Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

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Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

Regno delle Due Sicilie  (Italian)
Regno d’’e Doje Sicilie  (Neapolitan)
Regnu dî Dui Sicili  (Sicilian)
Anthem: "Inno al Re"
("Hymn to the King")
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies within Europe in 1839.svg
Location of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies within Europe in 1839
Capital Palermo (1816–1817)
Naples (1817–1861)
Common languages Neapolitan
Molise Croatian
Gallo-Italic of Sicily
Gallo-Italic of Basilicata
Roman Catholicism
Government Absolute monarchy
(1816–1848; 1849–1861)
Constitutional monarchy
Ferdinand I (first)
Francis II (last)
 Edict of Ferdinand IV of Naples
12 December 1816
5 May 1860
17 March 1861
9,281,279 (1859/60)
Currency Two Sicilies ducat
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Bandiera del Regno di Sicilia 4.svg Kingdom of Sicily
Bandera de Napoles - Trastamara.svg Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Italy Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg
Today part of Italy
Croatia [a]
a. ^ The archipelago of Palagruža was part of the province of Capitanata.

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Neapolitan : Regno d’’e Doje Sicilie; Sicilian : Regnu dî Dui Sicili; Italian : Regno delle Due Sicilie; Spanish : Reino de las Dos Sicilias) [1] was a kingdom located in Southern Italy from 1816–1860. [2] The kingdom was the largest sovereign state by population and size in Italy prior to Italian unification, comprising Sicily and all of Peninsula Italy south of the Papal States, covering most of the area of today's Mezzogiorno.


The kingdom was formed when the Kingdom of Sicily merged with the Kingdom of Naples, which was officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily. Since both kingdoms were named Sicily, they were collectively known as the "Two Sicilies" (Utraque Sicilia, literally "both Sicilies"), and the unified kingdom adopted this name. The King of the Two Sicilies was overthrown by Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1860, after which the people voted in a plebiscite to join the Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia. The annexation of the Two Sicilies completed the first phase of Italian unification, and the new Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861.

The Two Sicilies were heavily agricultural, like the other Italian states. [3]


The name "Two Sicilies" originated from the partition of the medieval Kingdom of Sicily. Until 1285, the island of Sicily and the Mezzogiorno were constituent parts of the Kingdom of Sicily. As a result of the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282–1302), [4] the King of Sicily lost the Island of Sicily (also called Trinacria) to the Crown of Aragon, but remained ruler over the peninsular part of the realm. Although his territory became known unofficially as the Kingdom of Naples, he and his successors never gave up the title "King of Sicily" and still officially referred to their realm as the "Kingdom of Sicily". At the same time, the Aragonese rulers of the Island of Sicily also called their realm the "Kingdom of Sicily". Thus, there were two kingdoms called "Sicily": [4] hence, the Two Sicilies.


Origins of the two kingdoms

Cappella Palatina, church of first unifier Roger II of Sicily. Chapelle Palatine.jpg
Cappella Palatina, church of first unifier Roger II of Sicily.

In 1130 the Norman king Roger II 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 with the Maltese Islands. The capital of this kingdom was Palermo  — which is on the island of Sicily. [5] [6] [7]

During the reign of Charles I of Anjou (1266–1285), [8] the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282–1302) split the kingdom. [9] [10] Charles, who was of French origin, lost the island of Sicily to the House of Barcelona, who were from Aragon and Catalan. [10] [11] Charles remained king of the peninsular region, which became informally known as the Kingdom of Naples. Officially Charles never gave up the title of "The Kingdom of Sicily", thus there existed two separate kingdoms calling themselves "Sicily". [12]

Aragonese and Spanish direct rule

Crown of Aragon, greatest extent Imperi de la Corona d'Arago.png
Crown of Aragon, greatest extent

Only with the Peace of Caltabellotta (1302), sponsored by Pope Boniface VIII, did the two kings of "Sicily" recognize each other's legitimacy; the island kingdom then became the "Kingdom of Trinacria" in official contexts, [13] though the populace still called it Sicily. [4] [ better source needed ] In 1442, Alfonso V of Aragon, king of insular Sicily, conquered Naples and became king of both. [14] [15]

Alfonso V called his kingdom in Latin "Regnum Utriusque Siciliæ", meaning "Kingdom of both Sicilies". [16] At the death of Alfonso in 1458, the kingdom again became divided between his brother John II of Aragon, who kept the island of Sicily, and his illegitimate son Ferdinand, who became King of Naples. [17] [9] In 1501, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, the son of John II, agreed to help Louis XII of France conquer Naples and Milan. After Frederick IV was forced to abdicate, the French took power, and Louis reigned as Louis III of Naples for three years. Negotiations to divide the region failed, and the French soon began unsuccessful attempts to force the Spanish out of the peninsula. [18]

After the French lost the Battle of Garigliano (1503), they left the kingdom. Ferdinand II then re-united the two areas into one kingdom. [18] From 1516, when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor became the first King of Spain, both Naples and Sicily came under direct Spanish rule. [19] In 1530 Charles V granted the islands of Malta and Gozo, which had been part of the Kingdom of Sicily, to the Knights Hospitaller (thereafter known as the Order of Malta). [20] At the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 granted Sicily to the Duke of Savoy, [21] [22] until the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714 left Naples to the Emperor Charles VI. [23] In the 1720 Treaty of The Hague, the Emperor and Savoy exchanged Sicily for Sardinia, thus reuniting Naples and Sicily. [24] [25]


Unification of the Crowns

Ferdinand I Ferdinand IV of Naples.jpg
Ferdinand I

In 1735, during the War of the Polish Succession, Charles, Duke of Parma, defeated the occupying Austrians and became Charles III of Naples and Sicily. [26] [27] In 1759, Charles became King Carlos III of Spain and resigned Sicily and Naples to his younger son, who became Ferdinand III of Sicily and Ferdinand IV of Naples. [27] [28]

In January 1799, Jean-Étienne Championnet, a general of the French First Republic, captured Naples and proclaimed the Parthenopaean Republic, a French client state, as successor to the kingdom. [29] [30] King Ferdinand fled from Naples to Sicily. [31] The French Directory had not authorized Championnet to establish a republic, and recalled him to France. The Republic then collapsed in June 1799. [30] In an 1806 invasion, Napoleon, by then French Emperor, again dethroned King Ferdinand and appointed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as King of Naples. [32] In the Edict of Bayonne of 1808 Napoleon moved Joseph to Spain and appointed their brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, as King of the Two Sicilies, though this only meant control of the mainland portion of the kingdom. [33] [34] While Bonaparte and Murat were in power, Ferdinand remained in Sicily, with Palermo as his capital. [28] [35]

Murat remained in power and joined the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon in 1813. The coalition resulted in the defeat of Napoleon and his exile to Elba. When he escaped and took power for the Hundred Days, Murat again sided with Napoleon. He was soon executed, [36] [37] and the Congress of Vienna restored Ferdinand in 1815. [38] He established a concordat with the Papal States, which previously had a claim to the land. [39] [ better source needed ]

Joachim Murat Murat2.jpg
Joachim Murat
Joseph Bonaparte Ritratto di Giuseppe Bonaparte.jpg
Joseph Bonaparte

Early history

Under Joseph Bonaparte and Joachim Murat, Naples had undergone many reforms. Bonaparte refused to impose the Continental System on the peninsula, which promoted stability in the region. Laws were standardized and cataloged, finances were balanced, taxes were reorganized, education was improved, and the government was consolidated into a civil administration. Though Murat had attempted to strengthen the military, when Ferdinand returned to power, the region was essentially defenseless. [36] [40]

Expedition of the Thousand

Between 1816 and 1848, the island of Sicily experienced three popular revolts against Bourbon rule, including the revolution of independence of 1848, when the island was fully independent of Bourbon control for 16 months.

The end of the kingdom came only with the Expedition of the Thousand in 1860, led by Garibaldi – an icon of Italian unification – with the support of the House of Savoy and their Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. The expedition resulted in a striking series of defeats for the Sicilian armies facing the growing troops of Garibaldi. After the capture of Palermo and Sicily, Garibaldi disembarked in Calabria and moved towards Naples, while in the meantime the Piedmontese also invaded the Kingdom from the Marche. The last battles took place at Volturnus in 1860 and at the siege of Gaeta, where King Francis II (reigned 1859–1861) had sought shelter, hoping for French help, which never came. The last towns to resist Garibaldi's expedition, Messina and Civitella del Tronto, capitulated on 13 March 1861 and on 20 March 1861 respectively. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies dissolved and the new Kingdom of Italy, founded in the same year annexed its territory. [ citation needed ] The fall of the Sicilian aristocracy in the face of Garibaldi's invasion forms the subject of the novel The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and its film adaptation. [ citation needed ]

Historical population

YearKingdom of NaplesKingdom of SicilyTotalRef(s)
~7,420,000 [42]
~8,000,000 [41] [43]
18406,117,598~<1,800,000 (est.)7,917,598 [44]
18486,382,7062,046,6108,429,316 [43]
18516,612,8922,041,5838,704,472 [45]
18566,886,0302,231,0209,117,050 [46]
1859/606,986,9062,294,3739,281,279 [47]

The kingdom had a large population, at least three times as large as any other contemporary Italian state. At its peak, the kingdom had a military 100,000 soldiers strong, and a large bureaucracy. [48] Naples was the largest city in the kingdom and the third largest city in Europe. The second largest city, Palermo, was the third largest in Italy. [49] In the 1800s, the kingdom experienced large population growth, rising from approximately five to seven million. [50] It held approximately 36% of Italy's population around 1850. [51]

Because the kingdom did not establish a statistical department until after 1848, [52] most population statistics prior to that year are estimates and censuses undertaken were thought by contemporaries to be inaccurate. [41]



Departments and Districts of Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Suddivisione amministrativa del Regno delle Due Sicilie.png
Departments and Districts of Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

The peninsula was divided into fifteen departments [40] [53] and Sicily was divided into seven departments. [54] The island itself had a special administrative status, with its base at Palermo.[ citation needed ] In 1860, when the Two Sicilies were conquered by the Kingdom of Sardinia, the departments became provinces of Italy, according to the Rattazzi law.[ citation needed ]

Peninsula Capital
1 Coat of Arms of Abruzzo Ultra I (last version).svg Abruzzo Ultra I Teramo
2 Coat of Arms of Abruzzo Ultra (wings inverted).svg Abruzzo Ultra II Aquila
3 Coat of Arms of Abruzzo Citra.svg Abruzzo Citra Chieti
4 Coat of Arms of Contado di Molise.svg Contado di Molise Campobasso
5 Coat of Arms of Terra di Lavoro.svg Terra di Lavoro Capua,
Caserta from 1818
6 Coat of Arms of the Province of Naples (historical province).svg Province of Naples Naples
7 Coat of Arms of Principato Ultra.svg Principato Ultra Avellino [lower-alpha 1]
8 Coat of Arms of Principato Citra.svg Principato Citra Salerno
9 Coat of Arms of Capitanata.svg Capitanata originally San Severo,then Foggia
10 Coat of Arms of Terra di Bari.svg Terra di Bari Bari
11 Coat of Arms of Terra d'Otranto.svg Terra d'Otranto Lecce
12 Coat of Arms of Basilicata.svg Basilicata Potenza
13 Coat of Arms of Calabria Citra.svg Calabria Citra Cosenza
14 Coat of Arms of Calabria Ultra.svg Calabria Ultra II Catanzaro
15 Coat of Arms of the Province of Reggio-Calabria.svg Calabria Ultra I Reggio
Insular Capital
16 Caltanissetta-Stemma.png Caltanissetta Caltanissetta
17 Provincia di Catania-Stemma.svg Catania Catania
18 Girgenti Girgenti
19 Messina Messina
20 Noto Noto
21 Palermo Palermo
22 Trapani Trapani
  1. The city of Benevento was formally included in this department, but it was occupied by the Papal States and was de facto an exclave of that country.[ citation needed ]



Industry was the largest source of income if compared with the other preunitarian states[ citation needed ]. One of the most important industrial complexes in the kingdom was the shipyard of Castellammare di Stabia, which employed 1800 workers. The engineering factory of Pietrarsa was the largest industrial plant in the Italian peninsula[ citation needed ], producing tools, cannons, rails, locomotives. The complex also included a school for train drivers, and naval engineers and, thanks to this school, the kingdom was able to replace the English personnel who had been necessary until then. The first steamboat with screw propulsion known in the Mediterranean Sea was the "Giglio delle Onde", with mail delivery and passenger transport purposes after 1847.

In Calabria, the Fonderia Ferdinandea was a large foundry where cast iron was produced. The Reali ferriere ed Officine di Mongiana was an iron foundry and weapons factory. Founded in 1770, it employed 1600 workers in 1860 and closed in 1880. In Sicily (near Catania and Agrigento), sulfur was mined to make gunpowder. The Sicilian mines were able to satisfy most of the global demand for sulfur. Silk cloth production was focused in San Leucio (near Caserta). The region of Basilicata also had several mills in Potenza and San Chirico Raparo, where cotton, wool and silk were processed. Food processing was widespread, especially near Naples (Torre Annunziata and Gragnano).


The kingdom maintained a large sulfur mining industry. In industrializing Britain, with the repeal of tariffs on salt in 1824, demand for sulfur from Sicily surged upward. The increasing British control and exploitation of the mining, refining, and transportation of the sulfur, coupled with the failure of this lucrative export to transform Sicily's backward and impoverished economy, led to the 'Sulfur Crisis' of 1840, when King Ferdinand II gave a monopoly of the sulfur industry to a French firm, violating an earlier 1816 trade agreement with Britain. A peaceful solution was eventually negotiated by France. [55] [56]


Rail lines of the Italian Peninsula in 1861 Italia ferrovie 1861.03.17.png
Rail lines of the Italian Peninsula in 1861
Rail lines in Italy in 1870 Italia ferrovie 1870 09 20.png
Rail lines in Italy in 1870

With all of its major cities boasting successful ports[ citation needed ], transport and trade in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was most efficiently conducted by sea. The Kingdom possessed the largest merchant fleet in the Mediterranean. Urban road conditions were to the best European standards[ citation needed ], by 1839, the main streets of Naples were gas-lit. Efforts were made to tackle the tough mountainous terrain, Ferdinand II built the cliff-top road along the Sorrentine peninsula. Road conditions in the interior and hinterland areas of the kingdom made internal trade difficult. The first railways and iron-suspension bridges in Italy were developed in the south, as was the first overland electric telegraph cable[ citation needed ].

Technological and scientific achievements

The kingdom achieved several scientific and technological accomplishments, such as the first steamboat in the Mediterrean Sea (1818), [57] [58] built in the shipyard of Stanislao Filosa al ponte di Vigliena, near Naples,[ citation needed ] and the first railway in the Italian peninsula (1839), which connected Naples to Portici. [59] However, until the Italian unification, the railway development was highly limited. In the year 1859, the kingdom had only 99 kilometers of rail, compared to the 850 kilometers of Piedmont. [60] This was because the kingdom could count on a very large and efficient merchant navy, which was able to compensate for the need for railways. Also, southern landscape was mainly mountainous making the process of building railways quite difficult, as building railway tunnels was much harder at the time.[ citation needed ] Other achievements included the first volcano observatory in the world, l'Osservatorio Vesuviano (1841), [61] [62] . The rails for the first Italian railways were built in Mongiana as well. All the rails of the old railways that went from the south to as far as Bologna were built in Mongiana. [ citation needed ]


Kings of the Two Sicilies

In 1860–61 with influence from Great Britain and Gladstone's propaganda, the kingdom was absorbed into the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the title dropped. It is still claimed by the head of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies.

Titles of King of the Two Sicilies

Francis I or Francis II, King of the Two Sicilies, of Jerusalem, etc., Duke of Parma, Piacenza, Castro, etc., Hereditary Grand Prince of Tuscany, etc. [63]

House of Bourbon in exile

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. [ when? ]

Flags of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies

Description of the arms appearing in the flag. Corrections: the upper part of the block marked "Flanders" is Burgundy Ancient; Burgundy Modern (as it is called in English; shown here as New Burgundy) includes a red-and-white border; the block marked "Aragon Two Sicilies" is only for Sicily proper (the other "Sicily" being the Angevin kingdom of Naples). Arms of the flag of two sicilies.png
Description of the arms appearing in the flag. Corrections: the upper part of the block marked "Flanders" is Burgundy Ancient; Burgundy Modern (as it is called in English; shown here as New Burgundy) includes a red-and-white border; the block marked "Aragon Two Sicilies" is only for Sicily proper (the other "Sicily" being the Angevin kingdom of Naples).

Orders of knighthood

Further reading

See also

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Further reading