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Kingdom of Etruria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kingdom of Etruria

Regno di Etruria
Coat of arms
Location of Etruria
StatusClient state of the French Empire
Common languagesItalian
Christian (Roman Catholic)
GovernmentEnlightened despotism
• 1801–1803
Louis I
• 1803–1807
Louis II
• 1803–1807
Maria Luisa
Historical eraNapoleonic Wars
March 21, 1801
December 10, 1807
CurrencyTuscan pound
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Grand Duchy of Tuscany
State of the Presidi
First French Empire

The Kingdom of Etruria (/ɪˈtrʊəriə/; Italian: Regno di Etruria) was a kingdom between 1801 and 1807 which made up a large part of modern Tuscany. It took its name from Etruria, the old Roman name for the land of the Etruscans.[1]

The kingdom was created by the Treaty of Aranjuez, signed at Aranjuez, Spain on 21 March 1801. In the context of a larger agreement between Napoleonic France and Spain, the Bourbons of Parma were compensated for the loss of their territory in northern Italy (which had been occupied by French troops since 1796). Ferdinand, Duke of Parma ceded his duchy to France, and in return his son Louis I was granted the Kingdom of Etruria (which was created from the Grand Duchy of Tuscany). To make way for the Bourbons, the Habsburg Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand III was ousted and compensated with the Electorate of Salzburg. Originally the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Etruria had been ceded to the Bourbons in 1801 in the person of Charles IV's eldest daughter and her Italian consort.[2]

Outside the Treaty of Aranjuez, Spain also secretly agreed to retrocede the Louisiana territory (over 2 million square kilometers) back to France in order to secure the Kingdom of Etruria as a client state for Spain; Louisiana was first ceded by France to Spain in 1763 at the end of the Seven Years' War. Louisiana was duly transferred to France on 15 October 1802, after the signing of the Treaty of Aranjuez. Napoleon subsequently sold Louisiana in the Louisiana Purchase on December 20, 1803, in order to pay for his French armies during the War of the Third Coalition.

The first king (Louis I) died young in 1803, and his underage son Charles Louis succeeded him. His mother, Maria Luisa of Spain, was appointed regent. However, since Etruria was troubled with smuggling and espionage Napoleon annexed the territory, thus becoming the last non-Bonaparte Italian kingdom on the Peninsula. Since Spain's only hope of compensation lay in Portugal, co-operation with the emperor became more important.[2]

In 1807, Napoleon dissolved the kingdom and integrated it into France, turning it into three French départements: Arno, Méditerranée and Ombrone. The king and his mother were promised the throne of a new Kingdom of Northern Lusitania (in northern Portugal), but this plan was never realized due to the break between Napoleon and the Spanish Bourbons in 1808. After his downfall in 1814, Tuscany was restored to its Habsburg Grand Dukes. In 1815, the Duchy of Lucca was carved out of Tuscany as compensation for the Bourbons of Parma until they resumed their rule in 1847.

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At the time when this portrait, signed and dated 1804, was painted, the situation in Europe was relatively complex, given that this was the year when Napoleon, who had become one of the masters of Europe, proclaimed himself Emperor, with the consequent birth of the first French Empire which would be a short­lived one, from 1804 to 1815. In 1804 Bonaparte, who possessed almost all of Italy through the agreements he reached with the Spanish Crown, established a kingdom in Italy which he named Etruria, with the intention of giving it to members of the Spanish royal family. The history of this kingdom is an extremely brief one given that it lasted from the time of its creation in 1804 through the agreement with Bonaparte to 1807. All kingdoms need a sovereign and Napoleon thus decided to install as its rulers the son of the Duke and Duchess of Parma. The king we see standing here is Louis I of Etruria, with his wife, Queen María Teresa, daughter of Charles IV and María Luisa of Parma. The artist, François­Xavier Fabre, was commissioned to paint it in 1803. He would in fact only paint the Queen and her two children as the King had already died at the early age of 30. Louis had been born in Parma in the palace at Colorno, dying in 1803. Louis I is to be seen alive in the portrait of his family painted by Goya, “The Family of Charles IV, which we have here in the Museum on the first floor. It includes Charles IV’s daughter accompanied by her husband and with a baby in her arms, who is the boy we see here. To judge from this portrait, Louis appears not to have a particularly strong character but this portrait is not representative of his nature as it is a copy of other earlier ones, given that the artist probably never saw the King. As a result the face is rather undefined. You can see that he wears a military uniform with decorations, a large number of them, including the emblems of the Order of the Golden Fleece, of Charles III, of the French Order of the Saint­Esprit, and of the Order of Saint Stephen. His appearance is suitably symbolic for a monarch. The Queen’s appearance is livelier as she was painted from life, as is also the case with the children. These figures were portrayed directly. The Queen is seated on a throne surmounted by a fleur­de­lis, as both the Dukes of Parma and the Spanish royal family were Bourbons, whose symbol this is. The Queen is dressed in the Empire style that became fashionable in Napoleonic France then spread to the rest of Europe. On her head she wears a gold and pearl tiara evocative of a classical ornament. It has cabochon­-cut topazes and is notable for the presence of cameos, which were frequently used on women’s tiaras and other jewels of this period. The cameo in the centre has a male head which could be that of her son, given that he is the king. The son is the actual monarch while she is the regent. The Queen also wears two decorations: the starred cross of the Habsburgs and the emblem of the Order of Maria Luisa, of which the latter was created by Charles IV in honour of his wife, the mother of the Queen depicted here. The Queen may have been too confident of her position. She abolished any incipient liberalism in the duchy, returned to absolutism and protected various enemies of Napoleon. At this point the Emperor simply expelled her from the kingdom and she and her family were obliged to leave Florence in 1807. The Queen never regained power, moving to Nice where she later died.


  1. ^ Norman Davies, Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe, Penguin, 2012, chapter 10, “Etruria: French Snake in the Tuscan Grass,(1801-1814)”.
  2. ^ a b Charles Esdaile (14 June 2003). The Peninsular War: A New History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4039-6231-7. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
This page was last edited on 24 March 2019, at 03:27
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