Maria Sofia di Baviera, 1865, Fratelli D'Alessandri


Marie Sophie Wittelsbach in Bayern, wife of Francesco II, king of the Regno delle due Sicilie, was the last queen of Naples. The husband ruled for a short period, from May 22, 1859 to February 13, 1861 when Gaeta surrendered to the army of Piemonte.


Marie Sophie was the third daughter of dukes Maximilian and Ludovica of Bavaria; Ludovica was sister of the wife of Francis Charles, emperor of Austria for a few hours, before giving up the throne in favor of his son Franz Joseph. The sister Elisabeth said Sissi married Emperor Franz Joseph in 1854.

Marie Sophie was a beautiful tall girl, actively practiced the sport of swimming, riding and taking lessons in fencing and shooting, was very fond of animals and, like the sisters, was uninhibited and modern in social wife.

At seventeen years of age Marie Sophie become engaged to Francesco of Bourbon, knowing him only as a portrait and, the following year, on January 8, 1849 she married him by proxy. She left soon after from Trieste with bourbon frigates Fulminante and Tancredi; she arrived in Bari on February 1, 1859 where she met the groom.


They returned to Naples with the royal family and king Ferdinando II, seriously ill, who died shortly after; Francesco, twenty-three years of Age near Marie Sophie, eighteen years of age, May 22, 1959 was proclaimed king of Regno delle due Sicilie by the name of Francesco II of Bourbon. 

In the few months of her reign Marie Sophie, in contrast to the queen mother Maria Teresa, stepmother of Francesco II, urged her husband to grant the constitution, intriguing for replacing the prime minister with the liberal Carlo Filangieri.

With the “Spedizione dei Mille” the Bourbon kingdom started at the end; towards the end of the conflict we find the King and Marie Sophie in Gaeta, along with residual military of the Bourbon, they resisted for more than two months to the overwhelming forces of Piemonte.

In this occasion Marie Sophie showed all her courage and, wearing clothes rather masculine, took direct part in the fighting without hesitation risking her live, and to become an icon among the attackers of Piemonte; Francesco II invited her to take refuge in Rome, but she refused saying she wanted to share the fate of her people.

When all was lost the royal couple went by sea to Terracina; they were received in Rome by pope Pius IX in the Quirinal Palace. After a short time they moved to Palazzo Farnese which was property of the Bourbons.


At Palazzo Farnese they took up residence with all the Royal Family and there they established a government in exile of the Bourbon Kingdom, recognized as the legitimate government by some states.

The love life of the royal couple was not the best. The king suffered from phimosis at a young age and was hesitant to undergo surgery to correct the defect, therefore it can be said that there was a lack of sexual activity between the King and the Queen. Among other things, the King suffered from religious fanaticism which did not help the situation.

Marie Sophie, who had received a modern education free from taboos as custom in Bavaria already was in her time, did not disdain to have lovers, in particular with an officer of the papal army, Armand de Lawayss, noble of Belgian origin.

As a result of this love she became pregnant and, to avoid scandal and hiding her husband on her status, she moved temporarily to the ancestral castle Possenhofen in Bavaria where on November 24, 1862 gave birth to twins (some say that was one newborn): Viola and Daisy.

The newly Viola was given to the family of her father and died after seven years because of tuberculosis that had been spread by the same; the other child was entrusted to the brother of Marie Sophie, Luis of Bavaria, and his partner Herriette, than his wife, recognizing her as his daughter who was named Maria Luisa.

Maria Luisa’s life was very adventurous and unfortunate, she married young Count George Von Larisch and they had five children, she divorced Count and remarried always without luck; she was also involved in the scandal of her cousin Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, found dead along with his lover Mary Vetsera in Mayerling; she died in poverty in 1918 in Augsburg.

The queen confessed to her husband, with a moving letter sent from the castle Possenhofen, what had happened even though she did not mention, inexplicably, the second child entrusted to her brother. Francesco II forgave fully and made her return to the Palazzo Farnese.

Francesco finally decided to undergo surgery for phimosis, so on December 24, 1869 Marie Sophie has a daughter of Francesco II, who was named Maria Cristina Pia. The newborn unfortunately died after only three months.

Another scandal regarded Marie Sophie during his residence in Rome; Her photos in poses very daring were sent to the Pope and to members of her family of origin; these photos depicting her naked in suggestive poses in front of a portrait of the pope and in a tub to take a bath with the male members which were floating on the water.

The same turned out of the skillful photomontages; shortly after the perpetrators were arrested, a certain Mr. Diotallevi and his wife; They did not confess who were the instigators of the scandal even though the investigators strongly suspected of pro Savoy clubs in the Papal States.


Following the conquest of the Papal State by the Italian army, Francesco II and Marie Sophie moved to Paris and taking up residence in a villa in the suburbs of the same; They made several trips through Europe, spending the summers in Possenhofen. Marie Sophie continued to hold a narrow Bourbon court in exile, not renouncing to intrigue to try and regain the lost kingdom. Francesco II died in 1894 in Arco di Trento where he had gone for treatment.

On the death of Umberto I in 1900 at the hands of the anarchist Bresci, the Italian government asked the French government to warn Marie Sophie, because some government circles Italians suspected the bomber and other anarchists had relations with the former Queen of Naples.

During Great War, Marie Sophie sided with Germany and Austria, but she was often in concentration camps to meet the Italian soldiers prisoners and to bring them words of comfort and the little presents.

In the last years he lived in Monaco, host of a nephew, in an old building on Ludwigstrasse in the company of four elderly Italian servants and a secretary.

The “Aquiletta Bavara”, so dubbed her admiring Gabriele D’Annunzio died in Munich on January 19, 1925. Her remains, those of husband and daughter were moved to Naples in the Basilic of Santa Chiara in 1984 with a moving ceremony attended from a large crowd of her ancient people.

(Photo at the top: Maria Sofia di Baviera, 1865, Fratelli D’Alessandri)