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Maria Carolina of Austria
Her Majesty Queen Marie Caroline of Naples and Sicily née Her Imperial & Royal Highness Archduchess Marie Caroline of Austria (1752-1814) was queen consort and de facto ruler of Naples from 1768 to 1799 and from 1799 to 1806, and of Sicily from 1768 until her death in 1814, though she had lost the de facto power in 1812.
Early life and marriage
Her Imperial & Royal Highness Marie Caroline Luise Josephe Johanna Antonie, Princess Imperial and Archduchess of Austria, Princess Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, Princess of Tuscany was born in 1752, the daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor.
In 1768, she married the young Ferdinand IV of Naples who was also Ferdinand III of Sicily. Ferdinand was not very intelligent, and Marie Caroline took advantage of that to control him, and she became the true ruler of the kingdom. In 1777, when she gave birth to a male heir, Francis, she became a Counsellor of State, and she took advantage of this position of political influence. She inherited much of her mother's intelligence, but was also ambitious and cruel, wanting to raise the kingdom to a position of power. Marie Caroline eventually established a tyrannical reign through her husband's power.
The First Coalition
During the French Revolution, the queen actually sympathized with the French rebels, until the French monarchy was abolished and King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette (who was Marie Caroline's sister) were executed in 1793. The Queen and her husband were horrified, and Marie Caroline used her uxorious husband to bring the Neopolitan and Sicilian armies into the First Coalition against France. Peace was made in 1796.
The Parthenopaean Republic
In 1799, Naples had its own (albeit unsuccessful) revolution. They proclaimed the Parthenopaean Republic and ended the Kingdom of Naples. However, a few months later, an army under Cardinal Ruffo and destroyed the republic. The queen wanted to show no mercy to the rebels, and used Lady Hamilton, a mistress of the Viscount Nelson, to persuade the latter to carry out her revenge. Her excuse was that the execution of her sister Marie Antoinette made her despise Republicans and Jacobins.
Deposition and death
In 1806, her husband was deposed as King of Naples (thus deposing her as de facto ruler) by Napoleon Bonaparte. However, Marie Caroline retained her status and power in Sicily until 1812, when her husband essentially (but not officially) abdicated, appointing his son Francis regent, which deprived the queen of her influence, and Marie Caroline was exiled to her homeland Austria, where she died in 1814. After her death, her husband became subservient to the will of Austria with his top advisor Marie Caroline gone.
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