Two weeks ago I brought up the most illustrious House of Bourbon as one of the sub-houses of the Capetian dynasty. The House of Bourbon (in any form) ruled France from 1589 until 1792, and 1814 until 1848. Its fall marked the end of France as a kingdom (although Napoleon III would raise it up one last time as an empire). But the House of Bourbon's fall in France had little effect on its other domains abroad.
|Philip V of Spain and his family|
|Philip, duke of Parma|
We will return to Spain later as Italy proved far more interesting a story. Charles, son of Philip and now Duke of Parma, took his chances in the War of the Polish Succession and invaded Naples (southern Italy) in 1738. He was forced to give up control of Parma to Austria but in exchange was elevated to king of Naples & Sicily (I told you the family would get it back!). Philip V also used this war and the War of the Austrian Succession a decade later to further his land claims in Italy. The Austrian Succession War ended with Spain reconquering Parma and Philip V granting that duchy to his third son, Philip. Now the Spanish Bourbons had three branches: the Senior Borbóns in Spain, Borbón-Naples (later Two-Sicilies) in southern Italy, and Borbón-Parma in central Italy.
|Italy in 1796|
Everything in the Capetian empire fell to a screeching halt when Napoleon started his rampage across Europe in the first decade of 1800. One by one, Napoleon conquered France, Spain and Italy, placing siblings and puppets on the thrones and forcing the rightful rulers to flee to Britain, Austria and other unconquered states. The Capetian empire was in ruin and when the rulers returned to their thrones in 1814-1815, the people were enchanted by the concepts of constitutions and personal freedoms.
In Naples & Sicily, Ferdinand I was restored and almost immediately broke the statues of his restoration by merging the two kingdoms into the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and instigating a four-year spree of total dictatorship. The people forced him to sign two separate constitutions restricting his powers, which he signed under duress. His death in 1825 was the only thing that saved the Two Sicilies from a violent revolution. The Two Sicilies continued to see waves of revolutions and new constitutions, with Austria and the United Kingdom both getting involved. Francis II succeeded to the throne in 1859 and desperately tried to stop the revolutionary trends by adopting a previous constitution and promising the people his cooperation, but the revolutionary fervor was too strong and the Neapolitan Bourbons were overthrown by Garibaldi and Two Sicilies was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Italy.
Meanwhile, Parma had undergone some serious beating during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon's second wife, Maria Louisa, was given Parma in 1815 and Charles II, the former duke, was granted the duchy of Lucca, in eastern Italy. When Maria Louisa died in 1847, Charles regained Parma (returning Lucca to Tuscany) and passed the duchy on to his son, then grandson. During the Italian Unification in 1860, the people of Parma voted to unify with the quickly growing kingdom of Sardinia and the Parma Borbóns no longer had a country to call home.
|Isabella II, Queen of Spain|
Isabella II found her own problems once she became of age to rule. Isabella married her first cousin, Francisco de Asis, and her reign slowly became more autocratic. Finally, in 1868, she was forced to abdicate and a short-lived republic was formed. In 1875, the monarchy was restored under Isabella's son, Alfonso XII. Don Carlos took the opportunity to invade, but was defeated and resumed his exile. Alfonso was a much praised liberal king but died young in 1885. His son, Alfonso XIII, was born posthumously and caused a 19-year regency which took Spain into the 20th century. While Alfonso XIII managed to stay out of World War I, he supported the military coup of Maria Primo de Rivera and Spain was ruled by a dictator for seven years. A new wave of revolutions ended in Alfonso's deposition in 1930 and the establishment of a second Spanish republic. The Spanish Borbón line ended with the last king fleeing the country, although never formally abdicating his throne...
|Juan Carlos, King of Spain|
|Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg|
The Spanish Borbóns, including those of Parma and Naples, are still very much in existence and, while only two of them may rule anything in Europe, the family is considered some of the best marriage stock. Ironically, many of the members of the family choose to marry each other rather than other royal families. Regardless, the family holds a highly prestigious place in European royal circles and is respected the world over for what its ancestors did and did not accomplish while kings.