In an 1856 article entitles “Litchfield Revisited,” Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, describes a return visit to the town where he grew up. Many of the things he described are still there:
The morning after our arrival in Litchfield we sallied forth alone. The day was high and wide, full of stillness and serenely radiant. As we carried our present life up the North Street, we met at every step our boyhood life coming down. There were the old trees, but looking not so large as to our young eyes. The stately road had, however, been bereaved of the buttonball trees, which had been crippled by disease. But the old elms retained a habit peculiar to Litchfield. There seemed to be a current of wind which at times passes high up in the air over the town, and which moves the tops of the trees, while on the ground there is no movement of wind. How vividly did that sound from above bring back early days, when for hours we lay upon the windless grass and watched the top leaves flutter, and marked how still were the under leaves of the same tree!
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Flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
On December 12, 1816, the long separated kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were joined to form the new Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Naples continued to be the capital of the new kingdom, which was the largest of the Italian states before the unification. It survived until 1860, when it was absorbed into the Kingdom of Sardinia, which became the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. During its almost 45 years of existence, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies had four kings of the Bourbon Dynasty. The first monarch was Ferdinand I (1816-1825), who had been Ferdinand IV of Naples and III of Sicily before the new kingdom was created. After his death in 1825, he was succeeded by his son Francis I (1825-1830). After his brief reign his son, Ferdinand II (1830-1859), ruled for almost 30 years. The last king of the Two Sicilies was Francis II (1859-1861), who was officially deposed in 1861. › Continue reading…
Ferdinand IV of Naples
In 1759, Charles, the Bourbon king of Naples and Sicily, departed Italy to become Charles III of France. Treaty agreements made Charles ineligible to hold the crown of Spain with those of Naples and Sicily, so he left the southern Italian kingdoms to his son Ferdinand, who became Ferdinand IV of Naples and III of Sicily. Ferdinand’s older brother Charles was heir to the throne of Spain, later becoming Charles IV of Spain. Ferdinand was deposed and then restored twice as king. First for six months in 1799, when the Parthenopean Republic, supported by France’s revolutionary First Republic, was briefly established. Ferdinand fled a second time in 1806, when Napoleon’s forces invaded. The French emperor gave Naples to his older brother Joseph Bonaparte, who was king there from 1806 to 1808, when he was made king of Spain. Napoleon then gave Naples to his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, who ruled until Napoleon’s fall in 1815. Ferdinand was restored and the following year, 1816, he merged his two kingdoms, Naples and Sicily, creating the new Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (the Kingdom of Naples had also been known officially as the Kingdom of Sicily). He continued to reign as Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies until his death in 1825. The following list charts this sequence of rulers:
Ferdiniand IV (1759-1799)
Parthenopean Republic (1799)
Ferdiniand IV (1799-1806)
Joseph Bonaparte (1806-1808)
Joachim Murat (1808-1815)
Ferdinand IV (1815-1816)
Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies (1816-1825)
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In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession, the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were conquered by the armies of Charles, son of King Philip V of Spain. This brought the Spanish Bourbon dynasty to power, which would rule Naples and Sicily until 1861. For the first time since 1501, Naples had a resident king who was not ruling through a viceroy. Charles was technically Charles V of Sicily and Charles VII of Naples, but he did not use a number himself, preferring to be known as Charles of Bourbon. This was done partly to emphasize the discontinuity between himself and previous rulers named Charles, particularly Emperor Charles VI of Austria.
When his half-brother, Ferdinand VI of Spain, died in 1759, Charles became king of Spain as Charles III. By the provisions of the third Treaty of Vienna he could not combine the Neapolitan and Sicilian territories with the Spanish throne, so Charles abdicated the crowns of Naples and Sicily in favor of his eight-year-old son Ferdinand. The Bourbon kings of Naples brought political stability and the principles of the Enlightenment to their long-suffering kingdom. › Continue reading…
Emperor Charles VI
In 1714, the Kingdom of Naples passed from Spanish to Austrian control. Clara Erskine Clement describes conditions in the Kingdom of Naples in the early decades of the eighteenth century:
After the death of Charles II., in 1700, the war of the Spanish Succession endured thirteen years, during which Naples was still governed by viceroys; and after the crown passed to the Archduke Charles, afterwards the Emperor Charles VI., during twenty-one years, eight German viceroys succeeded one another in authority over the Neapolitans. The change in the nationality of its rulers brought no benefits to the kingdom. The one aim of its conquerors seems to have been to discover the largest sum that could possibly be wrung from their subjects, who, on their part, were striving to find what was
the smallest amount that they could pay and still retain life and personal liberty.
During two hundred and thirty years under Spanish and German rule, the history of Naples furnishes an example of everything that a country and a government should not be. The aristocracy had no moral character, and no other class had risen to take its place; the great fortunes had disappeared; idleness seemed to be actually considered an occupation; and during all the years that Naples had given men and money to her foreign rulers she had in return been subjected to every possible loss, humiliation, and misery
The departments of justice were in dire confusion. One power after another had made new laws without repealing the old, or properly instituting the new codes. Different parts of the kingdom were under different laws, and it is said that in 1734 eleven methods of legislation actually existed in this peninsula, while the courts were filled with corrupt officials and lawyers. The army, too, was completely demoralized; indeed, the profession of a soldier, so honorable elsewhere, was regarded with scorn in Naples in the early part of the eighteenth century.
Even the Church, to which an oppressed people ought to be able to look for blessing, had been far from that to Naples, as to all Italy, by reason of its schisms and the intrigues of the Popes with those who had reigned here. The claim of the Apostolic See to supremacy over all other powers was supported by the immense army of ecclesiastics and their enormous wealth. It is estimated that in the Neapolitan kingdom the number of those whose profession was that of religion from archbishops to monks and nuns was 112,000, and in Naples alone 16,500. After the royal possessions were deducted from the entire property of the kingdom, more than one half the remainder belonged to the Church. Some writers claim that the Church property was even larger than this; but their estimate may be exaggerated. In any case, little enough was left for the people, and they were at that stage of poverty and misery when any change would be welcomed; and the change was not long deferred.
Charles II of Spain was succeeded by Philip V of the house of Bourbon, whose claim was supported by his grandfather, King Louis XIV of France. With Philip being in line of succession for the French throne, a war began, as the union of France and Spain under one monarch would have upset the balance of power in Europe. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) resulted in Philip V remaining on the throne of Spain, but renouncing his place in the French line of succession, thereby precluding the union of the French and Spanish crowns. He also gave Naples to Charles VI, who was Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria.
The viceroys who ruled the kingdom of Naples during the reign of the Spanish king Charles II (Charles V of Naples) were:
Naples during this period was in a state of decline. In 1656 the plague had killed almost half of the inhabitants of the city. › Continue reading…