Ferdinand II, 1810–59, king of the Two Sicilies (1830–59), son and successor of Francis I. Although initially he sought to improve the wretched conditions of his kingdom, he soon relapsed into the repressive policies of his predecessors and became an absolute despot. Fear of revolution made him grant a constitution in 1848, but when disorders broke out in Sicily he ordered the bombardment of Messina (1848) and Palermo (1849)—an act that earned him the nickname "King Bomba." He soon revoked the constitution, becoming even more reactionary. Great Britain and France, in protest against his inhuman treatment of at least 15,000 political prisoners, withdrew their envoys (1856). He was opposed by conservatives as well as liberals. The political isolation brought about by Ferdinand facilitated the fall of the dynasty under his son and successor, Francis II.
See H. M. Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples (1961).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Italian History: Biographies