Francis II, king of the Two Sicilies

Francis II, 1836–94, last king of the Two Sicilies (1859–61), son and successor of Ferdinand II. A weak ruler, he let his ministers follow his father's reactionary policy. Faced with the growing movement for Italian unity (see Risorgimento), he first sided with Austria. When he sought the alliance of Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia, around whom the movement for Italian unification had coalesced, it was too late—Garibaldi had conquered Sicily and was marching (1860) on Naples. Francis fled to Gaeta. There he and his queen, Maria of Bavaria (sister of Empress Elizabeth of Austria), resisted gallantly until 1861, when they surrendered to Victor Emmanuel. They went into exile, at first in Rome, then in Paris and the Tyrol.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Italian History: Biographies