|18th century between Austrians and Bourbons|
In 1707 the Kingdom of Naples passed to Austria and consequently also Ischia had its Austrian governor, the Count of Martiniz. In 1734 Ischia and Naples became a Bourbon dominion and were administrated by royal governors living in the Aragonese Castle. Among them we remember Carlo de Marco, Vicaria's judge, promoter of several decrees aimed at controlling and driving out malefactors who infested the island. However only a few years later, in 1764, as a result of the political ups and downs, Ischia was abandoned once again in the hands of criminals and suffered another terrible famine.
In March 1799 the inhabitants of Ischia put up "the tree of freedom", following the example of Procida: a tree with a three-coloured revolutionary cockarde, red, yellow and blue. A month later, the English commodore Towbridge, by command of Nelson, re-established order and the royal government, after having hung several patriots, among which Francesco Bonocore. During the early years of 19th century, Mary Caroline of Austria, the dictatorial and strong wife of Ferdinando IV, who encouraged the repression against patriots, was expelled by Napoleon's troops and forced to leave Naples. Later on, Joseph Bonaparte occupied her vacant throne, first as viceroy and after as sovereign. In Ischia a French military sector was installed and new fortifications and cannons stationing were built in S. Angelo, Forio, Monte di Vico, S. Montano, Lacco Ameno, Castiglione, in order to face the raids of English and Bourbons coming from Sicily. On 21st and 22nd of June 1809 the whole Anglo-Bourbon fleet drew up for the attack of Ischia and Procida. On the 24th June, they first assaulted Procida, which immediately gave in, and then Ischia, which vainly attempted a bashful and short resistance. But English stayed on the island for a short time. As matter of fact, on 26th of July, as a consequence of the battle of Wagram (Vienna), they went back to Sicily and Malta.
The unhappy year 1799 came and brought the French revolution in the gulf of Naples. On the islands some trees of freedom were erected around the end of January and the new tricolour yellow-red-blue waved. (P. Buchner)
In 1815 Joachim Murat, who succeeded Joseph Bonaparte to the throne of Naples seven years before, was obliged to abdicate. So he left Naples and took refuge in Ischia. He stayed there two nights and one day in a lodging-house called "La grande sentinella" (The big sentry), in the country of Casamicciola and then he weighed anchor to reach France. The following month, in October, he left from France again, in order to reconquer the kingdom, but he was captured and shot by the Bourbons. That was the end of the ten years French domination.
From 1817 to 1828 Ischia did not have its own history, because of its annexation to the district of Pozzuoli since the Bourbon restoration. On February 1825 a terrible catastrophe hit Ischia irremediably: a dreadful earthquake made the island shaking and transformed Casamicciola in a heap of debris. Ten years later, after this tragedy, a cholera epidemic followed, spreading death and fair.
In 1848, during the revolt of the Risorgimento, Ischia Castle opened the gates of its prisons to receive the patriots of the Unity of Italy. Among them there were the Baron Carlo Poerio, who stayed there for ten years, before being sent to England in exile, Nicola Nisco, Michele Pironti, Vito Porcaro, Sticco, De Gennaro, Caruso and so on. In the meantime, King Ferdinando II visited Ischia and approved the project concerning the construction of the harbour, whose works began on 25th of July. Other public works such as the waterworks of Monte Buceto, a good road system, the church of S. Maria di Porto Salvo, confirm the royal special love for this island. But in 1858 King Ferdinando and his family visited the island for the last time: a few time later he died and his son, Francis II, succeeded him. The latter would have been the last king of the Two Sicilies Kingdom.
In 1860 Ischia engraved its name in the Renaissance. Giuseppe Garibaldi arrived in Naples and founded the dictatorial government in the name of Vittorio Emanuele II. In order to smooth out the fights between the Bishop's Curia and the anticlerical patriots in Ischia, Garibaldi sent to the island the Franciscan friar Giovanni Pantaleo, followed by the Garibaldian major Alberto Mario di Lendinara, a writer and a politician who was governor of the town. A year later, Francesco II raced away from Gaeta with his wife, few followers and many prisoners of the defeated Bourbon army. They moved to Ischia where most of them died in a typhus epidemic. In 1862 Ischia was, once and for all, annexed to the province of Naples (by then a town of the kingdom of Italy), its public administration was re-organised on new basis and new public schools, for both boys and girls, were founded. In 1863 Her Royal Highness the prince Oddone of Savoia, Duke of Monferrato, landed in Ischia to know the famous thermal waters (which were useful for lots of health problems to many other famous people), where he also had the chance to gain islanders favour.
As matter of fact, during his long stay, many country-dances and other kinds of festivities were held in honour of the population and the prince also opened the royal residence gardens to the public. Since that moment, Ischia and Procida followed the political, economical, administrative and warlike destiny of the main city, Naples, to which the two islands were linked despite of the different and adverse fortunes, consequence of the almost always unlucky foreign domination.
A cura della dr.ssa Nicoletta Manzi -
G.BUCHNER C.GIALANELLA, Guida al museo di Ischia, Napoli 1995.
G.CASTAGNA, Scavi e Museo Santa Restituta in Lacco Ameno, 1988.
E.MANCINI, Flegree, isole dei verdi vulcani, Milano 1980.
P.MONTI, Ischia, archeologia e storia, Napoli 1980.
P.MONTI, Ischia altomedievale, Napoli 1991.