Princess Maria Carolina Ferdinanda Luisa of Naples and Sicily was born on November 5, 1798 at the Palace of Caserta in Naples. She was the eldest child of Francis, Hereditary Prince of Naples and Archduchess Maria Clementina of Austria. The young princess was named after her paternal grandparents, King Ferdinand IV and III of Naples and Sicily and Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria. Her father, Francis, was the eldest surviving son of the King of Naples and Sicily while her mother was the tenth child of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor and Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain. Francis and Maria Clementina were double first cousins and although the couple was engaged in 1790, they weren’t married until June 26, 1797 due to the chaotic Napoleonic wars plaguing the Italian peninsula. The cousins were both twenty years old when they wed in a rather modest ceremony at Foggia. Despite the fact that Maria Clementina’s features were scarred by smallpox, she was a dignified and proud woman with a kind heart and a substantial education. The couple’s relationship was rather uncommon for the time, as Maria Clementina was the dominant partner in the relationship. She controlled her less intelligent and easy-going husband but Francis didn’t seem to care about his wife’s influence over him; according to his mother, Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria, “[Francis] adores her in every sense of the word. He says she loves him, and assuredly shows and demands many proofs of love.” Maria Carolina was so shocked by just how much her son loved Maria Clementina that she “asked heaven to calm their over-excited sense by sending them children.”
|Maria Carolina's parents: Francis I of the Two Sicilies (Vicente López y Portaña, 1829) and |
Archduchess Maria Clementina of Austria (Joseph Hickel, 1796)
Francis’s mother got her wish when Maria Carolina was born a year after her parent’s wedding. Less than two years after Maria Carolina’s birth, her mother had a second child, a little boy named Ferdinando. Unfortunately, Ferdinando lived for only eleven months. Maria Clementina, who had never been of robust health, survived her young son by just four months before she died of tuberculosis on November 15, 1801 at the age of twenty-four. She was buried beside her infant son in the Basilica of Santa Chiara while her heartbroken husband mourned the loss of his beloved wife and son. Maria Carolina, who celebrated her third birthday ten days before her mother’s death, grew up without knowing her mother. Francis remarried another first cousin less than a year after his wife’s death for political expedience, Infanta María Isabella of Spain. Despite the age gap between the couple (Francis was twenty-five to María Isabella’s thirteen years), they had a good relationship and he always treated her with compassion and respect, though he did take several mistresses during his marriage. Through her father’s second marriage, Maria Carolina had twelve half-siblings, including Queen Maria Christina of Spain, King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, and Empress Teresa Cristina of Brazil. She also had various illegitimate half-siblings by her father’s various extramarital affairs. Maria Carolina grew up in Palermo, Sicily and Naples, which would become the united kingdom of the Two Sicilies in December of 1816 under her grandfather, King Ferdinand I. The Italian princess was a petite girl with blond hair and bulging blue eyes who inherited many physical features from her family. She had the large Bourbon nose and fleshy lower lip of her grandfather, King Ferdinand, small breasts, and rather unappealing teeth. Although she was no beauty, Maria Carolina attracted many with her vivacity and boundless energy, as well as her charm and spirit. She had her mother’s kind and generous personality and was known by her family and friends for her sincerity and modesty. As the granddaughter of the King of Naples and Sicily and the daughter of his heir, she grew up knowing that an impressive marriage would be arranged for her once she reached an age of maturity. So, it was no surprise to the young princess when the French ambassador to her grandfather’s kingdoms suggested in 1816 that Maria Carolina marry Charles Ferdinand d'Artois, Duke of Berry, a nephew of King Louis XVIII of France.
|Charles Ferdinand d'Artois, Duke of Berry|
(Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin, 1810's)
Charles Ferdinand, who was twenty years Maria Carolina’s senior, was the second son and youngest surviving child of Charles Philippe, Count of Artois (the future King Charles X of France and Navarre) and Princess Marie Thérèse of Savoy, the eleventh child of Victor Amadeus III, King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy, and Infanta Maria Antonia Ferdinanda of Spain. Blonde and blue-eyed, Charles was not a handsome man. He was short with a large, squat body, “a big head, a broad forehead, prominent eyes, a short neck, a high complexion, and a coarse mouth”. Though he did have a rather gallant smile, he was described as lazy, not very intelligent, ill mannered, stubborn, and prone to fits of temper. However, like his wife, he was a kind-hearted individual with a penchant for generosity and forgiveness. He was known for his various affairs with different women and had many illegitimate children, nine of whom have been identified. He had a career in the military during and after the French Revolution but his success was limited. In 1814, when Napoleon returned form Elba, King Louis XVIII had named him commander-in-chief of the army in Paris but he was a poor leader and could not inspire loyalty or dedication in his men. Months after he became commander-in-chief, he left his position and retired to Ghent while Napoleon staged his unsuccessful Hundred Days War.
|Princess Maria Carolina, Duchess of Berry|
(Robert Lefèvre, 1826)
The betrothal between the Duke of Berry and the Princess of Naples and Sicily was quickly agreed to and arranged. On April 24, 1816, a proxy marriage was held in the Palazzo Reale where Maria Carolina’s uncle, Leopold, Prince of Salerno, stood in for the bridegroom. Maria Carolina, who was seventeen years old at the time, bade goodbye to her family and home and sailed for France on May 14, 1816. She arrived in the port of Marseille a week after her departure from Naples. On June 15th, she came to Fontainebleau and met her thirty-eight year old husband and his aging uncle, the King of France. Charles Ferdinand was enchanted by his wife and soon, the two began to fall in love with each other. On June 17th, Maria Carolina officially wed Charles Ferdinand at Notre-Dame, thus becoming the Duchess of Berry. The newlyweds moved to Élysée Palace in Paris, which had been given to them by the King as a wedding gift. Here, they began their happy lives together. Although their marriage was purely political and the two didn’t even know each other when they wed, Maria Carolina and Charles Ferdinand shared a mutual love and respect. They saw past their large age gap, unattractive appearances, and foreign backgrounds to create a loving marital union. In France, Maria Carolina was known as “Madame de Berry” and went by the French version of her name, “Marie Caroline Ferdinande Louise”. She had four children with her husband in the span of four years, two of whom survived infancy:
- Princess Louise Élisabeth d’Artois (1817) died a day after her birth
- Prince Louis d’Artois (1818) died the day of his birth
- Princess Louise Marie Thérèse d’Artois (1819-1864) married: Charles III, Duke of Parma and Piacenza – had issue
- Prince Henri d’Artois, Count of Chambord (1820-1883) married: Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria-Este – no issue
|The Duchess of Berry and her two children|
(François Gérard, 1822)
Maria Carolina loved music, plays, and art and she became a significant patron of the arts during her life in France. She attend the theater habitually and became the patron of the Théâtre du Gymnase, which, for a time, was renamed Théâtre de Madame in her honor. She was also a regular attendee at the Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe and often gave money out of her own pocket to benefit performances. Like her husband, the Duchess of Berry was a passionate art collector, especially when it came to paintings of landscapes. She also supported the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, a primary porcelain manufacturer for the entirety of Europe. However, Maria Carolina’s happiness with her first husband didn’t last for long. Nearly four years after their wedding, a pregnant Maria Carolina and her husband went to an opera house in Paris on February 13, 1820 where an anti-monarchy Bonapartist stabbed Charles Ferdinand. The forty-two year old Duke of Berry died a day later from his wounds. Maria Carolina was still grieving her husband’s shocking death when she gave birth to her only surviving son seven months after Charles Ferdinand was assassinated. The little Henri was named the “miracle child” because his birth sustained the direct Bourbon line of King Louis XIV since his paternal granduncle, grandfather, and uncle all had no sons. Therefore, he was expected to inherit the throne one day, which raised his mother’s status and importance in the French royal court. In 1824, Henri’s granduncle died and his grandfather, Maria Carolina’s father-in-law, became King Charles X. This made little Henri second in line for the throne after his childless paternal uncle, Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême. A few months after Charles X’s succession, Maria Carolina’s father became King Francis I of the Two Sicilies.
|Princess Maria Christina, Duchess of Berry|
(Jean-Baptiste Paulin Guérin, 1824)
But the monarchy’s days were numbered and soon, Henri’s chances of ever inheriting the throne looked bleak. In the July Revolution of 1830, the people overthrew Charles X in favor of his cousin, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans. This change in power marked a shift from the traditional principal of hereditary right to popular sovereignty. When Louis Philippe was named King Louis Philippe I on August 9, 1830, Maria Carolina fled the country with her daughter and son to live in exile with Charles X and his family. Maria Carolina and her two children lived on their own in Bath for a period of time before moving to Edinburgh to be with Charles X and Louis Antoine. Maria Carolina, her children, and her brother-in-law resided in the Regent Terrace while the deposed Charles chose to live separately from his family in Holyrood Palace. In November, Maria Carolina learned to her sorrow that her father had died in Naples. Her half-brother, Ferdinand II, was now the King of the Two Sicilies. Maria Carolina did not like Edinburgh and longed to return to her old home in France. But what she longed for most of all was for her son to be the King of France. She refused to accept her son’s exclusion from the succession and proclaimed that Henri was the legitimate king with herself as his regent. In 1831, she set off on a journey to gather support for her son’s cause in the form of Legitimists, those in France who backed the Bourbon line over Louis Philippe’s Orléanists. She travelled to her native Naples to visit her family before moving onto the Netherlands, Prussia, and Austria in search of funds and defense of her young son’s claim to the throne. Maria Carolina’s plan was to stage a Legitimist rebellion to place Henri on his rightful throne. However, she found little support wherever she went and as the months dragged on, Henri’s chance of ever wearing the French crown grew slimmer and slimmer.
|Princess Maria Carolina, Duchess of Berry|
(Charles Rauch, 1827)
One important event did occur during Maria Carolina’s travels regarding her personal life. While in Italy, she fell in love with an Italian nobleman named Ettore Carlo Lucchesi-Palli, 8th Duca della Grazia, who was seven years her junior. They secretly married on December 14, 1831, as revealing their marriage to the public would have a negative effect on not just French and Italian society but also the Legitimist cause. The Dowager Duchess of Berry went to Marseille in April of 1832 and, finding no Legitimist support there, moved on to Vendée and Brittany where she managed to initiate a short-lived but fruitless revolt in June. After her rebellion was crushed, Maria Carolina had to flee to Nantes where she stayed in hiding for five months. Eventually, she was deceived by her advisor, who revealed her location to Louis Philippe’s administration in November. She was caught, arrested, and imprisoned in the Chateau of Blaye. It was during her time as a prisoner that she gave birth to her first child with Lucchesi-Palli on May 10, 1833, as she had been pregnant when she was caught. The truth of her secret marriage was leaked, which caused her to lose the backing of the Legitimists. This was because while she had been a French citizen by her marriage to Charles Ferdinand, when she remarried Lucchesi-Palli she became an Italian citizen once more, which barred her from being her son’s regent in the eyes of the people. With no Legitimist support, Maria Carolina was no longer a threat to the King, so she was released a month after she gave birth. The defeated Dowager Duchess reunited with her husband in Italy and the two moved to Sicily where they had four more children. Their only child to die in infancy was their eldest, the daughter who had been born in prison:
- Anna Maria Rosalia Lucchesi-Palli (1833) died at the age of five months
- Clementina Lucchesi-Palli (1835-1925) married: Conte Camillo Zileri dal Verme – no issue
- Francesca di Paola Lucchesi-Palli (1836-1923) married: Don Carlo Alberto Massimo, Principe d’Arsoli – had issue
- Maria Isabella Lucchesi-Palli (1838-1873) died unmarried and without children at the age of thirty-five
- Adinolfo Lucchesi-Palli, 9th Duca della Grazia (1840-1911) married: Lucrezia Ruffo Bagnara – had issue
|Princess Louise Marie Thérèse of Artois,|
Duchess of Parma
In 1844, Maria Carolina and Lucchesi-Palli bought a palace on the Grand Canal of Cannaregio in Venice named Ca’ Vendramin Calergi. However, the conflict of the Italian unification movement forced the couple to sell their home to Prince Henry, Count of Bardi, Maria Carolina’s grandson by her daughter from her first marriage. Maria Carolina and her husband moved to Brunnsee, Austria, where they remained until their deaths. Lucchesi-Palli died in 1864 at the age of fifty-nine while Maria Carolina died on April 17, 1870 when she was seventy-one years old. She was buried in the Mureck Cemetery near her home in Austria. While three of her children from her second marriage married, only two had children of their own. Maria Carolina’s only surviving daughter from her first marriage, Princess Louise Marie Thérèse married Ferdinando Carlo, Hereditary Prince of Lucca, who was four years her junior, in November of 1845. While Louise Marie was said to be a short, large blonde with blue eyes, she was also a reticent and unfriendly woman who lacked her mother’s charm and empathy. Her husband, a thin and small dandy, was not a handsome man. He is described as having protuberant eyes, a big nose, a long neck, and a receding chin. Ferdinando Carlo became Charles III, Duke of Parma and Piacenza in 1849 when his father abdicated his position. Louise Marie had four children, two girls and two boys, with her husband before he was assassinated by hired killers on March 27, 1854 when he was thirty-one years old. After her husband’s death, Louise Marie became her five year-old son’s regent until the pair was overthrown during the Franco-Austrian War of 1859. Louise Marie fled Parma and lived the rest of her life in exile until her death on February 1, 1864 at the age of forty-four. Her eldest daughter, Margherita, married Carlos, Duke of Madrid, the Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne (he was the great-grandson of King Charles IV of Spain) and the Legitimist claimant to the French throne.
|Henri d'Artois, Count of Chambord|
Louise Marie’s eldest son, Robert, had twelve children by his first wife, his half first cousin once removed, Maria Pia of the Two Sicilies, a daughter of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies. Their eldest child was Princess Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma, who became the Princess Consort of Bulgaria upon her marriage to Ferdinand I, Prince of Bulgaria. Robert later remarried his second cousin once removed, Infanta Maria Antónia of Portugal, the daughter of the deposed King Miguel I of Portugal, after his first wife died in childbirth. They had twelve children together, including Prince René, who married Princess Margaret of Denmark (a granddaughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel) and had four children, including Queen Anne of Romania. Louise Marie’s third child, Princess Alice, married the widowed Ferdinand IV, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who was fourteen years her senior, in early 1868. They had ten children together. Louise Marie’s youngest child, Prince Henry, Count of Bardi, married twice. His first marriage was to his half first cousin once removed, Princess Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies. She died three months after the wedding so Henry married again to Infanta Adelgundes, Duchess of Guimarães, the older sister of his sister-in-law, Infanta Maria Antonia (both were daughters of King Miguel I of Portugal). Henry had no children by either of his wives. As for Maria Carolina’s only surviving son from her first marriage, Prince Henri, Count of Chambord, he maintained his claim to the French throne until his death on August 24, 1883 at the age of sixty-two. He married Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria-Este, the eldest child of Francis IV, Duke of Modena and Maria Beatrice of Savoy, in 1846. They had no children so when Henri died, he became the last legitimate descendant in the male line of King Louis XV of France.