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Ferdinand II, King "Bomba"
Ferdinand II, (1810-1859), King of Naples, was nicknamed "bomba" (bomb) as a result of his bombardment of Messina during the political unrest in 1848. By most accounts, the slaughter and destruction of property was excessive—perhaps not entirely unexpected from one who was the last absolute monarch in Europe and one who resisted calls for constitutional government to the very end. He died in 1859 and left the few months of existence remaining to The Kingdom of Naples, before its forcible incorporation into a united Italy, in the hands of his son, Francis II. (The son was already known, affectionately, by the Neapolitan diminutive, "Franceschiello" and, less affectionately, as "Bombalino"—Little Bomb).
Ferdinand II was the son of Francis I and grandson of the long-reigning Ferdinand IV of Naples (also known as Ferdinand I of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies —in case you were having difficulties figuring out how a IV could come before a II!). "Bomba" ascended the throne in 1830 and had, at first, the reputation of a progressive monarch. He was responsible for much of the great industrial progress in southern Italy, such as the inauguration of the first Italian railway (from Naples to Portici in 1839) and promoting the significant commercial and military shipyards at Castellammare. He was, however, totally allergic to the ideas of a united Italy and political reform that drove the Risorgimento, the move to unify the Italian peninsula and, above all else, the idea that defined what it meant to be "Italian" in the 19th century.