Wednesday, November 18, 2015
King Carlo Emanuele IV of Piedmont-Sardinia
Marie Clotilde of France, the sister of King Louis XVI. She was sixteen and had been prepared for this and from the time she was very young had been taught to speak Italian in preparation for her marriage to the heir of the House of Savoy. The marriage, however, was not without some unkind gossip. At the French court of Versailles, where beauty and a glamorous image was paramount among the status-conscious aristocrats, Marie Clotilde did not fit in, being rather reserved, shy and somewhat overweight. Cruel French elites mocked her for her size, saying that the Prince of Piedmont was getting two brides instead of one. However, if she had any fears about the court in Turin, they were quickly dispelled. She was, like her husband, a devout Catholic of sincere faith and this mattered more to him than her dress size. When someone commented to him about his bride’s reputation for being overweight, Carlo Emanuele was not bothered, saying that he had, “more to worship”.
Marie Clotilde was accepted with sincere affection by her Italian husband and was warmly embraced into the family by her new sisters-in-law as well. The only misfortune, as far as King Vittorio Amadeo III was concerned, was that the couple were never able to have any children. Nonetheless, they had a happy marriage and both were equally devoted to the happiness of the other and loved each other completely and totally. Their religious faith was the backbone of their marriage and they lived a modest but contentedly fulfilled life together. Their shared faith was something they would need for beyond the borders of Piedmont, trouble was brewing as Revolution began to break out in France. The Savoy monarchy opened its doors to refugees from the Terror and the political turmoil and religious persecution in France affected Carlo Emanuele deeply. In 1794 he joined the Third Order of St Dominic as Carlo Emanuele of St Hyacinth. Meanwhile, his father had declared war on republican France in an act of monarchist solidarity but the small Piedmontese army was quickly defeated and forced to cede territory in the armistice of Cherasco.
The Savoy King and Queen were forced to relocate to a new residence near Florence but were under constant threat, particularly as Napoleon gained more and more control over France. They had to move to various cities and in 1802, after coming down with typhus, Queen Maria Clotilde died and King Carlo Emanuele IV was inconsolable with grief at the loss of his beloved wife. Unable to carry on without her, at the Palazzo Colonna in Rome Carlo Emanuele IV abdicated his throne on June 4, 1802. His younger brother then became King Vittorio Emanuele I. The former monarch decided to devote the rest of his life to God and as he had long been a passionate supporter of the restoration of the Jesuits he joined the Society of Jesus as a novice in 1815, six months after the order was restored. He lived at the Jesuit house near the church of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale in Rome until his death on October 6, 1810. There was a small group far from Italy that marked his passing as well as his own former subjects. In 1807 he inherited the Jacobite claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland and France and was regarded by die-hard Jacobites as “King Charles IV”. He had been good friends with and a frequent guest of his cousin Prince Henry, Cardinal York, the last of the Stuart line but never made any public acknowledgement of this inheritance or any claim on the British throne.