The History of Sicily

The Napoleonic Wars (1813-1815)

After Napoleons’ defeat at Leipzig in 1813, the Austrians made an overture to Murat to join them, but he refused, sending a force to conquer northern Italy. He was repulsed by an army organized by Bentnick to defend the independence of that region. On April 4,1814, Napoleon abdicated, and Ferdinand was given permission to return to Naples, where his wife planned to join him. However, she died of stroke en route from Austria. Just three months later, the King married his former mistress, whose reputation in Palermo had been less than positive, to say the least.

In February 1815, Napoleon escaped from Elba, and Murat marched north to try to extricate the Austrians, who were now in northern Italy. But in May, he was defeated in the Marches, and he was forced to surrender his powers to Ferdinand. In June, the King entered Naples to cheering crowds. By then, Napoleon had lost at Waterloo. Murat made one last attempt to recover his crown. After having fled to Corsica, he returned to Calabria, foolishly believing that the people would rise to his cause. They did not and, after being arrested, he was executed.


Joachim Murat