Author Topic: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina  (Read 182890 times)

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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #165 on: June 22, 2011, 08:24:54 AM »
I would agree that there wasn't much, if any, love in the marriage, right from the word go.  But I don't think either partner expected this - it was a contracted relationship and there were expected norms of behaviour which neither partner lived up to.  As a proper wife of her time, Maria Carolina should have deferred more to Ferdinand at least in appearance, and Ferdinand as her "husband & sovereign" and thus her natural protector should have supported her when the chips were down.  

That's right, it was a marriage for state reasons and neither partner also practiced friendship and tolerance in the long run-- the ideal combination for at least a "tolerable" royal marriage. I fully agree that in this case, Ferdinand could've been the bigger person (as Maria Carolina's protector) by displaying a bit of goodwill/support at the end. It entirely depended on him when everything has been said and done.    

As for her supposed high intelligence, I think she gave that impression because she was witty, liked to read and at least made an effort at her studies (unlike some of her siblings, namely Maria Elisabeth, Maria Amalia, Ferdinand,and Marie Antoinette; I'm not sure about Maria Johanna and Maria Josepha like the rest). Besides, people liked to flatter/exaggerate the traits of royals.  But unlike her sister Maria Anna (who was no doubt naturally very intelligent and scientifically inclined), she wasn't blessed with a phenomenal memory and very good concentration.  
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 08:55:03 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #166 on: June 23, 2011, 03:38:35 AM »
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As for her supposed high intelligence, I think she gave that impression because she was witty, liked to read and at least made an effort at her studies (unlike some of her siblings, namely Maria Elisabeth, Maria Amalia, Ferdinand,and Marie Antoinette; I'm not sure about Maria Johanna and Maria Josepha like the rest). Besides, people liked to flatter/exaggerate the traits of royals.  But unlike her sister Maria Anna (who was no doubt naturally very intelligent and scientifically inclined), she wasn't blessed with a phenomenal memory and very good concentration. 

We don’t know what Maria Anna would have done had she been in Maria Carolina’s position, so to compare their intelligence by comparing their interests seems a little unfair.  Maria Carolina was clearly not an intellectual but I don't think she was unintelligent.  She had poor people skills, but it wasn’t until Ferdinand was handed an excuse on a plate that he was able to send her away – had the British not used their political dominance it seems unlikely he would ever have done this himself.  And since she hung on until 1812, two years before her death, it was pretty good going – even Napoleon didn’t manage to hack it much longer and there was a great deal more on his side!  She was genuinely interested in the arts and commerce and actually did read books.  I do agree she made mistakes and certainly shared in the political repressions of her state but frankly, there was no regime that didn’t in the aftermath of the French revolution, not excluding Britain.  I agree she may not have been as intelligent as she has been credited with, but neither is there evidence to discredit it.  She could have done better – but she could have done much worse. 

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #167 on: June 23, 2011, 08:06:53 AM »

We don’t know what Maria Anna would have done had she been in Maria Carolina’s position, so to compare their intelligence by comparing their interests seems a little unfair.  Maria Carolina was clearly not an intellectual but I don't think she was unintelligent.  She was genuinely interested in the arts and commerce and actually did read books.  I agree she may not have been as intelligent as she has been credited with, but neither is there evidence to discredit it.  She could have done better – but she could have done much worse.  

Sorry, maybe I wasn't able to phrase what I said above (regarding Maria Carolina's intelligence compared to Maria Anna's) very well. I was not referring to Maria Anna's capacity to rule linked to her high intelligence. It was more of a comparison to the sisters' intelligence in general.  Maria Anna was said to be very intelligent and there's enough evidence for that.  Maria Carolina was also said to be very intelligent but there's not much evidence for that...Wit? Not really a sign of high intelligence. Liked to read? Yes, but how much was actually absorbed and applied? She had poor discernment, wrote messily, was not very good at languages, plotted for 8 years but couldn't get rid of Tanucci on her own (Mimi had to help her), and  referred to both by Joseph and Leopold as their crack brained sister (years before Marie Antoinette was killed when most authors claim "she lost her (great) mind"). That's why claims of her supposed high intelligence make me so skeptical.  I agree that she could've done better if only she improved her people skills; honestly, she seems so unstable to me. As for the possibility of MC doing much worse than she did, what could be worse than how everything came out in the end?

I also agree that she was intelligent to a certain degree but definitely not as high as many authors claim. Another sister whose supposed high intelligence also makes skeptical is Mimi... her writing was also quite messy although she was better than most of her siblings in French and Italian (not that her siblings were such experts, of course). Manipulative? Without a doubt, but that's not a great sign of being highly intelligent/intellectual, more like skillful in having influence and control. Other than that, I draw a **blank** as to why she was described as such.  It must be because her mother adored her and believed her to be...and many authors also exaggerate Maria Theresa's traits (believing she was so intelligent). So favourite daughter and second favourite daughter (MC) get the same "billing" as their mother?  Marianne was not a favourite but her intellectual gifts couldn't be denied..    

She had poor people skills, but it wasn’t until Ferdinand was handed an excuse on a plate that he was able to send her away – had the British not used their political dominance it seems unlikely he would ever have done this himself.

You certainly phrased it well. Maria Theresa also had poor people skills but at least no one could turn her away for she was the sovereign. It was different with MC... I mean, her husband, allies, and other close relations all turned against her.        
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 08:36:11 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #168 on: June 23, 2011, 11:15:49 AM »
I agree with you absolutely that Maria Carolina was not as intelligent as she has been depicted, and made many errors of judgement, especially in her relationships, both personal and political.  I feel however that the historical considerations of her seem to be biased one way or another - she is either the heroic, intelligent, witty antagonist of Napoleon, or the hysterical termagant who bullied her poor husband and forced him to institute repressive, pro-Austrian policies.  And of course she was probably neither exactly but somewhere in between. 

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #169 on: June 23, 2011, 12:28:37 PM »
Indeed. However Maria Theresa did gave her children a golden childhood and it was so hard for them to forget how much of it was due to the indulgences of their parents. Maria Antonia found it hard to deal with the French Etiquette after the freedom she had in Schonbronn. Not to mention during the family concerts, Mozart once kissed the Empress and asked for the hand of an archduchess (Maria Antonia, later Marie Antoinette) for marriage (in jest only of course). It portrayed a happy family as oppose to other royals at the time. MC was particularly loyal to Austria (even more so than her sisters). 

Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #170 on: June 23, 2011, 02:08:23 PM »
Maria Carolina certainly seems to have recalled her Viennese youth with affection.  Elizabeth, Lady Webster (later Lady Holland) wrote in her diary in 1793 of various meetings with her during a tour of France and Italy and recorded "The Queen was, as she always is, very conversable and clever, but appears to have a most impetuous temper....She was very flattering in her compliments to me, and shook my hand with cordiality....her reason for liking me that I had been in Vienna and knew many of her old friends."  Ferdinand was similarly taken with Lady Webster, though without the excuse of common Austrian friends, and she wrote, "The King was very pleasant and conversable....He was so gallant to me that they  [i.e. the Italian friends she was with] joked and said I would be sent to Calabria, the common way the Queen takes to remove her rivals...."

Although her husband was a brute and she got on very badly with him, Lady Webster managed to resist the King of Naples and several others and instead ran away with Lord Holland.  Here she is, painted by Robert Fagan at the time of her stay in Naples in 1793:



Offline Svetabel

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #171 on: June 23, 2011, 10:59:18 PM »
Dear posters

I have to remind you one more time: try to avoid repetitions. Your discussion is interesting but since post 162 (as always Mr Lowe said what he had said more than 3 times in old threads) has began repetition.
The old threads had been cleaned becouse of such things.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #172 on: June 24, 2011, 06:56:44 AM »
I feel however that the historical considerations of her seem to be biased one way or another - she is either the heroic, intelligent, witty antagonist of Napoleon, or the hysterical termagant who bullied her poor husband and forced him to institute repressive, pro-Austrian policies.  And of course she was probably neither exactly but somewhere in between.  

I agree, and I think a new biography of Maria Carolina should  be coming along in the next few years.  A balanced,  well-researched, insightful one, of course. I haven't read  Archduchess Catharina Maria's biography of Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) nor that of Marie Antoinette's but perhaps she can do one on Maria Carolina? I feel that someone in the Habsburg family would be able to come up with a balanced book, and she seems the best one for it (not that I know the family personally, of course). I'd be the among the first to buy it!

Indeed. However Maria Theresa did gave her children a golden childhood and it was so hard for them to forget how much of it was due to the indulgences of their parents.  MC was particularly loyal to Austria (even more so than her sisters).  

Maria Carolina certainly seems to have recalled her Viennese youth with affection.  Elizabeth, Lady Webster (later Lady Holland) wrote in her diary in 1793 of various meetings with her during a tour of France and Italy and recorded "The Queen was, as she always is, very conversable and clever, but appears to have a most impetuous temper....She was very flattering in her compliments to me, and shook my hand with cordiality....her reason for liking me that I had been in Vienna and knew many of her old friends."

Yes, it was said that Franz Stephan wasn't demanding on his daughters (only with his sons) regarding their studies. Maria Elisabeth and Maria Amalia both absolutely **refused** to study but seemingly got away with it as far as their father was concerned.  Maria Theresa was displeased but apparently couldn't do anything.  MT was stricter with the next girls, Maria Johanna and Maria Josepha.   A courtier bewailed the musicals and plays that the archdukes and archduchesses participated in, saying that the children (already naturally inclined to frivolity) were not given the proper opportunity and enough time to hone their minds instead.  We see some of the results!

I agree that Maria Carolina seemed to be sister who was most loyal to Austria. Marie Antoinette in the mid-1780s started to think more about whether it was proper (or not) for her to support Joseph II's demands. Maria Amalia was, more or less, into her own interests (and Parma's as well in some ways) and seemingly couldn't be bothered much by demands from Vienna.  I guess MC also recalled her years in Vienna with much pleasure because she had the unhappiest marital situation among the 3? Logically, if the years are the point of reckoning, it should be Amalia who should most likely feel that way, because she lived there for 23 years vs. MC's 16 years and MA's 15 years...  

Ferdinand liked Lady Webster? Wasn't Lucia Migliaccio already a lady in waiting to MC at that time or was that while they were in Sicily already?
 
Dear posters
I have to remind you one more time: try to avoid repetitions. Your discussion is interesting but since post 162 (as always Mr Lowe said what he had said more than 3 times in old threads) has began repetition.
The old threads had been cleaned becouse of such things.

Thank you, Svetabel. I'll keep your reminder in mind.  :)
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 07:13:57 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #173 on: June 25, 2011, 03:01:58 AM »
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Ferdinand liked Lady Webster? Wasn't Lucia Migliaccio already a lady in waiting to MC at that time or was that while they were in Sicily already?

They were in Naples, and Ferdinand's affairs were still controlled by Maria Carolina in that, as Lady Webster wrote, she banished any serious candidates to Calabria.  She also wrote to the effect that Maria Carolina didn't care about any peasants he slept with.  If Lucia Migliaccio had seemed a player at the time, she would no doubt have been given her marching orders.

Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #174 on: June 25, 2011, 07:05:40 AM »
Another visitor to Naples in 1803 was Katherine Wilmot, who was presented to the King and Queen though she never received any particular attention such as happened with Lady Webster.  "The Queen is a sturdy looking dame by no means elegant in her deportment, and trotted about in her black and blue robes, much more as if she was crying "tooky, tooky, tooky!" after her poultry, like a housewife, than a Queen doing the dignities of her drawing room" she wrote in a journal letter home.  "The King looks like an overgrown ass, tho' in his demeanour he is exceeding civil.  However, his face surpasses any abridgement of imbecility I ever saw in all my life, and the vulgar debauchee reigns triumphant throughout his Majestic exterior".  Of "The hereditary Prince", she wrote "Vulgar is no expression to apply to his appearance , for vulgarity becomes genteel within his presence.  He....[makes] a sort of noise like the braying of an ass.  His sisters are prettyish, thin and light hair'd, and glittering like all the court in diamonds...."

Katherine Wilmot was of Irish extraction and travelled to Italy with Lord and Lady Mount Cashel.  She was not however an avowed republican, unlike her friend Lady Mount Cashel (who had been one of the pupils of Mary Wollstonecraft), but was prepared to be fairly open-minded about royalty.  Both she and Lady Webster commented on Ferdinand's civility though clearly he was not as civil to Miss Wilmot as he was to Lady Webster! 

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #175 on: June 25, 2011, 12:10:13 PM »
I do wonder how much of MC's correspondence is actually in the public domain for study ? She wrote to her sisters in France, Parma and Vienna. Only snippets of them seem to be in books. That is the reason for so much speculation about her.

Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #176 on: June 25, 2011, 01:05:51 PM »
I do wonder how much of MC's correspondence is actually in the public domain for study ? She wrote to her sisters in France, Parma and Vienna. Only snippets of them seem to be in books. That is the reason for so much speculation about her.

I don't believe much remains of Maria Carolina's correspondence with her sisters in France and Parma, and I have no idea what is available in the Neopolitan archives, but presumably her correspondence with her mother in Vienna remains and would be in 'Briefe der Kaiserin Maria Theresa an ihre Kinder and Freunde (4 vols, 1881)'.  'Correspondance inédite de Marie-Caroline, reine de Naples et de Sicile, avec le marquis de Gallo', 1911, (Marzio Mastrilli, Marchese di Gallo, was the Neopolitan ambassador to Vienna) is available from Amazon.com in one of those reprint volumes if you read French and care to spend $44.  Boulay de la Meurthe produced 'Quelque lettres de Marie-Caroline, Reine des Deux-Sicilies' in 1888 and any volumes of correspondence covering Napoleon and Nelson, if complete, should contain letters she sent them.  Maria Carolina's correspondence with Emma Hamilton is contained in Raffaele Palumbo's 'Maria-Carolina, Regina delle due Sicilie, suo carteggio con Lady Hamilton', 1877.  So it would appear that there is quite a lot of Maria Carolina's correspondence available, providing you read in languages other than English.

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #177 on: June 25, 2011, 01:11:19 PM »
That would make sense, although I don't think Emma Harte (Lady Hamilton) was very well educated.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #178 on: June 26, 2011, 05:51:17 AM »
They were in Naples, and Ferdinand's affairs were still controlled by Maria Carolina in that, as Lady Webster wrote, she banished any serious candidates to Calabria.  She also wrote to the effect that Maria Carolina didn't care about any peasants he slept with.  If Lucia Migliaccio had seemed a player at the time, she would no doubt have been given her marching orders.

Thank you. I guess I was confused by some of the references that I read.

Another visitor to Naples in 1803 was Katherine Wilmot, who was presented to the King and Queen though she never received any particular attention such as happened with Lady Webster.  "The Queen is a sturdy looking dame by no means elegant in her deportment, and trotted about in her black and blue robes, much more as if she was crying "tooky, tooky, tooky!" after her poultry, like a housewife, than a Queen doing the dignities of her drawing room" she wrote in a journal letter home.  

This made me laugh!  Maria Carolina "fussing over" (imaginary) poultry!

"The King looks like an overgrown ass, tho' in his demeanour he is exceeding civil.  However, his face surpasses any abridgement of imbecility I ever saw in all my life, and the vulgar debauchee reigns triumphant throughout his Majestic exterior".  Of "The hereditary Prince", she wrote "Vulgar is no expression to apply to his appearance , for vulgarity becomes genteel within his presence.  He....[makes] a sort of noise like the braying of an ass.  His sisters are prettyish, thin and light hair'd, and glittering like all the court in diamonds...."

It sounds like a very unflattering view of Ferdinand and his eldest surviving son. I guess one of the reasons why Maria Carolina didn't seem to like her son Francis very much is that he was, in many ways, like his father!

I do wonder how much of MC's correspondence is actually in the public domain for study ? She wrote to her sisters in France, Parma and Vienna. Only snippets of them seem to be in books. That is the reason for so much speculation about her.

I don't believe much remains of Maria Carolina's correspondence with her sisters in France and Parma, and I have no idea what is available in the Neopolitan archives, but presumably her correspondence with her mother in Vienna remains and would be in 'Briefe der Kaiserin Maria Theresa an ihre Kinder and Freunde (4 vols, 1881)'.  
 

I agree that MC's letters to her sisters should provide very good insights on Maria Carolina the person and her relationship with her family from Vienna and  Naples. In Maria Amalia's case, her letters to friends and those of Ferdinand to his minister-friends prove to be very interesting and debunks, without any doubt, any claims that they had a very "bad" relationship. Or that it was that bad in the beginning either. On the contrary.....
 
There were letters found (perhaps 10 years ago) in Maria Amalia's hunting lodge/country villa. That was when a crystal container of her perfume was also found. It's quite surprising that the letters survived to this day intact and were not touched by either Napoleon's minions, Empress Marie Louise (who later owned the villa) or the subsequent noble family who bought the villa much later. I'm not sure what happened to the letters (hopefully they were turned over to Parma's archives or the Bourbon Parma family archives) and if they contained some copies of letters for Maria Carolina or those from MC. Some German historians state that they corresponded but so far no letters seem to extant to date or at least published. I think Alfred Arneth was quite a biased historian. I think he only featured 1 letter/reply of Maria Amalia to her mother in 'Briefe der Kaiserin Maria Theresa an ihre Kinder and Freunde' and compared to her siblings, I think this particular correspondence between mother and daughter were not featured much on it.   No doubt Maria Carolina was much more prominent. So far, I haven't come across any references to Maria Carolina as far as Maria Amalia's letters to her friends are concerned. I also think later on Maria Amalia was more inclined to her sister-in-law Maria Luisa of Parma (at least until the familial fight over Parma/Tuscany swap), with whom she also corresponded and also asked favours from.  Perhaps that's one reason why MC took quite a dislike to or at least became critical of Maria Amalia (being friendly to ML), among other things.

Maria Carolina corresponded with Maria Anna in Klagenfurt. She also gave donations to Maria Anna's convent. There seems to be no evidence that MC corresponded with Maria Elisabeth on a regular basis.    
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 06:19:17 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline trentk80

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #179 on: June 26, 2011, 08:06:28 AM »
Maria Carolina's letters to her friend Roger de Damas have also been published.

There's also a recently published book, 'Un anno di lettere coniugali : da Caserta, il carteggio inedito di Ferdinando IV con Maria Carolina', edited by Nadia Verdile (2008), which includes several letters written by Ferdinand to Maria Carolina between 1788 and 1789.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2011, 08:29:09 AM by trentk80 »
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