Author Topic: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina  (Read 191715 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 #150 on: June 07, 2011, 05:31:47 AM »
Please ignore my last remarks - I had misread Marie Antoinette for Maria Amalia, a rather different kettle of fish!  But as a general observation, both sisters had access to court patronage, which was a common way of making an allowance go further - the purchase of government and court appointments was a standard means of raising more money which could supplement a personal allowance, but I don't know that either Maria Carolina or Maria Amalia misused that patronage in the way Marie Antoinette did.  Their political patronage in itself was considered reprehensible by Maria Theresa, not the buying and selling of court offices.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #151 on: June 07, 2011, 06:02:10 AM »
It certainly sounds like both were rather manipulative in their relationship - it's very interesting to see that Ferdinand was jealous when it suited him to be so.  Perhaps it was his way of trying to assert himself occasionally in the marriage when he felt his wife to be particularly dominant.  

I agree with both. And Ferdinand, despite what most authors claim that he was foolish or stupid, certainly used his (not inconsiderable) brain whenever he wanted to!

It's difficult to tell what the actual value of the allowances made to the two queens was.  Marie Antoinette never seemed to have enough money however much it was, Maria Carolina seemed to do all right on hers.  Of course both had access to court patronage, which was a huge resource, one which Marie Antoinette squandered on her friends such as the Princesse de Lamballe and the Polignac family who really had no need of it.   While Maria Carolina unquestionably had her political favorites, I don't think she channelled the resources at her disposal into personal favorites in the same way Marie Antoinette did.

Please ignore my last remarks - I had misread Marie Antoinette for Maria Amalia, a rather different kettle of fish!  But as a general observation, both sisters had access to court patronage, which was a common way of making an allowance go further - the purchase of government and court appointments was a standard means of raising more money which could supplement a personal allowance, but I don't know that either Maria Carolina or Maria Amalia misused that patronage in the way Marie Antoinette did.  Their political patronage in itself was considered reprehensible by Maria Theresa, not the buying and selling of court offices.


Yes, I figured you must've mixed up Marie Antoinette with Maria Amalia. :) Maria Amalia's critics said the court were filled with her favourites as ministers and other key persons.  That I have yet to read more about but she seemed to get along well with her husband's Italian (chief) ministers. Certainly, she pushed for important posts/apprenticeships for some of her godchildren (both in Parma and abroad), so I can't see her being shy about getting whoever she wanted appointed as such-and-such at her own court.

It's difficult to tell what the actual value of the allowances made to the two queens was.  Marie Antoinette never seemed to have enough money however much it was, Maria Carolina seemed to do all right on hers.  Of course both had access to court patronage, which was a huge resource, one which Marie Antoinette squandered on her friends such as the Princesse de Lamballe and the Polignac family who really had no need of it.   While Maria Carolina unquestionably had her political favorites, I don't think she channelled the resources at her disposal into personal favorites in the same way Marie Antoinette did.

I'm not an authority on old currency, did ducats have the same value everywhere? If it did, then certainly Maria Amalia's allowance was greater than Maria Carolina's when Amalia's was converted into ducats. Also, Ferdinand & Maria Amalia had their appanages in Spain, something that Maria Carolina (and her Ferdinand) did not seem to enjoy.   But however larger Maria Amalia's funds were (allowance from the duchy +  money from the appanages in Spain, which Ferdinand shared with her), it apparently wasn't enough for she had "money troubles". In this respect, MC was apparently better in handling money than Maria Amalia!
« Last Edit: June 07, 2011, 06:25:55 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 #152 on: June 10, 2011, 05:13:00 AM »
The memoirs of Maria Carolina (or at least, this was presented as such)...... in French by Robert Matteson Johnson (1867-1920); it seems to cover only her latter years, specifically in Sicily:

http://www.archive.org/details/memoiredemarieca00caro
« Last Edit: June 10, 2011, 05:17:12 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 #153 on: June 10, 2011, 08:03:24 AM »
The memoirs of Maria Carolina (or at least, this was presented as such)...... in French by Robert Matteson Johnson (1867-1920); it seems to cover only her latter years, specifically in Sicily:

http://www.archive.org/details/memoiredemarieca00caro

It is certainly interesting as a presentation of what could be Maria Carolina's view of the transactions of Lord William Bentinck with the Neopolitan royal family in particular (he had "un ton de superiorite" and was "insolent.....audacieux.....ecument de rage...") though Johnson's establishment of the documents' provenance wasn't fully convincing.  The genuine correspondence cited in the footnotes however certainly endorses the memoires' view of the struggle between Maria Carolina and the British for domination of the king, albeit from opposing points of view. 

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #154 on: June 14, 2011, 11:45:27 PM »
Thank you, CountessKate, for that feedback. I'll keep it in mind. I'm having a friend read the book, so much faster and better than when I read it myself!  :-[
======

Does anyone know what Harold Acton wrote in his book about Maria Carolina and money, if any? I think it was discussed earlier in this thread (if not deleted) that she borrowed the people's personal money in the banks without letting them know (used to finance the army and navy in the 1790s) and it was discovered so the people were angry with her.. Now, I have read another distressing information, if true, that MC asked the people to pay for a road tax in the amount of 300,000 ducats but when the money was raised, no roads were repaired..... I don't know what to make of it!  That information was not from an Italian or French writer so it does not seem from a "hostile" source....
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 12:00:01 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 #155 on: June 15, 2011, 09:08:19 AM »
I don't think that it is true. There is enormous corruption in Naples and unlike Marie Antoinette, Maria Carolina did not spent a lot on herself or her family. What she took was for the expenses of running the court, so that Ferdinand can concentrate on his pleasures of hunting & mistreses...

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #156 on: June 15, 2011, 09:26:33 PM »
I don't think that it is true. There is enormous corruption in Naples and unlike Marie Antoinette, Maria Carolina did not spent a lot on herself or her family. What she took was for the expenses of running the court, so that Ferdinand can concentrate on his pleasures of hunting & mistreses...

That's why I want to know whether Acton wrote something (if any) about Maria Carolina herself mishandling public/state funds. Do you mean that the money for the road tax might have disappeared (with nothing to show for it) but she herself had nothing to do with it because of the (general) corruption in Naples?  

I agree that Maria Carolina herself didn't seem so extravagant or very generous but then, her personal money (allowance) wasn't that much. She was only allowed  50,000 ducats a year. Clearly, money was not plenty if she had to recycle Joseph II's present to her (magnificent set of porcelain) and gave it to a favourite. Or melting down a brooch when she didn't have any cash and selling the gold.... Maria Amalia in Parma had 50% more from her duchy, and counting her share from the appanages in Spain and the annual subsidy from France (I had forgotten about the latter), the total amount certainly would've been more than double to what MC had.  
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 09:53:23 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 #157 on: June 16, 2011, 11:44:18 AM »
In the Acton book, she generally portrayed as someone who tried to govern in the midst of chaos. Also you have to remember MC was only one woman, and although she was effective, she had to depend on bribes and force to keep a lid on her power (which is why she was feared). I think the money most likely bwent to the bribes to keep the government and armed forces running and not to mention the royal household (so many children to feed & cloth). I think if she took money from the people, she did not spent it lavishly on pleasures but through governing. MC did strike me as more of a Hillary Clintonese person than a traditional queen consort. If she is born today, she would most likely be the CEO of some corporation.

Interesting comparison to Maria Amalia ! Both sisters seem to pay very little to their appearances at later stage of their life, while their little sister remained appearance conscious till the last.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #158 on: June 16, 2011, 08:35:29 PM »
In the Acton book, she generally portrayed as someone who tried to govern in the midst of chaos. Also you have to remember MC was only one woman, and although she was effective, she had to depend on bribes and force to keep a lid on her power (which is why she was feared).

What chaos was it, Eric_Lowe? Do you mean in the 1790s when unrest started in Naples and the French took over Italy?  But Maria Carolina was long in power before than, surely her reforms if they were good for Naples and if she were a capable and effective ruler, would've taken root and produced good results (and would've been appreciated by the people) by then irregardless of the events in the 1790s and beyond. But it doesn't seem that way, does it?  I'm not sure about bribing people + using force = effective ruler, either.

I think the money most likely bwent to the bribes to keep the government and armed forces running and not to mention the royal household (so many children to feed & cloth). I think if she took money from the people, she did not spent it lavishly on pleasures but through governing.  

I agree that it likely went to bribes and spending, perhaps in the army or navy,  not luxuries for MC.  Although if that was so, it's no wonder the people felt cheated because she promised to fix or build roads (Naples had very bad roads then) but it went to something else. Again, a reason for the people to mistrust and dislike her. I don't think the cost of having children would've been much of a factor. Although she had a total 17 or 18 children, there were no more than 8-10 children at any point, and even less at many points during her rule.  And surely the upkeep/cost of a bigger royal household would've been sourced elsewhere, not from a bogus "road tax"?  

Interesting comparison to Maria Amalia! Both sisters seem to pay very little to their appearances at later stage of their life, while their little sister remained appearance conscious till the last.

Yes, Eric_Lowe, I finally found the amounts that the sisters got as their personal money. I'm afraid your impression that Maria Amalia was unlucky she didn't have Marie Antoinette's or Maria Carolina's riches is not quite right, at least as far as MC was concerned. Maria Amalia got much more in terms of allowance than MC did. Marie Antoinette got the biggest allowance of the 3, but since France was essentially bankrupt (and Parma seemingly wasn't), all that show of money was just... a show in essence.  I think MC was more concerned with her appearance than Maria Amalia until the end, even if she was never as "vain" as MA was. As for Maria Amalia, she was just quite appallingly unconcerned with keeping up with a royal appearance later on, it also didn't help her image with some people.  
« Last Edit: June 16, 2011, 08:53:27 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 #159 on: June 19, 2011, 11:46:28 AM »
Well governing Naples is not an easy task. Maria Carolina was intelligent but she learn her craft from the local people and how they run things. Emperor Josef II reported to their mother that his sister took on the Southern dialect (which is not very polite or nice) with gusto but was still very naive. In the long run, Maria Carolina learn how to fight fire with fire. If she was faulted, it was at the hands of those who taught her how to reach power in that way. I think the corruption happened way before she got there, but she did participate it.

Not quite sure if Maria Carolina did as much as Marie Antoinette did on appearance. Unlike her graceful sister she did grew stout and her portraits did not show a very attractive woman, even those who try to emphasize on her resemblance to her more tragic and lovely sister.

Indeed. Mimi's report to their mother about Amalia losing her "glamour" did have a ring of truth.   

Offline CountessKate

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #160 on: June 20, 2011, 07:05:37 AM »
When Cornelia Knight (later lady companion to Princess Charlotte) visited Naples in 1785, she related that "We were presented to the queen [Maria Carolina] by the Duchess d'Andria.  Her Majesty stood beside a great table in a large room, and with only two candles lighted.  She asked us two or three commonplace questions, and then made us a civil curtsey, whereupon we took our leave.  Her Majesty was not at all well dressed, nor was she at all graceful.  She is said to have a fine hand and arm, which she leaned upon the table.  She spoke to us in French."

These brief remarks seem to emphasise that Maria Carolina at age 33 was not noted for extravagance or elegance in dress, for graceful bearing, or for keeping great state (only two candles in a large room were lighted!).

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #161 on: June 20, 2011, 06:56:43 PM »
Well governing Naples is not an easy task. Maria Carolina was intelligent but she learn her craft from the local people and how they run things. Emperor Josef II reported to their mother that his sister took on the Southern dialect (which is not very polite or nice) with gusto but was still very naive. In the long run, Maria Carolina learn how to fight fire with fire. If she was faulted, it was at the hands of those who taught her how to reach power in that way. I think the corruption happened way before she got there, but she did participate it.

I'm not very convinced that Maria Carolina was indeed intelligent as authors claim. It just appeared that she was because her husband's ways; she definitely outshone him. If she was paired with her brother Leopold (of course I'm only doing this in theory), who was both intelligent and capable, where would she be?  It wasn't even clear that she **understood** all those books she liked to read. It was said that she was very witty but Marie Antoinette was also described as such... I don't think anyone can be convinced that MA was intelligent otherwise she wouldn't have done all those foolish things. Wit does not denote high intelligence.  The only archduchess who was undoubtedly very intelligent was Maria Anna.  Mimi is said to be very intelligent as well but it  is seemingly more of using her feminine wiles, not being a genius in the intellectual sense.

I think what one can give MC credit for was her willingness to work hard; she meddled in politics and became de facto ruler but she, at least, took time to know something of the matter on hand and devoted a lot of time of time in state matters. Of all the sisters who played (or tried to play) a role in politics, she seemed to have taken it most seriously. I'm not familiar with Mimi's achievements (or lack thereof) in Hungary or the Austrian Netherlands.,..but the lack of literature on it doesn't seem to point to that (outstanding results). Marie Antoinette just meddled without even knowing anything. Maria Amalia meddled for some years, but was full of caprice I won't be surprised if she only devoted a few hours a day to state matters, then seemingly grew "weary" of the work it entailed (or maybe she thought her job was finished after getting rid of France and Spain) and devoted herself to traveling and country living (that is not to say that she didn't meddle ever after 1775 but grew complacent).  Maria Elisabeth seemed to enjoy her role as "first lady" or the Habsburg representative in Tyrol later on but was seemingly concerned mainly with various forms of entertainments.  Now, as far as MC is concerned, what seemed to be her "downfall", despite her hard work, consisted of wrong judgement (i.e. putting in the wrong and/or extravagant policies which Naples did not really need), not cleaning up or minimising the the corrrupt system in Naples, and losing her people's trust.  She replaced many ministers with Austrian ones or those nominated by Austria, didn't she?  

Not quite sure if Maria Carolina did as much as Marie Antoinette did on appearance. Unlike her graceful sister she did grew stout and her portraits did not show a very attractive woman, even those who try to emphasize on her resemblance to her more tragic and lovely sister.

Indeed. Mimi's report to their mother about Amalia losing her "glamour" did have a ring of truth.  

When Cornelia Knight (later lady companion to Princess Charlotte) visited Naples in 1785, she related that "We were presented to the queen [Maria Carolina] by the Duchess d'Andria.  Her Majesty stood beside a great table in a large room, and with only two candles lighted.  She asked us two or three commonplace questions, and then made us a civil curtsey, whereupon we took our leave.  Her Majesty was not at all well dressed, nor was she at all graceful.  She is said to have a fine hand and arm, which she leaned upon the table.  She spoke to us in French."

These brief remarks seem to emphasise that Maria Carolina at age 33 was not noted for extravagance or elegance in dress, for graceful bearing, or for keeping great state (only two candles in a large room were lighted!).
 

Thanks for this. I didn't know Maria Carolina had, more or less, gone the same way as Maria Amalia did. The only thing that seemed to differ was that MC got stout and Maria Amalia became thinner than ever. I've read both sisters had "hooked" nose and red hair later on. Maria Amalia did not even take care of her hair, she had "tousled" hair. Now, it couldn't be she couldn't afford a gold comb, LOL. Marie Antoinette was described as graceful but she also stout quite early on, by her early or mid 20s, in fact.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2011, 07:05:26 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 #162 on: June 21, 2011, 09:59:24 AM »
Yes. Maria Theresa once said of her daughters, MC resembled her the most. Unfortunately, The Empress was governing her own dominions while her daughter tired to govern foreigners in a country she married into, whose people she neither liked or trusted.

Yes, I once saw a portrait of MC that actually looked like a man, done in her last days. It was devoid of all glamor of a queen. Looking at that portrait I could see why she eventually lost the love of her husband...

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies and his wife Maria Carolina
« Reply #163 on: June 22, 2011, 12:28:39 AM »
Yes. Maria Theresa once said of her daughters, MC resembled her the most. Unfortunately, The Empress was governing her own dominions while her daughter tired to govern foreigners in a country she married into, whose people she neither liked or trusted.

Yes, I once saw a portrait of MC that actually looked like a man, done in her last days. It was devoid of all glamor of a queen. Looking at that portrait I could see why she eventually lost the love of her husband...

Unlike some authors (not that I am one), I don't think that comparison by Maria Theresa about Maria Carolina being the daughter most like her is a much of a compliment. There's no evidence that MT was a very nice person (nor particularly intelligent like the two acknowledged "greats" of her time:  Catherine and and Frederick) and if her hands hadn't been tied with 2 long (and costly) wars, she was likely to have committed more injustices and irrational acts, as she was very stubborn, vengeful and prejudiced. But yes, as far as diligence and being hard at work, MC took after her. If MC was indeed distrustful, then it's another (bad) trait she took after her mother.  I also think she was too full of herself - thinking she was the greatest thing to happen to her husband (and his family); perhaps she felt the same for her people. It was her loss, since there's no strong evidence they thought of her that way!

I haven't come across any hard evidence that Ferdinand of Naples indeed loved her. At most, there was some semblance of it early on, while she pretended to flatter him and all, but it was quickly over as well... not more than a few years. And she seemingly enjoyed only intermittent credit with her husband. Mostly, Ferdinand gave in to her demands because he wanted
(above all) a peaceful life, and she became more and more difficult. While loss of looks (not that she was one of the prettier sisters in the first place) can be a factor, it doesn't seem to be the main reason why Ferdinand turned against her and despised her in the end. I think what did her in was her personal attitude to him, her tantrums, her costly mistakes (both personal and as de facto ruler), her stubborness to intrigue (wiser people know when to let go). While Ferdinand was also not prize, it is quite easy to see why he finally had enough...after all, MC was dependent (on all levels) on him for her welfare! Ferdinand was her husband & sovereign, she was his property in essence. Not even a lot of goodwill was left in the end.  It's sad for MC.    
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 12:44:37 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 #164 on: June 22, 2011, 02:22:47 AM »
Quote
I haven't come across any hard evidence that Ferdinand of Naples indeed loved her. At most, there was some semblance of it early on, while she pretended to flatter him and all, but it was quickly over as well... not more than a few years.

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.