Succession to the throne of the Two Sicilies

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The succession to the throne of the Two Sicilies and headship of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies has been been disputed since the death of Prince Ferdinand Pius, Duke of Calabria on 7 January 1960 between Prince Ranieri, Duke of Castro and his descendants and Infante Alfonso, Duke of Calabria and his descendants. The dispute revolves around the validity of the renunciation by Infante Alfonso's father Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies of his Two Sicilies succession rights in 1900.

The two current claimants to the former realm of the Two Sicilies are Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro and Prince Pedro, Duke of Calabria, both descended in the male line from Charles III of Spain, who succeeded to the crowns of Naples and Sicily in 1734, reigning there until his succession to the throne of Spain with the death of his brother, Ferdinand VI of Spain on 10 August 1759. By the treaties of Vienna of 1738 and Naples of 1759 he was obliged to surrender the thrones of Naples and Sicily to preserve the European balance of power.

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was unified with the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.

Succession law[edit]

The treaties of Vienna and Naples required that King Charles separate the Spanish crown from the Italian sovereignties by designating Don Charles, his second surviving son (the eldest being severely mentally handicapped), as Prince of Asturias, the heir apparent to Spain,[1] while his "Italian sovereignty" would pass immediately to his third son and his descendants in the male line, Infante Don Ferdinand, and then, in the event of the death of the latter without male heirs, to Charles's younger sons and their descendants, by primogeniture. This new semi-Salic, succession law of the defunct Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was laid out by Charles III in the Pragmatic Decree of 6 October 1759, and established a secondogeniture similar to that governing the successions to Tuscany and Modena in the House of Austria.

It further stipulated that heirs male of the body of Charles III or, failing males, the female nearest in kinship to the last male in his descent or, that lineage also failing, the heirs male of Charles III's brothers, would inherit the Italian sovereignty (which meant the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily) but always separate from the Spanish crown and never combined in the same person.[1] Should the male line descended from Charles III's younger sons fail, the Italian Sovereignty was always to be transferred to the next male dynast in the order of succession who was neither the monarch of Spain nor his declared heir, the Prince of Asturias.[1] Even if Infante Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, whose mother was Mercedes, Princess of Asturias had inherited the Spanish Crown and if he had then succeeded in 1960 as head of the Two Sicilies Royal House, the Pragmatic Decree of 1759 would have still not applied as it refers to the Italian sovereignty and was designed to preserve the balance of power, a concept that no longer existed in the twentieth century.

Constantinian Order succession[edit]

The succession to the Sovereignty of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George is a separate dignity that descends to the heirs of the Farnese family and is not tied to any sovereignty; it was only held by the reigning Dukes of Parma from 1698 to 1734 and the Kings of Naples and Sicily from 1734-1860. The Apostolic Brief Sincerae Fidei and Imperial diploma of 1699 invested the grand mastership in Francesco Farnese and his family and this was confirmed in the Papal bull Militantis Ecclesiae of 1718, so when Francesco's brother Antonio died childless in 1731 it was inherited along with Parma by Infante Don Charles of Bourbon and Farnese. When, however, he surrendered Parma to the Emperor in 1736 he retained the grand mastership and control of the Order, and his rights as Grand Master were recognised by his brother Philip who became Duke of Parma in 1748, in several decrees, as did the latter's son, Ferdinand, Duke of Parma. On 8 March 1796 King Ferdinand IV and III of Naples and Sicily issued a decree which stated that “In his (the king's) royal person there exists together two very distinct qualities, the one of Monarch of the Two Sicilies, and the other of Grand Master of the illustrious, royal and military Constantinian order, which though united gloriously in the same person form nonetheless at the same time two separate independent Lordships."[2] Numerous royal and papal acts, declarations by the government of the Order, the statutes of the Order including those of 1934 which governed the succession in 1960, and expert texts written before 1960, were unanimous in confirming that the grand mastership was not united with the crown but a separate dignity, with a different system of succession (absolute Salic law, whereas the Two Sicilies was governed by semi-Salic law). Hence no act concerned only with the succession to the Two Sicilies could have any bearing on the succession to the Constantinian grand mastership, an ecclesiastical office governed by canon law of the Catholic Church.

Original claim (1861–1960)[edit]



Portrait Birth Marriage(s)
Death Claim
Francis II
20 March 1861

27 December 1894
16 January 1836
Naples, Two Sicilies

Son of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
and Maria Cristina of Savoy
Maria Sophie of Bavaria
Bari Cathedral
3 February 1859
1 daughter
27 December 1894
Aged 58
Arco, Trentino, Austria-Hungary
Son of Ferdinand II
Deposed king of the Two Sicilies
Prince Alfonso, Count of Caserta
(Alphonse I)
27 December 1894

26 May 1934
28 March 1841
Caserta, Two Sicilies

Son of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
and Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Antonietta of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Church in Rome
8 June 1868
12 children
26 May 1934
Aged 93
Cannes, France
4th son of Ferdinand II
Half-brother of Francis II
Prince Ferdinand Pius, Duke of Calabria
(Ferdinand III)
26 May 1934

7 January 1960
25 July 1869
Rome, Papal States

Son of Prince Alfonso, Count of Caserta
and Maria Antonietta of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Maria of Bavaria
Munich Frauenkirche
31 May 1897
6 children
7 January 1960
Aged 90
Lindau, Bavaria, Germany
1st son of Alfonso, Count of Caserta

Calabrian claim (since 1960)[edit]



Portrait Birth Marriage(s)
Death Claim
Infante Alfonso, Duke of Calabria
(Alphonse II)
7 January 1960

3 February 1964
30 November 1901
Madrid, Spain

Son of Carlos of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
and Mercedes, Princess of Asturias
Alicia of Bourbon-Parma
St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna
13 April 1936
3 children
3 February 1964
Aged 62
Madrid, Spain
Grandson of Alfonso, Count of Caserta
Nephew of Ferdinand Pius, Duke of Calabria
Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria
(Charles I)
3 February 1964

5 October 2015
16 January 1938
Lausanne, France

Son of Alfonso, Duke of Calabria
and Alicia of Bourbon-Parma
Anne of Orléans
St's Peter Church, Dreux
12 May 1965
5 children
5 October 2015
Aged 77
Retuerta del Bullaque, Ciudad Real, Spain
Only son of Alfonso, Duke of Calabria
Prince Pedro, Duke of Calabria
(Peter I)
Since 5 October 2015
16 October 1968
Age 48
Madrid, Spain

Son of Carlos, Duke of Calabria
and Anne of Orléans
Sofia Landaluce y Melgarejo
Almudena Cathedral
30 March 2001
7 children
Only son of Carlos, Duke of Calabria

Castrian line (since 1960)[edit]



Portrait Birth Marriage(s)
Death Claim
Prince Ranieri, Duke of Castro
(Rainier I)
7 January 1960

13 January 1973
3 December 1883
Cannes, France

Son of Prince Alfonso, Count of Caserta
and Maria Antonietta of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Maria Carolina Zamoyska
Church in Vyšné Ružbachy, now Slovakia
12 September 1923
2 children
13 January 1973
Aged 89
Lacombe, France
5th son of Alfonso, Count of Caserta
Brother of Ferdinand Pius, Duke of Calabria
Claim based on documents reputed invalid
Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Castro
(Ferdinand IV)
13 January 1973

20 March 2008
28 May 1926
Maciejowice, Poland

Son of Prince Ranieri, Duke of Castro
and Maria Carolina Zamoyska
Chantal de Chevron-Villette
Church in Giez, Switzerland
23 July 1949
3 children
20 March 2008
Aged 81
Draguignan, France
Son of Ranieri, Duke of Castro
Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro
(Charles I)
Since 20 March 2008
23 February 1963
Age 54
Saint-Raphaël, France

Son of Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Castro
and Chantal de Chevron-Villette
Camilla Crociani
Saint-Charles Church, Monaco
31 October 1998
2 daughters
Son of Ferdinand, Duke of Castro

Attempted reconciliation and continuing dispute (2014–present)[edit]

On 25 January 2014, representatives of the two rival branches, Prince Carlo (Castro line) and Prince Pedro, then Duke of Noto (Calabria line), jointly signed a solemn pledge of partial reconciliation in a ceremony in Naples on the occasion of the Beatification of Maria Cristina of Savoy, Queen of the Two Sicilies.[4] The document recognised both branches as members of the same house and royal princes and princesses of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, committed both to pursue further reconciliation and concord, meanwhile recognising the titles then claimed by each branch for the present holders and their descendants.[5]

At the Holy Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica celebrated in Rome on 14 May 2016, during the International Pilgrimage of the Franco-Neapolitan Constantinian Order of Saint George to Rome and Vatican City, Prince Carlo made public his decision to change the rules of succession. This purported change was made in order to make the rules of succession compatible with international and European law, prohibiting any discrimination between men and women, although this law has never applied to royal successions (and has not been applied by any former reigning house, nor by the Spanish or Liechtenstein reigning houses). He declared that the rule of absolute primogeniture would henceforth apply to his direct descendants, his elder daughter being declared heiress apparent.[3] Prince Pedro publicly protested that Prince Carlo's declaration not only violated the terms of their reconciliation agreement but that he had no powers to alter the system of succession which was governed by two international treaties as well as by the Pragmatic Decree of Charles III and the last valid Constitution of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Prince Carlo's response was that further "destabilisation" could lead to termination of the 2014 pact.[6]

In September 2017 Prince Carlo announced his second daughter Princess Maria Chiara, recognised as Duchess of Capri in the reconciliation document, would henceforth hold the additional title of Duchess of Noto.[7] In the reconciliation agreement the respective titles used by each branch were recognised and at the time the Noto title was used by Prince Pedro and following the death of his father by his son Prince Jaime.

References and notes[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Two Sicilies and Constantinian Order Successions: Commentary and Documents. Madrid, Spain: Grand Chancellery, Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George. 1998. pp. 2–5, 13, 15–18, 21–25.
  2. Delle speciali caratteristiche dell’Ordine Costantiniano. Con note correlative, anche in rapporto delle costituzioni speciali della Monarchia e della Legazia Apostolica in Sicilia e della materia e dei patronati | by Giuseppe Castrone. Naples, Italy. 1877. pp. 81, ff.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 New Rules of Succession decreed for the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies
  4. "Riconciliazione in Casa Borbone: unità per l'Ordine Costantiniano di San Giorgio?". Notiziario Araldico. 25 January 2014.
  5. "Borbone: Finalmente la riconciliazione". Prliament of the Two Sicilies. 25 January 2014.
  6. Gigi Del Fiore (30 May 2016). "Pedro, l'abusivo spagnolo". Dagospia.
  7. 25 September 2017 H.R.H. Princess Maria Chiara granted style of Duchess of Noto