FlagFlag 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.

Quoting one more time from Clara Erskine Clement’s 1894 book, Naples, the City of Parthenope and its Environs:

Ferdinand I (1816-1825)

The Council of State held secret deliberations, and fawned on Ferdinand by proposing measures which they believed would be agreeable to him. The cabinet consisted of eight ministers and the Director of the Police; and as their position depended solely on the will of the king, they concealed everything that might tell against them. The Prince of Canosa, Director of Police, was most influential with Ferdinand. He had served him while in Sicily by collecting bands of ruffians, and landing them on Neapolitan soil; and he now employed the vilest men to carry out his schemes. It was he who had murdered Murat, and had made himself so notoriously a persecutor, that the foreign ambassadors at Naples remonstrated against him so strongly that the king was obliged to dismiss Canosa; but he gave him an annual pension of 60,000 crowns, and added new titles to those he already possessed.

Ferdinand was entirely responsible for the thousands of brigands, thieves, and assassins that infested the kingdom. He had constantly employed and paid them to harass Joseph and Murat; and after his return to Naples these rascals worked their will until even the Bourbon was ashamed, and took measures against them as secret and cruel as those he had permitted them to use against his enemies.

It is time to speak of the Carbonari, the Charcoal-burners, as their name signifies, a secret society which first claimed attention about 1808. and after a short time had much to do with the political history of Naples. There were many secret societies in Italy ; but the Carbonari were the most numerous and powerful of them all. They essayed making themselves reverend by claiming descent from a remote past, and reciting many untrustworthy legends regarding their origin, of which the time and place is unknown. Not so their object, which was to arouse the people to rebellion; and so rapidly did they increase, so many and widely scattered were their lodges, that the very name of Carbonaro soon inspired terror, and was carefully whispered, as is that of Fra Diavolo in the opera which perpetuates the memory of the famous brigand.

In Sicily, Ferdinand had connived with the Carbonari, hoping to make them instrumental in the overthrow of Murat. After his return to the throne, and the drift of his policy was apparent, they plotted against him; and as they could not frankly declare their revolutionary purposes, they claimed to be an ethical organization. . . . . .

The chief lodge was at Salerno, and the entire society was divided into four “tribes.” Carbonaro councils, senates, and courts were numerous. Nominally these Good Cousins Buoni Cugini, as they called themselves were to have a popular form of government, but were, in fact, ruled by their ablest men. . . . .

Carbonari Flag

The colors of the Carbonari were black, signifying charcoal and faith; red, fire and chastity; and blue, smoke and hope. . . . . .

Many lodges were known by curious names, such as the Unshirted, the Sleepers, and the American Hunters, who numbered Lord Byron in their company. It is said that women organized societies; one existing at Naples under the name of the Gardeneresses, whose pots and sprinklers were made mysterious by their symbolism. All Italy, France, Germany, and other countries were the homes of secret societies; but the first swarmed with them, and while presenting a somewhat hardened and indifferent appearance outwardly, it was, in reality, torn and convulsed within by vehement rebellion against present wrongs, and a growing determination toward better conditions.

However faithful to their oaths the Carbonari might be, so large an organization could not be wholly concealed; but while its existence was known to the sovereigns of Europe, its danger was not appreciated. Ferdinand, however, was in great fear of them; and his police director, Canosa, employed spies and money for their detection. His agents not only joined the society, but they stirred up dissension within it. Canosa established an opposition to the Carbonari in the secret society of the Calderari, or Tinkers, who also had their rites and oaths, and swore to befriend the Bourbons.

Had the Carbonari been blessed with a prudent and able leader, no limit can be placed to what they might have accomplished, having imbibed the revolutionary spirit, after being goaded to desperation by centuries of frightful oppression; but wanting such a leader all sorts of theories and disagreements sprung up in their lodges. Doubts and jealousies existed where confidence and good feeling alone could avail. They knew how actively Canosa pursued them, and they distrusted each other, in spite of the terrible fate which hung over a Carbonaro who violated the ironclad oaths he had taken.

Even the astute Metternich, when he made a progress through the kingdom in 1817, failed to apprehend the full significance of the society of the Carbonari. He perceived their want of union and their need of a leader. He argued that as they had accomplished little they would die out if left to themselves; and for a long time this seemed to be true. There were occasional petty outbreaks; a few arrests were made, and all was quiet.

Ferdinand and the Pope fulminated decrees against all secret societies; the king threatened their leaders with death, and the pontiff declared the Carbonari irreligious and worthy of extreme punishment. To this the Carbonari replied with the question, “Was not the Christian Church a secret society from the time of its origin until Constantine’s victory over Maxentius?”

At length, five years after Ferdinand’s return, the fire which had smouldered was blown into a blaze by the news that the King of Spain had granted a constitution to the rebels who demanded it; and on July 2, 1820, a revolution was inaugurated at Nola, which so alarmed the king that in four days he guaranteed a constitution to his subjects. On the same day Ferdinand made Francis, Duke of Calabria, his regent, with full power. On July 7 Francis issued a decree promising to adopt the Spanish Constitution; and to allay the suspicions of the people, the king made a proclamation ratifying the acts of his son.

Guglielmo_Pepe

On July 9 General Pepe, who had long been a Carbonaro, led the entire army and the Carbonari through the streets of Naples in a triumphal procession. The royal family appeared on a balcony of the palace, wearing stars in the Carbonari colors, which the Duchess of Calabria had made. The regent received General Pepe, and led him to the bedside of the king, who was feigning illness. Ferdinand thanked Pepe the real head of the Carbonari, who had feared arrest but four days before, and now knelt to kiss the old king’s hand for having done a great service to his king and his country, and gave him the supreme command of the army. The wretched Ferdinand then thanked God that he had permitted him to do this noble work in his old age.

Pepe left this audience raised to a height which made him a target for envy and jealousy. He was not the wise and dauntless man that the needs of the hour demanded, and the disturbances among his followers soon proved that the training of secret societies is not an adequate preparation for the leader of a great political movement.

However, on July 13, when Ferdinand heard Mass in the royal chapel, and before the altar, with his hands on the Bible, in the presence of the court, the Junta, and the generals, took the following oath, the people could but believe him sincere, and rejoice accordingly:

“‘I, Ferdinand of Bourbon, by the grace of God and by the Constitution of the Neapolitan monarchy, King of the Two Sicilies, with the name of Ferdinand I., swear, in the name of God and on the Holy Evangelists, that I will defend and preserve the Constitution. Should I act contrary to my oath and contrary to any article in this Constitution, I ought not to be obeyed; and every act by which I contravened it would be null and void. Thus doing, may God aid and protect me, otherwise may he call me to account.’ He then prayed: ‘Omnipotent God, who with thine infinite gaze readest the soul and the future, if I lie or intend to break this oath, do thou at this instant hurl on my head the lightnings of thy vengeance.’ Again he kissed the Bible, and meekly said to General Pepe, ‘General, believe me, this time I have sworn from the bottom of my heart.'”

Such is the account which Poggi gives of this scene, which was made even more impressive by the repetition of the oath by the regent and his brother, the Prince of Salerno. The old king then embraced his sons and blessed them, while tears were plainly seen running from the eyes of these three Bourbons, magnificent actors as they were.

The Carbonari exulted; they paraded the streets in uniform; their orators made public addresses; thousands hastened to join their ranks, and vendite were established everywhere. Social barriers were broken down; men hitherto divided by impassable chasms exchanged grips and watchwords. Even the Church seemed to pardon and accept what it had cursed so recently. A celebration was granted the Good Cousins; and when they had filled a church a priest blessed them, while other priests joined the procession, wearing rosaries and poniards, and carrying tricolored banners.

During the summer a much more orderly condition than had existed for a long time was maintained in the kingdom of Naples; the credit of this was accorded to the Carbonari, whose customs also changed the appearance of the people. Beards and hair seemed greatly to thrive under the summer sun, and the barbers were left without an occupation. In point of fact, the various parties, the king and viceroy, the Bourbonists and Republicans, were no more harmonious in feeling than formerly, but each deemed it prudent to be quiet and await events.

The first constitutional Parliament was opened on October 1, in the church of Santo Spirito; and it takes on vast proportions when we reflect that it was the first representative body of constitutionally elected Italians that met in this century, which has since brought so many changes to all Italy. . . .

Meantime the sovereigns of Europe, angry at the existing conditions in Naples, met and consulted each other at Troppau, where Metternich was the ruling spirit, and decided to ask Ferdinand to join them at Laybach. It is said that Ferdinand had begged this invitation, and it is certain that he had written Metternich that he desired to leave Naples; he also besought the interference of Austria to restore him to the throne and re-establish his despotism. The Parliament consented to the king’s journey to Laybach, stipulating only that before his departure he should renew his oath to the Constitution. This he did in writing, and volunteered a promise that in case the other monarchs would not consent to the wishes of the Neapolitans, he would return to make common cause with them. The king sailed on December 14, with the Carbonari ribbons fluttering on his cowardly breast.

The Laybach conference resulted as might have been foretold by any statesman. The Austrian army entered Naples by the Capuan Gate, March 23, 1821, and thousands of men were hastening to be rid of the long hair and beards of the Carbonari; the barbers alone profited by the success of Ferdinand and Metternich. . . . . .

After the Austrian occupation of Naples, Ferdinand remained at Florence, and consulted Prince Canosa on the policy now to be followed. The real conflict had not been between the Neapolitans and their actual oppressors; it had been the conflict of the awakening desire for freedom with European autocracy, as represented at the Congress of Laybach. As yet the time was not ripe; the new thought was not strong enough to cope with the old. The revolution of the Carbonari would have failed had their leaders been a hundred fold greater and better than they were. Having been overpowered, they must be punished and made an example to intimidate all men who dared to dream of freedom.

The sovereigns at the Congress had advised a firm but clement treatment, which seems like a satire on their part if they understood the nature of the beast, Ferdinand, while the mention of mercy to Canosa was sufficient to render him furious; he considered it a privilege to be the instrument of wrath, and was only satisfied by its extremest indulgence. Every promise and treaty that Ferdinand had made were broken, and all men who had been suspected of a wish for a change of government since 1793 were proscribed. The leaders of the revolt who had been honored in the previous July by Ferdinand and the Duke of Calabria were now denounced as traitors; no assembly of any kind was permitted, even the educational institutions being closed. All imaginable horrors ensued; the low creatures who were base enough to turn against their late confederates were made judges; the accused were not permitted to face their accusers; sentences were pronounced by a single judge, and no appeal allowed; spies were everywhere; search was made without warrant, and even the secrets of the confessional were divulged; the bells tolled for executions without ceasing, and public scourging was revived by Canosa. This frusta had been so long disused that the oldest living men had forgotten it, and the young had not heard of it. . . . .

All over the kingdom the reign of terror was fully established; and the Austrian officers, being suspicious of all Neapolitans, so filled the prisons that the speediest processes for executions were devised in order to make room for new victims. At first the prisoners were from the lower classes; but when Canosa asked Ferdinand if he could punish without restriction, the king answered in one word, “Punish.” General Colletta and many other prominent officials were sent to Austrian prisons; men who were innocent of any political action feared to remain at home, so unjust were the punishments, and feared to flee as that would expose their families to untold persecution. Violent measures were instituted against books which inculcated a love of freedom, and severe punishments were inflicted upon those who possessed them. Many of these were secretly destroyed, while others were carried to the Piazza Medina to be burned, and a heavy duty was put on foreign publications.

Relying upon the protection of the Austrian soldiers, Ferdinand returned to Naples. His entrance was celebrated with magnificence, and flattering addresses were made to him by those who feared to do otherwise. We can but think that he realized that those who flattered would gladly have stabbed him; ever after this day he used every possible precaution to protect himself from violence. He at once gave the care of the public education into the hands of the Jesuits, and was most punctilious in his religious observances. He made a present of 200,000 ducats to the commander of the Austrian forces, but showed no mercy to any Neapolitans, unless the occasional change of the death sentence to the living death of the galleys could be called merciful.

On the name-day of the king, May 30, he issued a general pardon to all his subjects except the soldiers and Carbonari who had been engaged in the late revolution; these were seized in a day, and the so-called “Monteforte trial” begun. Its details cannot be given here. It lasted three months, and resulted in most cruel punishments to those Italians who had made the first organized struggle for liberty. The king passed the short remnant of his days in fear for his life, torturing his people by his tyranny, and daily adding to his infamy. . . . .

On the morning of Jan. 4, 1825, the king was found dead, the condition of his bed and the appearance of his body showing that the death struggle had been fierce and long. At first the people could not believe that such good news could be true, and many so manifested their joy that they were arrested and punished as promptly as the new king was proclaimed.

NapoliSanFrancescoDaPaolaFacciataSan Francesco di Paola, Naples
(Source: Wikimedia)

When the length of Ferdinand’s reign is considered, the public works which are associated with it are utterly insignificant. He gave the name Museo Reale Borbonico to a museum already established, and built the uninteresting church of S. Francesco di Paola. The Piazza del Plebiscito was constructed during his reign; and his equestrian statue erected there the horse by Canova and the rider by Cali serves to remind the present generation of the tyranny from which it has escaped. Many streets and roads were laid out and improved between 1759 and 1825; but it is not possible to say precisely what was due to each of the sovereigns and regents who were in authority during those sixty-six weary years.

Francis I (1825-1830)

There was little to be hoped from the reign of Francis
I., who was already well known to the Neapolitans. He was more cunning and cruel than his father, if that were possible, and his reign of five years may be dismissed in a paragraph. He left the kingdom in a worse state than he found it. The people, sunk in poverty and superstition, lived in dread of the scaffold and the foreign soldiers, while the aristocracy pursued a life of vice and pleasure. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that this king was not happy during an hour of his reign. He sufficiently appreciated his treachery to the Liberals to inspire him with an abject fear of their revenge. He dared not pass through the streets until assured of safety by the minister of police, and he so dreaded poison that he would eat no food unless prepared and tasted in his presence by Catherine de Siinone, a low chambermaid.

The Porto Militare was begun by Francis in 1826, but has been so much enlarged and improved that it can now by no means be considered a monument to his reign.

Politically, the Neapolitan kingdom was a dependant of Austria, and year after year incurred an enormous debt for the support of the army of its ruler. In 1827 this debt had reached the sum of 74,000,000 ducats. As time brought still greater burdens and miseries to the Liberals, and their want of union and sufficient organization restricted them as with an iron hand, their discontent and determination also increased. Their best men were acquiring greater wisdom, and all were gaining in energy, while awaiting a new turn of the wheel of fate, which should bring the occasion for the conflict which must come between the Italians and the tyrants.

Ferdinand II (1830-1859)

It was natural that each new king should be welcomed by a people who constantly hoped for a better government, and Ferdinand II. was received with enthusiasm. He was young, and they believed him to be of a kindly nature; at least he could assume that bearing. He dismissed the unworthy creatures who had surrounded his father, and abolished certain of his extravagant customs; he permitted the soldiers to wear moustaches; he remitted the poll-tax, and instituted other reforms, which so commended him to his people that they called him “the new Titus.”

The Liberals so rejoiced in what they believed him to be that they even proposed that he should join them, and become the sovereign of all Italy. To this he replied that it was impossible, as he “should not know what to do with the Pope.”

Francesco_Saverio_del_CarrettoFrancesco Saverio del Carretto
(Source: Wikimedia)

But alas! the veil of couleur de rose in which he had enfolded himself soon dropped off, and it was seen that he cared for no reform that did not increase his power and prestige. He remodelled the army, and appointed many new officers. He made the memory of Ignatius Loyola a field-marshal, and paid the salary of the position to the Jesuits. He selected despicable men for his advisers. His confessor, Monsignor Cocle, used his office for his own ends, and endeavored to control the king, as did Delcarretto, the minister of police. By flattery and by indulging the worst traits of Ferdinand’s nature, each one succeeded in turn. Offices were openly bought and sold, and all departments of the public service were full of corruption. Delcarretto made his son of ten years a bank treasurer with a salary of 6,000 ducats; and when these abuses were reported to the king, he seemed to be simply amused by them.

At the same time he displayed great anxiety for the public morals. He published severe edicts against immoral women, apparently that they might pay enormous bribes to be let alone. He prescribed unbecoming costumes for the ballet-dancers, in order to make them less attractive and dangerous than they had sometimes proved to the young Neapolitans. His own manners were extremely rude. He is said to have pulled a stool away just as the queen was about to sit on it, and to have laughed immoderately when she fell to the floor. She exclaimed, “I thought I had married a king, not a lazzarone.” He amused himself in the most undignified ways, frequently caning the legs of an attendant in order to see him hop about in pain.

When the Liberals rightly understood the king’s character, many conspiracies were formed, even that of killing him; but there was always a traitor who disclosed these plots, and the indescribably filthy and cruelly managed prisons were crowded with those who were simply suspects, as well as those known to be plotters. In a word, the confessor and the police director ruled the king, and thus ruled the kingdom. But prison bars could not fetter thought nor daunt the free-thinkers; the principles which Joseph Mazzini had formulated in his cell at Savona, and to which he had given life in the Society of Young Italy–Italia Giovine–although slow in their effect, especially on the debased Neapolitans, were still ruling the hearts and shaping the lives of thousands; . . . . . Mazzini was a Carbonaro; but his broad views impelled him to formulate a creed looking to the union of all Italy. . . . . .

In 1836 the cholera broke out in the Neapolitan kingdom, and raged with great violence during the following year. In Naples alone, 13,800 perished in five months. . . . . .

Meantime the conduct of the king and his advisers had destroyed all the hopes that had centred in him. While mentally more vigorous than his predecessors, he was equally cruel and selfish, and it was plain that so long as the autocrats of Europe would support him, he would rule by corruption and barbarity . . . . Ferdinand affected a rigid personal morality, and ruled his household accordingly. He was one of those who

“Compound for sins they are inclined to,
By damning those they have no mind to.”

Ferdinand IIFerdinand II
(Source: Wikimedia)

His chief sin was avarice. He hesitated at nothing that could increase his wealth; he reduced his people to the lowest depths of ignorance rather than pay for an education which might make them more difficult to govern; and the censorship of the press in the hands of Delcarretto made repression easy and complete.

In June, 1844, the plot of the Bandiera was revealed to the Neapolitan government through the despicable act of Sir James Graham, who opened Mazzini’s letters, betrayed their contents, and added to his cowardly conduct by reclosing the letters and sending them to Mazzini. Thus, when the conspirators landed in Calabria, they were met by a spy sent for that purpose, who betrayed them to the police.

But from the nine murdered bodies crowded into a single grave, and the eight living men cast into a foul dungeon to rot alive, an influence went forth through all Italy such as tyrants cannot afford to ignore. The story of their heroism, as they went to their execution singing,

“Chi per la patria muore,
Ha gia vissuto assai;”

“He who for his country dies,
Has already lived long enough;”

and that of the undaunted courage of Lupatelli, who found himself standing alone above the corpses of his companions when the smoke of the first volley cleared away, and in a ringing voice called out, “Fire again!” was repeated in undertones from one man to another from the Bay of Naples to the Alps, and from the east to the west of all Italy. These tales aroused such a flame of enthusiasm for the cause in which these men had died as no Bourbon and Metternich combined could ever extinguish.

A new influence which was quietly permeating all Italy emanated from the writings of Mazzini, Gioberti, Balbo, D’Azelio, and Galeotti, which by one method and another made their way past all censors and inspectors, and reached the hands of the people, who were thus cheered and encouraged in their determination to resist their tyrants.

In June, 1846, when Pius IX. came to the papal throne, he declared a general amnesty for all political offenders. Ferdinand did not permit the publication of this amnesty in Naples. He allowed no honor to be shown to Pius by his people; he forbade the sale of prints or busts of the Pope, and printed eulogies of Pius had to be smuggled across the frontiers and read in secrecy. Reverently to name the Vicegerent of Heaven exposed a Neapolitan to suspicion and arrest.

In 1847 events marched rapidly all over Italy, and the King of Naples suffered agonies of apprehension; and in spite of all that he could do, including the bombardments which gave him his title of King Bomba, he was compelled, in 1848, to give the Neapolitans a Constitution. Ferdinand acted his part well, always intending to betray his people at the earliest opportunity; and those who had scarcely ceased cursing him now shouted his praises vehemently. On February 24, in the church of S. Francesco di Paola, the king swore to defend the Constitution, which guaranteed his people freedom of the press, trial by jury, ministerial responsibility, parliamentary representation and institutions. The young men applauded Bomba, but the older men remembered that this same solemn ceremony and sacred oath had been turned into a farce by the grandfather of this Ferdinand. . . . . .

The confusion that reigned was epitomized in a sentence by Charles Poerio, when he resigned from the cabinet. “Among the people which shouts, the king who deceives, and the ministers who do not know what they are doing, there is no place for an honest man.”

We cannot trace the story of these days step by step; but the overpowering interest of this period, all over Italy, cannot be overestimated. The whole Neapolitan Peninsula was in a state of exaltation and hope, never before known. The northern Italians and the Venetians were now one with the Neapolitans in their determination to expel the Austrians from their country; and a beautiful vision of Italy, free and united, rose before all patriotic eyes. Alas that it was but a mirage, albeit a prophetic one, to become reality only after long years of brave endurance and patriotic heroism.

Ferdinand could not ignore the War of Independence, and on April 7 he issued a manifesto declaring his determination to work with his might for the liberation of Italy. He called himself Italiano e soldato, an Italian and a soldier, and despatched a regiment to join the Tuscans, while he secretly did everything in his power to frustrate the plans of the patriots. He constantly found means to delay the departure of troops, and in the end sent less than a third of the 40,000 he had promised.

Meantime the Neapolitan elections were held, and Parliament was to be opened on May 15. An uneasy feeling prevailed among all classes. The Liberals did not trust the king, and he was exulting in the thought that his day of triumph was not far distant. His agents lost no opportunity to arouse the suspicions and passions of the people. The soldiers were told that a constitutional government should have no need of an army, while the press so abused the soldiers that they were frequently insulted, and an absolute feud was created between the army and the people. Other agents of Bomba told the people that their religion was in danger, since the Liberals were as inimical to the Pope and the Church as to the king. On the day of S. Januarius the miracle did not take place as usual; only after a long delay and great anxiety was this favor of Heaven vouchsafed. Thus, as May 15 approached, great excitement prevailed in all classes, and the few true patriots who had hoped for a better government suffered untold anxieties. Difficulties arose about the form of oath to be taken; but finally, late on the evening of the 14th, Bomba consented that the Parliament should be opened the next day, and the oath omitted until the united Legislature should decide upon its form.

But the king clandestinely ordered out the troops, and his agents incited the people to construct barricades; these were soon thrown up along the Toledo, and other preparations made for defence. The deputies attempted to quiet the people with the news that the king had granted their request. They then petitioned the king to withdraw the troops, but he replied that it was not possible so long as the barricades remained.

In the morning the deputies assembled at Mont-Oliveto, and sent a proclamation to be signed by the king according to his promise of the preceding evening. Bomba had again changed his mind; in fact, he was secretly preparing to leave Naples. Some of his effects were already on board his ships, and he only delayed his departure in order to attend a Mass to the Virgin.

Suddenly a shot was heard from the barricades, which is believed to have been fired by a servant of Bomba’s uncle; and at once the royal guards began firing on the people. The national guards discharged their guns in return, and a battle ensued between the royal and national troops. The red flag, the signal of war, was hoisted on the castles, and their guns fired on the city. The contest soon became a massacre, in which old and young, men, women, and children, were slaughtered alike. In the palace Bomba suffered the keenest alarm until assured of the success of his schemes. Then his courage revived, and when the ministers begged him to stop the carnage and order his troops to their quarters, he replied: “The time for clemency is past, and the people must now render an account for their actions.”

The troops surrounded the palace in which the deputies were assembled, and threatened them with death, in answer to which they sent requests for the cessation of the massacre to the authorities of Naples and to the French admiral, whose ships were in the port. At evening a message from the king desired them to withdraw; this they refused to do without a written order, after which they were threatened with forcible removal. They then drew up a dignified protest against the monarch “who had attacked the rights of the elected of the nation by fire and sword, had stifled liberty, and betrayed the Constitution.”

The most terrible slaughter continued. Human beings of all conditions were dropped into wells, thrown from windows, and stabbed in their beds; many, but half murdered, perished in their burning houses. The Palazzo Gravina was sacked and burned, and the Lazzaroni went from house to house, carrying off whatever they wished of their contents, and then setting them on fire. A search for Saliceti was perseveringly made, the assassins saying that they had promised his head to Bomba, while members of the national guard were shot in the fosse of Castel Nuovo. From the moment that the king felt himself to be the master, he devoted his energies to lopping off every offshoot of liberalism. The full terrors of his vengeance were not known until years later, when Mr. Gladstone called this period of Bourbon government “the negation of God.” In the end the former tyranny, with all its worst features, was re-established.

A second election took place, and Parliament met only to be prorogued without results, and finally adjourned to February, 1849. On November 27, the king and royal family, with 1,400 soldiers, proceeded to Gaeta to welcome Pius IX., who had fled from Rome after desert- ing the national cause, and now sought protection from Bomba, who, together with Cardinal Antonelli, completely ruled his Holiness. A week later Carlo Poerio wrote:

“Our misery has reached such a climax that it is enough to drive us mad. Every faculty of the soul revolts against the ferocious reactionary movement, the more disgraceful from its execrable hypocrisy. . . . The laws have ceased to exist; the statute is buried; a licentious soldiery rules over everything, and the press is constantly employed to asperse honest men. . . . Another night of St. Bartholomew is threatened to all who will not sell body and soul. We deputies are resolved to die in our places in Parliament rather than sacrifice the rights of the nation; our last cry will be for the freedom of our country; our blood will bear fruit.”

These conditions, and worse, existed until the people sank into an apathy induced by their helpless discouragement. After the Austrian victory at Novara in March, 1849, Bomba felt himself secure in his place, and resumed the infliction of such cruelties as we are weary of reciting. The true story of the barbarism of Bomba and his tools, in the middle of the nineteenth century, could not be believed was it not attested to by men whose truth cannot be doubted. Fortunately, many patriots escaped into exile, and were able to keep the desire and determination for liberty alive in the hearts of the Neapolitans until a leader, or rather a savior, should arise who could guide them to freedom.

It is a curious and interesting fact that the battle of Novara, which apparently tightened the Austrian fetters more surely than ever on Italy, should also have conferred the power to act on Victor Emmanuel, that last Duke of Savoy, who came to the throne of Sardinia under the shadow of a great humiliation, but was destined to accomplish a glorious work for his country, and to die the first king of United Italy. . . . . .

Francis II (1859-1861)

We return to Naples, and to the circumstances which led to the union of that kingdom with the government of Sardinia and Central Italy. King Bomba survived Novara ten years, and died in 1859. He was succeeded by his son, Francis II., another genuine Bourbon. To him Count Cavour proposed an offensive and defensive alliance with Piedmont; this the king declined, adhering to the Austrian alliance with the obstinate stupidity of his race.

It is doubtful if the part which Victor Emmanuel and Cavour took in promoting the union of Naples with the rest of Italy has yet been fully understood. No exact history of political events of such importance is likely to be written in the century in which they occur. There were excellent reasons against their appearing as the chief promoters of this movement, and yet they must have fully sympathized with the Sardinian Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said to the Neapolitan Minister of Finance, “Either you or I must go; there is not room for both of us in Italy.”

GaribaldiGaribaldi
(Source: Library of Congress)

But let the interior historical truth be what it may, it is a delight to re-read the story, and imagine the experiences of those days when Garibaldi entered Naples triumphantly and put Francis II. to flight before the forts had been surrendered to him or the army of the cowardly king had been defeated. There is no doubt that this army could have driven Garibaldi and his “thousand of Marsala” into the sea; but without encountering an enemy Garibaldi reached Naples, and on September 7, 1860, drove slowly through the streets in an open carriage, passing beneath the guns of the Castel Nuovo, while the gunners awaited the order to fire on the intruders, an order that was never given. Delightful as the romance of
the story thus related is, a second thought proposes several questions. Would Garibaldi have taken such foolhardy risks had he not known that the Neapolitans were ready to welcome him, that the king’s troops were at Gaeta, and that Victor Emmanuel and his army were ready to give him all necessary support?

The government of Naples was not overcome; it fell to pieces like the card house of the child: it had no supports. From the king to the lowest official all were corrupt, demoralized; and the people were too degraded to have opinions to defend. The few intelligent Neapolitans were but too anxious that their peninsula should make a part of the New Italy, and all who thought at all believed that submission to Garibaldi was the first step towards being ruled by Victor Emmanuel. All this, seen from today [1894], does not lessen the heroism of Garibaldi in making his attack; he could not have known that he could march from Marsala to Naples with but a single skirmish. He could neither have anticipated nor hoped that the Swiss regiments and the Neapolitan soldiers would be but men of straw before his red-shirted followers, and his action was that of a brave and unselfish patriot. Conqueror as he was, Garibaldi might have followed a course which would have brought still other miseries to the debased and pitiable Neapolitans. A less loyal and honest nature than his would have been sorely tempted in his position. There were those, among whom was Mazzini, who wished him to declare a Republic at Naples, an act which could have brought no benefits, and would have delayed the unification of his beloved Italy.

The king having fled, the government devolved on Garibaldi, whether he would or no. He declared himself Dictator; and as soon as this was known, adventurers and Red Republicans flocked about him in large numbers. Great as had been the misrule of Naples, it had never been more deplorable than during the Dictatorship of Garibaldi, and nothing now seems more absurd than his demand for a continuance in office for two years, and the dismissal of Count Cavour from his position at Turin. The wisdom of Cavour and Victor Emmanuel brought about an immediate convocation of Parliament, and a vote for the annexation of the Two Sicilies to the Kingdom of United Italy without delay.

By the time that this was accomplished other circumstances had arisen which made it impossible for Garibaldi, had he wished it, to oppose the decisions made at Turin. Francis II. , after taking refuge in the fortress of Gaeta, was inspired by the courage of his young queen to attempt resistance to Garibaldi. His troops were massed at Gaeta and Capua; and insufficient as their action was, with no competent general to command them, they were yet too formidable a foe for Garibaldi to overcome. The Neapolitans afforded him no support; his curious volunteer army gradually diminished when the siege of Capua gave it real work to do; and but for the advance of the Sardinian army, the Dictator’s position would soon have been hopeless.

Three weeks after Garibaldi entered Naples, Ancona surrendered to the army of Victor Emmanuel. The king at once proceeded to that city, and issued a proclamation to the people of the Two Sicilies, informing them of his immediate approach. Taking command of his troops, and crossing the Tronto, he advanced to the Bay of Naples with no other hindrance than that of the almost impassable roads. He was received joyfully. At Teano Garibaldi met him, and in spite of the embarrassments that must have existed for both of them, they entered Naples on November 7, and drove through the city, side by side, in an open carriage. But Garibaldi well knew that the enthusiasm of their reception was awakened by the presence of the king; and early next morning he quietly sailed for Caprera, his island home, asking only that the officers of his forces should have the same rank in the royal army that they had held in his. For himself he refused the honors which the king would gladly have conferred on him.

Victor Emmanuel left Naples before the New Year. The fall of Gaeta and the surrender of the other fortresses completed the annexation of the Two Sicilies to the Italian Monarchy, and from that time there has been but one sovereign and one court in all Italy. Thus has the desire of Manzoni been fulfilled:

“No more let place be found where barriers rise to sever
Italian from Italian soil henceforth forever!”