(1751-1825), son of Charles III of Spain, was
king of Naples as Ferdinand IV from 1759 to 1806, and king of the Two Sicilies
as Ferdinand I from 1816 to 1825. Ferdinand became king of Naples as a
boy when his father ascended the Spanish throne (1759) as Charles III.
The country was ruled by the regent Bernardo Tanucci. In 1767, Ferdinand
reached his adulthood, and in 1768 married Maria Carolina of Austria. A
relatively weak and somewhat incompetent ruler, Ferdinand was greatly influenced
by his wife. The birth of a male heir gave the queen the right, according
to the marriage contract, to enter the council of state (1777). Maria Carolina
promoted the policy of her favorite, the Englishman Sir John Acton. She
removed the former regent and employed Naples in the Austro-English coalition
against the French Revolution in 1793. In 1798, Ferdinand attacked the
French-supported Roman republic. On December 21 of that year, however,
the French invaded Naples and declared it the Parthenopean Republic. Ferdinand
fled to Sicily. The Republic was defeated in June 1799, and Ferdinand returned
to Naples, where he put to death the Republic's supporters, violating the
terms of their surrender. In 1806, Napoleon's army captured Naples. Ferdinand
again found refuge in Sicily. Under the pressure of political circumstances
he had to alleviate his absolutist rule: he removed Maria Carolina from
the court, appointed his son Francis as regent, and granted the Sicilians
a constitution. With the fall of Napoleon, he returned to Naples as Ferdinand
I of the united kingdom of the Two Sicilies (December 1816), where he led
political fights against the constitutionalists until his death.
See: Anton Raphael Mengs. Ferdinand IV, King of Naples.