The Kingdom of Naples briefly became a republic in 1799.
|Status||Client state of France|
|Common languages||Central Italian, Southern Italian|
|Government||Presidential directorial Republic|
|Historical era||French Revolutionary Wars|
• French invasion
|21 January 1799|
• Sicilian invasion
|13 June 1799|
|Currency||Napoletan tornese, Napoletan carlino|
The Parthenopean Republic (Italian : Repubblica Partenopea) was a semi-autonomous Republic located within the Kingdom of Naples and supported by the French First Republic. The republic emerged during the French Revolutionary Wars after King Ferdinand IV fled before advancing French troops. The republic existed from 21 January to 13 June 1799, collapsing when Ferdinand returned to restore monarchial authority and forcibly subdued republican activities.
On the outbreak of the French Revolution King Ferdinand IV of Naples and Queen Maria Carolina did not at first actively oppose reform; but after the fall of the French monarchy they became violently opposed to it, and in 1793 joined the first coalition against France, instituting severe persecutions against all who were remotely suspected of French sympathies. Republicanism, however, gained ground, especially among the aristocracy.
In 1796, peace with France was concluded, but in 1798, during Napoleon's absence in Egypt and after Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile, Maria Carolina induced Ferdinand to go to war with France once more. Nelson himself arrived at Naples in September 1798, where he was enthusiastically received. The Neapolitan army had 70,000 men hastily summoned under the command of the Austrian general Karl Mack. On 29 November, this army entered Rome,which had been evacuated by the French, to restore Papal authority. However, after a sudden French counter-attack, his troops were forced to retreat and eventually routed. A contemporary satirist said of the king's conquest of Rome: "He came, he saw, he fled".
The king hurried back to Naples. Although the lazzaroni (the lowest class of the people) were devoted to the Bourbon dynasty and ready to defend it, he embarked on Nelson's Vanguard and fled with his court to Palermo in a panic. The prince Francesco Pignatelli Strongoli took over the city and the fleet was burned.
The wildest confusion prevailed, and the lazzaroni massacred numbers of persons suspected of republican sympathies, while the nobility and the educated classes, finding themselves abandoned by their king, began to contemplate a republic under French auspices to avoid anarchy. On 12 January 1799, Pignatelli signed in Sparanise the surrender to the French general Jean Étienne Championnet. Pignatelli also fled to Palermo on 16 January 1799.
When the news of the treaty with the French reached Naples and the provinces, the lazzaroni rebelled. Though ill-armed and ill-disciplined, they resisted the enemy with desperate courage. In the meantime, the Jacobin and Republican parties of Naples surged, and civil war broke out. On 20 January 1799, the Republicans under General Championnetconquered the fortress of Castel Sant'Elmo, and the French entered the city the next day. The casualties were 8,000 Neapolitans and 1,000 French.
On 21 or 23January 1799, the Parthenopean Republic was proclaimed. The name referred to an ancient Greek colony Parthenope on the site of the future city of Naples. The Republic had no real domestic constituency and existed solely due to the power of the French Army. The Republic's leaders were men of culture, high character and birth, such as Gennaro Serra, Prince of Cassano Irpino but they were doctrinaire and impractical, and they knew very little of the lower classes of their own country. The new government soon found itself in financial difficulties, owing to Championnet's demands for money (he was later relieved for graft); it failed to organise an army (and was therefore dependent on French protection) and met with little success in its attempts to "democratise" the provinces.
Meanwhile, the court at Palermo sent Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, a wealthy and influential prelate, to Calabria to organize a counter-revolution. He succeeded beyond expectation with his "Christian army of the Holy Faith" ( Esercito Cristiano della Santa Fede ). An English squadron approached Naples and occupied the island of Procida, but after a few engagements with the Republican fleet commanded by Francesco Caracciolo, an ex-officer in the Bourbon navy, it was recalled to Palermo, as the Franco–Spanish fleet was expected.
Ruffo, supported by Russian and Turkish ships under the command of Admiral Ushakov, now marched on the capital, whence the French, except for a small force under Méjean, withdrew. The scattered Republican detachments were defeated, only Naples and Pescara holding out.
On 13 June 1799. Ruffo and his troops reached Naples, and after a desperate battle at the Ponte della Maddalena, entered the city. For weeks the Calabresi and lazzaroni continued to pillage and massacre, and Ruffo was unable, even if willing, to restrain them. However, the Royalists were not masters of the city, for the French in Castel Sant'Elmo and the Republicans in Castel Nuovo and Castel dell'Ovo still held out and bombarded the streets, while the Franco-Spanish fleet might arrive at any moment. Consequently, Ruffo was desperately anxious to come to terms with the Republicans for the evacuation of the castles, in spite of the queen's orders to make no terms with the rebels. After some negotiation, the parties concluded an armistice and agreed on capitulation (onorevole capitolazione), whereby the castles were to be evacuated, the hostages liberated and the garrisons free to remain in Naples unmolested or to sail for Toulon. The capitulation was signed by Ruffo, and British, Russian and Turkish officers, as well as, for the Republicans, the French commander.
While the vessels were being prepared for the voyage to Toulon all the hostages in the castles were liberated save four; but on 24 June 1799 Nelson arrived with his fleet, and on hearing of the capitulation he refused to recognise it except insofar as it concerned the French.
Ruffo indignantly declared that once the treaty was signed, not only by himself but by the Russian and Turkish commandants and by the British captain Edward Foote, it must be respected, and on Nelson's refusal, he said that he would not help him to capture the castles. On 26 June 1799, Nelson changed his attitude and authorised Sir William Hamilton, the British minister, to inform the cardinal that he (Nelson) would do nothing to break the armistice; while Captains Bell and Troubridge wrote that they had Nelson's authority to state that the latter would not oppose the embarcation of the Republicans. Although these expressions were equivocal, the Republicans were satisfied and embarked on the vessels prepared for them. However, on 28 June, Nelson received despatches from the court (in reply to his own), in consequence of which he had the vessels brought under the guns of his ships, and many of the Republicans were arrested.Caracciolo, who had been caught whilst attempting to escape from Naples, was tried by a court-martial of Royalist officers under Nelson's auspices on board the admiral's flagship, condemned to death and hanged at the yard arm.
On 10 July 1799, King Ferdinand entered the bay of Naples on a Neapolitan frigate, the Sirena. At four o'clock that afternoon, he went aboard the British Foudroyant , which was to be his headquarters for the next four weeks.
Of some 8,000 political prisoners, 99 were executed, including Prince Gennaro Serra, who was publicly beheaded, and others, such as the intellectual Mario Pagano, who had written the republican constitution; the scientist, Domenico Cirillo; Luisa Sanfelice; Gabriele Manthoné, the minister of war under the republic; Massa, the defender of Castel dell'Ovo; Ettore Carafa, the defender of Pescara, who had been captured by treachery; and Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel, court-poet turned revolutionary and editor of il Monitore Napoletano, the newspaper of the republican government. More than 500 other people were imprisoned (222 for life), 288 were deported and 67 exiled.The subsequent censorship and oppression of all political movement was far more debilitating for Naples.
After these events were reported in Britain, Charles James Fox denounced Nelson in the House of Commons for the admiral's part in "the atrocities at the Bay of Naples".
Ferdinand I, was the King of the Two Sicilies from 1816, after his restoration following victory in the Napoleonic Wars. Before that he had been, since 1759, Ferdinand IV of the Kingdom of Naples and Ferdinand III of the Kingdom of Sicily. He was also King of Gozo. He was deposed twice from the throne of Naples: once by the revolutionary Parthenopean Republic for six months in 1799 and again by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805.
Sir John Francis Edward Acton, 6th Baronet was commander of the naval forces of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and prime minister of Naples under Ferdinand IV.
Jean-Étienne Vachier Championnet, also known as Championnet, led a Republican French division in many important battles during the French Revolutionary Wars. He became commander-in-chief of the Army of Rome in 1798 and of the Army of Italy in 1799. He died in early 1800 of typhus. His name is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.
The Kingdom of Naples, officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily, comprised that part of the Italian Peninsula south of the Papal States between 1282 and 1816. It was established by the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282–1302), when the island of Sicily revolted and was conquered by the Crown of Aragon, becoming a separate kingdom also called the Kingdom of Sicily. For much of its existence, the realm was contested between French and Spanish dynasties. In 1816, it reunified with the island of Sicily to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Fabrizio Dionigi Ruffo was an Italian cardinal and politician, who led the popular anti-republican Sanfedismo movement.
Guglielmo Pepe was an Italian general and patriot. He was brother to Florestano Pepe and cousin to Gabriele Pepe. He was married to Mary Ann Coventry, a Scottish woman who was the widow of John Borthwick Gilchrist, linguist and surgeon to the East India Company.
Maria Carolina of Austria was Queen of Naples and Sicily as the wife of King Ferdinand IV & III. As de facto ruler of her husband's kingdoms, Maria Carolina oversaw the promulgation of many reforms, including the revocation of the ban on Freemasonry, the enlargement of the navy under her favourite, John Acton, 6th Baronet, and the expulsion of Spanish influence. She was a proponent of enlightened absolutism until the advent of the French Revolution, when, in order to prevent its ideas gaining currency, she made Naples a police state.
Domenico Maria Leone CirilloFRS was an Italian physician, entomologist, botanist and patriot.
The history of Naples is long and varied. The first Greek settlements were established in the Naples area in the 2nd millennium BC. During the end of the Greek Dark Ages a larger mainland colony – initially known as Parthenope – developed around the 9-8th century BC, and was refounded as Neapolis in the 6th century BC: it held an important role in Magna Graecia. The Greek culture of Naples was important to later Roman society. When the city became part of the Roman Republic in the central province of the Empire, it was a major cultural center. Virgil is an example of the political and cultural freedom of Naples.
Museo di Capodimonte is an art museum located in the Palace of Capodimonte, a grand Bourbon palazzo in Naples, Italy. The museum is the prime repository of Neapolitan painting and decorative art, with several important works from other Italian schools of painting, and some important ancient Roman sculptures. It is one of the largest museums in Italy.
Prince Francesco Caracciolo was an Italian admiral and revolutionist.
Eleonora Anna Maria Felice de Fonseca Pimentel was an Italian poet and revolutionary connected with the Neapolitan revolution and subsequent short-lived Neapolitan Republic of 1799, a sister republic of the French Republic and one of many set up in the 1790s in Europe.
Sanfedismo was a popular anti-Republican movement, organized by Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, which mobilized peasants of the Kingdom of Naples against the Parthenopaean Republic in 1799, its aims culminating in the restoration of the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples under Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. Its full name was the Army of Holy Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and its members were called Sanfedisti.
In the Age of Revolution, the Lazzaroni of Naples were the poorest of the lower class in the city and kingdom of Naples, Italy. Described as "street people under a chief", they were often depicted as "beggars"—which some actually were, while others subsisted partly by service as messengers, porters, etc. No precise census of them was ever conducted, but contemporaries estimated their total number at around 50,000, and they had a significant role in the social and political life of the city. They were prone to act collectively as crowds and mobs and follow the lead of demagogues, and proved formidable in periods of civil unrest and revolution.
Luigi de' Medici was an Italian legal scholar and statesman, who served as prime minister of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. He belonged to the Neapolitan branch of the princely Florentine House of Medici, a cadet branch founded in 1567 by Bernadetto de' Medici after he acquired the vast fief of Ottaviano. A younger son of Giuseppe III de' Medici, Luigi de' Medici lived and worked through some of the most tumultuous periods of the Kingdom of Naples: straddling the final stages of the reactionary reforms of Sir John Acton; the short-lived Parthenopean Republic proclaimed in Naples by Napoleon in 1799; the Sanfedismo ; the retreat of the Bourbon court to Palermo under English protection after Napoleon took Naples a second time (1806); their restoration; and the eventual suppression of the Sicilian constitution and autonomy when the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily were unified into the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1816).
Vincenzo Russo was an Italian patriot, who was a leading supporter of the short-lived Parthenopean Republic. Captured by the Sanfedista forces, he was soon executed along with many other rebels of the Bourbon rule of Ferdinand IV of Naples.
Luisa Sanfelice is a 2004 Italian historical film directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. It stars Laetitia Casta and was co-produced between Italy and France. It is an adaptation of a book by Alexandre Dumas.
Ettore Carafa d'Andria, the Count of Ruvo was an Italian soldier and republican patriot, executed after the fall of the Parthenopean Republic. His courage, idealism, and resolute optimism created in Ettore an image of the Italian martyr for following generations involved in the struggle for more democratic structures and an Italian nation.
Gennaro Serra, Prince of Cassano was an Italian revolutionary and soldier, who fought for the brief Parthenopean Republic in Naples.
The Altamuran Revolution was a three-month period of self-government of Italian town Altamura, right after the birth of the Parthenopean Republic which ousted the Bourbons and the Kingdom of Naples. The city of the Kingdom of Naples was then defeated and taken by the so-called Sanfedisti, led by cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, after a battle on the city walls. After being defeated, most Altamurans managed to flee from Porta Bari, one of Altamura's main gates.