The main branch of the Bourbon family dates back to the 8th century AD. From this date, the Bourbon dynasty, through a series of marriages, power struggles, battles, strong leadership and alliances, managed to secure over centuries rule over the kingdoms of France, Spain and the Two Sicilies. Following the 1975 restoration of the Spanish monarchy, the Bourbons of Spain reigned again, yet in today’s Italy, whilst not ruling, the Bourbons of the Two Sicilies dynasty are contemporary ambassadors for their country’s ancient past and its cultural legacy, as well as a focal point for humanitarian, spiritual and charitable initiatives. (For information on the other Bourbon dynasties, including ancient history please visit www.realcasadiborbone.it or for the Spanish Royal Household visit www.realcasa.es.)
From 1716 until 1861, the Bourbon Two Sicilies dynasty ruled nearly half the Italian peninsula and the island of Sicily – a territory contiguous to that of Magna Graecia. Their realm included millions of people, “a thousand cities,” hundreds of ancient Greek temples, a few active volcanoes and the most prosperous royal capital in Italy.
The Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies, as the dynasty later became, traces its origin through several sovereign dynasties. The Bourbon dynasties of France, Spain, the Two Sicilies and Parma all descend from the House of Anjou, a branch of which ruled the Kingdom of Naples in the thirteenth century.
From 1504 until 1707 the ancient kingdom of Naples belonged to Spain and was governed by Spanish viceroys. Having been acquired by Austria during the War of the Spanish Succession, Naples was conquered in 1874 by the eighteen-year-old Prince Carlo of Bourbon, son of King Philip V of Spain by his second wife, Elisabeth Farnese (right). Prince Carlo had come to Italy in 1731 to take procession of the Farnese Duchies of Parma and Piacenza, which his mother, Elisabeth Farnese, had won for him after many years of war and intrigue.