1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charles II. (Duke of Parma)

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CHARLES II. [Charles Louis de Bourbon] (1799–1883), duke of Parma, succeeded his mother, Maria Louisa, duchess of Lucca, as duke of Lucca in 1824. He introduced economy into the administration, increased the schools, and in 1832 as a reaction against the bigotry of the priests and monks with which his mother had surrounded him, he became a Protestant. He at first evinced Liberal tendencies, gave asylum to the Modenese political refugees of 1831, and was indeed suspected of being a Carbonaro. But his profligacy and eccentricities soon made him the laughing-stock of Italy. In 1842 he returned to the Catholic Church and made Thomas Ward, an English groom, his prime minister, a man not without ability and tact. Charles gradually abandoned all his Liberal ideas, and in 1847 declared himself hostile to the reforms introduced by Pius IX. The Lucchesi demanded the constitution of 1805, promised them by the treaty of Vienna, and a national guard, but the duke, in spite of the warnings of Ward, refused all concessions. A few weeks later he retired to Modena, selling his life-interest in the duchy to Tuscany. On the 17th of October Maria Louisa of Austria, duchess of Parma, died, and Charles Louis succeeded to her throne by the terms of the Florence treaty, assuming the style of Charles II. His administration of Parma was characterized by ruinous finance, debts, disorder and increased taxation, and he concluded an offensive and defensive alliance with Austria. But on the outbreak of the revolution of 1848 there were riots in his capital (19th of March), and he declared his readiness to throw in his lot with Charles Albert, the pope, and Leopold of Tuscany, repudiated the Austrian treaty and promised a constitution. Then he again changed his mind, abdicated in April, and left Parma in the hands of a provisional government, whereupon the people voted for union with Piedmont. After the armistice between Charles Albert and Austria (August 1848) the Austrian general Thurn occupied the duchy, and Charles II. issued an edict from Weistropp annulling the acts of the provisional government. When Piedmont attacked Austria again in 1849, Parma was evacuated, but reoccupied by General d’Aspre in April.

In May 1849 Charles confirmed his abdication, and was succeeded by his son Charles III. (1823–1854), who, protected by Austrian troops, placed Parma under martial law, inflicted heavy penalties on the members of the late provisional government, closed the university, and instituted a regular policy of persecution. A violent ruler, a drunkard and a libertine, he was assassinated on the 26th of March 1854. At his death his widow Maria Louisa, sister of the comte de Chambord, became regent, during the minority of his son Robert. The duchess introduced some sort of order into the administration, seemed inclined to rule more mildly and dismissed some of her husband’s more obnoxious ministers, but the riots of the Mazzinians in July 1854 were repressed with ruthless severity, and the rest of her reign was characterized by political trials, executions and imprisonments, to which the revolutionists replied with assassinations.

Bibliography.—Massei, Storia civile di Lucca, vol. ii. (Lucca, 1878); Anon., Y Borboni di Parma . . . del 1847 al 1859 (Parma, 1860); N. Bianchi, Storia della diplomazia europea in Italia (Turin, 1865, &c.); C. Tivaroni, L’Italia sotto il dominio austriaco, ii. 96-101, i. 590-605 (Turin, 1892), and L’Italia degli Italiani, i. 126-143 (Turin, 1895) by the same; S. Lottici and G. Sitti, Bibliografia generale per la storia parmense (Parma, 1904).