Author Topic: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina  (Read 192458 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 #60 on: May 16, 2010, 11:11:27 PM »
I've gone through The Queen of Naples and Lord Nelson again.... the author said Maria Carolina offended many people with her 'laudable schemes for the welfare of her people' because she undertook many reforms too soon but that her rule was generally regarded as good until 1790. It also said that she never bothered to know what the people wanted but trusted on her own judgement and that of a few ministers. Then when maintaining soldiers and navy personnel in the 1790s became too expensive for Naples' economy, she made use of the people's money ('secret despoliation') at the banks and was found out!    

It also says that she engaged in a 'systematic duplicity' regarding her husband..... perhaps that's why Ferdinand of Naples lost all confidence and any good feelings for her later on.  :-\
« Last Edit: May 16, 2010, 11:34:41 PM 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 #61 on: May 17, 2010, 10:32:33 AM »
It would be interesting to hear what the 'systematic duplicity' consisted of.  Ferdinand seems to have been perfectly happy not to have taken any interest in the details of government and become irritated and unhappy with the Queen only when her efforts against the French failed and the Bourbons were thrown out of Naples.  In that respect, Maria Carolina would hardly have neede to decieve Ferdinand.

With regard to the money, would either the King or Queen have regarded the finances of the kingdom as 'the people's' money?  I would have thought that they would have considered it as the revenue of the government, of which they were the head, and entitled to spend it for the benefit of the kingdom on whatever they thought was appropriate.  No doubt the maintenance of the army and navy was expensive - it certainly is to any state in this day and age - but the expression of dissatisfaction that Maria Carolina was despoiling the banks in 'secret' sounds the sort of thing either her personal opponents or the opponents of autocratic government would have said, rather than something Maria Carolina would have actually done.  She might well have tried to raise loans from Neopolitan banks privately and even tried to renege on the loans or reduce the terms of borrowing (though I have no evidence to suppose she did any of this), but it's certainly not unknown to governments even today! 

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #62 on: May 17, 2010, 10:17:52 PM »
It would be interesting to hear what the 'systematic duplicity' consisted of.  Ferdinand seems to have been perfectly happy not to have taken any interest in the details of government and become irritated and unhappy with the Queen only when her efforts against the French failed and the Bourbons were thrown out of Naples.  In that respect, Maria Carolina would hardly have neede to decieve Ferdinand.

Thanks!  :)  I share your view on this.  

Sorry, the correct term should be 'systematic hyprocrisy' rather than 'systematic duplicity' although hypocrisy and duplicity are, of course, synonymous.... From Chapter 2 of the book The Queen of Naples and Lord Nelson, Volume 1:

It was Maria Caroline's intention to treat her husband as though she loved him passionately, and to do her utmost to make him think her a devoted wife. To attain to the largest possible authority over the Two Sicilies, was the purpose for which she was journeying to Naples. To win this largest possible authority she must rule her husband. To rule him she must make him believe himself to be greatly beloved by her. This child (for in years she was still only child) saw that, under certain conceivable circumstances, it would devolve upon her to do daily violence to her feelings by acting with systematic hypocrisy towards her husband,—even by deceiving him at every turn, in order to keep him well in hand.

With regard to the money, would either the King or Queen have regarded the finances of the kingdom as 'the people's' money?  I would have thought that they would have considered it as the revenue of the government, of which they were the head, and entitled to spend it for the benefit of the kingdom on whatever they thought was appropriate.  No doubt the maintenance of the army and navy was expensive - it certainly is to any state in this day and age - but the expression of dissatisfaction that Maria Carolina was despoiling the banks in 'secret' sounds the sort of thing either her personal opponents or the opponents of autocratic government would have said, rather than something Maria Carolina would have actually done.  She might well have tried to raise loans from Neopolitan banks privately and even tried to renege on the loans or reduce the terms of borrowing (though I have no evidence to suppose she did any of this), but it's certainly not unknown to governments even today!  

Well...It is hard to say what is the monarch's money from public funds. I am sure MC had money through her dowry money. Francesco II was able to live comfortably through his mother(Maria Cristina of Savoy's) dowry that was released back to him by his distant cousin Victor Emmanuel of Savoy, later king of Italy and the proceeds from the sale of Farnese's palace in Rome.

Maria Carolina didn't use the money to her personal use, although she claimed or made it appear that she was 'patriotic enough' to sell and pawn her jewels to pay for whatever was needed to protect Naples.  :)

On the money she needed to maintain the army and navy in the 1790s, it seems that she made use of the people's private funds deposited at the banks.  Chapter 12 of the same book:

To provide for the maintenance of these forces on  land and sea, she was under the necessity of imposing heavy taxes on all orders and classes of her subjects; and, when the increased taxes proved inadequate to her expenditure, she laid recourse to the desperate  expedient of issuing fictitious paper money, in the form of notes on the seven national banks. In doing  so, without taking the depositors into her confidence on the subject, the ruling woman dealt with the  property of private individuals in a way that may be fairly described as 'secret despoliation'

The case against her would be still worse, could it be proved  that, whilst the costs of her government were to her  knowledge being paid with the money drawn thus surreptitiously from her subjects, she caused it to be  understood by the public, that the excess of her expenditure over her revenue was met by the private  wealth of the crown. It has been alleged that she told people about her, how she had sold or pawned her jewels for the necessities of the country, and shone with paste at the court-galas.

For gambling in this fashion with the resources of her subjects, Maria Caroline was severely punished.  On discovering how the money had been raised for the excesses of expenditure, the people exclaimed bitterly against her deceit, hypocrisy and rapaciousness. In  their rage, the defrauded depositors even spoke of the Queen, the King and Acton, as having robbed the  banks for their own private enrichment. The financial policy, which brought countless people to poverty, made the Queen a score of enemies for every  person, whose hatred she had earned by her previous policies.


Yes, I also couldn't understand why she couldn't get loans for such - most likely it was harder to do so in times of war - or resort to real paper money like Maria Theresa did. But what she did was shocking, even more than the so-called  'systematic hyprocrisy' she was said to practice on her husband.  The author of the book John Cordy Jeaffreson seemed quite fawning over MC (he even claimed that she liked her husband's looks!) and made a great effort in trying to disprove the greatest slanders against her, and also cites Colletta, the author of Storia di Naples, as also mentioning this despoiling of private funds.  :(
« Last Edit: May 17, 2010, 10:42:31 PM 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 #63 on: May 17, 2010, 10:51:58 PM »
Sorry, the phrase Storia di Naples should read Storia di Napoli instead on the last paragraph in the post above.

I think it's understandable why Maria Carolina was anxious to spend so much on the army and navy; after all, it was to protect Naples and its people as well.  But the method she resorted to was quite questionable, I don't think even an absolute monarchy in place could justify it.   The motive was quite necessary and good, though.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2010, 11:02:47 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #64 on: May 18, 2010, 10:18:50 AM »
I think MC deal with the problem the only way she knew how. It is easy to critize her now, but one must realise her situation as an alien in a strange land. I do not think Ferdinand resented being "handled" while his needs for amusements (sex and  hunting among them)  were being taken care of.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #65 on: May 18, 2010, 08:25:01 PM »
I don't know how much weight the alien factor had in this situation; after all, Maria Carolina had been in Naples for 26 long years by 1794 and presumably had done a lot of good with her 'laudable schemes for the welfare of her people' although she also encountered criticisms in doing so (because apparently her schemes harassed the interests of certain sectors of society, which of course was natural effect in setting new policies).  

Pietro Colletta who wrote Storia di Napoli said of her regarding this matter: 'state necessity, the instincts of despotism, the ease with which the money could be obtained, and the hope of replacing the missing sum before before it could be discovered, and finally, the  belief entertained by all absolute monarchs that the property as well as the lives of subjects belongs to  them, were reasons enough for extending a rapacious hand towards the deposits'.  

I may have found one reason for MC's deteriorating relationship with her son-in- law and nephew Emperor Francis in the early 1800s... it seems that MC wanted some territorial compensation for all the help Naples did in the coalition against France. 
« Last Edit: May 18, 2010, 08:42:53 PM 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 #66 on: May 19, 2010, 04:49:57 AM »
While Pietro Colletta is undoubtedly correct as to Maria Carolina's removal of the neopolitan gold, he has drawn some rather unfair conclusions - that it was somehow a corrupt and illegal proceeding.  However, a modern parallel can be drawn in the withdrawal of the Norwegian national treasury which went with King Haakon VII into exile at a time of war, and some of it was used to buy weapons and finance operations against the Germans.  That of course was done with the agreement of the Norwegian government, in a much more democratic way, but nevertheless it was a similar situation in which the undemocratic but legitimate government of Naples, in the form of Maria Carolina with the agreement of the absolute ruler Ferdinand, acted in precisely the same way.  Colletta was on the opposing side to the Bourbons, who threw him in prison at one stage, and eventually exiled him, so he was rather likely to take the dimmest view of the proceedings.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #67 on: May 28, 2010, 04:34:27 AM »
Okay, note to self: get Harold Acton's book on the Bourbons of Naples soon!  ;)  That might help in determining Maria Carolina's friendships and loyalty.

Has anyone read on Maria Carolina's pastimes/hobbies/interests, aside from reading and the Enlightenment?  
« Last Edit: May 28, 2010, 04:56:16 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #68 on: May 28, 2010, 05:28:47 AM »
She likes to read and prefers German food than Italian dishes.  ;)

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #69 on: May 29, 2010, 04:42:11 AM »
Why didn't Maria Carolina like Italian food? Or did she just think that German was superior in every way to the Neapolitan ways? 

I've recently read her sister Maria Amalia was part of the famous "Maria Triumvirate" (which of course includes Maria Carolina and Marie Antoinette), who was very much German in manners and in arrogance. I guess the same description could be applied to MC and Marie Antoinette (although I'm not very sure how MA remained German in her ways, certainly she could be arrogant at 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 #70 on: May 31, 2010, 05:15:17 AM »
Quote
Why didn't Maria Carolina like Italian food? Or did she just think that German was superior in every way to the Neapolitan ways? 

I think one should remember that to a girl of sixteen, made to marry a young man of no great attractions, living in a strange country and in strange surroundings after never having left Austria before, speaking a foreign language, and incessantly pregnant, the food of her home country may well have seemed one of the few anchors which she could hang on to without reproach - when people she knew such as maids and ladies and gentlemen in waiting were not encouraged to stay or were sent back to Vienna.  I've felt the same on a (thankfully) few occasions when I've been in a foreign country where I'm not sure what the food described on the menu is, and I'm tired and hungry and seen a MacDonald's - providing food I would never dream normally of eating, but I know what the food is and it's a sort of respite from all the foreigness. 

Eric_Lowe

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #71 on: May 31, 2010, 09:37:49 AM »
Yes. I agree that clinging on to German food is one of her ways of coping on a foreign land. However it seems her sister Maria Amalia like Italian food more than MC. Also I agree with Princess Michael of Kent on a good personal bio should include what sort of food people like (for example MC like galerto, while Pauline Bonaparte like light pasta), what type of clothes they like (satin, silks, velvets or tulle), books they read (Vicky read Karl Marx) and places they visit. It brings the story to life.

Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #72 on: May 31, 2010, 03:05:10 PM »
Yes. I agree that clinging on to German food is one of her ways of coping on a foreign land. However it seems her sister Maria Amalia like Italian food more than MC. Also I agree with Princess Michael of Kent on a good personal bio should include what sort of food people like (for example MC like galerto, while Pauline Bonaparte like light pasta), what type of clothes they like (satin, silks, velvets or tulle), books they read (Vicky read Karl Marx) and places they visit. It brings the story to life.

I agree - though it's not always easy to extract this information from the literature we have about these people, which is often so dry.  It is interesting that once she too had been dragged off, kicking and screaming (metaphorically speaking) to Italy like her sister, Maria Amalia seemed to acclimatise in certain respects more readily than her sister Maria Carolina.  Though on the general note of tastes, Maria Amalia didn't seem very interested in books, or even clothes after a while, but threw herself into country pursuits.  Maria Carolina seemed to feel country pursuits were a good way to get her husband out of her hair.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #73 on: May 31, 2010, 10:24:57 PM »
I've never thought of German food being some sort of comfort to Maria Carolina but it is possible...... she seemed quite unsentimental to me, even with her seemingly utter devotion to some people.

So, MC also liked to ride horses? I haven't read of any country pursuits yet except walking.....

How do you find Stefan Zweig (best known, I think, for his book on Marie Antoinette) as an author?  This relates to one of my earlier posts.... that I haven't read anything yet on MC helping Marie Antoinette 1789-1793 except have some talks with Leopold about how they can rescue their sister. I reread a few portions of said book last night and Zweig claimed in his book that Louis XV and MA wanted to get a few millions on loan from the courts of Austria, England, Spain, and Naples  (before their disastrous flight to Varennes) but not one of the courts loaned them any money....... If true, I  must say MC's devotion to her sister, despite her protestations of love, confuses me because Zweig said it was Count Fersen who (solely) came up with money by mortgaging 2 of his estates for 600,000 livres (and even borrowed 3,000 livres from his valet to add to the funds). I think it was also Zweig also claimed Fersen was never repaid, even partially, by any of the Bourbon courts later on. So I don't know what to think about MC about this matter. Although he was wrong in claiming that none of the surviving Habsburgs showed him gratitude to trying to save Marie Antoinette (Maria Amalia did and Fersen wrote about how moved he was about it). 
« Last Edit: May 31, 2010, 10:27:27 PM 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 #74 on: June 03, 2010, 04:34:49 AM »
Harold Acton, in The Bourbons of Naples writes very briefly that due to her sister's treatment, Maria Carolina wanted to make a complete break from revolutionary France (i.e. cut off all diplomatic communication, trade etc.), but was prevented from doing this by Ferdinand.  If in this instance Maria Carolina was unable to sway Ferdinand, it would not have been possible for her to commit sufficient funds from the royal treasury or her personal jewels (again difficult to turn into cash if her husband vetoed this) to effectively undermine the French government by procuring the escape of their prisoner - and I assume she would have needed a lot of money to carry out an escape (Fersen spent his whole fortune on his abortive escape plan, I believe, and he was very rich).  Moreover, even if she had managed to get some money together, she would have had to try to obtain Marie Antoinette's escape not using any established Neopolitan network of agents in France (as this would have been forbidden by Ferdinand) but via persons she could trust to work independently in a foreign country (and there wouldn't have been many of them).  Such personal agents would have needed more time probably than Marie Antoinette had, to learn about possibilities of bribing guards, setting up a more effective escape route, etc. - and this in the teeth of what must have been much more effective guarding than previously.  I think it was a much greater job than just raising enough money - and Maria Carolina did not have the backing in this case of the head of state.  If he wouldn't allow her to raid the treasury, or sell her jewels, or use official diplomatic (or unofficial government) channels to help her sister, she was pretty much stymied.  Ferdinand, when push came to shove, was the ruler and his views prevailed.