The Kingdom of two Sicilies: were the Bourbons a foreign dinasty?

It’s common opinion that, among the reasons of the wars fought for the Union of Italy, one of the main drivers was to reach the independence from foreign rules.   

“out of Italy, go’ outside invader …. ….” are the famous words of the hymn of Garibaldi. Is this true for the Bourbon dynasty?

In 1861, the Kingdom of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was kingdom fully independent since 1734, whose king was an Italian king (or, better, duo-Sicilian, because Italy as a subject of international law did not yet exist) in all respects: Francesco II was born in Naples in 1836, son of Ferdinand II and Maria Cristina of Savoy; in turn

  • his father Ferdinando II was born in Palermo in 1810,
  • his grandfather Francesco was born in I in Naples in 1777,
  • his great-grandfather Ferdinando I was born in Naples in 1751  ans
  • his great-great-grandfather, commonly known as Carlo III[1], was born in Madrid in 1716 and became king of Naples and Sicily in 1734.

Does not look like a foreign dynasty: it is an Italian dynasty, indeed Neapolitan, fifth generation: the foreigner” is Charles, the founder of the kingdom, more than one century before.  

 If we make a comparison with the other dynasty that is considered definitely Italian, the House of Savoy, we see that they too had French origins: lords, counts and then the dukes of Savoy until 1713 when, with the Treaty of Utrecht, won the crown of Sicily, kept only for a few years, and the constitution of the principality in Piedmont and moved their capital to Turin; in 1720 they obtained to replace the royal crown of Sicily with the Crown of Sardinia.

The Bourbons of Parma could also be considered Italians, for the same reason that we have explained for the Bourbons of Naples.

It still remains the case of Tuscany: after the death of the last of the Medici (1737) Tuscany was passed to Francis III, Duke of Lorraine and his wife, Empress Maria Teresa, great-grandfather of Leopold II who was on the throne from 1824 Grand Duke; in this case the dynasty was stabilized in Italy since four generations.

In 1961, the only real foreigners were the Austrians who dominated the Lombardy and the Venetias, as a province ruled by Austrian officials.

There were also some minor states:

  • the Duchy of Modena, whose ruler was Francesco V of Austria Este, a third generation Italian, even if it is a branch of the Habsburgs remained much attached to their Austrian origin,
  • the Republic of San Marino, that still exists,
  • the principality of Monaco, whose rulers were and still are the Polignac Grimaldi, family of mixed Italian and French origin and
  • finally there was the Papal State.

[1] his full name was Carlos Sebastián de Borbón y Farnesio, as king of Naples and Sicily should have had a different numbering, but he is generally known as Charles III of Spain, He was the younger son of Philip V of Spain and Elisabetta Farnese, from whom he inherited the titles of Italian Farnese and Medici.


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