The Capitulation of the Neapolitan Republicans

The Neapolitan Republicans capitulated to Cardinal Ruffo in June 1799. When a copy of the draft capitulation was sent to the queen, Maria Carolina, she was horrified. Although the treaty had already been signed and was being implemented, she scawled her angry comments on it and sent it to Lady Hamilton. This insight into the queen’s vindictive nature can now be found in the British Library (Add. MS. 30999, f. 84). This is a transcript with the text of the treaty on the left and the queen’s comments to the right:


Article 1. — The castles Nuovo and Uovo shall be delivered up to the commanders of the troops of his Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies, and of those of his allies, the King of England, the Emperor of All the Russias, and the Ottoman Porte, with all military stores, provisions, artillery and munitions of every kind now in the magazines, of which an inventory shall be made by commissaries on both sides, after the present capitulation is signed. To capitulate with one’s rebel subjects, who were without force, without hope of succour either by sea or by land! With persons who, after the clemency displayed to them by their king and their father (promising to pardon them), fought desperately, and now only come to terms through fear! I find it to disgraceful to treat with rebels! They should either have been attacked in full force, or else left alone until a more favourable opportunity.
Article 2. — The troops composing the garrisons shall keep possession of the forts until the vessels, mentioned below, destined to transport those who wish to be taken to Toulon, are ready to sail. This is a real insult for the rebels address their sovereign on equal terms, and with an air of being his superior.
Article 3. — The garrisons shall have the honours of war, and will march out with arms and baggage, drums beating, colours flying, matches lighted, and each with two pieces of artillery and they shall lay down their arms on the beach. This is so infamous and absurd that I can barely come to speak of it, honour for the standard of rebellion. This is so absurd that I cannot tell how they ever came to conceive of it, much less to sign it.
Article 4. — The persons and property, both movable and immovable, of all the individuals composing the two garrisons shall be respected and guaranteed. This means that the traitors shall not suffer even a slight punishment or loss for such a grave crime.
Article 5. — All these individuals shall have the liberty of embarking on board the cartels, which shall be prepared for the purpose of taking them to Toulon, or to remain at Naples without being molested together with their families. This article makes one ask oneself why troops were sent, if the felons are allowed to remain and depart without being molested. This will encourage them to do it all again, but with more thorough preparation, and will stimulate the evilly disposed persons in Sicily to do likewise, since there is nothing to lose and much to gain.
Article 6. — The conditions contained in the present capitulation extend to every person of both sexes now in the castles. The fact that the two sexes are mentioned on purpose proves that there are criminals of both sexes. The clause shows this.
Article 7. — The same conditions shall apply in respect to all the republican troops taken prisoner by the troops of his Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies in the different divers battles which took place before the siege of the castles. The same principle of full liberty and security for felonious rebels is continued, in order that they may return with better success to their evil doing.


Article 8. —The Archbishop of Salerno, Micheroux, Dillon and the Bishop of Avellino, detained in the castles, shall be delivered to the commandant of the castle of St Elmo, where they shall remain as hostages until word of the arrival of the individuals sent to Toulon shall be ascertained. What an absurdity to hand over hostages, as though we were the conquered! The fact that the traitors depend on a handful of Frenchmen, and wait for their orders, renders Naples a vile French garrison. The British fleet should therefore proceed to bring them to obedience, as it would with Toulon, Brest, or Rochefort.
Article 9. — All the other hostages and state prisoners, confined in the two forts, shall be set at liberty immediately after the present capitulation is signed. I would have no one released — all should be made to win their liberty with arms in their hands, for their honour and for the good of the kingdom and the city.
Article 10. — None of the articles of the said capitulation shall be put into execution until after they shall have been approved by the commandant of the castle of St Elmo. This is the epitome of disgrace and cowardice. They do not ask for the approval of their own sovereign to whose orders and instructions their action is diametrically opposed, but they demand the approval of a small number of Frenchmen. This shows the villainy of the rebels, and the treachery or ignorance of those who signed it.



Queen’s note: This is such an infamous treaty that if by some miracle of Providence something does not take place which will break and destroy it, I shall count myself as lost and dishonoured, and I believe that at the risk of perishing from malaria, fatigue, or from a rebel bullet, the king and the prince by his side, should immediately arm the provinces, march against the rebel city, and die beneath its ruins if they resist, rather than remain vile slaves of the French wretches and their infamous followers, the rebels. That is how I feel; this infamous capitulation (if it takes place) grieves me a great deal more than the loss of the kingdom, and will have a far worse consequences.