The Kingdom of Two Sicilies – Administrative Model

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was established with law 12/08/1816 in the  form of unitary state and absolute monarchy; in the person of the King were summarized the legislative, executive and judiciary, the chief command of the army and of the army of the sea as well as the apex of the civil administration. The judiciary, however, was exercised in the form of justice known as delegated, by judges appointed by the King.

Contrary to popular belief, absolute monarchy does not mean arbitrariness: the ruler was affected by the law, traditions, norms and privileges of various nature and origin that limited his freedom of action; this has historically proven to all the absolute monarchies.

The law had already incorporated the principle of equality of citizens before the law, property and other individual rights, the non-retroactivity of the law, the legality of the sentence. The rules of the codification of 1819 were conforming to other legislation of the same times, and so they were at the time considered.

The central administration of the state was divided into ministries, each of them divided into several departments; the ministries were: Foreign Affairs, Justice, Education, Finance, Internal Affairs. In the provinces there were branch offices (intendenze, sottointendenze), and below them the organs of municipal or local government; the distinction between the central and local administration does not reflect the current criteria, since  each local administration was actually a branch of the central government.

The kingdom was divided into 22 provinces, 15 in the South continental and 7 in Sicily; the steward (intendente) , a figure inherited from the French model, was the first authority in the province, with powers similar to those of the French prefects under Napoleon.  He was a character much feared and respected, but at the same time  under the direct control of the king and his ministers.

The provincial council was the representative body of the province and was composed of the President, appointed yearly  directly by the king and of the directors, appointed by royal decree on the proposal of local decurions. It met once a year for no more than twenty days, in order to discuss the budget of expenditure of the province.

The process of transformation into a constitutional monarchy, which began in Sardinia with the statute of 1848, was extremely limited in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; Ferdinand II granted the constitution on  January 29, 1848, but the experiment was unsuccessful and he suspended the effects of the Constitution (1849), which were restored later on by his son, Francis II, in 1860.

The two constitutions, duo-Sicilian and Sardinian, were among them very similar, both texts being inspired by the French model.


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