Maria Carolina of Austria

Maria Carolina of Austria
Portrait by Anton Raphael Mengs, 1768
Queen consort of Naples and Sicily[a]
Tenure12 May 1768 – 8 September 1814
Born(1752-08-13)13 August 1752
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
Died8 September 1814(1814-09-08) (aged 62)
Hetzendorf Palace, Vienna
BurialImperial Crypt, Vienna
SpouseFerdinand IV of Naples, III of Sicily
Full name
Maria Carolina Louise Josepha Johanna Antonia
FatherFrancis I, Holy Roman Emperor
MotherMaria Theresa, Queen of Hungary
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Maria Carolina of Austria (Maria Karolina Luise Josepha Johanna Antonia; 13 August 1752 – 8 September 1814) was Queen of Naples and Sicily as the wife of King Ferdinand IV & III. As de facto ruler of her husband's kingdoms, Maria Carolina oversaw the promulgation of many reforms, including the revocation of the ban on Freemasonry, the enlargement of the navy under her favourite, John Acton, 6th Baronet, and the expulsion of Spanish influence. She was a proponent of enlightened absolutism until the advent of the French Revolution, when, in order to prevent its ideas gaining currency, she made Naples a police state.

Born an Austrian archduchess, the thirteenth child of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I, she married Ferdinand as part of an Austrian alliance with Spain, where Ferdinand's father was king. Following the birth of a male heir in 1775, Maria Carolina was admitted to the Privy Council. Thereafter, she dominated it until 1812, when she was sent back to Vienna. Like her mother, Maria Carolina took pains to make politically advantageous marriages for her children. Maria Carolina promoted Naples as a centre of the arts, patronising painters Jacob Philipp Hackert and Angelica Kauffman and academics Gaetano Filangieri, Domenico Cirillo and Giuseppe Maria Galanti. Maria Carolina, abhorring how the French treated their queen, her sister Marie Antoinette, allied Naples with Britain and Austria during the Napoleonic and French Revolutionary Wars. As a result of a failed Neapolitan invasion of French-occupied Rome, she fled to Sicily with her husband in December 1798. One month later, the Parthenopean Republic was declared, which repudiated Bourbon rule in Naples for six months. Deposed as Queen of Naples for a second time by French forces, in 1806, Maria Carolina died in Vienna in 1814, a year before her husband's restoration to Naples.

Early life

A young blue-eyed girl wears a blue rococo bodice with frilled sleeves while holding a portrait of her father.
Archduchess Maria Carolina holding a portrait of her father, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor.

Born on 13 August 1752 at the Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Maria Carolina was the thirteenth and sixth surviving child of Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia and ruler of the Habsburg dominions, and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. She was a namesake of her elder sisters — Maria Carolina, who died two weeks after her first birthday, and Maria Carolina, who died several hours after being baptised —, but she was called Charlotte by her family. Her godparents were King Louis XV of France and his wife, Marie Leszczyńska.[1] Maria Carolina was the daughter who resembled her mother most. Maria Carolina formed a very close bond with her youngest sister, Marie Antoinette.[2] From very early on they shared the same governess Countess Lerchenfeld. A testament to their closeness is the fact that when one caught an illness the other did too.[2] In August 1767 Maria Theresa separated the two girls, hitherto raised together under the auspices of Countess Marie von Brandis, because of their bad behaviour.[3] Soon after in October of the same year, Maria Carolina's sister Maria Josepha, destined to marry Ferdinand IV of Naples as part of an alliance with Spain, died during a smallpox epidemic.[4] Anxious to save the Austro-Spanish alliance Charles III of Spain, father of Ferdinand IV, requested one of Maria Josepha's sisters as a replacement.[5][6] The Empress offered the court of Madrid, negotiating on behalf of that of Naples, Maria Amalia or Maria Carolina.[7] Because Maria Amalia was five years older than his son Charles III opted for the latter.[7] Maria Carolina reacted badly to her engagement, crying, entreating and saying that Neapolitan marriages were unlucky.[7] Her objections, however, did not delay her preparation for her new role as Queen of Naples by the Countess of Lerchenfeld.[8] Nine months later, on 7 April 1768, Maria Carolina married Ferdinand IV of Naples by proxy, her brother Ferdinand representing the bride-groom.[9]

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Maria Carolina dari Austria
Türkçe: Maria Karolina
Tiếng Việt: Maria Carolina của Áo