Charles Ferdinand, Prince of Capua

Prince Charles of the Two Sicilies, Prince of Capua[citation needed] (Full Italian name: Carlo Ferdinando, Principe di Borbone delle Due Sicilie, Principe di Capua[citation needed]) (10 November 1811 –[citation needed] 22 April 1862 in Turin, Kingdom of Italy[citation needed]) was the second son of Francis I of the Two Sicilies and his second wife Maria Isabella of Spain. He contracted a morganatic marriage in 1836 and had to live for the rest of his life in exile.

Prince Charles
Prince of Capua
Carlo Ferdinando, Prince of Capua (1811-62).jpg
Born(1811-11-10)10 November 1811
Palermo, Kingdom of Sicily
Died22 April 1862(1862-04-22) (aged 50)
Turin, Kingdom of Italy
SpousePenelope Smyth
IssueFrancesco, Count of Mascali
Vittoria, Countess of Mascali
Carlo Ferdinando
HouseBourbon-Two Sicilies
FatherFrancis I of the Two Sicilies
MotherMaria Isabella of Spain
ReligionRoman Catholic

Early lifeEdit

Charles was second-eldest son of Francis I of the Two Sicilies and his second wife Maria Isabella of Spain. Frivolous and more outgoing than his eldest brother King Ferdinand II, he was his parents' favorite. Ferdinand II resented this fact and the relationship between the two brothers was strained. At age nineteen he was named Vice-Admiral.[1] Between March and June 1829, the Neapolitan government put forward his candidature to the Greek throne, which fell through due to Metternich's opposition. In 1831 he was a candidate to become King of Belgium. In his youth, the Prince of Capua displayed a restless behavior and a weakness for pretty women. As his brother had yet to produce children, Carlo held a high position at court as heir presumptive to the crown until 1836.[1]

During the winter of 1835, the Prince of Capua fell in love with Penelope Smyth, daughter of Grice Smyth of Ballynatray, Co. Waterford, Ireland, and sister of Sir John Rowland Smyth,[2] a beautiful Irish woman visiting Naples. Ferdinand II forbade their union as it would be a morganatic marriage.[1] On 12 January 1836 the couple eloped. Ferdinand II forfeit his brother income, denounced Charles departure as illegal and tried to prevent the marriage.[3]

On 12 March 1836 King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, issued a decree upholding the 1829 decision of the brothers' late father King Francis I of the Two Sicilies that members of the blood-royal of the kingdom, whatever their age, were required to obtain the consent of the sovereign to marry and that marriages made without this consent should be deemed to be null and void


The Prince of Capua with his wife, The Countess of Mascali, and their daughter, Vittoria.

Defying his brother's will, Charles married morganatically Penelope Smyth on 5 April 1836 in Gretna Green. Gretna Green was the first stagecoach stop in Scotland after the border city of Carlisle. It was a popular place for young lovers to marry. There it was sufficed for couples to declare their wish to marry before witnesses. A residence requirement or parental consent was not needed.

Later, Charles applied for special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to marry (or remarry) Miss Smyth at St George's, Hanover Square. In the court order they are described as a bachelor and a spinster respectively.[4] The King's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, Count de Ludolf, objected to the grant of the licence and a hearing took place in the Court of Faculties on 4 May 1836. The Master of the Faculties, Dr John Nicholl, refused to grant the licence on the grounds that the royal succession might be affected by the non-recognition of the marriage in Naples.[5] Banns of Marriage were read for the final time in St George's, Hanover Square on 8 May 1836.[6]

The Prince of Capua and Penelope had two children:[citation needed]

  • Francesco, Conte di Mascali (24 March 1837 – 2 June 1862)
  • Vittoria di Borbone, Contessa di Mascali (15 May 1838 – 9 August 1895)

Ferdinand II never forgave his runaway brother. Charles was forced to live for the rest of his life in exile. He remained loyal to his wife, but all his estates were confiscated except the county of Mascali in Sicily, which he had inherited from his father.[7] As Mascali was not run efficiently, it provided just a small revenue and the prince had to live modestly.[8] For years Charles tried to obtained a pardon from his brother and be allowed to return to Naples, but to no avail. He had to settle in London at the expense of his wife and her relatives, accumulating debts.[9]

The government of Lord Palmerston tried to intervene in his favor as a counterbalance to Ferdinand II's despotism.[10] In 1848, Charles aspired in vain to the crown of Sicily. When Palmerston got tired of him, Charles moved to Turin.[10] Pursued by his creditors the prince moved constantly.[11]

A contemporary who met him in the Tuileries Palace in 1853 described him as follows: "The Prince is stout, vulgar, and usually rigged up like a rustic charlatan. He is adorned with a long and dirty grey beard, and his hair is also long, dirty and grey "[11]

At his brother Ferdinand II's death on 22 May 1859, Charles's hopes were raised. Ferdinand II bequeathed him a small amount of money, and the new King Francis II, his nephew, ordered the restoration of all his income and property. However, Charles, who moved between Geneva, Spa and Aix les Bains with his wife and their two adolescent children, did not see any of it. The following year the Bourbons were overthrown. With the Piedmontese invasion, everything was confiscated by Giuseppe Garibaldi.[12]

Charles was offered an allowance by King Victor Emanuel II, but he rejected it, fearing that it would affect further claims.[12] He died two years later on 21 April 1862 at Turin, aged 50. His son Francesco, who suffered from mental illness, died few months later. His widow received a pension and a villa near Lucca.[13]




  1. ^ a b c Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 90
  2. ^ Burke, Bernard (1879). A genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Great Britain & Ireland. London, Harrison. p. 1486. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  3. ^ Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 91
  4. ^ The Times, 7 May 1836
  5. ^ The Times, 5 May 1836
  6. ^ The Times, 11 May 1836
  7. ^ Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 93
  8. ^ Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 94
  9. ^ Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 117
  10. ^ a b Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 340
  11. ^ a b Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 341
  12. ^ a b Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 468
  13. ^ Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples, p. 469
  14. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Francis I. of the Two Sicilies" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  15. ^ a b Navarrete Martínez, Esperanza Navarrete Martínez. "María de la O Isabel de Borbón". Diccionario biográfico España (in Spanish). Real Academia de la Historia.
  16. ^ a b c d Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 9.
  17. ^ a b Genealogie ascendate, p. 1
  18. ^ a b Genealogie ascendate, p. 96


  • Acton, Harold. The Last Bourbons of Naples (1825-1861). St Martin's Press. London, 1961. ASIN: B0007DKBAO

External linksEdit

  Media related to Charles Ferdinand, Prince of Capua at Wikimedia Commons