|The King & Queen depart for Sicily|
The Hapsburgs did not recognize the treaty, the Treaty of Utrecht, by which the Savoy gained the Kingdom of Sicily and so, being just across the straights in Naples, King Vittorio Amedeo II placed priority on improving the coastal defenses of Sicily and raising a new army which consisted of two regiments of volunteers and a unit of royal guards. When King George I came to the British throne and the Royal Navy was withdrawn from the Mediterranean, King Vittorio Amedeo II also took care to expand the Sicilian navy to pick up the slack. The King, of course, ultimately had to return to Turin but left behind a Viceroy to rule in his place. The Viceroys had plenty of problems to deal with as, despite the renunciation of Felipe V, the Spanish maintained agents on the island who spread pro-Spanish and anti-Savoy propaganda and encourage resistance. The reconciliation between France and Austria also posed a potential threat. There was also a ridiculous and frustrating dispute with the Holy See over Savoy rule of the island.
|King Vittorio Amedeo II|
The era of Savoy rule over Sicily started to come to an end in 1717 when the Spanish attacked Sardinia which was then ruled by the Hapsburgs. This set off the War of the Quadruple Alliance with Spain on one side and the British, French, Dutch, House of Hapsburg and House of Savoy on the other. The following year the Spanish also invaded Sicily. The British navy won a victory that stranded the Spanish forces and the Austrians sent troops in from Naples. Spain was finally forced to concede defeat but Savoy rule over Sicily would not be restored. Instead, the allied powers essentially forced King Vittorio Amedeo II to take the Kingdom of Sardinia in exchange for Sicily. Although his forces had held no control over the island since 1718, the official hand-over did not occur until 1720 and the King did not relinquish his title as ‘King of Sicily’ until 1723 and was still seeking compensation for the loss as late as the autumn of 1729. Of course, the Crown of Savoy did eventually return to Sicily in 1860/61 with the Expedition of the Thousand under Giuseppe Garibaldi in the name of King Vittorio Emanuele II.