...it wouldn't have taken much to have made the year 1742 the last one for the Kingdom —it would have been eight years of never being properly appreciated by contemporary states.
It's not that Britain and the kingdom of Naples were at war. Not at all, but Naples had taken sides in the series of wars among the larger northern states in the first half of the 1700s, all aimed at keeping the balance of power from skewing too much one way or the other. Those nations were Britain, France, Spain, Prussia and Austria; their respective dynasties were the houses of Hanover, Bourbon, Bourbon, Hohenzollern and Hapsburg. Many of the conflicts had similar sounding names: the War of the (nation) Succession: Spanish (1700 to 1713) Polish (1733-1738), and Austrian (the one in our story, lasting from 1740-48). Spain had troops operating in northern Italy (then still under Austrian rule) to oppose the Hapsburgs, who were allies of the British). Charles III of Naples, born in Spain, was sending troops north to help against the Austrians (and thus against the British). See what's about to happen? I knew you would.
A British fleet arrived in the Bay of Naples on the afternoon of August 19, 1742. It was under the command of commodore William Martin (1696-1756), a naval officer who had seen earlier service during the War of the Spanish Succession. He had risen rapidly in the ranks and was highly regarded. In hindsight, he was somewhat of an “enforcer” of British interests in the Mediterranean, as was the case here. He had orders to
Martin flashed his credentials: four ships-of-the-line (now called battleships) and six other vessels, together commanding almost 400 cannon.'...capture, sink or burn any vessels carrying military stores and supplies... [and] 'to use his utmost to lay the said city in ashes, unless the King of the two Sicilies shall agree forthwith not only to withdraw his troops now acting in conjunction with those of the King of Spain in Italy, but to forbear from giving in future any assistance of what kind soever.'2