The Grand Magistery transferred to Naples

Charles III of Bourbon and Farnese, Duke of Parma

Unfortunately, Duke Francesco had no issue and his younger brother and eventual heir to Parma, Antonio, was likewise childless. There were no other surviving Farnese Princes and the sole heiress of the family was the young Princess Elisabeth, only daughter of their elder brother Odoardo (who had predeceased them), who had in 1714 become the second wife of Philip V, King of Spain. Her enormous dowry enabled the King to rebuild his Treasury after the depredations of the War of Succession. She had numerous children and her eldest son, the Infante of Spain don Carlos de Borbón y Farnese, was designated heir to Parma and, as primogeniture heir, to the Constantinian Grand Magistery. He succeeded to both dignities in 1731 but in 1734, following the Battle of Bitonto, became King of Naples and Sicily (the Two Sicilies), recovering for the Bourbons two Crowns to which the House of France had laid claim for two hundred and fifty years.

 

 

 

 

 

Charles VII of Naples (III of Spain) visiting the Pope

 

 

 

By the Treaty arrangements which followed this disruption of the balance of power, Charles was forced to surrender the Sovereignty of Parma and Piacenza, while retaining the title of Duke for himself and his heirs (despite the acquisition of these Duchies with Guastalla by his brother Philip in 1748). He retained the Constantinian Grand Magistery without interference by the Austrian administration, [Note 4.1] which took over the Duchies in 1736, and they permitted the officers appointed by him to continue to administer the affairs of the Order in Parma, including appointing knights who were now subjects of the Emperor. This may be regarded as an early example of recognition of the special status of the Order as independent from any temporal sovereignty. Some administrative functions were removed to Naples, although the post of Grand Prior was still held by a Parmesan until 1768, and the Order began to accumulate properties and commanderies in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In 1777 the benefices of the defunct religious Order of Saint Anthony of Vienne were added to those of the Order and the Church of Saint Anthony Abbot became the principal ecclesiastical seat in Naples.

 

 

Charles VII of Naples (III of Spain) abdicating the Throne of Naples
to Ferdinand VII

In 1759 King Charles inherited the Crown of Spain and, by article II of the Treaty of Naples of October 3rd of that year, he was required to establish the Infante don Ferdinand, his second son (third-born since the exclusion of the eldest who was severely retarded) as King of the Two Sicilies. The new Sovereign received the Two Sicilies Crown, as Ferdinand IV of Naples and III of Sicily, by the Pragmatic Decree of October 6, 1759. This ordained that the succession should pass by male primogeniture among the descendants of King Ferdinand, and failing them of his younger brothers, unless the Crown of Spain was united with the Sovereignty of the Two Sicilies, in which case the latter had to be ceded to a son, grandson or great-grandson of the prince who so combined both successions. [Note 4.2] Ten days later the Constantinian Grand Magistery was separately ceded to the new King, as "legitimate first-born male heir of the Farnese"; [Note 4.3] this separate transferal is evidence that the Two Sicilies government understood the independent character of the Constantinian Grand Magistery.

 

  

Charles VII of Naples (III of Spain) departing Naples for Spain in 1759

NOTES

4.1. His decision to do so was conveyed to Grand Prior Lampugnani in a letter from the Marquess of Mont'allegra, Minister of State of the Two Sicilies, dated 29 May 1736, in which he stated, ".. che il Re intende di ritenere, e conservare presso di se il Gran Magistero dell'Ordine su detto con tutta quella piena giurisdizione, prerogative, e facolta .... e cio per l'incontrastabile evidente ragione che il Gran Magistero suddetto none annesso, o connesso a ducati di Parma, e di Piacenza, ma' proprio, e particolare della Ser.ma Casa Farnese, come appare alle Bolle de Sommi Pontefici e consequentemento di S.M.ta, che ne el'ciede. Quindi inerendo V. Illma a tale determinazione della Maesta Sua dovra continuare ed esercitare le incombenze ditte della Sua Carica, e dignita di Gran Priore dell'Ordine ... L'incontrasabili ragioni della M.S. sopra l'Ordine Costantiniano.... Tanto significo a V. Ill.ma d'Ordine della M.S. come Gran Maestro". For the complete text of this letter see Sainty, op.cit., p.35, note 35.

4.2.The first-born son being mentally retarded, the king's second-born son, Charles, became Prince of the Asturias and, in 1788, Charles IV of Spain - he was the ancestor of the present Spanish king.

4.3. This document has not survived but is quoted in a letter of Marchese Tanucci dated 11 December 1759 and directed to the Signori cavalieri, gran croci della Congregazione di Azienza dell'Ordine Costantiniano. See Sainty, op.cit., p.37, note 45.

 

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