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Title: Queen Maria Sophia of Naples, A Forgotten Heroine

Life Stories for Young People

Carl Küchler
George P. Upton
Release Date: June 13, 2021 [eBook #65606]
Language: English
Produced by:
D A Alexander, Stephen Hutcheson, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)
Queen Maria Sophia of Naples

Queen of Naples

Life Stories for Young People


Translated from the German of
Carl Küchler

Author of “Musical Memories,” “Standard Operas,” etc.
Translator of “Memories,” “Immensee,” etc.




A. C. McClurg & Co.
Published September 24, 1910



Translator’s Preface

The story of the exiled Queen of Naples, Maria Sophia, as the title-page of this little volume sets forth, is the story of a “forgotten heroine.” In many respects it recalls the story of her sister, Elizabeth of Hungary, though her fate was not so tragic. She was saved from the fury of the assassin; but she revealed many of her sister’s attributes—the same courage, the same beauty, the same gayety of disposition, clouded in much the same manner, the same love of nature and of animals, the same love of the people, the same domestic misfortunes. Her comparatively brief sovereignty included a thrilling period of the struggle for Italian unity. Her marriage was a brilliant one, her honeymoon most strange, and her after life most lonely. She was a strong woman united to a weak man, not of her choice and not honored by her love. She had many faults, but of her heroism the siege of Gaeta will always bear witness. The other figures in the story, the fascinating Lola Montez, Count Cavour, the great statesman, King Victor Emanuel, King “Bomba,” and the red-shirted Garibaldi, add to its picturesqueness, and the manners and customs of the court of Bavaria as well as the sketches of the Wittelsbachs are not without historic interest.

G. P. U.

Chicago, July, 1910.



Chapter Page
I The House of Wittelsbach 11
II Life at Munich and Possenhofen 17
III Political Disturbances in Bavaria 24
IV The Wittelsbach Sisters 31
V The Neapolitan Royal Family 37
VI Maria Sophia’s Arrival 44
VII A Strange Honeymoon 50
VIII Accession of Francis II and Maria Sophia 57
IX Garibaldi 63
X The Flight from Naples 70
XI Siege of Gaeta 81
XII Capitulation 90
XIII After the Fall of Gaeta 98
XIV Royalty in Exile 105
XV Conclusion 112
  Appendix 121


Maria Sophia, Queen of NaplesFrontispiece
Maria Sophia at the Time of Accession48
Francis the Second, King of Naples58
Francis the Second, in his Sixtieth Year114

Queen Maria Sophia of Naples

Chapter I
The House of Wittelsbach

The house of Wittelsbach, one of the most ancient of the royal families of Europe, was divided, toward the end of the eighteenth century, into three branches. The old Elector, Karl Theodore, who died in 1799, was without issue, and his successor, Maximilian of the Pfalz-Zweibrücken line, became the founder of a new dynasty. Being the third son, there had seemed little prospect of succeeding to the throne in his earlier years, most of which were spent in the strictest seclusion at Mannheim and Zweibrücken. Later, he entered the French army and until the outbreak of the French Revolution was stationed as colonel at Strassburg, where the jovial warrior made himself most popular, not only in military but in social circles.


In 1785 he was married to Princess Augusta of Hesse-Darmstadt, by whom he had two sons, Ludwig (his successor) and Karl, and three daughters, one of whom died in childhood. Augusta, the second, married Eugene Beauharnais, while Charlotte, the youngest, became the fourth wife of Emperor Francis the First of Austria. Maximilian’s first wife died early, and in 1796 he formed a second and equally happy alliance with the Princess Caroline of Baden, who presented him with six daughters, of whom three became queens of Saxony and Prussia, and the two youngest, the mothers of Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria and the Empress Elizabeth, respectively.

The branch of the Wittelsbachs to which Maximilian belonged was divided into two lines, both descending from the Count Palatine, Christian the First. A cousin, the Count Palatine Wilhelm of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, had hopes of securing the Electoral seat at Munich for himself, especially as ancient tradition required that a portion of the domain should fall to the share of the younger branch of the family. As Wilhelm had but one child, however, a son who was feeble-minded and under constant guardianship, an agreement was made between the cousins that in future there should be no division of the Wittelsbach possessions. Maximilian was to succeed to the Electorship of Bavaria undisturbed, in return for which the reigning sovereign was to treat the descendants of Count Wilhelm as his own. The younger branch was to rank equally with the older and to receive a large share of the ancestral possessions, with a handsome yearly income and the title of “Dukes in Bavaria.”


In accordance with this agreement, Maximilian became Elector of Bavaria, which was raised by Napoleon to the dignity of a kingdom in 1806, and in 1818 granted a constitution by its sovereign. Maximilian was much beloved by his subjects and so simple and patriarchal in his dealings with them that he was generally known as the “Citizen King.” On his birthday, October 12, 1825, he was present at a ball given in his honor by the Russian ambassador, full of life and vigor as usual, and the next morning was found dead in his severely simple bedchamber at Schloss Nymphenburg.

Duke Wilhelm of Birkenfeld long survived him, and it now devolved upon the new King, Ludwig the First, to carry out the family compact. Meanwhile Wilhelm’s son, Duke Pius, had also died, leaving one son, Duke Max. Almost from the birth of this prince it had been decided that he should marry King Maximilian’s youngest daughter Ludovica, who was born the same year, and on the ninth of September, 1828, the marriage was duly celebrated, three months before the bridegroom had reached his twentieth year. Although dictated by family reasons, this marriage proved a remarkably happy one. The two young people had grown up together, knowing that they were to be united for life, and were sincerely attached to each other. Their honeymoon was spent in the Bavarian Alps with Ludovica’s mother, the widowed Queen Caroline, at her Summer home at Tegernsee. At the time of the King’s death, two of the daughters were still unmarried and the constant companions of their mother, to whom they were devoted, and Ludovica’s marriage made no change in their life except that a son-in-law was added to the family circle.


Duke Max at that time was called the handsomest prince in Europe. He was slender and well built, with a distinguished ease of manner and a graciousness that won the hearts of all with whom he came in contact, regardless of class or station. Naturally gay and light-hearted, fond of pleasure and society, an accomplished musician and composer, with a passion for nature and out-of-door life, it is small wonder that he was universally adored. Even his mother-in-law, to whose age and habits his lack of seriousness did not at first especially appeal, was completely won by his devotion to her and her daughter, and his constant efforts to divert and entertain them. When the famous violinist, Paganini, came to Munich, Max invited him to visit the castle at Tegernsee and sent one of the royal carriages to meet him. He often arranged amateur concerts, to which all the neighboring families were invited, and whiled away the long Autumn evenings playing and singing with his friend Petzmacher, the zither-player.


Ludovica was very different from her husband. She disliked meeting people, cared nothing for social life or gayety, and had an abhorrence for noise or confusion of any kind. Max was a great admirer of the fair sex and made no concealment of the fact. He had the true artist nature, sanguine, impulsive, and susceptible, and must have caused the Duchess many unhappy hours, innocent as most of the love affairs attributed to him seem to have been. Whatever her feelings were, however, she carefully concealed them from the eyes of the world. To all appearances the relations between her and her husband were most harmonious. In many ways, too, their opposite temperaments were of mutual advantage. His cheerfulness and careless gayety often banished the fits of melancholy to which she was subject, while her firmness and good sense proved a balance to his volatile nature, and they were united in their love of nature and country life.

The first three years of their marriage were childless, but in 1831 the Duchess presented her husband with an heir, who was named Ludwig, for the King. As time went on the family circle increased. The oldest daughter, Hélène, was born in 1834. On Christmas Eve of 1837, Elizabeth came into the world, followed, in the Summer of 1839, by a second son, Karl Theodore. On the fourth of October, 1841, at Possenhofen, the Duchess gave birth to her third daughter, Maria Sophia Amalia, the future Queen of Naples. Two years later, Mathilde Ludovica was born. On the twenty-second of February, 1847, the youngest daughter of the ducal pair, Sophie Charlotte Augusta, made her appearance at Munich, and on the seventh of December, 1849, their youngest son, Maximilian Emanuel was born, also in Munich.


Nearly all these children were destined to bring sorrow or anxiety to their parents. The Duke’s mercurial nature helped him to bear and rise above these troubles, but they sank deep into Ludovica’s heart. But she was sustained by her religion and a firm faith in Providence, whose decrees she bore with dignity and patience. Little as she spoke of it, devotion to her children was the ruling passion of her life. She never was diverted, by any consideration, from what she felt to be her duty toward them; and while her methods of training did not bear equal fruit with all, they loved her devotedly in return and always regarded her with the deepest respect and confidence.


Chapter II
Life at Munich and Possenhofen

Up to the end of the first half of the last century intellectual and artistic development had made little progress in Bavaria. Weimar had become famous as the home of Goethe and Schiller, Herder and Wieland, but Munich was still merely a provincial town, not so large by half as it is to-day, while the many gardens scattered about among the houses gave it an almost rustic air. The population consisted chiefly of artisans, with a few wealthy citizens, the students of the university, and court attachés. Visitors to the capital at that time were few. Of social life, so called, there was practically none, and the free mingling of all classes in public places suggested Italian popular life, especially after King Ludwig’s plans for beautifying the city had begun to attract thither artists of all countries and ages.


With the kings of Bavaria, however, a new order of things was instituted. Ludwig the First, who succeeded Maximilian, was far ahead of most German princes of his time in learning and culture. In early youth he had made himself conspicuous by his hatred of Napoleon, although the conqueror had been his father’s friend and ally. At the Congress of Vienna, Talleyrand had called him a clever madman, and he had been laughed at for his intense enthusiasm over everything pertaining to Germanism. His frequent sojourns in Rome were destined to be of the greatest importance to the art life of Germany, for, on ascending the throne, he swore to make his capital a city of such prominence that “no one should know Germany who had not seen Munich”; and to his honor be it said that he not only kept this vow, but did so with comparatively small means at his command. Thanks to his zeal and energy the finances of the country were soon in excellent condition. Most economical as to his own personal expenses, he devoted large sums to the purchase of rare treasures for the art collections he had planned for his capital, and employed a number of distinguished artists and architects to beautify the city, which now possesses many imperishable reminders of this art-loving sovereign.

Few royal houses of the present day can furnish examples of such harmony and attachment between different branches of the family as that of Wittelsbach exhibited. The relations between King Ludwig and Duke Max were always most affectionate, and the brothers-in-law had many tastes and characteristics in common. Both were full of originality and energy, and both had a genuine love of art, the King having a great fondness for painting and poetry, while Max devoted himself principally to music. It was Ludwig the First who instituted the famous artist balls in Munich, which he and the Duke rarely failed to attend, and there was seldom a concert given at the Academy of Music where both royal and ducal families were not to be seen seated in the dress circle just behind the orchestra. However pressing the affairs of state, the King never failed to take part in the many religious festivals observed by the Church, and on All Saints’ Day he invariably made a visit to the cemetery accompanied by all his relatives.


While Ludwig was busy erecting his magnificent public edifices, Max employed himself building and rebuilding palaces. Possenhofen, where most of his children were born, was the favorite residence both of himself and his family, although they usually spent the Winters in Munich; and here, in the years 1833-1835 the celebrated architect, Leo von Klenze, built for them a magnificent residence in the Ludwigstrasse. Rank and state, however, by no means excluded simple kindliness and true hospitality from the splendid halls of the Duke and Duchess. They frequently gave large balls which were eagerly looked forward to by the younger set in the aristocratic world of Munich. Duke Max always stood by the door to welcome his guests on these occasions, offering each lady a bouquet of flowers with true knightly gallantry. Fountains plashed in the huge ballroom where inviting seats were placed here and there among groups of splendid foliage plants, while from behind a leafy screen floated the strains of an orchestra inviting to the dance. All chatted, laughed, and danced with perfect unconstraint, and the Duke was always the gayest of the gay, with the right word for every one.


During Lent the Duke and Duchess issued invitations for a series of concerts. Again the spacious rooms were turned into gardens. Comfortable chairs were arranged among masses of rose-bushes, and during pauses in the music refreshments were served and the guests promenaded about conversing gayly. It was never crowded, never too warm or too cool, in these splendid salons, and Duke Max’s entertainments were counted as the choicest pleasures of the Winter.

In the great courtyard of the palace he had a ring made where exhibitions of fancy riding were given before the ladies of the family and a few invited guests, Max himself often taking part. This became the favorite resort of his daughters in Winter, who would spend whole days there exercising, with their dogs and horses for companions, and it was here that Elizabeth of Austria and Maria Sophia of Naples acquired the skill that afterward made them the most perfect horsewomen of their day.


Properly to classify a plant it is necessary to study the soil that has nourished it. That from which the Wittelsbach sisters sprung was Bavarian, of course, but more accurately speaking, the region about Possenhofen and Starnberg Lake, whither the family repaired every year with the first signs of Spring. The shores of Starnberg are fringed with castles, among them the solitary Schloss Feldafing, whence King Ludwig the Second flung himself into the waters of the lake. Back of these are many small villages interspersed with villas built by artists from Munich. Between lie stretches of dark pine forest or clumps of lighter beeches, their branches drooping over the surface of the water, while as a background to this entrancing scene rise majestic mountain peaks. Possenhofen was known in the twelfth century as “Pozzo’s Hof.” In the fifteenth it was presented by the Palatine Friedrich von Scheyern-Wittelsbach to a neighboring convent, but later it came into the possession of the Elector Ferdinand Maria of Bavaria, a peace-loving prince, who made Starnberg Lake the scene of many splendid fêtes. In 1834 Duke Max bought the castle, had the outer wall and vaulted gateway torn down and the moat filled in, thus making room for the large gardens that now surround Possenhofen. Outwardly the building was allowed to retain its original form, but the interior was completely changed. Four-post bedsteads, huge antique stoves, and chests of olden days were replaced by modern furniture and conveniences. An additional wing or two made room for guests, and a chapel was built, connecting the ancient edifice with its newer parts. The castle courtyard and gardens are still surrounded by a high wall, extending along the shore of the lake, and this with the old towers forms the last link with those days when Pozzo’s Hof served not only as a residence for its noble masters, but also as a stronghold against the enemies of the prince and people. Inside the wall rises the huge pile of reddish yellow stone, its whole eastern side covered with a natural mantle of ivy, making an attractive picture against the fresh green of the park and the gardens, with their flower-beds and fountains.


Duke Max and his family may be said to have grown up with this beautiful spot. Here he brought his bride one bright summer morning; here they spent their happiest days together, far from the burdensome restrictions of court etiquette; here their children received their first impressions of life; and hither they always returned with a feeling of joy and comfort no other place could offer. The young princesses spent long days riding and swimming, training their dogs and horses, or clambering about on the mountain tops. It was this life in the open air that stamped them with so marked an individuality and gave them their love of freedom and simplicity. They were quite at home among the country folk and deeply resented any slight or injury to their mountain friends. In this, however, they merely followed the example set them by their parents. The beautiful home at Possenhofen had roots stretching far out into the countryside, and all who were in trouble hastened at once for help and comfort to Duchess Max, whose womanly sympathies were by no means confined to her own family circle.


Her handsome husband was even more popular, and his gay good nature and easy charm of manner made him adored by all. He was passionately fond of hunting, and spent whole days tramping about through the mountains alone with his gun. One evening after a long chase he arrived at a small tavern, tired and hungry, and his shabby old hunting clothes soiled and torn. No one recognizing him, he seated himself by the fire, took out his zither, and began to play. Some wood-cutters were so pleased with the stranger’s music that they offered to pay him if he would play a few peasant dances for them. Max cheerfully agreed, and played and sang till the whole room joined in the sport and coppers rained into the player’s hat. When the merrymaking was over the musician ordered a meal so little in keeping with his appearance that the landlady gazed at him in astonishment, convinced that he was a suspicious character who would probably attempt to leave without paying for his food, and determined to keep a watchful eye on him. As soon as he had eaten he began to play again, and the fun was at its height when a corporal entered and, recognizing the august guest, saluted him respectfully. It always annoyed the Duke to have his incognito betrayed, and flinging a gold piece on the table he hastily departed, to the great relief of the embarrassed assemblage.


Chapter III
Political Disturbances in Bavaria

This idyllic life at Possenhofen was interrupted for a time, however, by the political agitations in Munich. All over Europe the spirit of revolution was stirring, a spirit that was soon to find expression in a general outbreak. Nowhere did the royal power seem more secure than in Bavaria. No monarch was more beloved than Ludwig the First, no people so universally loyal to the crown as his good-natured, easy-going subjects. Nevertheless the popular upheaval was here, too, bearing fruit, and a demand for more share in the government, with a freer constitution, was becoming general, although the immediate cause of the outbreak in Munich and the King’s subsequent abdication had seemingly little to do with politics.


About this time a very beautiful and fascinating public dancer, called Lola Montez, made her appearance there and created a great sensation. Her origin was obscure and uncertain; but the best authorities seem to make her the daughter of an Irish officer and a beautiful Spanish woman of Moorish descent. She was born in Ireland in 1820 and at the age of seventeen married one Lieutenant James, with whom she went to the West Indies. She soon left her husband, however, and returned to England, where she prepared herself to become a dancer. While hardly a regular beauty, Lola Montez seems to have possessed in the highest degree what the French call la beauté du diable. She had wonderful black hair, fiery eyes that could change in an instant to melting warmth, a perfect figure, with hands and feet so small and beautifully shaped that a duchess might have envied them.

Her first appearance in London met with no great success—a marked contrast to the enthusiasm she afterward excited everywhere she went. After a season in Paris she obtained a permanent position at the royal theatre in Dresden, where she created a tremendous sensation and was shown great favor by the court. From there she went to Berlin, Warsaw, and St. Petersburg, making a succession of conquests and also many enemies by her violent temper and the frequent use she made of her riding-whip or dagger.


On the tenth of October, 1846, she appeared for the first time at the court theatre in Munich and immediately became the subject of violent discussion, some raving over her beauty, her adventures, and her triumphs, others denouncing her manners and behavior and creating prejudice against her by reports which even went so far as to call her a political spy. Instead of the traditional ballet skirts, Lola presented herself on this occasion in a Spanish costume of silk and lace, diamonds sparkling here and there upon it, her wonderful blue eyes flashing as she curtsied low before the King, who was seated in the royal box. She danced several Spanish dances and all sat spellbound as one charming pose followed another, fascinated by her supple grace of motion and the art with which she could suddenly change from glowing passion to the roguish smiles of an innocent young girl. As soon as she stopped dancing, however, the charm was broken and hisses were mingled with the applause.

It was Ludwig’s custom to receive all foreign artists in person, before they could appear at the court theatre. At his interview with Lola Montez the old man had been completely fascinated by her beauty and lively conversation, and was soon desperately in love with the clever dancer, who knew so well how to amuse and entertain him. He was constantly seen in her company and at all her evening parties, an intimacy which was not long in arousing the displeasure of his family and subjects to the highest degree. Public feeling against the hated dancer soon began to display itself, and in the following Spring she retired with the King to Würzburg, where she behaved with the same boldness and indiscretion as in the capital.


One day she made a frightful scene because the guard would not allow her dog to enter the park where she wished to walk. The officer on duty was hastily summoned and tried to make her understand that the soldier was in the right, whereupon she struck him across the face with her riding-whip. Out of respect for the King, no one ventured to arrest her, but the officers and citizens of Würzburg were so infuriated she was forced to leave the city secretly.

The leader of the old Catholic party, Joseph Görres, worked actively against her, and the press was not slow to fan the flame. Libels and lampoons were spread broadcast throughout the city, enraging the dancer, who in revenge forced the King to gratify all her wishes and drew him ever deeper into her toils. To annoy her enemies, and at the same time obtain entrance for herself into the highest circles, she persuaded the King to make her a countess. This he could not do, however, without the consent of his ministers, who positively refused to agree to such an act; furthermore they sent a memorandum to the King urging that Lola be expelled from the kingdom. Ludwig replied to this request by dismissing not only the entire ministry, but many of their adherents, among whom were several professors in the university; and from this time on “the Bavarian Pompadour,” as Lola Montez has been called, became an important factor in politics.


The university was now like the glowing crater of a volcano whence issued all the pent-up hatred and discontent, and on the ninth of February, 1848, came the first great eruption. Lola, whose southern blood craved excitement, attempted to show herself among the riotous throngs, but was forced to take refuge in a church, thoroughly frightened for once. The King was furious when he heard of this, and as the students had been at the bottom of the demonstration, he ordered the university closed and all non-resident students sent away from Munich. The next day the whole body of students marched through the Karlstrasse to the house of their distinguished chaplain, Professor Thiersch, singing songs of farewell, and greeted with cheers from every window they passed. There was a close bond of sympathy between the university and the citizens, who held a meeting at once, protesting against the severity of the King’s order and petitioning him to open the university again. Ludwig promised to take the matter into consideration, and after a conference with his ministers agreed to yield to the wishes of the citizens, furthermore proclaiming that the Countess Landsfeld, as Lola was now called, should be requested to leave Munich. “No one shall come between me and my people,” he declared. This news was received with great rejoicing and the house in which the hated favorite lived was surrounded day and night by curious throngs, anxiously awaiting her departure. At last, on the morning of the eleventh of February, the doors were suddenly thrown open by a squad of police, and before the crowd outside realized what was happening, the coach containing the Countess had started off at a furious gallop on the road to Blutenburg. From there she fled to Lindau and thence to England, subsequently making her way to the United States and later to Australia, where she died in 1861 at the age of forty, after a varied and adventurous career.


The revolution of February, which had already taken place in Paris, was followed by similar uprisings throughout Europe, and added fuel to the fire in Bavaria. The citizens of Munich again rose in revolt, and the Government could no longer remain deaf to their just demands for a more liberal constitution. The King made some concessions which partially appeased the loyal Bavarians, and the disturbance seemed about to subside, when a report that Lola Montez had returned to Munich caused a fresh outbreak. Official notices were posted that evening on every street corner, affirming that the Countess Landsfeld had left Karlsruhe on the fourteenth of March for Frankfort, and had been forbidden ever to set foot again on Bavarian soil; but the people laughed this to scorn. The placards were torn down and the insurgents continued their work of destruction.


On the eighteenth of March, Munich found itself in a state of siege. Ten thousand troops were in arms to put an end, if possible, to the uprising. Many deputations waited on the King and on the States Assembly, which had convened in the meantime, while the greater part of the people who had taken no part in the disturbance waited anxiously for developments. But King Ludwig was unable to crush the rebellion; neither was he able to reconcile himself to a new system of government. Two days later Munich was startled by an unexpected event. A proclamation was issued by the sovereign, announcing his abdication, after a reign of twenty-three years, in favor of his eldest son, to whom he left the task of carrying out the reforms demanded by the people. Dumbfounded at this unforeseen step, the Bavarians, loyal still to the house of Wittelsbach, were much affected, and many felt remorseful at having rebelled against their King, who, in spite of his faults, had been a good sovereign and done much for his country. After his abdication, Ludwig spent the remainder of his life as a private citizen, partly in Bavaria, partly in Italy and the south of France, interesting himself still in art and plans for the further improvement of Munich. He soon regained all his old popularity, and felt no regrets for the rank and honors he had renounced. He died in February, 1868; but some years before that event, an equestrian statue of him was erected in Munich by the grateful people of that city.


Chapter IV
The Wittelsbach Sisters

These stirring events naturally had not been without their influence on Duke Max and his family, although the relations between them and the new sovereigns were no less cordial and intimate than they had been with the former ones.

At the time when Duke Max bought Possenhofen the Crown Prince had acquired the castle of Hohenschwangen in that same region and set a force of artists and architects at work to make it an ideal home for his bride. Prince Maximilian had spent the greater part of his youth in travel, and during a visit to the court of Berlin had first seen his future wife, then but four years of age. She was a daughter of Prince Karl of Prussia, and when he again met the Princess Marie as a lovely girl of sixteen, he fell in love with her on the spot. In the Autumn of 1841 he made a formal offer for her hand, and the marriage took place on the fifth of October, 1842.


Like the ducal family, the youthful pair spent most of the year at Hohenschwangen, the two princes hunting and riding together, while a close friendship developed between the Crown Princess and the Duke’s young daughters, which was in no way interrupted by her becoming Queen of Bavaria.

These daughters, the Wittelsbach sisters, were tenderly attached to one another and there was a strong family resemblance between them. Four had inherited their parents’ good looks, and Hélène, the oldest, while not so beautiful as the rest, was clever and clear-headed like her mother. Elizabeth and Maria both had a share of the family eccentricity; but of all the eight children, Maria was the only one endowed with Duke Max’s high spirits and cheerful, sunny nature. She also possessed to a marked degree the distinguished bearing and grace of movement so characteristic of the whole race, while added to the gentle sweetness of Elizabeth’s face, whom she much resembled, was an expression of strength and firmness unusual in one so young.

The five sisters were brought up in the simplest manner, without regard to etiquette, and often walked about the streets of Munich without attendants of any kind. The Duke was much away from home and concerned himself little with his children’s education, except as to music, sport, and out-of-door exercise; but Ludovica was constantly with her daughters, and devoted her whole life to fitting them for the positions she was ambitious they should occupy.


Elizabeth was famous for her beauty and Hélène for her cleverness, while Maria was endowed with almost an equal share of both. She was warm-hearted, sweet-tempered, and incapable of falsehood, but very impulsive and unable to adapt herself to people; and the Duchess’s methods of education did little to modify her independence of speech and action. Like Elizabeth, she was a passionate lover of nature and of animals; but she was bolder and less sensitive than her sister and early developed a love of danger and excitement. The happy days of childhood soon passed, however, and one by one the sisters left the home nest. In 1854 Elizabeth became Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, to the bitter disappointment of Hélène, who had been selected as bride of Francis Joseph. The Emperor preferred her younger sister, however, and in 1858 Hélène consoled herself with the enormously wealthy Hereditary Prince of Thurn and Taxis, and went to Regensburg to live. Ludwig, the eldest son, had renounced his right of succession the preceding year to marry an actress in Augsburg, making Karl Theodore, then in his twentieth year, the future head of the house. Although the court of Possenhofen was seemingly of small importance, it enjoyed universal respect, and the Catholic royal houses of Europe were glad to ally themselves with it.


In the Autumn of 1858 a messenger arrived from the King of Naples desiring to know whether the Duke and Duchess would consent to an alliance between their daughter Maria, then eighteen years old, and his eldest son. The two families were scarcely acquainted personally, and the young people had never seen each other, yet the Duke and Duchess returned an unconditional acceptance of the offer. To be sure, the Neapolitan Prince was considered a good match, being a Bourbon on his father’s side and a member of the royal house of Sardinia on his mother’s, and the heir, moreover, to an ancient and important kingdom in fair Italy.

On the twenty-second of December, King Ferdinand’s minister, Count Ludolff, arrived in Munich with a formal proposal of marriage, and after receiving the young princess’s consent, presented her on a velvet cushion a portrait of her future husband, a rather pleasant-looking young man in the uniform of a hussar. Two weeks later the marriage took place by proxy, as was the custom of the time. On the evening of the eighth of January, 1859, Maria Sophia Amalia, Duchess in Bavaria, was solemnly united in wedlock to Francis Maria Leopold, Duke of Calabria and Crown Prince of the Two Sicilies, in the court chapel at Munich. All the members of the royal house were present with the entire diplomatic corps and many nobles and high officials of the State. King Maximilian and Queen Marie led the bride to the altar, where the bridegroom’s brother, Prince Leopold (the present Regent of Bavaria), represented him in his absence. Following this ceremony the King and Queen held a reception, during which crowds gathered outside the palace windows, eager for a glimpse of the little bride who had gone about among them all her life so gayly and familiarly.


On the thirteenth of January, Maria left her parents’ home with many tears and embraces for the dear ones she was leaving behind. She had never seen her husband nor any member of his family. Both the land and people that were to be hers in future were strange to her—an uncertain fate, indeed, to look forward to! But she was young and light-hearted, full of hope and courage, and well equipped by nature for the trials that awaited her. Her brother Ludwig, with several Bavarian ladies and gentlemen, accompanied her on the journey, besides a Neapolitan court lady, Nina Rizzo, sent by the Queen of Naples to instruct her in her new duties. At Vienna a stay of several days was made, owing to news of King Ferdinand’s illness; but on the thirtieth of January the party resumed its way with the addition of the Empress Elizabeth, and on the following day reached Trieste, where they were met by the Duke of Serracapriola, sent by the King to welcome the future Queen of Naples. This pompous personage discharged his errand with such ceremonious solemnity that the simple, unaffected Bavarian princess knew not whether to laugh or cry.


On the first of February, at half-past one, the ceremony of delivering the bride into the hands of the Neapolitan envoy took place in the Governor’s palace. Across the centre of the great salon a silken cord had been stretched, representing the boundary line between Bavaria and Naples. Beside this were placed a table, covered with red velvet, and two gilded arm-chairs. The room had folding doors at either end, one of which was decorated with the colors of Naples and guarded by Neapolitan marines, while at the other, similarly adorned with Bavarian arms and banners, stood a band of the royal Bavarian retainers. The Neapolitan envoy, with two ladies of high rank who had come to act as escort to the Princess, were stationed on their side of the boundary line with the Admiral and officers of the ship that was to carry Maria Sophia and her suite to Naples, while the Duchess and her Bavarian escort entered through the other door and took their places. The two envoys then advanced from their respective positions to the silken cord, where they exchanged documents concerning the marriage. The Count von Rechburg addressed a few words of farewell to the youthful bride, who rose and extended her hand for her German attendants to kiss, after which the Count led her to the middle of the room and gave her into the hands of the Duke of Serracapriola, who humbly begged her to seat herself in the Neapolitan arm-chair while he delivered a short address of congratulation and welcome. This almost mediæval ceremony concluded, Maria left the salon through the door draped in Neapolitan colors and went directly on board the Fulminante, in the cabin of which the Empress Elizabeth and Prince Ludwig took an affecting farewell of their young sister. The greater part of her suite embarked on another vessel, the Tancredo, and an hour later both ships were steaming out of the harbor of Trieste.


Chapter V
The Neapolitan Royal Family

King Ferdinand the Second, the reigning Prince of Naples at this time, came of bad stock. The reign of his grandfather, Ferdinand the First of Naples and Fourth of the Two Sicilies, of whom King Frederick of Prussia once aptly remarked that he was more fit for a prison cell than a throne, had been one long scandal, and his son, Francis the First, followed faithfully in his father’s footsteps during his short reign (1825-1830). Ferdinand the Second had naturally a good mind, and at the time of his accession to the throne had roused great hopes by the military and financial reforms he introduced and by his wise plans for developing the resources of his impoverished kingdom. This did not last long, however, for he soon began to display the same despotic tendencies that had made his father and grandfather so abhorred by the people, and the older he grew the more marked these became.


The general movement toward liberty that shook Europe in the nineteenth century had not been without its effect, both in Naples and Sicily, as may easily be supposed, considering the harsh rule which the fiery southerners had been forced to endure so long. Ferdinand had succeeded in crushing one violent outbreak in 1848; but beneath the ashes the fire still smouldered, and the inward ferment was constantly increased by the extreme measures to which “Bomba,”[1] as the King was popularly called, resorted, to maintain and strengthen his position. He ruled with a despotism and intolerance that suggested the worst days of the Inquisition. The prisons were full of political “criminals,” whose only crime was the holding of liberal views, or the suspicion of doing so, and these victims were treated with such revolting cruelty as to rouse the horror of the civilized world. In spite of these things, however, Bomba was not without some good qualities. In private life he was both just and temperate, simple in his habits, a good husband and father. He was twice married. His first wife, to whom he was united two years after his accession to the throne, was the Princess Maria Christina of Sardinia—Italy’s “Queen Dagmar”—an angel of goodness and piety. The people called her Saint Christina even during her lifetime, and she was afterward canonized by the Church of Rome. Such a woman could not but exert a beneficial influence over her royal husband; but it was unfortunately of short duration, for she died in 1836, four years after her marriage, leaving a son two weeks old, the Crown Prince Francis Maria Leopold.


Ferdinand had no intention of remaining long a widower. He first wished to marry a daughter of King Louis Philippe of France, but Austria persuaded England to join in defeating this plan, which would have resulted in too powerful a union of the reigning Bourbon families. He then applied for the hand of an Austrian princess, and in 1837 was married to Maria Theresa, daughter of the Archduke Karl, who presented him with five sons and four daughters. In spite of her proud name and lofty lineage, the new Queen was a very ordinary person, though not without some homely virtues. Her horizon was bounded by her family and her household, in the duties of which she took an active part, even mending her children’s clothes with her own hands, it is said; and she seems to have been utterly lacking in the realization that a queen should have other and wider duties than those of a housekeeper. In simplicity of tastes she much resembled her husband, who was most frugal in his mode of living; but she sometimes went so far that even he was annoyed, and one day at dinner he remonstrated with her, saying: “Come, come, Ther! [a nickname he had for her] you will soon be making us wait on ourselves at table!”


The simplest fare was served in the royal household. Macaroni was one of the principal articles of diet, and a favorite dish of the King’s was raw onions, which he peeled with his fingers, declaring that contact with a knife gave them an unpleasant flavor. The Queen, however, never liked Neapolitan cooking and always had some substantial German dishes prepared for herself. She could not speak Italian correctly, but learned only the Neapolitan dialect, which she pronounced in a most dreadful way, with her broad German accent. In short, Ferdinand’s second wife was as unpopular as his first had been popular. She made no effort to win the love of the people and her homely, plebeian ways were little to the taste of the gay Neapolitans, who adored glitter and display of any sort. The King’s favorite recreation was driving. He went out every afternoon, taking some of his family and usually holding the reins himself. The royal equipage was always accompanied by a mounted escort, while horsemen were stationed along the route the King was to take, to detain all chance travellers until he had passed by, not as a mark of respect, but as a measure of precaution.


Exemplary as this royal pair may have been from the standpoint of a private citizen, as far as the education of their children was concerned they were certainly not successful. The teachers they chose were almost exclusively bigoted Jesuits. Ferdinand wished his sons to be taught Latin, French, civil and administrative law, but they received no military training of any kind. Even sports and physical exercises were excluded from their plan of education, nor were they permitted to travel or acquire any knowledge of foreign lands or peoples. Ferdinand’s own education had been most imperfect. He read little or nothing himself and wrote his orders, even those pertaining to important affairs of state, on any scrap of paper that came to hand, sometimes even in the Neapolitan dialect. He regarded all writers and literary men with contempt as an inferior and objectionable race of beings—a curious mixture of pride and prejudice which he also displayed toward people of other nations. He called the English, fishmongers, the French, barbers, the Russians, tallow-eaters, etc. Austrians were the only foreigners of whom he ever spoke with any respect, and that was on his wife’s account. In his younger days he had possessed a fair share of the Neapolitan humor, but it soon degenerated into bitterness and sarcasm.

The following anecdote of him is characteristic. Some public festival was being held in the square in front of the palace and the King was standing on a balcony with the Crown Prince, then still a child. Gazing down on the crowds below and thinking perhaps of the high position to which he would one day be called, the boy turned suddenly to his father with the question:

“What could a King do with all these people?”


“He could kill them all!” replied Ferdinand, then added solemnly, bowing low and crossing himself, “He could, my son, but he would not, out of respect for the holy religion.”

* * * * * * * *

Ferdinand the Second’s system of police and priestly rule did not fail to bear fruit in the shape of numerous uprisings and attempted assassinations that terrorized the last years of his reign. He knew himself to be an object of universal hatred and that hundreds were plotting against his life, and grew more nervous and uneasy every day. Added to these mental anxieties he had acute physical sufferings. The unfortunate prince could find no rest, day or night. At the age of forty-five his hair had turned completely white and he looked like an old man.

His natural tendency toward bigotry increased with illness and worry and he became as superstitious as the most orthodox prince of the Middle Ages. Before mounting a horse he always crossed himself, and he never met a priest or monk on one of his drives without stopping the carriage while he alighted and knelt upon the ground until the holy man had passed. He went frequently to confession and had daily masses read for himself in all the churches. Every night he prayed, rosary in hand, with his wife and children, and before retiring would kiss each of the holy images with which the walls of his bedchamber were adorned. But even these pious observances failed to bring relief. Conscience tortured him, and he sought sleep in vain.


The betrothal of his eldest son and heir to the Bavarian Princess brought a gleam of light into the darkness. The house of Wittelsbach, besides its high rank and antiquity, was strongly orthodox in its Catholicism, a most important item in Ferdinand’s eyes; and the alliance was a strong one politically, for by it his son would become the brother-in-law of the Emperor of Austria, and closely connected also with several others of the reigning houses of Europe. In spite of his state of health, the King had determined to be present at the second and real wedding of Francis and Maria, and succeeded, indeed, in reaching Bari, where the ceremony was to take place; but the fatigue and hardships of a Winter journey over the Apennines were too much for his strength, and he arrived at Bari so ill and exhausted that there was no possibility of his being able to assist in the festivities.

The King ill unto death, the country on the verge of revolution, the royal house and kingdom threatened by enemies at home and abroad—a sorry state of affairs to greet the fair young Bavarian Princess, entering for the first time the land of which she was soon to become the sovereign!


Chapter VI
Maria Sophia’s Arrival

It was on a beautiful Spring morning, the third of February, 1859, that the Crown Princess approached her new home. All the roads leading to Bari were filled with curious sightseers, eager for a glimpse of the bride. All tongues were busy with praises of her beauty and goodness. Her name was on every lip; but instead of being called the Princess of Bavaria or Duchess of Calabria, she was and still is familiarly spoken of in Italy as Maria Sophia, to distinguish her from many of her predecessors on the throne who had borne the name of Maria. The whole royal family had journeyed to Bari to welcome her and were lodged on the first floor of the Intendant’s palace, where apartments had also been prepared for the Duchess of Calabria and her suite; but in spite of the joyous air of expectancy that pervaded the town, a dark cloud hung over the palace itself, owing to the condition of the King, who was confined to his bed and suffering greatly. He had looked forward with the deepest pleasure and interest to his son’s marriage, and it was a bitter disappointment to him not to be present at the wedding ceremonies.


About ten o’clock in the morning, the thunder of cannon proclaimed the approach of the Fulminante and the Tancredo. The troops lined up, the mayor of Bari and other dignitaries took their places in a pavilion which had been erected in the middle of the landing stage for the bride’s reception, while ten state equipages, escorted by a mounted guard, issued from the palace and drove down to the pavilion, where the Queen, with her stepson, the Duke of Calabria, and her little daughters, alighted and boarded a steam launch to go out to meet the Duchess.

On the Fulminante, meanwhile, all was stir and excitement. The bride, as she stood on deck dressed in a handsome travelling costume, looked more than ever like her sister Elizabeth. She had the same wonderful dark blue eyes and rich brown hair; and although not so tall as the Empress, her figure was quite as beautifully formed. On this occasion her usual expression of childish innocence and gayety had given place to one of serious expectancy, and she was very pale, a result partly owing to fatigue, partly to emotions natural to the situation. During the journey she had plied Nina Rizzo and her new chamberlain with questions about her future husband; how he looked, how he behaved toward his parents, his brothers, and his subjects; and she had never tired of hearing tales of his childhood. To her naive inquiry as to whether Francis was really as disagreeable as he was said to be in Bavaria, both had done their best to reassure the Princess by expatiating on his good qualities.


It had stormed all night, but the sea now lay calm and smiling as if in welcome, and it seemed to Maria that she had never seen such a wonderful blue before. As they drew near the beautiful harbor with the town of Bari beyond, bathed in Italian sunshine, she was so absorbed in the enchanting scene that at first she did not notice the approaching launch. Suddenly she caught sight of Francis standing up in the craft in his gay hussar uniform, and her face lit up with a joyous smile. She recognized him at once from his portrait and found him more agreeable-looking than she had expected. Advancing to the side of the vessel to meet him as he came aboard, she held out her hand with charming impulsiveness and said, “Bonjour, François!”

“Bonjour, Marie!” replied the Prince, shyly taking both her hands in his and kissing her on the forehead. The Queen then embraced the young girl and presented her to the princesses, Maria inquiring solicitously for the King and expressing her regret at his absence. She then asked with great interest about the coast, the town they were approaching, the vessels in the harbor, and all the new sights and scenes about her. The young bridegroom, meanwhile, stood silent and embarrassed beside his stepmother, so overcome with the emotion of meeting his bride and finding her even more fascinating than he had dared to imagine, that he was more shy and awkward than usual and could only stammer a few disjointed words in answer to her questions.


At the landing they were met by the assembled officials and escorted to the pavilion, where the royal party entered their coaches and drove back to the palace. Maria’s beauty and girlish charm won instant favor. A storm of cheers greeted her entrance into the new land; and even after she had disappeared within the palace, the enthusiastic Italians continued to shout till she was obliged to come out and show herself once more on a balcony. The Crown Princess had scarcely time, however, to acknowledge the people’s homage, before she was summoned to the King’s bedside. She found him sitting up to greet her, his face deeply lined with suffering. With all a father’s tenderness, Ferdinand embraced his new daughter-in-law, shedding tears at this sorrowful meeting, so different from what he had hoped for, while Maria also wept and returned the embrace warmly. It was the first time in this foreign land that she had been welcomed with anything like the affection to which she had been accustomed at home, and she felt drawn at once to her dying father-in-law, who had taken her into his heart at their very first meeting, realizing with pity how thickly strewn with thorns must be the path in life of this fair young creature who seemed made only for joy and happiness. Maria had little time to dwell on this scene, however, for the Queen led her away almost immediately to her chamber, where Nina Rizzo exchanged her travelling suit for the white satin bridal robe, and placed on her luxuriant hair—a characteristic of all the Wittelsbach sisters—a wreath of orange blossoms with a magnificent lace veil which she had brought with her from home.


An altar had been erected in the banqueting hall, the walls of which were lined with pictures of the Madonna. Before the altar a throne with arm-chairs was placed for the princes and princesses. The bishops and distinguished guests had taken their places and the ceremony was about to begin, when an incident occurred that made it hard for those present to preserve their gravity. The Queen’s second son, Alphonso, Count of Caserta, who though eighteen years old was as wild and ungovernable as a schoolboy, had succeeded in fastening a long paper train to the uniform of one of the highest court officials, whose solemn air of unconsciousness only added to the humor of the situation. One of the court gentlemen, however, quietly managed to remove the ridiculous appendage, the victim remaining in blissful ignorance of the trick that had been played upon him.

at the time of the accession


The young couple entered and took their places before the altar, where the bishop concluded the ceremony with a solemn address in Italian, invoking the blessing of God upon them. At the close of the Te Deum an orchestra struck up the National Hymn and a salvo of artillery announced to the waiting crowds without that the marriage was completed, while the bridal pair went at once to the King’s chamber to receive his paternal blessing. That evening the whole town was brilliantly illuminated, and the square before the palace was filled with cheering throngs far into the night; but in spite of these demonstrations there was much secret uneasiness as to the King’s condition. The excitement of the wedding had had a bad effect on Ferdinand; though he did all in his power to conceal his sufferings, and the royal family seemed quite unaware of the alarming nature of his illness.

When the Count of Caserta’s mischievous prank reached the ears of the King, he sent for that youth and administered a sharp rebuke, declaring such a performance could only have been expected of a street urchin. Three days’ confinement to his room was to be his punishment, but at the Queen’s intercession the sentence was somewhat lightened.


Chapter VII
A Strange Honeymoon

The early months of the married life of Francis and Maria Sophia were similar in many ways to those of Marie Antoinette and Louis the Sixteenth of France. Francis, like Louis, was awkward, timid, and doubtful of himself. Although brought up in the land of art and beauty, he had no taste for such things. Like the King of France, he was honest, just, and deeply religious, but weak and irresolute, and conspicuously lacking in those qualities naturally looked for in princes of royal lineage.

Equally marked were the points of resemblance between Marie Antoinette and Maria Sophia. Both were gay, childish, and impulsive, with remarkable personal courage and a frankness that was as attractive as it was dangerous; both were too beautiful not to excite envy, and too full of high spirits not to cause offence. The Wittelsbach Princess, however, had qualities the Dauphiness lacked—perfect honesty and the robust health and splendid vitality brought from her Bavarian Alps. She was a finished horsewoman, a good shot, a tireless walker, and devoted to out-of-door recreations of all sorts. Her husband, on the other hand, was grave, silent, and melancholy. Sports had no attraction for him. He never hunted, and in spite of his hussar uniform the Neapolitans declare that he was never known to mount a horse. One point, however, they shared in common—indifference to luxury and love of simplicity.


At the time of her marriage the Crown Princess could scarcely speak a word of Italian. Francis’s knowledge of French was very limited, and of German he was entirely ignorant, so that unrestrained communication between the young couple was difficult at first. The education of the Duke of Calabria had done little to prepare him for the lofty position that awaited him. His stepmother, who completely spoiled her own children, neglected him shamefully in some ways and was unnecessarily harsh in others. Overshadowed by his cleverer stepbrothers, who despised him, and conscious of his own mental and physical deficiencies, the poor boy had become morbidly shy and reserved. Yet he had many good qualities. He never forgot the smallest service shown him, and was invariably kind and courteous even to the humblest. Many tales are told of his sympathy with the poor and suffering, and even as a child he would part with his dearest treasure to help any one in distress. But his appearance was so unprepossessing as to be almost unpleasant; and the consciousness of this made him appear at his worst with his wife, whose beauty and vivacity so enthralled him that he became dumb at her approach and would often hide behind the door when she entered the room, to avoid speaking to her.


The Neapolitan court was a contrast in more ways than one to the home Maria Sophia had left, and for which she yearned so longingly. Barely eighteen years old, overflowing with health and spirits, she found herself surrounded by an atmosphere of false humility, deceit, and religious hypocrisy; and although her natural light-heartedness helped her through many troubles and disappointments in the new life, yet she could never forget that she was a stranger in a strange land, alone and almost friendless. Fond as her father-in-law was of her, he was too ill to be able to do anything toward making her life pleasant, and the little princesses, while outwardly civil, were stiff and unsympathetic. With her brothers-in-law she was on a somewhat better footing, for they were charmed with the zest with which she entered into their sports; but the Queen from the very first had treated her with the most marked unfriendliness, correcting her constantly, as if she had been a schoolgirl, and regarding her most innocent diversions with suspicion. She even refused to allow her to ride, as she had been used to do at home; and the young Duchess sorely missed her favorite occupation.


Maria Theresa was a woman of strong will and had been accustomed to obedience from her family as well as her subjects. She had selected her most trusted lady-in-waiting to attend her stepson’s wife, hoping that Nina Rizzo, who was devoted to her mistress, would teach the Crown Princess to bow to her will as every one else did. But in this she was mistaken, for though Maria Sophia liked Nina, she remained deaf to all her exhortations on the subject, firmly determined to preserve her independence at all costs.

Meanwhile the King grew steadily worse, and the cloud over the palace darkened. The young princes tried to relieve the gloom and pass away the time by walks about the town, running races in the palace courtyard, and playing tricks on the gentlemen of the court, pastimes in which they were frequently joined by Maria Sophia. One day she went down to the shore and, with the help of an old boatman, succeeded in catching a whole basketful of fish which she bore home in triumph and had cooked for the royal table. Another time she promised her brothers-in-law to make them some Bavarian pancakes. A portable grate was secured and placed over a charcoal fire, and the Princess set to work. But no frying-pan or ladle was to be had. At this moment the mayor of Bari made his appearance, in gold-laced coat and knee breeches, to pay his respects at court. Maria Sophia was no longer in a quandary. In her own lively way she begged the official to go down into the market-place and get her the needed utensils. The obliging mayor hastened to do her bidding, and soon returned with the desired articles; but the result of the Princess’s culinary labors was most unsatisfactory after all, for the pancakes proved uneatable. Large holes were burned in the tablecloth and napkins, and amid shouts of laughter Maria Sophia abandoned any further attempts to shine as a cook in Italy. The mayor carried the frying-pan and ladle home with him as souvenirs of the merry scene, and they are still preserved as relics in his family.


Amid the general sadness that prevailed, however, these lively outbreaks became less and less frequent, and the young Duchess hailed with joy the news that the court was to move to Caserta. Nina Rizzo had often told her of the beauties of that place, and she eagerly looked forward to their departure as an hour of deliverance. The journey was long deferred, however, as the King’s sufferings were so acute he would not allow himself to be moved. A monk at length succeeded in persuading the sick man to consent, and he was carried on a mattress to a steam frigate which was to convey him from Bari to Portici in order to avoid any stop at Naples. From Portici to Caserta the five hours’ journey caused the unfortunate sovereign such torture that the Archbishop of Naples ordered continuous prayers to be offered for him in all the churches. Once amid these new surroundings—the lofty halls and salons of the palace, the enchanting park and gardens—Maria Sophia’s spirits rose, and she felt almost happy again. But it was not for long. Between the Queen’s animosity and her husband’s weakness, she soon relapsed into her old loneliness and helplessness. Almost her only diversion now was her family of parrots. She had ten, and her laughter over the ludicrous results of their attempts to speak German was the sole evidence that her natural gayety was not entirely suppressed and crushed.


Meanwhile the Queen’s supposed treasonable designs were freely discussed throughout the kingdom. It was said that on the King’s death she intended to seize the double crown for her own son, and that many of the police officials were ready to support her plans; also that the Crown Prince was forcibly excluded from his father’s sick-room. There was no truth in this latter report, however; for although Francis had indeed been carefully kept from taking any part in affairs of state hitherto, now at the eleventh hour, Ferdinand insisted upon having his son with him constantly, and giving him instructions for future guidance; these the Crown Prince copied on a sheet of paper and used frequently to consult after he became King. On the tenth of April Ferdinand made his last will and testament, leaving equal portions of his property to each of his children, with a large share to his wife, and a twelfth part to be divided among religious institutions.


In spite of the statements already published in regard to the amount and distribution of his estate, Ferdinand was popularly believed to own enormous sums in private, mainly derived from confiscation of the property of political criminals. His fortune was said to amount to three hundred million ducats. As a matter of fact, however, the King’s actual property was scarcely more than seven million ducats, although he owned a great number of jewels and other valuables.

On the twelfth of April Ferdinand received the last sacrament; but he lived on for more than a month. The superstitious Neapolitans expected his death to occur on the fifteenth of May, the anniversary of the riots there in 1848, of which the King had taken advantage for his shameful persecution of his subjects; but it was not till the twenty-second of May that his sufferings were finally ended. A frightful storm broke out during the hour of his death and this was looked upon by many as a bad omen for the new reign.


Chapter VIII
Accession of Francis II and Maria Sophia

Aside from the comparatively small circle at Bari, few of her subjects had ever seen the new Queen, while Francis himself was almost as little known to the people. A few days after their accession, the youthful sovereigns held a levee at the royal palace in Naples. The King in his hussar uniform, and the Queen in her crown and ermine robes, stood under a canopy in the centre of the great hall, while all the high officials, nobles, and dignitaries of the court and kingdom stepped forward to kiss the hands of Their Majesties. As the gorgeously attired procession wound its way past the throne, the sudden appearance of a band of poets striding along in their long black cloaks and broad-brimmed hats formed such a startling contrast to the rest of the glittering throng that Maria Sophia burst into an irrepressible peal of laughter which soon spread to all about her.


Freed at last from the dreadful oppression that had weighed her down as Crown Princess, she quickly recovered her exuberance of spirits, which found expression in various ways. The relations between her and her husband also became much more free and natural after their accession to the throne. Francis had begun, soon after the wedding, to be in love with his wife, although he did not show it. The long system of repression to which he had become accustomed had inflicted permanent injuries on his sensitive nature; but Maria Sophia’s personal charm was so great and her gayety so spontaneous that it was impossible for him to escape her fascination. Under his awkward manner, however, she did not perceive his dawning love for her, while he felt strange in the world of lovers and was unable to express his feelings, except by the eagerness with which he fulfilled her slightest wish. Nor did Maria Sophia hesitate to use her power. Once her own mistress, she quickly cast off the yoke laid upon her by the Queen at Bari and Caserta, and gave unmistakable proof that she, too, had a strong will.

At table she would beg permission to have her favorite dog, Lyonne, in the room. The King always consented; and the huge Newfoundland with her four pups would come tearing in and enjoy themselves during the rest of the meal, leaping madly about the table, and sometimes even upon it, to the indignation of the court and their mistress’s intense delight. Photography had recently come into fashion, and she had herself taken in every possible position and costume, greatly to the disgust of her mother-in-law, who objected strongly to her continual changes of costume and her frequent riding excursions. But the time was past when Maria Sophia allowed herself to be dictated to. Like a young Amazon she dashed about the streets of Naples, exciting universal admiration and amazement at her daring horsemanship.

King of Naples


As Crown Prince, Francis the Second had not been unpopular with the people. His mother had been almost worshipped; and the Neapolitans pitied the sickly boy whose life, even, so it was said, had been attempted by his stepmother. But he was utterly lacking in the qualities necessary for a sovereign. It needed a clear head and a firm hand to guide the ship of state safely through those stormy seas. His judgment was sound enough; but he was good-natured to the point of weakness, and superstitious to an almost fanatical degree. He never let a day pass without hearing mass, and went regularly to confession. One of his favorite occupations was to hold long religious conversations with Father Borelli and other priests who happened to be at court. He talked much of his dead mother, before whose portrait he would kneel for hours in prayer, and he would frequently clasp his head in his hands as if in distress, crying, “Ah, how heavy this crown is!”

One day, soon after his accession, while holding a conference with his minister of finance, Raymondo del Liguoro, the table at which they sat moved slightly, and the minister turned to see what had caused it.

“It was I who shook the table,” said the King. “I had a sudden fit of trembling. That is a bad sign. It means that I shall die soon.”


Liguoro adjured His Majesty to banish such thoughts, as his life was not his own, but belonged to the people over whom he ruled. “I do not value either my life or my kingdom very highly,” replied Francis. “I always think of what is written, ‘The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.’”

* * * * * * * *

The dowager Queen was a truly proverbial stepmother. She had never been able to reconcile herself to having her stepson inherit the united kingdoms while her own sons had nothing; even during her husband’s lifetime she had attempted to secure the succession of her eldest boy to the throne of Sicily. But King Ferdinand would not listen to this. On his death-bed he had extracted a solemn oath from each member of his family to support the rightful heir, and after his death the widowed Queen had flung herself at her stepson’s feet and promised him her allegiance. That she broke this vow has never been historically verified, the only proofs having been generously destroyed by King Francis himself. It happened in this way. Minister Filangieri had long suspected Maria Theresa of being at the head of a conspiracy to depose the young sovereign and place her son, the Count of Trani, on the throne, and at last succeeded in obtaining certain proof of this. He carried the documents at once to the King; but Francis refused to look at them. Without a glance he flung them into the fire, saying, “She was my father’s wife!”


Maria Theresa afterward indignantly denied this, declaring the whole affair a plot to sow discord between her and the King; but, be that as it may, there is no doubt that she was greatly to blame for Francis’s lack of education and training in early youth and childhood. She had brought him up as if he had been a girl, destined to live in retirement, rather than as a man who had a lofty mission to fulfil, emphasizing his natural awkwardness and timidity, and choosing tutors totally unfitted to prepare his mind for the demands of the times and his future position. His whole nature had been cowed and stunted in order that he might be kept subservient to her will.

She had also attempted these tactics with Maria Sophia, but with less success. The Bavarian Princess was far too self-reliant to submit to any such yoke. She was quite as strong-willed as her mother-in-law, besides being far wiser and cleverer. She also had her own political views, which were directly opposed to those of the dowager Queen. The latter was full of the old ideas of absolutism and had no sympathy with the new spirit of liberty, while Maria Sophia openly proclaimed her liberal opinions and urged the King to grant the country more freedom.


History shows that many women have filled the highest and most important positions with credit and honor. England has her Elizabeth, Russia her Catherine, Austria and Hungary their Maria Theresa, Scandinavia its Margareta. Maria Sophia of Naples is yet another example of feminine ability and judgment in political affairs. King Francis had no abler counsellor than his own wife, and had he followed her advice the issue of events might have been very different. But he was blinded by prejudice, by family tradition, by his education, and by court intrigues. As a child he had witnessed the bloody riots in Naples and been taught to regard such outbreaks as criminal attacks on a divinely instituted form of government. Even before his illness, Ferdinand had taken pains to instill his own principles into his son, and almost with his last breath had urged him never to allow himself to be carried away by the stream of liberalism that threatened to overflow Italy. Much as Francis loved and admired his young wife, therefore, he found it impossible to break away from the despotic ideas in which he had been steeped from his infancy, and not until it was too late did he realize the wisdom of her advice.


Chapter IX

Meanwhile events were occurring in northern Italy that were to exert a far-reaching influence on the Kingdom of Naples. The throne of Sardinia was occupied by a bold and able sovereign, Victor Emanuel of Savoy, who was fortunate enough to have as his counsellor Cavour, one of the foremost statesmen of the nineteenth century.

Together with Napoleon the Third, Victor Emanuel had inflicted a series of defeats on the Austrians early in 1859, breaking their rule in Lombardy, and thereby giving a tremendous impetus to the spirit of Italian unity. It was as if the whole country had suddenly awakened to a realization of the fact that the various States into which Italy had been divided for centuries really belonged together; and the idea of uniting them seized the popular mind with irresistible force. It is interesting to note that the national movement which occurred some ten years later in Germany had many points of resemblance to this. Both nations had only of late aspired to greater political importance: both were good fighters and governed by princes who knew how to wield the sword themselves, as well as to choose their generals and statesmen. In both cases the right men appeared at the right moment—Von Moltke and Bismarck in Germany, Garibaldi and Cavour in Italy. Cavour had several times attempted to bring about an alliance between Sardinia and Naples during the reign of Ferdinand; but his offers had been treated with scorn by that short-sighted monarch. After his death and the brilliant victory over the Austrians at Magenta, overtures to this end were again made by Sardinia to the new King of Naples.


On the twenty-fourth of June, 1859, Victor Emanuel sent Salmour, one of his ablest and most trusted diplomats, to Naples. He reminded Francis of the ties of blood that bound him to the house of Savoy, and pointed out the fact that an alliance between the two kingdoms would be security for the independence of Italy. The plan had been warmly supported by the press of northern Italy and its popularity was testified to by the enthusiasm with which Salmour’s arrival was hailed in Naples. But, on the other hand, it met with powerful opposition at court, especially on the part of the dowager Queen, who, as an Austrian archduchess, was bitter against Sardinia for the defeats her native land had suffered at its hands, and used all her influence to prejudice the weak young King against the plan. As a result, Salmour was obliged to return without accomplishing his object and the diplomatic transactions were never made public. But though Francis might reject the offer of such an alliance, he could not prevent the idea of a union between northern and southern Italy meeting with popular favor; and it spread with such lightning rapidity throughout the two kingdoms that soon only a spark was needed to kindle public enthusiasm into a blaze. In less than a year from the time that Francis refused Victor Emanuel’s proposal, that spark appeared in the form of Garibaldi.


On the sixth of May, 1860, Garibaldi embarked at Genoa with a thousand volunteers, and on the eleventh landed at Marsala, on the west coast of Sicily. Brave and hardy as his followers were, it was a hazardous undertaking to attempt, with such a force, to attack an army of over one hundred thousand regular troops; but Garibaldi knew his adversary and hoped for assistance from the people. On the fourteenth of May he assumed the dictatorship of the island in the name of Victor Emanuel, and the next day, with the aid of some hundred revolutionists, defeated General Laudi’s force of three thousand men who were occupying the heights of Calatafimi. When the Garibaldians lit their watchfires that night on the field of victory, they had good cause for rejoicing. The first battle had been fought and won. The Neapolitan troops were fleeing in confusion toward Alcamo. The people’s leader had shown that he could defeat a king’s army, and the Neapolitans had learned to fear the tri-colored banner and the red shirt. While the Neapolitan generals were vainly searching for Garibaldi in the mountains, he was already pressing on towards Palermo, the capital, meeting with strong support from the people everywhere. After three days of hard fighting before that city, it capitulated, and was occupied by the revolutionists, although two weeks elapsed before the dictator could follow up his victory. At the end of that time he again took the war-path and at Melazzo surprised the columns of General Bosco, who was in command of the finest and best disciplined troops in Sicily.


On the twenty-eighth of June the Neapolitans were forced to evacuate Messina, and a few days later the “red shirts,” whose force had now increased to about twenty thousand men, camped in the streets of that city, from Taormina to Capo del Faro. Sicily was won. Garibaldi now turned his glances toward the mainland, whose mountains towered threateningly above him across the straits, and on the evening of the twenty-first of August the banner of Italy floated above the fortifications of Reggio, the strongest post in Calabria. The defence of Reggio was the last effort of the royalist army south of Naples. Defeated and disheartened, they retreated northward, leaving the fortified towns to vie with one another in throwing open their gates to the conquerors. The fleet, too, seemed paralyzed. It made no effort to prevent the passage of Garibaldi’s men from Sicily, but proceeded northward to Naples without having fired a gun. Europe was dumb with amazement at the audacity of these champions of liberty. Garibaldi’s march from the southern extremity of Italy to Naples appeared at that time, as it still does, like a tale of the imagination. It seemed incredible that the splendid army created by King Ferdinand with the labors and sacrifices of thirty years could go to pieces like a building in an earthquake. Of course there were many reasons for this, but the chief one was Garibaldi himself. No man could have been better fitted for the leadership of such a movement. Glowing with patriotism and love of liberty, inspired with the idea of Italian unity, yet at the same time a true democrat, friend of the oppressed and foe to tyranny, disinterested, self-sacrificing, bold, and daring, a knight without fear and without reproach, he seemed created to be an ideal popular hero. Wherever he appeared in his red shirt and black felt hat he aroused the wildest enthusiasm; and popular fancy soon invested him with a halo of glory almost equal to that of William Tell in Switzerland or Joan of Arc in France.


By forced marches Garibaldi continued his triumphant progress, giving the royal troops no time to recover themselves. Twenty days after he had first set foot on the shores of Naples, he was at Salerno, only a few miles from the capital. Everywhere he was hailed as a liberator, his army welcomed with flowers and recruits where they had expected to find only foes. Well might he have said with Cæsar, “I came, I saw, I conquered!”


These events created the greatest consternation at the court of Naples, and many royalists fled the country in terror. The dowager Queen’s father, Archduke Charles of Austria, had advised King Ferdinand many years before to fortify Gaeta and Capua strongly, so as to have a safe retreat in case of revolution; and mindful of her father’s words, Maria Theresa immediately betook herself to Gaeta with all her children.


On the news of Garibaldi’s landing, Francis had consulted the Duke de Chambord as to the state of affairs. “With the enemy at the gates, there is no time for concessions and reforms,” the head of the house of Bourbon replied. “The King should mount and lead his troops against this Garibaldi and his followers!” This answer was quite in accordance with the young Queen’s opinion. She had been strongly in favor of the alliance with Victor Emanuel; but now that the opportunity for that was past and the enemy was advancing, it seemed to her there could be no other course than to take up arms in defence of the kingdom. Mirabeau declared that Marie Antoinette was the only man about Louis the Sixteenth, and those who were with Maria Sophia at this time have said the same of her; for she seemed to be the only one at court who did not lose her head. She tried in every way to encourage her husband and urge him to fight; but to her despair Francis seemed incapable of arriving at any decisive course of action. He wavered to and fro like a reed in the wind, doubtful of himself and suspicious of all about him; seeking for support now here, now there, but unable to decide on anything till it was too late, and the time for parleying was past.


Chapter X
The Flight from Naples

On the fourth of September news was received that Garibaldi was nearing Naples with a large army, the number of which was enormously exaggerated, however. The King hastily summoned a council in the middle of the night. The only remedy for the situation now would have been to attempt to block Garibaldi’s approach by attacking him at Salerno, which was connected with Naples by rail; but General Bosco, who was in favor of this course, was ill in bed, and his views were not shared by the other commanders, who feared the revolutionists might effect a landing nearer the city, thus cutting off the troops from a retreat. They all agreed that it was better to make Capua and Gaeta the centre of operations against the enemy, and the only dissenting voice was that of the aged General Carrascosa, who declared to the King, “If Your Majesty leaves Naples now, you will never return!”

His words made no impression, however. Francis left it to the generals to decide; but they refused to take the responsibility.


As a last resort, Maria Sophia pointed out to her husband that it was his duty to prevent his capital from being destroyed by a bombardment; and in this appeal she was joined by Cardinal Riario Sforza, who besought the King to save Naples from fire and sword. He was thinking, no doubt, of the one hundred and eighty churches within the city walls; but his words had the desired effect, for Francis had the deepest reverence for anything that concerned religion. The next morning he summoned Sforza to the palace and informed him that he had decided to withdraw the army to a strong position between Capua and Gaeta. At the same time he requested his trusted counsellor, Spinelli, to assist him in drawing up a farewell proclamation to the people; and after this had been accomplished, he went out to drive with the Queen in an open carriage, escorted by two gentlemen of the court. It was their last ride through the streets of Naples.

Francis, however, did not betray the slightest anxiety over the important step he was about to take; and as for the Queen, she was apparently in her usual spirits, laughing and joking with the King and her two cavaliers: yet how often in those weary years of exile must their thoughts have reverted in memory to that scene they now looked upon with such indifference!


At the end of the Strada di Chiaja, directly in front of the court apothecary’s shop, the royal carriage was stopped by a long line of loaded wagons. The apothecary had a sign over his door, bearing the Bourbon lilies, and a man was now mounted on a ladder busily engaged in removing it. The Duke of San Donato, who happened to be passing, was furious at the sight and expressed his anger in no measured terms; but neither Francis nor Maria Sophia showed the least displeasure. They only looked at each other and laughed at the apothecary’s foresight. The following morning the King’s proclamation was displayed on every street corner in Naples. It was calm and dignified in tone, and expressed less resentment than resignation. At the same time he issued a protest to all the foreign powers against Garibaldi’s invasion of his territory, together with an assertion of his rights. It was no small task to prepare for so sudden a flight, and there was little sleep that night in the palace. Huge vans were loaded and sent off secretly under military guard, and their contents carried early the next morning on board two steamships which lay at anchor in the harbor; but in the hurry, only personal belongings were taken, and all the treasures of the palace, such as the vast quantities of gold and silver plate that had been accumulated during the hundred and twenty-six years of Bourbon rule in Naples, were left behind and afterwards confiscated by Garibaldi and turned over to the provisional Government. All that Francis carried away with him, except for a chest containing various relics and images of saints, were a painting of St. Peter, a statue and marble bust of Pope Pius the Ninth, a Titian portrait of Alexander Farnese, and a Holy Family by Raphael. Of these, the last was undoubtedly the most valuable; but even this splendid work of art the young sovereigns did not keep. The Spanish ambassador, Bermudez de Castro, begged Francis to give it to him, and the good-natured King consented. De Castro afterward tried to sell it to the Louvre galleries, but was not satisfied with the price offered. He then sent it to the South Kensington Museum in London, where by an unskilful attempt at restoration it lost so much of its beauty and value that no one would buy it. In his will the ambassador returned it to the exiled King; but neither Francis nor Maria Sophia ever claimed it, and the painting still remains at South Kensington.


On the morning of the sixth of September, Francis sent for the commander of the National Guard, and after expressing his thanks for their loyal support, repeated the comforting assurance that the troops had received strict orders to protect the capital. He had prepared a list of those of his court whom he wished to accompany him to Gaeta; but when the time came to leave, the royal master of the horse, Count Michaëlo Imperiale, was the only member of the royal household present. The King was so touched by his devotion that he presented him on the spot with the Grand Cross of the Order of San Fernando.


About four o’clock in the afternoon the ministers repaired in a body to the palace to take leave of their sovereign, whose hand they were to kiss for the last time under his own roof. Francis tried hard to control himself, speaking kindly to all, and tenderly embracing his two most devoted friends, Torella and Spinelli. But the number present was pitifully small. Those who had received the most favor at the hands of their sovereigns were as usual the first to desert them. Nor were there any special manifestations of regret and sympathy among the populace at the departure of the King and Queen, which was regarded merely as a measure for assuring the safety of the city, while Garibaldi’s approach was anticipated with mingled hope and fear.

About half-past six Francis and Maria Sophia left the palace on foot, he in uniform as usual, she in an ordinary travelling dress and large straw hat trimmed with flowers. Accompanied by several ladies and gentlemen of the court, they walked through the palace gardens and down the long flight of steps that led to the arsenal, the Queen leaning on her husband’s arm, gay and cheerful as ever in spite of the ominous cloud that shadowed their departure. Below them lay the Gulf of Naples, smooth and bright as silver; but in the distance the bare, sombre peak of Vesuvius rose like a menace amid the smiling beauty of nature. The firemen of the ship in which the royal party was to embark had had to be kept on board by force, and some advised the King to place himself under the protection of some foreign flag, or to escape from the city secretly. Undecided, as usual, Francis knew neither what he could do, nor what he ought to do; but the captain of the vessel, who was thoroughly loyal, finally persuaded him to go on board, urging that it would be beneath the King’s dignity to flee from his capital like a criminal.


Only one Italian vessel accompanied the King, but with it were two Spanish warships carrying the Austrian, Prussian, and Spanish ambassadors. The journey was most depressing. It had been decided upon so suddenly that no one thought of taking such ordinary things as food or even the few necessaries that would have made them comfortable. It was a wonderfully beautiful night, and the Queen sat on deck until ten o’clock, when it grew cold. Worn out with the fatigues and excitement of the last twenty-four hours, she went into the little deck cabin and lay down on a sofa. The King did not go to bed at all. Except for a few words now and then with the Captain, he spent the night silently pacing up and down the deck, watching the shores of Naples gradually fade from view, and thinking, who knows what?


About two o’clock he asked whether the Queen had retired, and when told she was still asleep in the little cabin he went in and stood for a long time gazing down at her. Then removing his own cloak he gently spread it over her to protect her from the chill of the night air, and returned to his silent watch. Early the next morning they entered the harbor of Gaeta, and were met at the landing by Maria Theresa and her children with Father Borelli, her confessor. Francis had consulted this priest some months before as to the advisability of granting his subjects a more liberal form of government, and Father Borelli had merely echoed the views of the deceased King, declaring that such a course would only hasten a revolution, and warning him against it.

“I believe you are right,” Francis answered, “but fear it will be impossible for me to follow your advice.”

“Then Your Majesty may perhaps remember this day as the last on which I shall kiss the hand of a King of Naples,” returned the priest.

This conversation now recurred to them both, as Borelli came forward to greet the King, kissing his hand again and again with tears in his eyes.

“Father,” said Francis, with a melancholy smile, “do you remember what you said to me on St. John’s Day at Portici?”

“Ah, Your Majesty,” replied Borelli, “even though you should no longer be a King on earth, you may yet become a saint in heaven.”


* * * * * * * *

Francis and Maria Sophia had no sooner left the capital than a deputation was sent out to welcome the liberator, while the former minister of foreign affairs prepared an address to Garibaldi, declaring that Naples was waiting with impatience to greet him as the deliverer of Italy, and lay the fate of the kingdom in his hands. They did not have long to wait. The popular hero hastened his advance, and arrived so quickly that there was barely time to prepare for his reception. There was little sleep that night in Naples, and the first rays of the morning sun found the whole city astir. The principal thoroughfares were thronged with men, most of them armed, for fear of a reactionary movement. Windows, balconies, even the roofs of houses were crowded with spectators. Everything conspired to surround Garibaldi and his men with a halo of romance. Their picturesque garb, rapid conquests, and fiery proclamations appealed to the imagination of the hot-blooded southerners and roused them to wildest enthusiasm. Guards had been placed at all the exits of the railway station, where a large number of prominent citizens had assembled to welcome the hero. Presently a bell was heard, and a train drew in. A great shout arose; but it was found to contain only a band of foreign mercenaries who had recently joined the victorious party. At noon another bell sounded, and Garibaldi’s approach was signalled. The train stopped. Thousands of voices joined in the shout of “Long live Garibaldi!” as two men in red shirts appeared. They were embraced with such vehemence by the excited Neapolitans that one of them, who was taken for Garibaldi, barely escaped alive. The great man himself had gone out by another door, however, and when this was discovered there was a general stampede to find him. This time they were successful.


Garibaldi’s entry into Naples was as brilliant and spectacular as the rightful sovereign’s departure had been quiet and unnoticed. A huge national flag had been unfurled, bearing the arms of the house of Savoy, with the white horse of Naples and the lion of Venice; and Garibaldi kissed this with tears rolling down his cheeks, declaring, “Soon we shall all be united brethren!” while many of the spectators also wept. He and a few of his companions then entered the open carriages that were waiting to convey him to the city. Eight thousand of the royal troops had been left in the citadel and a few outposts to maintain order; but they had received no orders to resist the revolutionists, and even had such been the case, it is doubtful if they would have obeyed, so carried away were they by the tide of popular enthusiasm, as, amid deafening cheers, the waving of hundreds of tri-colored banners and showers of blossoms from every window, Garibaldi entered in triumph the gayly decorated city, while even the skies seemed to share the joy of the people and smile upon the liberator of “La Bella Napoli.”


He refused to occupy the royal palace which had been so lately vacated by the sovereigns, but drove on to a smaller one, generally used for the accommodation of foreign princes, where he took up his quarters. Vast crowds surged about the building, shouting for the Dictator, till at length one of the revolutionists appeared on a balcony, then another, and finally the hero himself. Again a storm of cheers broke forth, and, unable to make himself heard above the uproar, he leaned over the iron railing and gazed down at the throng below. His usually ruddy face was pale with emotion, and wore a look of sadness curiously in contrast to the feverish joy of his admirers; but there was a gleam in his eye that betrayed the fires that glowed within. He lifted his hand to command silence, then began in tones so clear and distinct that not a syllable escaped the ear:

“Neapolitans! This is a solemn and memorable day. After long years of oppression under the yoke of tyranny, you are to-day a free people. I thank you in the name of all Italy. You have completed a great work, not only for your countrymen but for all mankind, whose rights you have upheld. Long live freedom! the dearer to Italy, since she, of all nations, has suffered the most. Long live Italy!”

The shout was taken up by thousands of throats and, their “Viva Italia!” could have been heard from one end of the city to the other.

That afternoon Garibaldi visited the cathedral and was greeted with even greater enthusiasm than in the morning. At night every house was illuminated, and a torch-light procession paraded through the principal streets, which were filled with excited throngs rushing about, every man with a flag in one hand and a sword or a knife in the other, shouting and embracing one another for joy. Garibaldi was the idol of the hour, and Naples was his completely.


But here and there were still a few who remained loyal to the reigning family and were anxious as to their fate. Francis, in his haste, had neglected to remove his private fortune of eleven million ducats—the dowry Queen Maria Christina had brought with her from Sardinia—from the Bank of Naples where it was kept. When Garibaldi learned this he sent for the man to whom the receipt had been entrusted, an officer of the royal household named Rispoli, and forced him to give up the document, which, afterward, he handed over to the new government.

Poor Rispoli, who was devoted to his master, was so overcome at being deprived of his trust that he was stricken with apoplexy and died the following day.


Chapter XI
Siege of Gaeta

It is probable that Francis at the time of his departure from Naples had no definite ideas as to how far he should offer resistance to the course of events. His friends urged him to wait quietly till the first wave of enthusiasm had passed, hoping he might then return to the throne as a member of an Italian confederation. From Gaeta he went with his brothers to Capua, where their presence did much to restore unity among the royal troops and revive their sinking courage, and where he was speedily joined by all who had anything to gain by adhering to the Bourbon cause or were too deeply compromised to venture to remain in Naples under the new regime. A much more valuable addition to the King’s forces, however, was a large number of volunteers from southern Germany, who had hastened to the aid of their fair countrywoman, and to whose valor it was largely owing that they were able to hold out so long.


The arsenal and other stores in Naples had fallen into the hands of the enemy; but after Francis had collected and organized his troops beyond the Volturno, he found himself with fifty thousand well provisioned and equipped men at his command. Fired now for the first time with true martial spirit, he determined to cut his way through Garibaldi’s forces to Naples, where, he was assured by secret agents, the fickle populace would welcome him back with open arms. On the first of October, at daybreak, accordingly, the attack was begun; but the royal troops were defeated and driven back across the Volturno, the gates of Capua being thrown open at five o’clock that afternoon to admit the fugitives.

Victor Emanuel had already determined to take a hand in affairs, although Naples had voted unanimously for the annexation of the Two Sicilies to an “Italia una,” and was by this time well on his way thither to assist in the reorganization of this new portion of his domains. The news of his approach spread terror and despair among the King’s forces; but Francis and his generals decided to await the enemy in a strong position on the further bank of the Garigliano, where on the twenty-eighth of October they were fortunate enough to repel an attack. But the advantage was a brief one. Capua soon had to be abandoned and, led by Victor Emanuel himself, the Piedmontese crossed the Garigliano, forcing the Neapolitans to retire within the shelter of Gaeta.


This town, often called from its location the Gibraltar of Italy, is one of the most strongly fortified places on the peninsula, and has played a prominent part in the wars of southern Italy. The Bay of Gaeta not only compares well with the gulf of Naples in beauty, but as a harbor is even better adapted to commerce, being both larger and deeper. The town is situated some sixteen miles from Naples, ten from Capua, three from the boundaries of what were then the Papal States, and seventeen from Rome; forming with San Germano and Capua a trio of defences capable of offering a long and stout resistance.

Gaeta at this time had a population of about fifteen thousand. It was a gay and picturesque little town, irregularly but not unattractively built, with well-paved if somewhat steep and narrow streets. Tradition points to a neighboring grove as the spot where Cicero was murdered by Antony’s orders; and between the citadel and the shore are some ruins called by the people the tower of Roland, where a friend of the Emperor Augustus was buried. The town and the citadel are situated on two rocky heights, separated by a steep cleft, the greater part of the town occupying the southernmost of these, while on the northern and much the larger one, rises the citadel with its fortifications. Both are practically inaccessible from the sea, while the west side of the neck of land, that connects the mainland with the outer point, also falls away steeply. Small villages line the shore; and still farther to the south, where the coast recedes so deeply that the bay lies between it and Gaeta, is the town of Mola, where the Piedmontese established their headquarters. It would seem that Victor Emanuel’s generals, made over-confident by the easy victories they had met with thus far in the Kingdom of Naples, scarcely looked for any serious resistance here.


But supported by a French fleet which protected the coast, by the presence of a well equipped and disciplined army, and above all by his heroic wife, Francis had at length determined to hold out in spite of everything. In the citadel, besides the King and Queen, were Maria Theresa with her five sons and four daughters, the youngest of whom was not yet three years old; the King’s two uncles, the Prince of Capua and the Count of Trapani; a few faithful friends who had followed their sovereign, and all the diplomatic corps, with the exception of the English and French ambassadors, who had received explicit orders from their Governments to remain in Naples to report what was passing there. All communication between Francis and the Emperor Napoleon, therefore, had to be carried on through the French admiral.

In spite of their recent experiences, the royal family did not seem to realize at first the seriousness of the situation. Gaeta had a garrison of twenty-one thousand men, and the citadel was well supplied with ammunition, while provisions for the army could easily be obtained from the Papal States, through the ports of Terracina and Civita Vecchia. The Count of Trapani was in nominal command, but the real leader of the defence was General Bosco. At the time of his surrender to Garibaldi in Sicily, this able officer had sworn not to take up arms for six months; but this period had now elapsed, and his return inspired the royal family with hope and confidence.


On the thirteenth of November, 1860, the bombardment of Gaeta was begun by the Piedmontese, whose fire was vigorously returned from the citadel. A week later the dowager Queen retired to Rome with her younger children, and on the same day the diplomats took their departure, all except the Spanish ambassador, Bermudez de Castro, who was a personal friend of the King. Even the Archbishop of Gaeta deserted the sinking ship, though his place should have been now, more than ever, with his flock. Francis tried to persuade Maria Sophia to leave him, and go to her home in Bavaria while it was yet possible, but she absolutely refused. More closely drawn to her husband in this time of danger than ever before, she announced her firm intention of remaining with him to the last, even though abandoned by all the world.


Europe had held but a poor opinion of Francis the Second during his short reign. His weakness and cowardice had been openly criticised; while in Naples itself he had been variously nicknamed “Bombino,” “Franciscillo,” and “Il Re Imbecile.” But in misfortune all his better qualities came to the surface. At Gaeta, no longer distracted by conflicting counsels, he became firmer and more manly, while his readiness to sacrifice all personal feeling to what he believed to be his duty, and his generosity toward those who should have been his foes, could not but command respect. For example, two Piedmontese merchantmen took refuge in the harbor of Gaeta one terribly stormy night; but instead of seizing them and their cargoes, as would have been his right, he permitted them to leave the bay the next morning, unmolested. He was constantly visiting the outworks, inspecting the work, and doing his best to keep up the courage of his men, in which he was bravely assisted by his two elder half-brothers; but the Queen surpassed them all in courage, scorning every danger and discomfort and looking death calmly in the face. Every day and often at night she visited the hospitals, carrying food, medicines, and fruit, doing all she could to relieve the sufferers, and shrinking from no wound, however terrible. Once during the illness of one of the Sisters of Mercy, Maria Sophia took her place as nurse, and though shells were falling so thick about the hospital tent that her life was in constant danger, she refused to leave her post. The soldiers were always rejoiced to see her and would follow her about with their eyes in the most adoring way. They gloried in their beautiful, spirited young Queen, dashing about on her horse from one to another of the hastily improvised hospitals that were set up on the different batteries.


The Piedmontese noticed that at the sound of a certain bell there always seemed to be some commotion in the citadel of the besieged city, and curious to know the meaning of it, some officers in one of the nearest outposts fixed their field-glasses on the fortress at that particular time. Much to their surprise they discovered a young woman in the Calabrian costume, moving about among the guns and encouraging the artillerymen, quite regardless of the storm of shells that was falling about her. It was Maria Sophia, making her daily visit to the so-called “Queen’s Battery” to watch the firing from there, and a striking picture she made in her long cloak and Calabrian hat, gay and smiling as ever, glorying apparently in danger, and careless of her own fate.

It had been agreed that a black flag should be hoisted while the Queen was making her rounds among the wounded, and the sign was at first respected by the enemy, but Maria Sophia herself paid no attention to it as she rode calmly about her business even in those fortifications exposed to the heaviest fire. One day a bomb fell so close to her feet that she would certainly have been torn to pieces had not an officer seized her in his arms and swung her behind a projecting wall. Another day, while standing in one of the window embrasures in the citadel, talking with the Spanish ambassador, a shell burst so near that the window panes were shattered and the Queen’s face was cut by the flying glass. But she only laughed, saying, “It is unkind of the enemy to leave me nowhere in peace. They have just driven me from one place, and now will not let me stay here, either.”


“Ah, but you have had your wish granted, madame,” replied the Ambassador, “you wanted to see a ball as close as possible.”

“Yes, and I also wished for a slight wound,” added the Queen gayly.

* * * * * * * *

From Gaeta Francis had issued another proclamation to his subjects, protesting against the new order of things, and avowing his good faith toward them and the constitution he had granted them, in spite of all that had happened; but though widely distributed, it was powerless to stem the current of events. As we have seen, the King had lost many opportunities of securing an advantage at the beginning of the war. By retreating to Gaeta he was placed in the curious position, for a commander, of having cut himself off from two-thirds of his army. He had given orders for the majority of these to slip away across the Roman borders, hoping they might be reassembled later, to form the nucleus for an uprising in the Abruzzo Mountains. Reports, however, of the terrible treatment received by prisoners at the hands of the Piedmontese so alarmed the soldiers that they made no attempt to escape till it was too late, and the few that did reach Roman territory were promptly disarmed. The French fleet, lying in the Bay of Gaeta, had proved of inestimable value in protecting the city from attack by sea. The friendly attitude of the Admiral also made it possible for the King’s friends to furnish him with provisions, while the supply ships carried many of the Neapolitan troops away from Gaeta, landing them at Civita Vecchia and Terracina. In this way the garrison was reduced to fifteen thousand men; but even so, the food supply soon began to fall short.


As early as the twenty-second of November, a journalist wrote in his diary that provisions of all kinds had doubled in price, and the situation grew worse and worse as time went on. Rice, beans, even bread, were almost impossible to obtain, and macaroni and potatoes were sold for thrice their usual value. Fish and meat were to be had only by the officers in small quantities and of the poorest quality. Then an epidemic of typhus fever broke out, which soon filled every bed in the hospitals. The King and Queen did all in their power to obtain nourishing food for the sick and wounded, sending fish and other delicacies procured for their own table to the Sisters of Mercy to be distributed in the hospitals.


Chapter XII

The siege of Gaeta lasted from the thirteenth of November, 1860, to the thirteenth of February, 1861, a space of three months. With the new year it was pushed with redoubled vigor. Both town and citadel were exposed to incessant fire, and the noise was so deafening that people had to scream to make themselves heard. Not a single building remained intact. Many lives were lost by exploding shells or falling houses, and the whole place presented a scene of utter destruction. The Piedmontese have been accused of sparing neither church nor hospital, and the sick and wounded, as well as their nurses, were exposed to the same dangers as the rest of the inhabitants. The Red Cross Society was not in existence at that time; but the terrible experiences of the wounded in the wars of northern Italy the preceding year led to the formation of that association three years later.


The enemy’s fire now began to be directed chiefly against the citadel where the royal family were known to reside, and the officers begged the King and Queen to move to a place of greater safety. One of the casemates of an adjoining battery was accordingly prepared for their occupancy, and here in this small damp vault they lived for the remainder of the siege, with the princes, the few members of the court who had remained loyal, and some of the officers. The casemate was divided by thin wooden partitions into a number of small chambers, each containing a bed, one chair, and a small table. The narrow passage connecting these cells was always crowded with people waiting to speak to the officers and servants who had long since laid aside all badges of royal service.

A low door led to the square chamber occupied by the Queen, which was furnished in addition with a couch and a prie-dieu; a small recess adjoining having been made into a dressing-room. As a protection against shells or flying missiles, a heavy oak beam had been placed diagonally across the tiny window overlooking the street; a precaution which made the room so dark a light had to be kept burning day and night. The little air that penetrated to the cell was thick with smoke and tainted with foul odors, while the ceaseless thunder of cannon directly above must have made it a far from pleasant place of residence. Yet from this gloomy vault Maria Sophia wrote her parents not to worry about her, for under the circumstances she was doing very well. She bore all these dangers and hardships with the same cheerful courage she had shown from the first, tending the wounded, inspiring the soldiers by her presence among them in the smoke of battle—the soul, in short, of the defence, and a splendid example of bravery and fortitude. Through the efforts of the French admiral, a ten days’ truce was arranged, and the Neapolitans hastened to take advantage of it to procure a supply of provisions from Terracina and to strengthen their batteries, while the officers tried to encourage the garrison by reports of speedy assistance from without. On the sixteenth of January the sound of guns was heard again; but this time it was not those of the besieging army, but of the French fleet which had not yet left the harbor, although the Emperor Napoleon had notified Francis that it would be impossible for him to continue the neutrality he had hitherto maintained. Decorated from deck to mast-head with flags, the foreign squadron was saluting the King in honor of his twenty-fifth birthday, the last he was ever to spend within the boundaries of his kingdom.


Three days later the truce was declared at an end, and in the beleaguered city all eyes were fixed anxiously upon the fleet. Although there were rumors in the air of its departure, the people still hoped they might be false as so many others had proved. About two o’clock, however, smoke was seen rising from one of the vessels, and it was soon evident that the whole squadron was getting up steam. One after another lifted anchor and began to move; and an hour later the huge flagship, La Bretagne, glided majestically past the lighthouse on the outermost point of the harbor, leaving the last of the Italian Bourbons to his fate. With the French fleet, vanished the last hope of rescue; and from this time until the end of the siege, nearly a month later, Gaeta was completely cut off from the rest of the world, and surrounded on all sides by the enemy. With the increase of famine and sickness the situation grew daily worse. Help from without could no longer be looked for, and rumors of treachery began to be heard among the troops. The barracks were damp, the hospitals overflowing, and they were tired of a struggle that could have but one end. The King and his brothers worked bravely to keep up the courage of the garrison, and the Queen was untiring in her efforts to relieve the sick and suffering; but even they had lost hope.


All correspondence between Napoleon and King Francis had ceased on the twelfth of December, but about the middle of January a vessel arrived from France bringing a confidential letter from the Empress Eugénie to Maria Sophia. In it she declared frankly and without circumlocution that it would be as well to abandon the defence of Gaeta which had cost so many lives, since it would be quite useless to look for aid from any European power—the latter sentence underlined.


This left no room for misunderstanding. At last the King realized that his cause was lost—that all his wife’s splendid energy and the loyalty of his troops had been wasted in a hopeless struggle. On the twenty-seventh of January he received a letter from Napoleon informing him that the French corvette, La Movette, had been prepared for the accommodation of Their Majesties in case of the surrender of Gaeta, and would remain in the Bay of Naples awaiting their orders. The town was now only a smoking heap of ruins. The explosion of powder magazines had caused even greater destruction than the enemy’s guns, and the casemate in which the royal family had taken refuge might be destroyed at any moment should the siege be continued. The garrison was reduced to twelve thousand men with over twelve hundred in the various hospitals, most of them victims of the epidemic of typhus which had proved so fatal. Among those who had succumbed already to the disease were four of the King’s generals and the priest, Father Borelli, who had remained in Gaeta to minister to the sick and wounded.

Francis hesitated no longer, but sent a message to the Piedmontese commander-in-chief requesting an armistice to arrange articles of capitulation. The terms were as follows: the garrison should retain their military honors, but remain prisoners until the surrender of Messina and the citadel Del Tronto. When this had taken place, both officers and men were to receive full pay with the choice of entering the Piedmontese army or returning to their homes, all who were honorably discharged to be pensioned. The King and Queen, with the rest of the royal family, were to be permitted to embark on the French vessel which had been placed at their disposal, with as many persons as they wished to take with them in their suite.


The capitulation was signed on the thirteenth of February, and the next morning at eight o’clock La Movette entered the Bay of Gaeta. The troops were already drawn up in long lines, extending from the casemate occupied by the King and Queen to the landing; their tattered clothes and wasted forms bearing witness to these last terrible months. Misfortune had formed a close bond between the survivors of the siege, and as the soldiers presented arms to their sovereigns for the last time, their cheeks were wet with tears.

An eyewitness of the departure of Francis the Second and Maria Sophia from Gaeta has described the touching scene. The King was in uniform, with sword and spurs, the Queen wearing the round Calabrian hat shown in the photograph taken of her at that time. The deposed monarch was deadly pale, and as gaunt as any of his soldiers. “As for the Queen,” declared this observer, “I could not see how she looked, my eyes were so blinded with tears.”

The people had gathered in crowds, every face showing traces of the suffering they had undergone; but all seemed to forget their own troubles in the misfortunes of their sovereigns. When the King and Queen appeared, their emotion burst all bounds. Many wept aloud as they pressed forward to kiss the hand of the Queen with far greater warmth and enthusiasm than was shown by the people of Bari when they greeted her arrival as a bride on the shores of Italy, two years before. Only two short years, and yet how much had been crowded into them! And how different that day from this!


Francis had already issued a parting proclamation to his troops, thanking them in touching terms for their devotion to him and to the honor of the army; and as La Movette, flying the banner of the Bourbons, glided slowly out of the harbor, a unanimous and deafening shout of “Evviva il Re!” was their last farewell to the exiled sovereign. The French on the corvette welcomed their guests with royal honors, the officers in full uniform and the sailors lined up on deck to receive them. With the King and Queen were the Counts of Trani and Caserta and three of the Neapolitan generals. During the journey from Gaeta to Terracina, Francis and his brothers showed the greatest calmness, conversing cheerfully with their suite, and the French officers could not refrain from expressing their admiration at the King’s dignified acceptance of his fate. Maria Sophia had remained alone on the after deck, leaning over the railing, her eyes fixed on the cliffs of Gaeta. The smiling landscape seemed an irony of her mood. A gloomy sky would have been more suited to the thoughts that filled her bosom. She remembered with what noble aims she had come to this new land, what fine resolutions to share in all works for promoting the welfare of the people over whom she had been called to rule—and what had been the result? Even her labors at Gaeta had been in vain.


As La Movette passed the battery “Santa Maria,” a royal salute was fired, and soon after the corvette rounded the point and Gaeta was lost to sight. The crew hauled down the Bourbon lilies and hoisted the French tri-color—Maria Sophia was no longer a Queen. She turned away with a chill at her heart. The deck was empty and a cold wind had suddenly arisen, banishing the warmth of the sunshine and sending a shiver through her from head to foot.


Chapter XIII
After the Fall of Gaeta

The news of the fall of Gaeta was hailed with joy by the fickle Neapolitans, who seized the occasion as a welcome excuse for more parades and festivities, with dancing and singing from morning till night. The day after the departure of Francis and Maria Sophia, the garrison evacuated the town. Officers and soldiers laid down their arms before the walls of the citadel, and the fortifications were occupied by the Piedmontese. Soon after, the citadel Del Tronto opened its gates to Victor Emanuel’s troops, and with the surrender of Messina on the first of March, the Bourbon lilies disappeared from southern Italy.

On the fifteenth of February, the exiles landed at Terracina, heavy at heart, and were escorted by a company of French dragoons to Rome, where they took up their residence in the Palazzo Farnese as guests of Pope Pius the Ninth. Maria Sophia was not a devout Catholic like her husband. She had not wished to go to Rome, and found no comfort in the Holy Father’s friendship. The dowager Queen was also living in Rome with her children, and the close companionship into which the exiles were thus forced by circumstances did not tend to improve the relations between the ex-Queen and her mother-in-law.


In times of trouble we naturally turn to our kin for sympathy, and Maria Sophia was seized with desperate longing for her mother and her Bavarian home. Early in April, therefore, she set out for Possenhofen, accompanied by General Bosco. The two years she had spent in Naples had been far from happy. She returned a queen without a crown, deprived of all save honor. But the familiar scenes and faces, and above all the comfort of pouring out her heart to the strong, noble mother, who had suffered so much herself, restored her courage, and she soon became her cheerful, lively self once more, her eyes sparkling with animation, full of spirit and energy.


The young Queen’s heroic behavior during the defence of Gaeta had taken Europe by storm. Her praises were on every tongue, and the beauty, the courage, the warm-heartedness of the “Heroine of Gaeta” were lauded in prose and verse. She was deluged with tokens of admiration and sympathy, among which were a gold laurel wreath from the princesses of Germany and a sword of honor from the women of Paris. The dowager Queen, Maria Theresa, had not yet given up hope that she and her children might return to Naples. Since Francis the Second had proved himself incapable of maintaining his place on Ferdinand’s throne, she was more determined than ever that her own eldest son should occupy it; and in order to prevent any opposition on the part of the Wittelsbach and Hapsburg families, she succeeded in arranging a marriage between the Count of Trani and Maria Sophia’s sister Mathilde soon after the arrival of the exiles in Rome, neither of the young people’s wishes in the matter having been consulted in the least. Maria Sophia returned to Rome after a month’s stay with her parents, and in May the bridegroom went to Munich to meet his unknown bride. This prince was far more attractive than his stepbrother in outward appearance, having a frank, winning manner and the utmost propriety of behavior. The wedding was put off for a month, that the young people might become better acquainted, the Count accompanying the ducal family to Possenhofen, where he occupied a neighboring villa on Starnberg Lake.

On the sixth of June, 1861, the ceremony took place in the ducal palace at Munich, and the next morning the newly married pair set out on their wedding journey, escorted as far as Zürich by the bride’s parents and sisters. At Marseilles a Spanish warship was waiting to convey them to Civita Vecchia, where they were warmly welcomed by the ex-King and Queen of Naples, who accompanied them back to Rome.


Immediately after the fall of Gaeta, Francis had despatched a letter to the Emperor Napoleon, thanking him for the friendly interest he had shown and expressing his appreciation of the courteous treatment he and his wife had received from the officers of La Movette. As yet the exiled sovereign scarcely knew how his position was regarded by the European powers; Victor Emanuel had already assumed the title of King of Italy, and this moved Francis to issue a circular urging them to discountenance any pretensions on the part of the King of Sardinia.

It is doubtful whether he had at first any idea of continuing the struggle, but he had no sooner arrived in Rome than he became the centre of a counter revolution planned by the Legitimist and Papist party, the object of which was to make Naples again an absolute monarchy, this being regarded as the surest safeguard of the Pope’s temporal power in Rome. The dowager Queen contributed a large share of her property to aid this undertaking, and Francis himself gave all he could spare of the little he had been able to retain of his private fortune. But all in vain. The attempt was unsuccessful and the Bourbon cause in Italy hopelessly lost.

Maria Sophia took no part in these efforts to recover the lost crown. She had no confidence in her husband’s ability and strongly disapproved of her mother-in-law’s intrigues. As Queen of the Two Sicilies she had boldly put aside everything that interfered with her personal liberty; but under these changed conditions and the protection of the papal power she had no longer the right to assert her independence or resent the elder woman’s jealous opposition. The monotony and inactivity to which she was doomed in Rome were torture to her energetic spirit, and she became nervous and irritable. By way of retaliation and diversion she resorted to all sorts of tricks and foolish pranks, which enraged her mother-in-law and were little becoming a queen on whom the eyes of Europe had been so recently fixed with admiration and respect.


But this unnatural life had much more serious results also. Meeting, as she constantly did, men far more clever and attractive than the ex-King of Naples, it was not strange that the latter should have suffered in comparison, although, had he shown his love for her in the early days of their married life, she might still have preferred him to others. Her husband’s apparent coldness, however, had chilled the warmth of her impulsive nature and turned her affections back upon herself. With such a temperament and capacity for love, these pent-up emotions could not fail to find an outlet sooner or later. A Belgian officer won her heart; and Maria Sophia, full of life and ardor, forgot her dignity as Queen, remembering only that she was young, a woman desperately craving affection, alone in a dull, joyless court, where the life was intolerable to her.


Less than a year after the heroic defence of Gaeta it was said that the ex-Queen of Naples was suffering from a disease of the lungs, and much alarm was felt for her health. Early in the Summer she left Rome, accompanied by the Count and Countess of Trani, and went to Possenhofen, where the family was once more reunited. Fate had not dealt kindly with the Wittelsbach sisters. It was no secret that the Empress of Austria’s happiness was wrecked and her health deranged, and Hélène of Thurn and Taxis had fared little better. Elizabeth’s marriage to Francis Joseph had crushed her ambitious hopes, and the disappointment had embittered her whole life, although it had made no difference in the affectionate relations between the sisters, Hélène having left her own home to accompany the invalid Empress to Madeira. Mathilde of Trani had been married only a year; but the temperaments of the Count and Countess were totally unsuited to each other. The young couple had no permanent place of residence, no prospects for the future, and the present was full of difficulties.

It was generally known that the climate and life in Rome had seriously affected the health of the ex-Queen of Naples; but a mother’s sharp eyes soon discovered that there was a deeper source of trouble. This daughter, who had inherited all her father’s brilliancy and charm, was especially dear to the Duchess Ludovica, and as she had always shared her child’s joys, she now comforted her in her hour of despair. Early in August Maria Sophia left Possenhofen for a sojourn at the baths of Soden, which it was hoped would benefit her health, and after a visit to her eldest sister at Taxis, returned to Bavaria with her mother and the Empress Elizabeth. Francis still loved his wife deeply, in spite of the blow his faith in her had received, and both he and her own family tried to persuade her to return to him; but her health was still so poor she had little wish to expose herself again to the climate of Rome. In October she retired to an Ursuline convent at Augsburg, much against the wishes of her family, who feared it would appear to the world like a permanent separation from her husband. They begged her at least to come to Munich and live; but the quiet convent life suited Maria and she refused to leave her peaceful retreat.


Next to the Duchess Ludovica, her most frequent visitor at Augsburg was Queen Marie of Bavaria, who had always been her closest friend, and it was she who finally persuaded her cousin to exchange the convent for a residence in Munich. In January, 1863, Maria Sophia moved to the Schloss Biederstein, situated close to the English gardens and one of the most beautiful spots in the Bavarian capital. Again and again the ex-King of Naples made offers of reconciliation, and at length his patience and devotion touched his wife’s heart. Possibly, also, her eyes were gradually opened to the silent martyrdom he, on his own part, had endured so long and which she at the time had little understood or appreciated. It was not until two or three months later, however, that she finally decided to return to Italy. On the thirteenth of April she arrived once more in Rome, where she was warmly welcomed by her husband and all the friends of the exiled family, after an absence of nearly a year.


Chapter XIV
Royalty in Exile

Of all the sovereigns of Europe, Maximilian of Baden had been the most loyal champion of King Francis’s cause. Neither Garibaldi’s triumphant progress, nor Victor Emanuel’s victories, nor the unanimous shouts of six million people for “Italia una” could reconcile him to the new state of affairs. He had been ill for a long time, and in the Autumn of 1863 his physicians recommended a sojourn in the south. So strong was his feeling, however, against the new ruler of Italy, that rather than pass through any part of his dominions, he travelled by way of Switzerland to Marseilles, and there boarded a vessel that would land him in papal territory.


The voyage was terribly rough and the King suffered so acutely with seasickness that it brought on an attack of his old complaint. Fearful of the consequences of continuing the voyage, his physician declared he must be taken ashore at all costs; but the sea was too high to permit of the vessel’s landing, so the suffering monarch had to be lowered into an open boat on a mattress and rowed ashore by two sailors. Fortunately, they succeeded in reaching land safely near San Stefano, where they were met by the French consul, and King Max, more dead than alive, was cared for so attentively that he was able to continue his journey to Civita Vecchia by carriage the next morning, arriving in Rome the following day. Here he took up his residence in the Villa Mattei, and his health began to improve at once.

Maria Sophia was overjoyed to see her cousin again. She herself was far from well, and had been urged by her physicians to leave Rome; but Max, to whom she was devoted, begged her to remain, and she yielded to his wishes. In December, however, her condition became so alarming that Francis was forced to leave with her at once for Venice, a change of air being absolutely necessary if her life was to be preserved. The ex-King realized at last that it was out of the question for his wife to live in Rome, and henceforth they spent only the winter months there. In the purer air of Venice she soon began to gain strength and was able once more to enjoy her favorite recreations. The relations between Maria Sophia and her husband had much improved, and while he had no sympathy with her tastes, nor was able to join her in her rides, he no longer opposed her in the indulgence of them.


Meanwhile the Schleswig-Holstein affair had become a burning question in Germany. King Frederick the Seventh of Denmark had died, and in the latter part of November news was received in Munich of Prussia’s protest against his successor, the Duke of Augustenburg. Public feeling ran high, and the issue of events was anxiously awaited. Under these circumstances the people of Bavaria felt the need of their sovereign’s presence among them and King Max was obliged to leave Rome. Although so much improved in health that his physicians held out hope of a permanent cure, he was still too ill to travel. He suffered a relapse soon after reaching home, and died three months later, deeply mourned both by his subjects and his family.

* * * * * * * *

In the Autumn of 1867 an epidemic of cholera broke out in Italy. The dowager Queen insisted on remaining in her Albanian villa, though all her children had hastily left the country. Deserted by her family and her court, the widow of Ferdinand the Second fell a victim to the scourge. Even the servants had fled, and the only person with her at her death was an old Neapolitan nobleman who had been a friend of her husband’s. Although Maria Theresa’s star had long since set, he remained faithful to the last, tending and caring for her while she lay ill, and accompanying her body—the only mourner—to its last resting-place in the neighboring churchyard.


The relations between Francis and Maria Sophia had never been actually unpleasant; but after the death of the Queen dowager, they became more attached to each other. Together they made frequent visits to their various relatives or entertained them in Rome during the Winters. The Empress Elizabeth especially was a frequent visitor. These two sisters, as unlike in character as in their circumstances, had never lost any of their sisterly affection for each other. Maria Sophia was with the Empress in Hungary when her youngest daughter, Marie Valerie, was born in 1868, and had shared her joy in that happy event. With it, however, was a feeling of sadness for herself, childless and, in a way, homeless. Children of her own would have given life a new aspect to her, and she felt she would have been a different woman. But it was not her way to indulge in vain regrets. She had long been indifferent toward the world; her only interest now was in her dogs and horses, and she would spend whole days in the saddle, riding the wildest and most ungovernable animals. Once, on one of these rides, she met with an accident, from the effects of which she was long in recovering, and her husband’s quiet devotion during this time furnished a proof of his affection for her that drew them still closer together.

Maria Sophia’s joy was boundless when, on Christmas Eve, 1869, after ten years of married life, she gave birth to a daughter in Rome. Four days later, the little princess was christened, Pius the Ninth, who performed the ceremony himself, acting as godfather, and the Empress Elizabeth as godmother. She received the names Maria Christina Louisa Pia, for her two grandmothers and the Holy Father. But the happiness of the ex-King and Queen was destined to be of short duration, for their only child lived but three months. She died in the following March, and was buried in Rome.


* * * * * * * *

The withdrawal of the French troops from Rome in 1870 to take part in the war against Germany, put an end to the temporal power of the Popes. Pius the Ninth was forced to relinquish the Quirinal to the same bold conqueror who had deprived Francis and Maria Sophia of their kingdom, and thereafter they had no permanent residence in Rome. As long as the Duke and Duchess Max lived, they spent the summers in Bavaria, travelling about from place to place during the Winter. The greater part of Francis the Second’s property, some twenty million lire, had been confiscated by the new Italian Government, which offered to refund it on condition of his formally renouncing all rights to the crown he had already lost; but this he refused to do. “A man does not sell his honor,” was his unfailing reply. Eventually he was paid back his mother’s dowry; but the immense sum that King Ferdinand had settled on his eldest son at the time of his marriage to Maria Sophia was appropriated by Victor Emanuel, as were the contents of the royal palace. Many of the paintings and works of art are still shown at “Capo di Monte” in Naples, to the indignation of many of the sovereigns of Europe.


Although the climate of Rome had never agreed with Maria Sophia, both she and her husband often declared that they had never really known the terrors of exile till they were forced to leave Italy. Francis never quite gave up hope that some turn of events would pave the way for his return to his own and his father’s throne; but the heroine of Gaeta never looked backward. The pomp and show of royalty had never appealed to her, and she indulged in no vain regrets.

The lives of the Wittelsbach sisters had proved a source of grief and anxiety to their parents. Hélène, left a widow in 1867, after ten years of unhappy married life, had managed the vast estates of the Thurn and Taxis family with great ability during the minority of her eldest son, Maximilian. This prince, a most promising youth, died in 1885, at the early age of twenty-three, and the blow almost cost his despairing mother her reason, while the following year, Count Ludwig of Trani drowned himself in one of the Swiss lakes.


The youngest daughter of the ducal pair, Sophie Charlotte, had been first betrothed to Ludwig the Second of Bavaria; but the King jilted his cousin in the most heartless fashion, and she afterward married Ferdinand d’Alençon, an uncle of Louis Philippe of France. Banished from France with the rest of the house of Orleans, the Duke and Duchess spent their time travelling from place to place, and Sophie was sickly and discontented, a victim to fits of melancholia. By his death on the fourteenth of November, 1888, good Duke Max was spared the tragedy of Mayerling, where his favorite grandson and the hope of the Austrian Empire, Rudolf of Hapsburg, met with a violent and mysterious death three months later. On the twenty-fourth of January, 1890, the Duchess Ludovica was seized with an attack of influenza at her palace in Munich, which developed into pneumonia. The physicians at once pronounced her condition serious on account of her advanced age, and the absent daughters were telegraphed for. Sophie was already in Munich, as were the three sons. The next afternoon the Duchess grew so much worse that the sacrament was administered; but in spite of the evident approach of death the indomitable old lady refused to go to bed. She insisted upon remaining in the reclining chair which she had occupied from the beginning of her illness, and where she soon sank into unconsciousness, passing away quietly at four o’clock in the morning, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, at the age of eighty-three. The death of the Duchess Ludovica was an irreparable loss to her family. They had leaned on her in joy as in sorrow, and as long as she lived she had held them together, widely scattered as they were, with a firm and loving hand. Her children’s troubles and pleasures had been her own, and their devotion, her joy and reward.


Chapter XV

After the funeral of the Duchess Ludovica, Maria Sophia returned to Paris, where the ex-King of Naples had bought a residence some years before, and where they were living very quietly, seeing no one but old friends or relatives. Her grief at her mother’s loss was deep and sincere, and for a time she was inconsolable. For her it meant the severing of all the old ties and associations; and henceforth she rarely visited the home of her childhood.

A few months later Hélène of Thurn and Taxis died after a long and painful illness, at the age of fifty-eight. The Empress Elizabeth had hastened to her and was with her when she died, but none of the three younger sisters were able to be present.

In the Autumn of 1894 the ex-King of Naples went to the baths at Arco in the Tyrol for his health, while his wife remained in Paris. Francis had suffered for several years with an incurable complaint, and it was reported that his illness had recently taken a serious turn; but this had been denied. Death came sooner than any one expected, however, to the unfortunate monarch, for he expired on the twenty-seventh of December—alone, as he had lived. Maria Sophia started at once for Arco on the news of his illness, but arrived too late to find him alive.


Not a flag was lowered in the kingdom of his fathers to mark the death of Francis the Second of Naples, nor was his body even allowed to rest in the land he had loved. In all his vicissitudes, the long years of exile, and the hours of loneliness and pain, Italy had been ever in his heart. Through all his wanderings he had been haunted by memories of the blue skies and sunny gardens of his childhood days. His love for his native land extended even beyond the grave, for in his will he bequeathed a million lire to charitable institutions in Naples and Palermo.

Duke Karl Theodor and his wife, with several other members of Maria Theresa’s family, hastened at once to Arco to comfort Maria Sophia and be present at the ex-King’s funeral. It took place on the third of January, 1895, and was attended by a large number of royalties and other distinguished personages.


In the bright Winter sunshine the body of Francis the Second was borne to the cathedral where it was to be laid to rest. The narrow streets were thronged with black-garbed men and women, and bells were tolled in all the churches, while the trumpets of the two battalions of Austrian Jägers sent by the Emperor Francis Joseph, to pay the last honors to the deceased sovereign, sounded a farewell. At the door of the church the procession was met by the ex-Queen with her sisters, Mathilde and Sophie, with several of her sisters-in-law, and other noble ladies who formed the band of mourners. The services lasted five hours, and were conducted by the Archbishop of Trent; but at last all was ended, the dim cathedral was left silent and empty, and only the sound of tolling bells echoed mournfully through the wintry air.

The life of Francis the Second of Naples was one of renunciation. Little sympathy or affection fell to his lot. He was arbitrary where he should have been yielding, and yielding where he should have been firm; yet during his short reign he was one of the most conspicuous figures in European politics, and he had carried a kingdom with him in his downfall. He was a good man and a good Christian, and, in spite of his shortcomings, a real hero; for while his heart was bleeding, he bore his sorrows in silence and hid his sufferings from the world.

* * * * * * * *

Although Maria Sophia had never really loved her husband, a close and sincere friendship had grown up between them, and she truly mourned his death. After the funeral she returned with her brother and his wife to Munich, where for a time she occupied her old residence, the Schloss Biederstein; but now that she was alone the thought of living there was unbearable to her.

in his sixtieth year


The claims of the ex-King to the throne of Naples passed at his death to Alfonzo, Count of Caserta; and while Francis had left his wife a large sum of money, the bulk of his fortune had been bequeathed to this brother whose marriage had been blessed with ten children. The residence in Paris occupied by the royal pair had been included in this; and as Maria Sophia wished to be free to live her own life, she bought an estate at Neuilly-sur-Seine, where she lives quite alone the greater part of the year. She rarely goes to Bavaria, but spends a few weeks each winter at Arco. It was her intention originally to have her husband’s body removed to her family burial-place in Tegernsee; but the last King of Naples still sleeps before the high altar in the cathedral of the little Tyrolean town. This quiet spot has grown dear to the ex-Queen, and she mixes freely and pleasantly with the people who go there for the baths. She is still a distinguished woman,—distinguished in the best sense of the word,—with much of that charm that is like a reflection of the past. Most of her time, however, she devotes to the real passion of her life, her farm, where she raises thoroughbred dogs and horses. Maria Sophia is not a recluse; but she lives in a world of her own, and cares for animals more than for people. In former days her sisters used often to visit her at Neuilly, the Duchess d’Alençon then living in Paris, and the Empress Elizabeth and Countess of Trani frequently stopping there on their journeys.


The portraits of these four sisters plainly show their differences of character. Mathilde of Trani is the picture of discontent and disillusionment; Elizabeth is the mourner; Sophie d’Alençon is resigned and weary of the world, while Maria, unlike all the others, looks bravely out at life, despite her years.

She accepted the decrees of fate with courage and fortitude, and bore her troubles more philosophically than her sisters, therefore she has kept her cheerfulness and serenity, and much of her former beauty. She is always active, for she still feels young. But her solitary life and her preference for the society of animals to people, show that the life of this gayest and soundest of the Wittelsbach sisters has also been a tragedy.

* * * * * * * *

Three years after the death of the ex-King of Naples, another terrible misfortune occurred in the family. On the fourth of May, 1897, the French capital was the scene of a most frightful catastrophe. The ladies of the French aristocracy were holding a bazaar for charity, in a building which had been roughly and carelessly constructed, and lined with booths in which many prominent society women sold wares donated for the purpose. A kinematograph had also been installed to add to the entertainment. In the middle of the afternoon, when the crowd was greatest, a lamp attached to this suddenly burst, and in an instant the whole building was in flames. The exits were insufficient and hard to find, and scores of people perished.


Among the most prominent of the workers was Sophie, Duchess d’Alençon, who was a devout Catholic and had devoted the latter years of her life almost entirely to charity. Witnesses of the scene of horror who escaped with their lives have told of the Duchess’s heroism in attempting to save others, forgetful of her own danger. One lady tried to carry her out by force; but she broke away, and dashing back into the flames, took her place in her own booth again, calmly assisting in getting the young girls into a place of safety.

All that night it was hoped that she, too, had succeeded in making her escape. But the next day a wedding ring, bearing the name of Ferdinand d’Alençon, was found in the ruins and all hope of finding her alive was abandoned. Her body, burned beyond all recognition, was afterward identified by a dentist who had supplied her with some false teeth shortly before. Maria Sophia was in Neuilly at the time of the accident, and her appearance with the Duke d’Alençon, at the requiem mass held in memory of the dead in the Church of St. Philippe de Rule, was her last public appearance in the world. When the Empress Elizabeth, who fell by the hand of an assassin on the shore of Lake Geneva a year later, was laid away in the vault of the Capucins at Vienna, Maria Sophia was unable to be present. Only in spirit could she bid farewell to this favorite sister, under whose cold and reserved exterior had beaten a warm and loving heart.


* * * * * * * *

Many years have passed since the Rose of Starnberg Lake was planted at the foot of Vesuvius, many since Francis the Second’s tottering throne collapsed, burying the hopes of a lifetime. But time has treated Maria Sophia gently. If she has wept bitter tears, the world has seen no trace of them. Her smile is still that of the beautiful young Queen of Naples, and she has kept that youth of the heart that never fades. But what her thoughts are as she goes about among her pets, no one knows. Does she still see Gaeta at times behind its dark, receding cliffs? Perhaps, for it was there that she displayed for the first and only time the gifts with which Providence had endowed her, and the supreme moments of life one does not forget.

The romance of Maria Sophia’s life ended at Gaeta: forced from the world’s stage with all the splendid promise of her youth unfulfilled, she has never since taken part in the affairs of men. Yet she is not morbid or unhappy. She looks back upon her life without bitterness, and if her heart has longings, it is not for her vanished crown and sceptre.

The struggle for Italian unity has given place to other and newer events in the world’s history. The Queen of Naples has hidden her royal honors under the modest title of Duchess of Castro. When she dies, an almost forgotten episode will be revived and the “Heroine of Gaeta” recalled to the memory of men; but only the gray-haired soldiers who knew and served under the young Queen will remember how gay and brilliant she was, will see her again in all her fresh young beauty.


Maria Sophia was a heroine but for a day; but time has no power to touch her memory. Clothed in the radiance of perpetual youth, she stands a glowing figure in the annals of history.


[1]The nickname of King Bomba was given to Ferdinand after the bombardment of Messina in Sicily, but also referred to the huge, unwieldy figure that he acquired, especially in the later years of his life.


The following is a chronological statement of the principal events connected with this narrative:

1807 Birth of Garibaldi.
1810 Birth of Ferdinand the Second.
1836 Birth of Francis the Second.
1859 Death of Ferdinand the Second.
1859 Francis the Second succeeds to the Throne.
1859 Beginning of the Italian Revolution.
1859 Battles of Magenta and Solferino.
1860 Garibaldi Dictator of Sicily.
1860 Garibaldi enters Naples.
1860 Francis the Second driven from Naples.
1860 Annexation of Central Italy to Sardinia.
1860 Outbreak of Revolution in Lower Italy.
1861 Surrender of Gaeta.
1861 Victor Emanuel proclaimed King of Italy.
1862 Garibaldi invades Sicily.
1862 Garibaldi defeated and retires.
1866 French Garrison withdrawn from Rome.
1870 Victor Emanuel occupies Rome.
1882 Death of Garibaldi.


Translated from the German by

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