September 1859, the Failed Plot in Naples Court
150 years ago, the Italian peninsula was divided in several States; one of them, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, was ruling over all the south of Italy and the Sicily; another one, the Kingdom of Sardinia, was beginning to expand itself and to conquer several other Italian regions.
On 22 May 1859, King Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies died in Caserta. His very reactionary politic, fully supported by his second wife Maria Teresa, a daughter of the famous Archduke Karl, Duke of Teschen, was described by W. E. Gladstone as “the negation of God erected to a system of government.” His successor as King of the Two Sicilies was his eldest son Francesco, a very shy and deeply religious man, unable to take any kind of decision. The new King inhereited a country politically in very critical conditions: the Kingdom was threatened to be invaded by the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the internal political situation was marked by a strong fight between the liberals, supported by the new Queen Maria Sofia, the very unconventional sister of the famous Empress Elisabeth of Austria, and the conservatives, strongly supported by the Dowager Queen Maria Teresa.
In the summer 1859 this fight exacerbated inside of the Two Sicilian Court: the influence of Queen Maria Sofia on the King was speedily increasing, she succeeded in persuading the King to grant the Constitution to his Nation and she asked to the liberal Prime Minister, Prince Carlo Filangieri, to write the document. At the same time, Queen Maria Teresa begun to feel herself in danger, and started to plot against the King, the Queen and the Constitution.
Helped and supported by the reactionary members of the Court, including a lot of clergymen, army officers and courtiers, Maria Teresa plotted to dethrone Francesco and to create King her own firstborn son Luigi, Count of Trani; between August and September in some cities appeared on the walls writings celebrating King Luigi I.
On 4 September 1859, the very same day when Filangieri had to consign to the King his bill of the Constitution, Francesco was informed of the plots against him and of the bad reactions in various cities against the bill; his first reaction was to reject the Constitution that Filangieri had delivered him, following his father thought “Costituzione uguale rivoluzione”, “Constitution equal revolution”. The old Prime Minister immediately resigned from the head of the Government, but the King asked him to continue his task as Prime Minister (the Prince often used to resign when the King disagreed with him, and always the King asked him to remain as Prime Minister: Francesco knew that Filangieri was the best politician he could have, although liberal).
Soon after the Queen ordered Filangieri to collect the evidences of the would be plot, and in particular the evidences of the involvement of Queen Maria Teresa; they consign to the King these papers, in a light blue file, and Maria Sofia asked her husband to punish her hated mother-in-law. The scared King answered her: ‘How can I do something similar? She is the wife of my father!”, and threw the file collected by Filangieri in the fireplace, burning it.
In the following period a very concerned-looking Queen Maria Teresa swore her innocence to the King, and she persuaded him that the would-be plot to dethrone him was a lie invented by the liberals in order to disunite the Royal Family and make its members fight the one against the others.
Filangieri then resigned, this time he really intended to leave the head of the Government, and his task was taken by the Prince of Cassaro, an 80-year-old reactionary friend of the dowager Queen.
It was no longer talked about both the Constitution and the plot.
Less then one year later, Garibaldi invaded the Two Sicilies, and the Kingdom was annexed into the Kingdom of Sardinia, later Kingdom of Italy.Filed under Historical Royals, Italian Royals
Tagged Francesco II, Maria Sophie of Bavaria, Maria Theresa of Austria, Murder Plot, Two Sicilies.