The confessions are drawn by the book of Giovanni La Cecilia (1801-1880): “Secret History of the Bourbons of Naples and Sicily”. This “Confessions”, dated 7 September 1814 and signed “Carolina”, according to many historians, are a fake created to denigrate the hated Maria Carolina of Habsburg-Lorraine, wife of Ferdinand IV, King of Naples and Sicily, dubbed by the Neapolitans “the German”.
Giuseppe Buttà (1826-1886) wrote in his book “I Borboni di Napoli al cospetto di due secoli” vol. 1: “That fanciful mind of Mr. Giovanni La Cecilia transcribes in his ‘Storie Segrete dei Borboni di Napoli’, the last confession of Maria Carolina; and as you can imagine, my readers, it is a terrible indictment of that queen, spiced with vulgar and indecent stories. A friend of his asked to mr. La Cecilia how he had been able to know that confession with all the minimum conditions, he answered by means of spiritualism. This response does no credit to the talents of Mr. Cecilia, … “.
Some episodes described in the confessions are confirmed by consulting other sources, Angelo Solmi “Lady Hamilton” – Leda Melluso “L’amante inglese”, such as a visit to the brothel in Vico San Camillo, where these sources are reporting that the queen didn’t just look at it, but the “noble women” received customers and the queen was winning with a gain of 18 ducats, for the bet made with the Marchesa di San Martino and the Duchess of San Clemente for those who had gained the most in that place.
The “Confessions” were freely translated in English by the author of this post.
I was wary of the courtiers priests, who was selling holy water in the palace and acquittals weight in gold, I spied upon, oppressed and rejected by my relatives, I confided my wandering in the honest abbot and compassionate of Hezendorf; only he will have pity on me and pray for my forgiveness. He will announce to Europe my faults and my repentance.
I will return my dust to the land, I will entrust to humanity the story of my faults; the scepter, the throne, the crown, do not guarantee the princes from death and cruel atonement. Those who envy our greatness learn from me that we are the most unhappy, because we lack the truth of suffering, the joys of family and compassion to the suffering of others, the most sublime of human virtues.
I was born to a mother who was supporting an empire (Maria Theresa of Austria; author’s note), and I persuaded myself from early childhood, that became queen, I had to govern the state as she had governed.
I was educated imperially in contempt of humanity, that I saw all prostrate at my feet to get to step on. The nature gave me the beauty and ingenuity; and since my mother and my sisters were sovereignly beautiful, I concluded that the nature lavished exclusively to the princes the beauty and genius.
I learned many languages, not excluding the Greek and Latin, I studied letters and philosophy with my brothers Giuseppe and Pietro Leopoldo, and I became unscrupulous woman, strong spirit, and I wished how my brothers those reforms that could put an end to the encroachments of the priesthood and power to increase the power of the princes. Freedom, progress, rights of the people were always for me words without meaning. I considered the men destined since the first youth to obey to the princes and I occupied nothing else.
My ardent senses, the imagination more than romantic, proved myself up early some amusements, than imperious needs of life became me in youth and mature age.
I was wife of Ferdinand IV, a king of seventeen years and a half, possessor of the world’s most beautiful country, I left Vienna with the mind full of poetry and love. I had to govern the king, the kingdom and share my life among the care of the kingdom, the pleasurable studies and affections of her husband, that I thought educated, kind and chivalrous.
All my illusion all my illusion on the borders of the kingdom; I found the most brutal and clumsy prince in my husband and I found the most boorish of Ministers, which reigned and ruled in place of my husband. I hated the first, I detested the second and I made all to dominate my clumsy husband and to supplant the Minister; but the sloth of the young Ferdinand, the greatest of his vices, prevented me every success: he could not escape from the influence of Tanucci and he fear to take care of the affairs of the kingdom with another minister or me. I, devoured by ambition, hoped to have male children, and so intervene in state council as it was established in the marriage contract; but luck turned against me, I gave birth three daughters; I turned the mind to create me a party and to satisfy my passions, being unable to get interested in government, having almost abandoned the palace. I surrounded myself with the most mind of Naples, I spoke to them of freedom, progress and reform, and I made to desire to everybody my intervention in the government.
A Polish, clerk in the court of Vienna, had followed me in Naples as a knight of honor: he was as good as a Adonis, he loved me frantically, but did not dare declare his love; I facilitated him walking alone with him in the palace gardens. The affair began, but I gave him as successor the Prince of Caramanico, being annoyed; the unhappy lover noticed it, and he left for the war of Hungary, where he was killed. The young priest, chaplain of the royal palace church, pleased me exceedingly, I did secretly introduced him into my private toilet, I heard footsteps, and immediately, I changed attitude, shouting outrage, offense, as Potiphar’s wife; the king entered and found the poor priest almost insane, believing my perfidy in the thing. The guards put a gag in his mouth, I suggested why he did not speak accusing me, loaded him with chains and dragged him into an underground of Castel Nuovo, and here they ended up him strangling.
In France and Germany there was much talk of the Freemasons; the most educated Neapolitans made me realize that they were initiated as Freemasons. An ardent longing agitated me to know their mysteries, I asked to be part of their congregations to learn the most hidden mysteries, the most arcane secrets: they told me that I must be submitted in the name of equality the trials of initiation and hierarchy of degrees. Caesar’s daughter adverse to equality, I thought outraged myself, and I hated the sect and the sectarian; but I did not renounce to penetrate its mysteries, and I adopted every means, the seductions, corruptions and even my caresses to succeed.
There was a German, that exerted the important task in the palace, he was mature years, not nice, but he was madly in love of me. He possessed all the secrets of the Freemassons because from long time started the sect . I seduced him sending into a frenzy, lacing him in my coils, I knew from him partly what I wanted; I learned from other lovers even more by the same means , and then I convinced myself that the Freemasons were the enemies of thrones, I decided to persecute them fiercely, not as Freemasons, the fashionable philosophy and the example of my brothers prevented myself, but such as plotters and rebels; the times and the vicissitudes gave me this means.
In 1777, having finally had the desired male child, I entered the Council of State, where I obliged to retreat of the minister with art and ingenuity always by opposing and placing of the votes of all the councilors.
I governed with the Prince of Sambuca and the Marquis Caracciolo, that one after another taken for lovers because more docile, more subdued they obeyed my orders ruling in the kingdom.
Running time of the philosophy and the emancipation from the papacy, I continued in the reforms of Tanucci against the priesthood, I acquired a reputation for wise, and had praise and commendations from philosophers.
In 1779 a English, John Acton, came in the Kingdom on request of Caramanico, and he was in charge of the navy direction: we liked ourselves and we were in agreement on everything. Caramanico was sent away from Naples and he died of poison in Sicily but not for guilt of Acton, as the fame ran, but for the work of a powerful enemy priest who lived in Rome.
Corruption of Acton, his tastes, his political systems, and all were conformed to my inclinations, our ties became unbreakable for many years; and although I liked to change lover for only my lust, I never occurred to me to push him away from me. I loved this man among so many, judging him as necessary to existence.
In 1781, running in the thirteenth year of my reign and governing Acton, we were often embarrassed and held in the conduct of affairs from sloth of the King, which almost always refused to affix his signature to the decrees, and he fled to Caserta, San Leucio and Persano or Mondragone; well then we thought to kill him with poison: Acton was the son of a doctor, I meant anything of chemistry, we prepared together the vegetable poison of Laurel “ceraso” and I poured to him the poison into wine in a late night dinner; but or the dose was limited or he resisted the poison for its robust temperament, he did not die, however the laziness grew in him from that day and he became more beast, more idiotic than before to the point that I had always to suggest the answers in all occasions.
I was so punished by my own failure, and that crime, that I consumed to be free with the Acton, led me to other misdeeds. The real beast Ferdinand, as he was guided by secret and inexplicable instinct from the night of poisoning, he did not care about the marital obligations or he was away for months from the palace, and I had to continue the affairs with Acton.
At that time, and still before, it was said and ascertained to Naples, on evening I visited the brothel in San Camillo Street for lubricity, and I was here transformed myself in the priestess of Venus. Fame does not lied about visits I made to that sad admission of impurities; but it exaggerated the purpose and the facts. Furious jealousy of Acton urged me to accept the challenge of the perverse Marquise of Santo Marco, not sight, I saw what did the clients of that place, but I did not do it. But my mind was so struck by what I saw, that later I used what I had seen to lure Ferdinand and to obtain so the signatures I needed for the affairs of the kingdom
The French revolution, that I judged fatal for thrones from the first movements of the people, confirmed my hatred for the Freemasons, as philosophers or as Encyclopaedists, had caused the blast, and they continued to fan the flames of sedition . I used assassins and spies payed them with honors and royal bounties, I wanted to rehabilitate the infamous job of informer. The French revolution increased my ire, and when I heard the tragic death of my sister Marie Antoinette and of Louis XVI, I promised myself to revenge on all men, if I could, the death of my relatives, pushing Europe a deadly war against France; knotted coalitions, I corrupted a colonel of the Imperial Hussars with gold and with caresses, and I convinced him to assassinate the plenipotentiaries of the French Republic sent to the Congress of Radstadt and I did wear off any hope of peace. I falsified dispatches to induce the war the awkward Ferdinand, and when I doubted that a courier brought letters discovered my pitfalls that courier, designated as a Jacobin from my agents, was killed and made to pieces by the people. Our army left to fight the French in the Church State; but it came back won we decided to flee to Sicily on Nelson’s ships, leaving ruthless and cruel orders to destroy not only the fleet but also the city of Naples from top to bottom. Viceroy Pignatelli did not dare complete the feat, he burned the ships, he emptied the jails and prisons, he armed the populace; but he, afraid, also took refuge in Sicily and I made bury him in a tower as a traitor.
A British woman, who was become Nelson’s mistress, was caressed by me only because I could use her for my desires with the British admiral. Often I shared the dinner, the bathroom and the thalamus with that woman. When the French left Naples because of the superstitious hordes led by a corrupt cardinal, knowing that a surrender would have saved the Republicans of Naples from my revenge, I sent to admiral Nelson his mistress Emma Lyon that I convinced with caresses and rich gifts, and I got to revenge of the rebels and kill them through her.
I went back to the kingdom and I continued the drawings to move Europe against France became the prey of Bonaparte.
A new war is started at my suggestion; but I found no other way out to save the kingdom from another French invasion, defeated the Austrians and defeated the Prussians, that of resorting to Emperor Paul I of Russia, who braked the anger of Napoleon and stopped the footsteps of his army protecting me.
Prepared new pitfalls and I welcomed British and Russian troops in the kingdom against the treaties; but revenge of Bonaparte did not delay to hit my house, again prevailing his fortune.
Ferdinand, cowardly as always, fled to Sicily to the first announcements of the approach of a French army: I was alone resisting and even fighting; but the Russians and the British abandoned me, I quickly embarked on their ships; the people, that I tried to incite with religion, did not correspond to my desires, showing itself more inclined to favor a new lordship, that to defend the old. The people missed, the army failed, and though I wished to see up close the war I was also forced to take refuge in Sicily.
The French entered in the capital with festive receptions, King of Naples was Joseph Bonaparte; and although the whole kingdom, except Calabria, was in subjection to them, I did not renounce to fight against their domination. I seduced the robbers, the mob, the most wicked men with letters, with gifts, with luck of my hair, and I sent them to disrupt and to plunder the kingdom. The course Saliceti, Minister of Police, unpopular to me for the boldness and the genius, managed to steal from my cabinet the most secret correspondence; I tried to get them back with the gold failing, I decided to bring down his palace with underground mine, in order to bury him under the rubble along with my cards he stole me. I dictated the instructions in detail and selected performers among my most faithful servants; the house collapsed, but the minister was unharmed.
The war took proportions of nationality and independence war in Calabria; and since the secret society of the Carbonari was involved in it in the name of freedom, I opened practices with the leaders of the same, and I promised free orders and constitutions and parliaments making use of them, if I were back in the kingdom. The Sicilians, who had previously loved me, showed themselves averse for hatred of the Neapolitans of the court and hatred against the ministers: a French party arose in Sicily, particularly in Messina; I sent the Sicilian marquis Artale against of this, which he repeated the same torments of Neapolitan authorities to the detriment of Messina people, torturing and killing the guilty and the innocent. Many nobles of the most illustrious families of Sicily tried to make opposition to the government, I did imprison them and then I did lead in the dungeons of the Sicilian islands. At that time Lord William Bentinck arrived as ambassador to England and as supreme leader of the fleet and army of this nation. I hated to see him, and I abhorred when he tried to meddle in the affairs of the state and speaking of a liberal constitution.
Meanwhile Acton had obeyed the orders of his government and he had married a young English woman, moving away from me and out of business, he was operating against me in favor of his English indeed as an ungrateful. The mistress of Nelson, Emma Lyon, was gone away mourning the death of Admiral killed at Trafalgar; I did only remain as an adviser around me the knight Luigi de Medici with whom I had had intimate relations of affection.
At that time secret letters of the emperor Alexander of Russia enjoined to all the sovereigns of Europe to flatter, to hallucinate with kind words Bonaparte, so as to make him believe that he was pleasing to the old royal bloodlines, luring him from the comforts of the courts and separating him by the people; this secret injunction, I considered the hatred against the British and the Bentinck, and have the Bonaparte married Marie Louise of Austria the daughter of my nephew, and I determined to open a correspondence with Napoleon and I managed cleverly to forge pacts with him to chase away English from the island. These occult intelligences with Bonaparte contrasted military campaign of Gioacchino Murat against Sicily and opened me the opportunity to correspond with the general Manhes, who commanded as absolute master in Calabria.
Bentinck and the British joining with my own son Francesco, Duke of Calabria, coward more than his father, hypocrite, fake, rod, forced Ferdinand to resign the royal authority in the hands of the same Duke of Calabria, who had the title of vicar general and he granted a bountiful constitution to the Sicilians on England advice.
The noble prisoners returned from the islands and were ministers; Ferdinand withdrew in the villa of the Ficuzza and continued to hunt, to hear three masses in a day and to see with a wicked woman, Luisa Migliaccio princess of Partanna, she was owned by many and many men paid with a rent as a house or a farm. I was relegated in petty villa of Castelvetrano and surrounded by spies and soldiers of Bentinck.
I do not bent to fate, I did not surrender to the arrogance stranger; and although I was abandoned by the state authorities, I took every initiative to destroy the English and their partisans in Sicily. I used Priests and friars who incited against the heresy of the English to inspire the same feelings in the people, I stroked the Independent Liberal Party, I opened practices with the Carbonari of Calabria and promised constitutions and freedom, I persuaded the lazy king of take over the reins of the state, and as the Duke of Calabria, my own son Francis, was the biggest obstacle to my designs being faithful to the English and my enemy, I decided to kill him. The voice of the blood did not hold me back, the blame did not scare me, I did not feel the dismay of the enormity of the event and sadness of fame: I, regal woman and offense, did not hear that the advice of revenge, I did not yield to ambition stimuli; the passion to command won me the sweet affections of nature. Now I, punished, proscribed and abandoned, feel the horror of the crime, then I obtained the intoxication of revenge. I bribed the doctor of the Duke of Calabria, he handed him the poison, but he did not go to the bottom of the offense; he warned him, he administered the prophylaxis saving him from death, he did not save him from the terrible disease that succumbed during all of his life, a general relaxation of fiber made him as an rumpled and lapsed old man.
I was always in need of money and I knew that one of the judges of the second council of state, the Sicilian Speciale, owned one hundred thousand ounces of gold, which he had accumulated robbing and selling justice and he kept avariciously in his own home, I asked them in load; I was sure of his rebuffs, I ordered to surround his home from trustworthy agents, forecasting of what should happen. In the night the miser was about to bring his treasure somewhere else after swearing at my messenger that nothing had; but he was assailed by my agents and he saw abduct his treasure, he went mad, and died after a few days of furious dementia.
The people attributed insanity and death to remorse of his atrocious sentences; I convinced myself that often the people judge mistakenly the actions of men.
The illness of the Duke of Calabria, the money for Special, the promise of Ferdinand to show once firm and decisive in his long reign, the sure to aid Bonaparte, everything facilitated to my plans, the illness of the Duke of Calabria, the money for Special, the promise of Ferdinand to show firm and decisive in his long reign, the sure to aid of Bonaparte , so in January 1813, I did return the king in Palermo and I did publish a manifesto cutting off any hesitation, announcing his return to the care of the state. Bentinck not submitted; but he gathered his army threatening the city, threatening the king and fiercely insulting me; it was necessary to repel force by force, and to do begin by the people the massacre of the English. Everything was ready, the hour of vengeance was about to ring, already I was about to give the signal, when the cowardly nature of Ferdinand resumed him, first he refused to show himself to the people, then he fled from the palace, and finally, king for one day, he returned to entrust the government of the reins to the Prince Francis as vicar general, and he permitted that I were banished from Sicily with the most offensive and soldierly ways.
I sailed in the storms towards deserted and barbarians beaches, I arrived in Constantinople after long and dangerous navigation, and from to Serbia and Hungary I was arrived to Vienna from to Serbia and Hungary; but here my pain doubled, I die.
Giovanni La Cecilia, Storie segrete dei Borboni di Napoli e Sicilia, C.E.M. 1981
Giuseppe Buttà, I borboni di Napoli al cospetto di due secoli, Edizioni Trabant
Angelo Solmi, Lady Hamilton, Milano, Rusconi 1982
Meda Melluso, L’amante Inglese, Edizione PIEMME