Author Topic: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina  (Read 178445 times)

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Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #195 on: August 04, 2011, 06:36:08 AM »
Bendinck was there as the military leader of the British forces which were allied with the sovereign of the Two Sicilies against Napoleon.  The British government were uninterested in Ferdinand's government except insofar as it supported the alliance although it did not wish to be involved in activities against the Sicilian 'parliament' which it (and Bentinck) misunderstood and believed to be something similar to the then current British setup of essentially aristocratic rule (and this should equally not be misunderstood today as anything really equivalent to modern democracy, although the British romanticised it as at least aiming that way).  Bentinck certainly found Maria Carolina his strongest opponent in his aim of introducing this type of government to Sicily and constantly accused her of plotting against 'the British' by which he meant himself.  He however was able to offer no proofs which Acton was able to unearth and if Maria Carolina had been plotting against him, it hardly ranks as plotting against 'the British' - indeed she had worked very successfully with the Hamiltons and Lord Nelson.  But essentially the area of operations was too much out of the main frame of British interests to make the British government wish to interfere too much as long as Bentinck was holding the line against the French (at which he wasn't brilliantly successful but actions elsewhere eventually helped).  Ferdinand opposed Bentinck by bowing out of the government for a time, refusing to see either his wife or Bentinck (but corresponding with Maria Carolina - hence she kept her influence over him as this was much easier on him than her actual presence) and actively resented the attempts of a foreign representative to part the King from the Queen and thus grossly insult a foreign sovereign.  Their son Francesco, for some time Bentinck's preferred tool, also proved less malleable insofar as he did not wish to see his mother sent away from his father at the behest of a foreigner in this extraordinary way.  Bentinck was constantly representing Maria Carolina to his government as a hysterical, fury-driven and almost insane harridan who was plotting against them, and the distance and overall lack of compelling interest in the region ensured that the British allowed him to continue his activities as long as he wasn't actually doing anything to interfere with the main objective of driving Napoleon out.  Maria Carolina's deep unpopularity with the general populace of the Two Sicilies, which ensured she got a bad press despite Ferdinand's sincere support for her policies, could be an explanation of the archival information presenting this picture of her being sent away for plotting against the British.  After all, archival material in itself might well simply represent a certain viewpoint which might not have been correct - i.e. the common perception of the man or woman in the street who had no notion of what had really been going on.

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #196 on: August 04, 2011, 09:20:03 AM »
Indeed. Maria Carolina was "in the way" of Bentinck controlling Sicily completely. Like her sister Marie Antoinette, she was a victim here. However Ferdinand was tired of his wife at that point and didn't protest too much for her. In fact later he told his brother, King Charles IV of Spain that "it is much fun free without a wife" and led to the short separation between him and Luisa of Parma, who later died alone in Rome.

Offline trentk80

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #197 on: August 04, 2011, 12:36:23 PM »
I'm still confused as to why the Neapolitan state archives stated that MC was sent away after the discovery of a plot against her husband.

I have checked the website of the State Archives of Naples. There's a part with a brief overview of the history of the kingdom of Naples and indeed it states that Maria Carolina was expelled after it was discovered that she plotted against the king. Just because this information is found in the website of the State Archives of Naples doesn't necessarily mean that it's accurate. Here it is and you can read its sources at the bottom of the page:

http://patrimonio.archiviodistatonapoli.it/xdams-asna/public/application/jsp/infoAutherLemma.jsp?theDb=asnaAutherFamiglie&codeToFind=0000000266&nameToFind=

I haven't read these books so I don't know exactly where this statement comes from or how accurate these books are. That said, just because an article or book mentions a list of fine sources, it doesn't necessarily mean that the author made a good use of these sources. Some authors don't have time to read the whole books, so they just quickly search for what they want and skip the rest. Some authors read it all, but don't make a deep analysis. Some authors don't read or use some of the books mentioned in their bibliography, but still mention them just to give the readers the impression that their work is fine and well-researched with a large list of sources. Of course, not all authors do this, but it may happen and it has happened.

As for Harold Acton's 'The Bourbons of Naples', in my opinion it does a fine job in providing a general overview of the history of the Kingdom of Naples from 1734 to 1825, but it's outdated and, although engaging, the insight it provides is superficial.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 01:07:39 PM by trentk80 »
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #198 on: August 05, 2011, 03:40:42 AM »
Thank you again for your detailed and wonderful replies. I like learning more about Maria Carolina although I admit she isn't at the Top 5 of f my favourite royals now (she used to be). Earlier today at a bookstore, I saw a book on Emma Hamilton (Beloved Emma by Flora Fraser - I rather enjoyed her book on Caroline of Brunswick) but I wasn't sure if the book is good so I held off buying it... and I'd rather spend on books on royals.  Has anyone read it?

It's a shame that even resources from state archives couldn't be very much relied upon. Indeed, the author's insight and analysis play a very important role in writing a biography, not just facts. That said, I don't agree that Maria Carolina (or Marie Antoinette) was purely a victim. In some ways, yes, but her choices also shaped her ultimate fate.  

I hope a new book on Maria Carolina and/or Ferdinand will come out soon!
« Last Edit: August 05, 2011, 03:53:34 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #199 on: August 06, 2011, 11:42:09 AM »
Well...I think Maria Carolina did not have as much luck in a husband as Maria Amalia or Marie Antoinette (both husband evidently loved their wives in their own way). She drew the lot after her 2 sisters died in quick succession. I think of her as a victim of politics, but unlike the helpless Antoinette whose only way of coping was to escape into an artificial world of her creation (Hamlet, Petite Trianon...etc) rather than like Maria Carolina deal with the problem. MT was quite fair when she scold her youngest daughter of being "lazy", "while her sister the Queen of Naples had a more difficult situation than her". One really think if Ferdinand of Naples ever really loved her or just lusted after her. There is a fine line between lust & love. While Ferdinand can appreciate his wife's "fine bosom" & "milky arms", did he ever sought to understand her ? No I would not put too much blame on Maria Carolina especially in the earlier years. She had a job to do and all the tears shed would not have helped. With her sex appeal and willfulness, Maria Carolina was able to gain control of the kingdom as her mother would have expected. Not too much was written on how difficult it was to do the right thing for the kingdom and fulfill MT's approval and expectations.   

Offline trentk80

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #200 on: August 06, 2011, 06:22:05 PM »
I hope a new book on Maria Carolina and/or Ferdinand will come out soon!

I heard that a new Italian book on Maria Carolina is on the way, but it will probably take a few more years.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 06:31:02 PM by trentk80 »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #201 on: August 06, 2011, 09:43:37 PM »
I think it would be worth the wait. However Italian books have a limited amount of print.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #202 on: August 07, 2011, 06:06:02 AM »
One really think if Ferdinand of Naples ever really loved her or just lusted after her. There is a fine line between lust & love. While Ferdinand can appreciate his wife's "fine bosom" & "milky arms", did he ever sought to understand her ?

Oh, love had nothing to do with an arranged marriage like theirs.  It was job like you said.  Lust may have played its part but it didn't cement her hold over Ferdinand. She had to resort to unpleasantness to do that over the years. Let's turn the question back to you... if you were Ferdinand, would you be able to deal with or love Maria Carolina, who was neither beautiful, very intelligent nor very likable/ loveable? Not to mention rather abusive and intrusive.  I'm not sure either if she knew how to make up for her abuse, unless one counts her "seduction" to get what she wanted (rather selfish). It is rather hard to understand or like/love a character like Maria Carolina.

No I would not put too much blame on Maria Carolina especially in the earlier years. She had a job to do and all the tears shed would not have helped. With her sex appeal and willfulness, Maria Carolina was able to gain control of the kingdom as her mother would have expected. Not too much was written on how difficult it was to do the right thing for the kingdom and fulfill MT's approval and expectations.  

The early years, yes, were excusable. However, circa 1775 onwards were not. You seem to keep praising her willfulness, as if it were a good trait, but look at how her willfulness turned out to be her downfall. Smarter people know when to quit, and they quit when they were ahead.

No, Maria Theresa didn't give her full approval to Maria Carolina later on. She was very much ashamed at how MC so openly dominated her husband. I've read that she had to make excuses to Charles III of Spain about her and that in her desire "appease" him, she went ahead with the expulsion of the Jesuits. Charles III had a 3-way tie to Maria Theresa via Tuscany, Parma, and Naples.  Charles III seemingly had no major complaints about Tuscany so it was mainly done due to the situations in Naples and Parma.  Naples more like it, since Parma was only ruled by a nephew rather a son.  Charles III was seemingly keen to keep his hold over Naples, not much over Parma.

I heard that a new Italian book on Maria Carolina is on the way, but it will probably take a few more years.

That's great news, trentk80!  Please alert me when it's about to come out.... :)
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 06:18:47 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #203 on: August 07, 2011, 08:55:42 AM »
Not too much was written on how difficult it was to do the right thing for the kingdom and fulfill MT's approval and expectations.  

Which kingdom is this, Naples & Sicily?  As far I have read (not counting Acton's book, of course), Maria Carolina's rule of Naples & Sicily was not admirable. What "right things" did she do in her adopted land?
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #204 on: August 08, 2011, 08:26:54 AM »
Well...To put the kingdom under control, satisfy her husband and please MT at the same time. As for MT not satisfy with MC's control over her husband, that was just smoke and mirrors. MT was VERY satisfied that MC was able to dominate her husband (she once told someone she expected her daughters to rule). The problem was that she did not want it to be "so obvious" as to upset Charles III of Spain. MT was a total hypocrite as far as her dealings with her children are concerned. Frederick the Great famously said about MT's outrage on the division of Poland "the more she cry, the more she took". She did it again in the case of Madame Du Barry, and forcing her youngest daughter to set aside the high morals (whom she taught them) and speak to "the favorite". It is to be commended that even they saw through the inconsistencies of MT, but yet still try to do as she wished. I think Maria Amalia was the one who openly rebelled against this type of strict maternal control.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #205 on: August 08, 2011, 08:47:46 AM »
Leopold said their mother was also angry at Naples (i.e. Maria Carolina) for reasons I can't remember at this point.  That was in the late 1770s, I think. I've also read that  second favourite daughter Maria Carolina was not above receiving angry letters/criticisms from Maria Theresa so it seems that MT wasn't also fully satisfied with MC.

This is not the thread on Maria Amalia so I'll keep my reply short: her "rebelliousness" can clearly be seen in two contexts: 1) she didn't obey her mother because she fully supported her husband regarding Du Tillot; and 2) many of MT's accusations were not based on facts (either incomplete, false or partly false information) anyway, so why on earth would she change things?
« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 09:03:09 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #206 on: August 08, 2011, 08:54:56 AM »
Well...I think MT had a problem with dealing with her children when they are supposed to be grown up and independent. MT in the modern sense was a control freak, who does everything in the book to get her own way. I think MC was like that too, which why she understood her. However I don't think she could do it 24/7 and 100% all the time. MT was just too demanding. I read that her treatment of her "useless daughters" (Marianna & Maria Elisabeth) were even worse. No I do admire her courage to try to please her sometimes impossible mother. I think Queen Victoria was like that too.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #207 on: August 08, 2011, 09:09:37 AM »
Well...I think MT had a problem with dealing with her children when they are supposed to be grown up and independent. MT in the modern sense was a control freak, who does everything in the book to get her own way. I think MC was like that too, which why she understood her. However I don't think she could do it 24/7 and 100% all the time. MT was just too demanding. I read that her treatment of her "useless daughters" (Marianna & Maria Elisabeth) were even worse. No I do admire her courage to try to please her sometimes impossible mother. I think Queen Victoria was like that too.

Poor Maria Theresa, IMHO she was having some sort of a mental breakdown all those years. There is just something so sad about a great lady who had it all (well, almost all since no one's life is perfect) but who could not seemingly appreciate whatever good there was in her children and in her life. She was angry at the world at large. Sometimes I find myself admiring MT's children (except Mimi) because they all seemed to love their mother regardless of how they were treated, especially in the end.   Certainly, MT was rather fond of MC, she admitted that much to Mimi. MC probably tried to reciprocate.
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #208 on: August 08, 2011, 09:20:55 AM »
MC most certainly tried to do what is expected of her. She was the one that made the most martial alliances with her own Hapsburg family whenever there was an opportunity. I agree that MT was not a horrible mother, but tried to do what is right for her children & for her country as well. Sometimes they clash and then she put her country's interest above those of a mother. That itself is a recipe for a breakdown.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #209 on: August 11, 2011, 04:32:17 AM »
As for MT not satisfy with MC's control over her husband, that was just smoke and mirrors. MT was VERY satisfied that MC was able to dominate her husband (she once told someone she expected her daughters to rule).

What is (are) your source(s)  for this, Eric_Lowe? I reread Derek Beales' book on Joseph II, and it was said that Maria Theresa criticised the political activities of Maria Amalia, Maria Carolina and Marie Antoinette. It also stated that MT was displeased with Maria Carolina (as well as Maria Amalia and Marie Antoinette), that their behaviour caused deep concern in Vienna.

As for Harold Acton's 'The Bourbons of Naples', in my opinion it does a fine job in providing a general overview of the history of the Kingdom of Naples from 1734 to 1825, but it's outdated and, although engaging, the insight it provides is superficial.

I fully agree with this. I have just read 3 chapters of Acton's book, specifically on Maria Carolina's arrival until 1788/89, and the book is indeed quite superficial.  I didn't finish the chapters feeling Maria Carolina was such a victim either because Ferdinand, despite his horrible habits and childish pranks,  was not a total beast either and was actually more intelligent/insightful than I thought. Neither am I convinced that MC was such a brilliant ruler nor very intelligent because there was nothing in there that proved it.  Definitely, a more updated and insightful resource on Maria Carolina and Ferdinand is needed.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2011, 04:46:17 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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