More stupid period dramas with gay characters! Let’s stop pretending like “it didn’t happen back then.”
Guess what? It ducking damn well did. There has been documented homo-, bi-, and a- sexual behavior as well as transgender identities documented as early as the Ancient Greeks, and earlier Asia. So you can try to tell me that the two princes I ship can’t get together because men liking men didn’t exist back then, but you would be so wrong it’s just not worth it.
Also, kings and queens are not separate from that. Ludwig II of Bavaria and his crush on a womanizing opera singer would be a great show premise, for example. Princess Isabella of Parma’s love for her sister-in-law would be fascinating. Philippe I, Duke of Orleáns (Versailles is a show that got this right) , anyone? Edward II and his controversial “friendship?” Hisham II? Most of these people are dynamic characters with fatal flaws and easily dramatized lives. I mean this shit practically writes itself!
So can we all agree to stop straight-washing history because, ho-ho, it wasn’t. And, TBH, I just want to watch a stupid show with poncy, begrudgingly lovable and adorable royalty with impossibly white teeth and cute boys that I can ship together and not have to read fan-fiction for fulfilment. I’m a cheese ball, but I don’t care.
Maria Sophia of Bavaria was the last Queen of the Kingdom of the Two Siciles, who by the age of 19, had been a queen, lost her kingdom, rallied soldiers around her in the hopeless defense of a lost cause, and had had men - even her enemies - writing reams of romantic slush about her. She was “the angel of Gaeta” who would “wipe your brow if you were wounded or cradle you in her arms while you die”. D'Annunzio called her the “stern little Bavarian eagle” and Marcel Proust spoke of the “soldier queen on the ramparts of Gaeta”.
She was intelligent, lovely, and headstrong; she could ride a horse and defend herself with a sword. She was everything you could ask for - a combination of Amazon and Angel of Mercy.
Maria Sophia came from the Bavarian royal House of Wittelsbach, the daughter of Duke Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria and Princess Ludovika. She was the younger sister of the famous Empress Elizabeth (Sissi)
of Austria. Like her ravishing older sister, Maria Sophia was said to be ‘unusually beautiful’.
In 1859, Maria Sophia married the soon-to-be King Francis II of Bourbon, the son of Ferdinand II, King of Naples. Within the year, with the death of the king, her husband ascended to the throne and Maria Sophia gave up the frivolous court pursuits of a princess and took on the full-time responsibilities as the queen of a realm on the verge of crisis.
The Italian peninsula was in the grip of turmoil brought on by a combination of revolution, nationalism and republicanism. People were eager for an Italian unification. Upon their ascension, Francis II and Marie Sophia were already the target for invasion by the army of revolutionary republicans led by Giuseppe Garibaldi.
To avoid bloodshed in the major city of Naples, the king, the queen, and their army retreated to Gaeta to make what turned out to be a last stand. By this time also the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia under King Victor Emmanuel II had joined the fight for Italian unification and lay siege to the stronghold of Gaeta, which eventually overcame the defenders. It was the siege of Gaeta that gained Maria Sophia the reputation that stayed with her for the rest of her life.
She was constantly on the walls, tireless in her efforts to rally the defenders, giving them her own food, caring for the wounded, encouraging the troops, and shouting defiance at the enemy. She refused the chivalrous offer from the attacking general that if she would but mark her residence with a flag, he would make sure not to fire upon it with artillery. “Go ahead and shoot at me”, she said; “I will be where the men are."
However, it was a vain and hopeless fight. The King and Queen were forced to give up Gaeta and went into exile in Rome. They were welcomed as honored guests of the Papal court but the position of the Pope was under the same threat that had already befallen their own country.
On 24 December 1869, after ten years of marriage, Maria Sophia gave birth to a daughter, Maria Cristina Pia. Cristina was born on the birthday of her aunt, Empress Elizabeth, who became her godmother. Unfortunately, the baby lived only three months and died on 28 March 1870. Maria Sophia and her husband never had another child.
In 1870, Rome fell to the forces of Italy, and the King and Queen moved in Bavaria where Francis II died there in 1894. Maria Sophia’s activities were, however, far from over. She continued to preside over a Two-Sicilies court-in-exile and never gave up hope for a restoration of her adopted kingdom.
During World War I, Maria Sophia was actively on the side of Germany and Austria in their war with Italy. She hoped that the defeat of Italy might to lead to the restoration of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. But that was not meant to be. She went on to see her beloved homeland, the Kingdom of Bavaria, taken up into a united German Empire, and Italy became, irrevocably, a single nation state. She lived to see Mussolini take power in Italy and to see Hitler make his first move in Germany. She was still active enough in her 80s to stand at the window of her apartment in Munich and look at anarchists and police battling in the streets. She wanted "to see if young people of today still have the stuff they had when I was young.”
Maria Sophia died in exile in Munich in 1925. The Italian newspaper il Mattino announced her death, and was praised as ”…one of those European princesses who, with her great gifts, would have had another destiny but for the dramatic events of her times.“
She attracted harsh criticism, but she also generated so much respect and admiration in her long life. Even from those who would be her most extreme political enemies such as the famous Italian ultra-nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio called her the "stern little Bavarian eagle”. The Queen was buried alongside her husband and their short-lived daughter in the Church of Santa Chiara in Naples.
The sculptress Harriet Homer (who made a sculpture of Maria Sophia) called Maria Sophia “a violet-eyed heroine of Gaeta.“
15th-century miniature showing Queen’s Isabeau’s 1435 funeral cortege on the Seine, from the chronicle of Martial d'Auvergne Isabeau of Bavaria (also Elisabeth of Bavaria-Ingolstadt; c. 1370 – 24 September 1435) was Queen of France as the wife of King Charles VI, whom she married in 1385. She was born into the old and prestigious House of Wittelsbach, the eldest daughter of Duke Stephen III of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Taddea Visconti of Milan. Isabeau was sent to France when she was around 15 or 16, on approval to the young French king who liked her enough to marry her three days after meeting her.
Queen Máxima, king Willem-Alexander,
Munich mayor Dieter Reiter and
wife of Dieter Reiter, walk across the Marienplatz on April 13, 2016 in
Munich, Germany. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima are on a
two-day visit in Bavaria to strengthen the relationship between Bavaria
and the Netherlands.
Work Visit to Bavaria (Day 2): King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima in Nuremberg, Germany. Their Majesties are on a two-day visit in Bavaria to strengthen the relationship between Bavaria and the Netherlands.