I can assure Your Majesty that it is my most earnest desire to maintain and cultivate relations of the most friendly character between the two Crowns" Until the unification of Italy in 1861, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, essentially all of Southern Italy, was the largest, most prosperous, wealthiest and populous of the Italian states. Nearly half of the world's Italians - in Italy and its diaspora - trace their roots to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The last dynasty to rule this as a sovereign kingdom was a branch of the royal houses of France and Spain - the Bourbons. The Bourbons of the Two Sicilies were descended in the direct male line from Hugh Capet, Saint Louis and the Angevins, and more recently the Bourbons through Louis XIV.Napoleon had installed his brother as King of the Two Sicilies during his conquest of the Italy. But the Congress of Vienna restored King Ferdinand I in 1815. On May 22, 1859, his grandson Ferdinand II died very prematurely, leaving Francis II in command.Letter signed, Buckingham Palace,London, June 14, 1859, to King Francis II of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. “Sir my Brother, I have received from the hands of the Prince of Carini the letter which Your Majesty addressed to me on the 28th of May, announcing the death of your father King Ferdinand, which took place on the 22nd of that month. While I sincerely condole with Your Majesty on that melancholy event, I cannot but offer to you my cordial congratulations on your own accession to the Throne, which you have had the goodness to notify me in the same letter. I can assure Your Majesty that it is my most earnest desire to maintain and cultivate relations of the most friendly character between the two Crowns, and that no effort shall be wanting on my part that may conduce to an object so much to be desired with a view to the interests of our respective countries. I avail myself with pleasure of this opportunity to renew to Your Majesty the expression of my best wishes for your personal happiness and for the prosperity and long continuance of your reign, and I request you to also accept the assurances of the invariable attachment and highest esteem with which I am, Sir my brother, your Majesty’s fond Sister, Victoria R.” The original envelope with the seal of the Queen is still present.Francis would be the last King of the sovereign Kingdom and would fall to the effort to unify Italy. Several rebellions had taken place on the island of Sicily against King Ferdinand II, but the end of the kingdom came only with the Expedition of the Thousand in 1860, led by Garibaldi - an icon of Italian unification. The expedition resulted in a striking series of defeats for the Sicilian armies facing the growing troops of Garibaldi. After the capture of Palermo and Sicily, Garibaldi disembarked in Calabria and moved towards Naples, while in the meantime the Piedmontese also invaded the Kingdom from the Marche. The last towns to resist Garibaldi's expedition, Messina and Civitella del Tronto, capitulated in 1861 respectively. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies dissolved and the new Kingdom of Italy, founded in the same year, annexed its territory. (Inventory #: 11094)
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