King Ferdinand’s Infidelities

Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies, had a poor reputation. Nicknamed the Nose King, owing to his formidable nasal appendage, he was seen as an ultra-conservative, and both cruel and stupid. He wasn’t properly educated by his private tutor the Duke of San Nicandro, as such he only spoke the Neapolitan dialect. He also loved to bring his hunting and fishing catches to the market of Naples and sell them himself, greatly insulting the Neapolitan people. And yet, he was not entirely stupid for having invented the Three Fs Formula, making him a rather popular king: Farine, Feste, Forche. Which means bread, feasts, and gallows for public executions.

His Prime Minister, the famous Cardinal Ruffo, was also his confessor. The Cardinal was deeply annoyed by his penitent after learning that the king had been cheating on his wife, Queen Marie-Caroline, the sister of Marie-Antoinette. Further troubling the Cardinal, the king wasn’t taking grand ladies as his mistresses, but rather common girls, women who had no business being in the company of the king. The Cardinal rushed to the king’s office and admonished him for the shame of his conduct, insisting that he remain faithful to Queen Caroline in the future. The king balanced one foot atop the other and shook his head, mumbling something incomprehensible, just as his descendants, the Bourbon-Two Sicilies, do today when they are embarrassed. The Cardinal, sure that his message got through to the king, then left.


Shortly afterwards, the king invited the Cardinal to spend three days hunting with him at his marvelous hunting lodge on Lake Fusaro. The Cardinal arrived in the evening and a delicious pheasant soup was prepared for him for dinner. The following morning, for breakfast, he was served roasted pheasant, which raised his eyebrows. For lunch he was given boiled pheasant. The Cardinal was shocked. He was then served grilled pheasant for dinner. The Cardinal couldn’t understand. After two days of this diet of pheasant prepared with various different sauces, the Cardinal erupted before the king, “Sempre fasano Majesta”, “Always pheasant, your majesty”. “Sempre Carolina, Eminenza”, “Always Caroline, your eminence.”

by  Prince Michael of Greece