defined?), secretly he gave his assent to Cavour with the famous sentence: "Faites, corn faites lives!", but asked, in exchange for his "non-intervention", Nice and Savoy;

Francis II, in front of one of the largest international conspiracies of history, and, above all, before the betrayal of his officers and his men and government closer together and "devout" advisers, including that all was lost, but that it was necessary not to lose honor and historical memory: to avoid bloodshed of civilians, left Naples, but took refuge in the fortress of Gaeta, followed by all those who voluntarily chose to save the honor of fighting on the side of the legitimate and beloved sovereign attacked.


Fortress of Gaeta Fortress of Gaeta

Even the story of the siege of Gaeta, certainly one of the most tragic and heroic pages in the history of the Risorgimento, were now written many books serious and compelling, even recently, and we refer to them for further discussion of the issue (see page Books Recommended).
Leaving Naples, Francesco II issued a proclamation, on December 8, 1860, of which we give a few sentences: "(...) I preferred to leave Naples, my own house, my beloved capital to not expose the horrors of the bombing, as those that took place later in Capua and Ancona. I believed in good faith that the King of Piedmont, which was said to my brother, my friend, that I disapprove protested the invasion of Garibaldi, who was negotiating with my intimate alliance government for the true interests of Italy, would not have broken all terms and without infringing any laws to invade my peace States in full, without reasons or war declarations. If these were my wrongs, I prefer my misfortune to the triumphs of my opponents "[In:" Gazzetta di Gaeta ", December 9, 1860, No. 21, p. 1]. The proclamation frightened the chief of police of the Lieutenancy, Silvio Spaventa, since, as evidenced by Ruggero Moscati, "produced an overwhelming impression in large sections of the southern population" [R MOSCATI, The Bourbons of Italy, ESI, Naples 1970, p. 153].
A Gaeta agreed fact thousands of loyal Bourbon (simultaneously heroically resisted even the fortresses of Civitella del Tronto - which was the last to fall - and Messina), also ready to die in defense of their sovereign [Roberto Martucci recognizes the merits of Francesco II and denounces the wrongs of history in opposing portray him as "Frankie", and reads as follows A. ARCHES (The last Hapsburgs and the last Bourbon in Italy (1814-1861), Cappelli, Bologna 1965, p. 376) "Francis II was king in trouble even more than in the few months of effective sovereignty: the banks did not withdraw their deposits, from the Palace, rather than works of art and the market value, he brought with him objects of devotion and family memories" . MARTUCCI, op. cit., pp. 189-190. "] And of their country and to witness the faith and ancestral civilization and demonstrate with actions their refusal of a corrupt society and traitor to which they felt they did not belong.
As mentioned, the story of the tragic resistance of the fortress of Gaeta, besieged by a ruthless man, is unknown, and there are publications that provide valuable the story. The siege, which began Nov. 13, 1860, lasted until February 13, 1861. It was conducted with such bitterness, that it should be remembered that Cialdini had the temerity to bomb even the room of the rulers, apparently in the hope of killing them.

the King and Queen in the stands of Gaeta the King and Queen in the stands of Gaeta

In that context, we will just quote the following moving words of Roberto Martucci, who describes the tragic climate where the siege took place and especially the last few days, and particularly describing the mood of those who were lost - including hunger and the plague - but knowing you are innocent victim of aggression by any desired and heroic defender of a kingdom, but a centuries-old civilization, and who was winning amid the laughter, but it was a smile of bitter taste: "The February 5, 1861, a bullet center the powder letters, causing a hundred dead and buried under the rubble, hundreds of soldiers alive. "The enemy - Pietro wrote Calà of Ulloa - was a sacrifice of human victims to the gods of the underworld; last burst launched into the air and at sea precipitarli soldiers and officers; the besiegers, in Mola, clapped their hands as a show "" [P. CALA D'ULLOA, Lettres d'un ministre émigré, Marseille, 1870, p. 80].
After a short truce to extract the wounded from the ruins, Cialdini refused an extension that would allow him to help other victims still alive; General Sardinian would then resume the bombing, while offering an unconditional surrender to the exhausted Neapolitan garrison. In front of the futility of further resistance, Francis II authorized the Governor of Gaeta - which was the same general who had directed Joshua Ritucci the unlucky counteroffensive at Volturno - to treat the capitulation. It was on February 11 and lasted for two days without talks that General Cialdini ceased to overthrow the wretched stronghold an avalanche of fire; He had indeed taken advantage to take action other two deadly batteries of cannons rifled. Since the yield was sure, that further deployment of artillery siege was fatally useless. Unless you are sitting in front of that syndrome masterfully described by the French novelist Jules Verne From the Earth to the Moon, when the distraught engineers and ballistic experts, members of the "Gun Club" in Baltimore, learned with sorrow that the end of unmatched Civil War prevented to experience the effectiveness of the bullets of their cannons on meat Confederate. So it was that in Gaeta, at three in the afternoon of 13 February, while Neapolitan and Sardinian parliamentarians were discussing the final details of the capitulation, blew up the powder magazine of the battery Transylvania with her eighteen tons of explosives. Immediately, the batteries of siege Piedmont concentrated fire on the rubble to prevent the rescue, strafing the stretcher bearers. They died needlessly two officers, fifty soldiers and the entire family of the guardian of the bastion. The plenipotentiaries of Bourbon, who were treating the surrender in the headquarters of Cialdini, held back her tears while their hosts loudly applauded simultaneously contravening the rules of hospitality and the unwritten laws of military honor. "
Cialdini, not yet satisfied, would also be able sarcastic to humiliate those who had had the courage to resist with dignity, and offered to give generously to the sovereign couple a ship to go to Rome: he chose one that did rename "Garibaldi"!

February 14, 1861 - The sovereigns Neapolitans leave forever Gaeta and the United February 14, 1861 - The sovereigns Neapolitans leave forever Gaeta and the United

Among the tears of soldiers and officers kneeling and population, while clutching his hands to all, without distinction, between tears and smiles, Francis II and Maria Sofia sailed to Rome.
"Francis of Bourbon had at that time 25 years, Maria Sofia only 19, yet the misfortune knew demonstrate fortitude and dignity that sovereigns far older and hardened of them would not have possessed." Said Sergio Romano: "If these were the new battalions of Italy unified, the new ruling class would have to pay respectful homage, when they took on the leadership of the new state, the stubborn Bourbon defenders of Messina, Civitella del Tronto, Gaeta, and he would have to add the names to the "role of the heroes" of which venerate the memory. Like the Swiss at the Tuileries in 1792 those men fought because they had sworn allegiance to their king and did not deserve the oblivion to which sentenced them to legend Risorgimento "[S. ROMANO, Finis Italiæ. Decline and death of the ideology of the Risorgimento. Why Italians despise, Milan, 1994, p. 15].
The Royals left the port of Gaeta to the sound of real gear Paisiello with 21 gun salute, while an entire people cried and waved. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies had thus ceased to exist, leaving stunned and homeless millions of southern farmers, while most of the notable citizens was about to ask for an adequate place in the new political and administrative organization of a united Italy, and already put to the little money with which soon would be taken possession of the lands of the aristocrats and faithful of the Church, and then draw in economic ruin millions of peasants who no longer knew what they were mercy and humanity, and for which he was the only salvation ' emigration.
But this is not the place to talk about the evils sealed on Southern Italy after 1861, for which there is a well-known and still unresolved explanatory concept that weighs like a sword of Damocles over the unitary national history: "southern" .
All historians agree that the heroic behavior of Francis II siege of Gaeta was enough to redeem it from its political weaknesses, real and alleged. We could list endless moving judgments historians sympathizers; Instead we prefer to bring, on behalf of all, the objective and the most aseptic judgment of a historian of undisputed value and certainly not pro-Bourbon. Giuseppe Coniglio wrote: "Yet he knew, before history, redeem its failures with the siege of Gaeta which he participated with boldness, to show Europe that could act, and he succeeded in full, even if supported by the example and from encouragement of his wife. It would have been easy for the two sovereigns flee (...) But Francis refused to bow to this humiliation and preferred to fight a long, getting too before the judgment of the same enemies that honor of the weapons that were all defenders of Gaeta "[G . RABBIT, The Bourbons of Naples, Corbaccio, Milano 1999, p. 460].



"... The soldiers and defaticati ragged, his eyes shot down, presenting arms, and the music of the regiments played the royal march. This hymn, the work of Paisiello, during the bombing they rang continuously, and then this piece d ' harmony was a painful contrast with the terrible noise of the artillery, but at this solemn moment these notes, so harmonious and tender, made high impression, as well remembered past, so that the emotion became general and the tears flowed from the eyes of all. The soldiers, shouting: "Long live the King", did not feel that hoarse sounds, mixed with sobs, and the population, exposed to hardships during the siege, then he rushed up the steps of the King to kiss those hands and those clothes , and part of it from the balconies, whooping, waving white handkerchiefs as a sign of the extreme affectionate farewell. The soldiers bowed, sobbing, before the King, and the officers, oppressed by the same pain, threw themselves into the arms of their soldiers, hugging one another; and of these there were many who, tearing the epaulets, swords broke and threw to the ground. The emotion was intense: the King you could barely open the door between his soldiers, among the population as it clenched in an embrace for the first time you saw sprout from the eyes of the Queen tears. Finally the king could reach the door of the sea and the port, where he embarked on the "Mouette"; when he left the port, a battery made the last honors to the King. The noise of the cannon soared through the air like the hiccups of dying ... The cries of "Long live the King", erected by connonieri the moment that abbassavasi flag napolitana, they shook the heart; sembravaci because that flag a funeral shroud, who threw the monarchy of Charles III, and the French themselves the "Mouette were moved as the Neapolitans". The passage of the actual ship before the battery Bourbon Santa Maria "was performed saves real and twenty-one gun salute, in greeting, three times was hauled down the flag lilied on Torre d'Orlando. Forever ..."


Peter Calà Ulloa - Letters Napolitane