Encyclopedia of Southern Italy – F

Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies (aka Ferdinand III of Sicily; Ferdinand IV of Naples): Visit the full Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies page.

Ferdinand (Ferrante) II: King of Naples (r.1495-1496).Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies: (b. Jan. 12, 1810 in Palermo; d. May 22, 1859, at Naples). King of the Two Sicilies (r1830-1859). The son of Francis I and grandson of Ferdinand I, he succeeded his father on the throne in 1830. Ferdinand’s early acts as king seemed to suggest that he would turn the Regno into an enlightened, liberal state. Unfortunately, this proved to be a false hope and it was not long before Ferdinand had adopted the heavy-handed absolutism practiced by his father and grandfather. This would lead to a series of revolts (1833, 1837, 1841, 1844, and 1847) all of which failed to convince Ferdinand to soften his hard line. Even the great uprisings of 1848, which gave the island of Sicily a brief taste of independence, and a liberal constitution to the mainland part of the kingdom, failed in the end. The Sicilian republic fell to the bombardment of its cities by Ferdinand’s troops (for which he earned the international nick-name of King Bomba), while the constitution and the chamber of deputies it spawned lasted only a matter of months. Ferdinand dealt harshly with those who opposed him politically. The British politician William Gladstone, who visited the harsh prisons of Naples during a holiday trip in 1857, estimated that Ferdinand had imprisoned at least 13,000 citizens for political reasons. Gladstone referred to Ferdinand’s regime as the “negation of God.” Ferdinand’s international relations were not warm. One of his few true friends was his neighbor Pope Pius IX, whom he sheltered at Gaeta during a brief period in 1848-49 when Rome rose up and formed a republic. Ferdinand chose to model his style of rule upon the Russian czars, sharing their reactionary policies and autocratic tendencies. His affairs with the more liberal governments in Britain, France, and Piedmont-Sardinia were far cooler. His hostility to political, economic and social reforms would last throughout his reign and ultimately led to the final doom of the Regno during the brief reign of his son and successor, Francis II.

Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies: (b. June 12, 1810, at Palermo; d. May 22, 1859, at Caserta). King of the Two Sicilies. He succeeded his father, Francis I, on Nov. 8, 1830. He married (1st) Maria Cristina (daughter of King Victor Emanuel I of Sardinia), on Nov. 21, 1832. From this marriage he had one son, his heir Francis II (b. 1859).

By his second marriage (Jan. 27, 1837, Naples) to Marie Therese (Maria Teresa), Archduchess of Austria, he was the father of Annunziata Maria Isabella Philomena, who married Karl Ludwig Josef, Archduke of Austria. The assassination of their son, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at Sarajevo (June 28, 1914) was the spark that touched off World War I.

Ferdinard V of Castile “the Catholic”: (II of Aragon; III of Naples; II of Sicily). b. Mar. 10, 1452, at Sos, Aragon; d. Jan. 23, 1516, in Madrigalejo. King of Aragon, Castile, Spain, Naples, and Sicily. He was the son of John II (king of Navarre and Aragon) and Juana Henriquez. In 1468, he was declared by his father as king of Sicily (and co-king of Aragon). On Oct. 19, 1469, he married Prince Isabella of Asturias, sister and heiress of King Henry IV of Castile. Upon Henry’s death (Dec. 12, 1474), Ferdinand and Isabella were proclaimed joint sovereigns of Castile. In 1494, when the kingdom of Naples was overrun by the French king Charles VIII, Ferdinand sent an army under his captain, Gonzalvo de Cordova, to successfully expel the French and restore the Aragonese dynasty to power. This action gave the Spaniards an advantage in southern Italy when, in 1500, Ferdinand made a secret treaty with the French king Louis XII to divide Naples between them. The outcome was a foregone conclusion since Naples could not hope to stand against an alliance of the two most powerful states of the day. Almost immediately after the conquest had been completed, the two partners began to quarrel. Over the course of time, the Spanish army under Gonsalvo de Cordova successfully drove the French out of the kingdom of Naples. Ferdinand was thus secured in his claim to the Neapolitan crown. With Ferdinand’s accession, the Regno became little more than an ancillary part of the Spanish Empire.