See studies by H. M. M. Acton (1956 and 1962); B. Croce, History of the Kingdom of Naples (tr. 1970).
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The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Regno delle Due Sicilie), commonly known as just the Two Sicilies, was the name of a kingdom in Europe. The most common definition of the kingdom's extent is that it was a uniting of two much older kingdoms in the Mediterranean that had shared some common history: the Kingdom of Naples, on the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, and the Kingdom of Sicily, located on the island of Sicily. The capital city of the combined kingdom was Naples.
Technically, the kingdom was established in the Edict of Bayonne in 1808, under Bonapartist king Joachim Murat; he was officially titled "King of the two Sicilies", although de facto he controlled only the kingdom commonly known as Naples. It was put into actual practice by king Ferdinand I (the founder of the cadet "Two Sicilies" branch of the Spanish monarchy) in 1816, uniting the two much older kingdoms he owned, established with the aid of a concordat with the Papal States, which previously had feudal rights on the land.
The French Revolutionary invasion of the Kingdom of Naples had seen that area under two Bonapartist Kings of Naples for around a decade. After the mainland kingdom was won back for the Bourbons during the Neapolitan War, thanks to their allies Austria, Tuscany and the United Kingdom, Ferdinand agreed to unite his two historic kingdoms at the Congress of Vienna as a matter of necessity and an act of solidarity.
Although the origins of the two kingdoms are ancient, in its united Two Sicilies form it existed from 1816 until 1860. There had been some rebellions on the island of Sicily against the Bourbon king Ferdinand II which would lead to the Expedition of the Thousand a decade later. The invasion by the Savoy kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, led by Garibaldi, led to the Italian unification in 1860: deposing Francis II and dissolving the Kingdom of Two Sicilies in highly controversial circumstances.
The territories later known as Two Sicilies were first united as a single kingdom by the Norman king Roger II, who formed the Kingdom of Sicily by combining the County of Sicily with the southern part of the Italian Peninsula (then known as the Duchy of Apulia and Calabria) as well as the Maltese Islands. The capital of this kingdom was Palermo, on the actual island of Sicily. The state existed in that form from 1130 until 1285.
In the reign of the Angevin king Charles I, the kingdom was split by the War of the Sicilian Vespers. Charles, who was ultimately of French origin, lost Sicily proper to the Aragonese, who were ultimately Catalan, with support from the natives. Charles remained king over the peninsular part of the realm, thereafter informally known as the Kingdom of Naples; officially he never gave up the "Kingdom of Sicily" name, and thus there were two kingdoms calling themselves "Sicily".
It wasn't until the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302, sponsored by Pope Boniface VIII, that the two kings of "Sicily" recognized each other's legitimacy; the island kingdom then became the "Kingdom of Trinacria" in an official context, though the populance still called it Sicily.
Eventually by 1442 the Angevin line of Kings of Naples was coming to an end, Alfonso V of Aragon, whose realm included insular Sicily, conquered Naples and became king of both. His regnal titles in Latin included the phrase Utriusque Siciliae, meaning "and of each of the two Sicilies". After the death of Alfonso, both remained under direct rule from the Crown of Aragon, but Naples had a different Aragonese king to the island of Sicily from 1458 until 1501.
For a brief period Naples was controlled by a different power than Sicily, in the form of French king Louis XII of France who took the mainland kingdom and held it for around three years. After the Battle of Garigliano, led by the last Aragonese king Ferdinand II of Aragon, the two areas were once again under control of the same power and the exact same king.
From 1516 when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor became the first King of Spain, both Naples and Sicily were under direct Spanish rule. It was during this era that Charles V granted the islands of Malta and Gozo, which had been part of the Kingdom of Sicily for four centuries, to the Knights Hospitaller (thereafter known as the Order of Malta). The period of direct Spanish rule under the same line of kings lasted until 1713, when Spain and both Sicilies passed to Philip, duke of Anjou, who founded the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon. Briefly interrupted by an eight year spell of Savoy rule of Sicily, the two kingdoms fell under the same king after the Treaty of The Hague, as Austrian king Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor was named ruler.
The kingdoms were conquered by a young Bourbon prince called Charles VII of Naples during the War of the Polish Succession. The two kingdoms were recongised as both independent and under Charles' rule as a cadet branch of the Spanish Bourbons by the Treaty of Vienna. After Charles inherited the Spanish Crown in 1759, his son Ferdinand became king of the two kingdoms. He was highly popular with the lazzaroni class. Ferdinand's reign was highly eventful. For a brief period the Parthenopaean Republic was instated in Naples by French Revolution supporters: a counter-revolutionary army of lazzaroni retook Naples for the Bourbons.
However only eight years later, Napoleon conquered the peninsula part of the kingdom during the War of the Third Coalition and instated his brother Joseph Bonaparte as king. Ferdinand fled to his other kingdom, on the island of Sicily itself; here the alliance he had previously made with George III of the United Kingdom and Tory Prime Minister the Earl of Liverpool saved him. The British protected Ferdinand and the island of Sicily from Napoleonic conquest with a powerful Royal Navy fleet presence.
Meanwhile, back on the mainland Joachim Murat, had become the second Bonapartist king. In the Edict of Bayonne he was technically named as the first "King of the Two Sicilies", though de facto he never actually held the island of Sicily where Ferdinand was, and is usually referred to as just a King of Naples. Murat had actually switched sides for a while, abandoning La Grande Armée after the disastrous Battle of Leipzig in an attempt to save his Neapolitan throne. However, as the Congress of Vienna progressed, tensions arose as there was strong pressure to restore Ferdinand to the Neapolitan kingdom as well as keeping his Sicilian one. Murat returned to Napoleon and together they declared war on Austria, leading to the Neapolitan War in March 1815. Ferdinand and his allies Austria, Britain and Tuscany were victorious, restoring him to his Neapolitan throne. To avoid further French attempts, it was agreed at the Congress of Vienna that Ferdinand would unite his two kingdoms for solidarity; becoming the first actual King of the Two Sicilies to control both parts of his united kingdom.
Apart from having occurred at an interesting point in European history (see Revolutions of 1848), there is a clear link between this revolution and the more well known historical event that was to occur 11 years hence (the Risorgimento).
Some Sovereigns continued to maintain diplomatic relations with the exiled Court, including the Emperor of Austria, the Kings of Bavaria, Württemberg and Hanover, the Queen of Spain, the Emperor of Russia, and the Papacy.
Upon Ferdinando Pio's death in 1960, there was a dispute about who inherited the headship of the house. Ferdinando's next brother Carlo had, in anticipation of his marriage to the eldest sister and heiress presumptive of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, signed the so-called Act of Cannes on 14 December 1900:
...Here present is His Royal Highness Prince Don Carlo our dearest loved Son and he has declared that he shall be entering into marriage with Her Royal Highness the Infanta Doña Maria Mercedes, Princess of the Asturias, and assuming by that marriage the nationality and quality of Spanish Prince, intends to renounce, and by this present act solemnly renounces for Himself and for his Heirs and Successors to any right and rights to the eventual succession to the Crown of the Two Sicilies and to all the Properties of the Royal House found in Italy and elsewhere and this according to our laws, constitutions and customs of the Family and in execution of the Pragmatic Decree of King Charles III, Our August ancestor, of the 6th October 1759, to whose prescriptions he declares freely and explicitly to subscribe to and obey.The laws of the deposed Sicilian dynasty and Spain's Pragmatic Decree, however, required a renunciation only in very limited circumstances: the actual union of the Crown of the Two Sicilies in the person of the King of Spain or his heir apparent, which had not happened in 1900 nor did it occur subsequently. Furthermore, this act was signed subsequent to the agreement by marriage contract between the Count of Caserta (the father of prince Carlo, then head of the Royal House in exile), and the Queen Regent of Spain, which specifically excluded the need for a dynastic renunciation to the non-existent throne. Prince Carlo was created an Infante of Spain, a title held by several other princes of the Two Sicilies in the past, but with his wife's death and the birth of a Prince of Asturias (and three other sons) to the King and Queen of Spain, the possibility of him becoming king consort and his son becoming both King of Spain and pretender to the Two Sicilies, receded. All the descendants of King Francis I of the Two Sicilies by his wife, Infanta Isabel, already enjoyed a right to the Spanish throne by virtue of the royal constitutions of 1837, 1845 and 1876.
The latter's immediate heir is Pedro, Duke of Noto, married to D. Sofia de Landaluce y Melgarejo (a descendant through her mother of the Dukes of San Fernando de Quiroga).
Most of the rest of the Bourbon-Two Sicilies family rejected Alfonso's claims, however, and recognized Ranieri, the next surviving brother of Ferdinando Pio, as head of the house. Ranieri took the style of "Duke of Castro" as his title of pretence. The representatives of the junior branch are as follows:
They also claim the office of the Grand Master of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George.
To Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro:
To Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria
The headship of the house is in dispute between two branches of the family::