Duchy of Parma and Piacenza
|Motto: Dirige me Domine!|
"Lead me, oh Lord!"
|Common languages||Emilian |
|Government||Absolute monarchy (Duchy)|
|Pier Luigi Farnese (first)|
|Robert I (last)|
|16 September 1545|
|24 April 1748|
|1 November 1802|
• Formal annexation by France
|11 April 1814|
|3 December 1859|
|501,000 in the 19th century|
The Duchy of Parma also referred to as Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, was an Italian state created in 1545 and located in northern Italy, in the current region of Emilia-Romagna.
Originally a realm of the Farnese family after Pope Paul III made it a hereditary duchy for his son, Pier Luigi Farnese, it was ruled by the dynasty until 1731, when the last duke, Antonio Farnese, died without direct heirs.
It was invaded by Napoleon and annexed by France, having its sovereignty restored in 1814 after Napoleon’s defeat. Napoleon's wife, Marie Louise (Maria Luigia), then ruled as its duchess until her death. Parma was restored to Bourbon rule in 1847, and in 1859, the duchy was formally abolished as it was integrated into the new Italian state.
The Duchy of Parma was created in 1545 from parts of the Duchy of Milan south of the Po River, which had been conquered by the Papal States in 1512. These territories, centered on the city of Parma, were given as a fief for Pope Paul III's illegitimate son, Pier Luigi Farnese.
In 1556, the second Duke, Ottavio Farnese, was given the city of Piacenza, becoming thus also Duke of Piacenza, and so the state was thereafter known as the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza (Italian: Ducato di Parma e Piacenza). The Farnese family continued to rule until the extinction of their male line in 1731.
Because of the lack of male heirs, Elisabeth Farnese, niece of Duke Antonio Farnese, was declared the Farnese heiress. She received many marriage proposals, finally getting married in 1714 with Philip V, King of Spain. On the death of childless Duke Antonio in 1731, Philip V of Spain asserted the rights that his wife had over the duchies according to the agreements signed in the Treaty of Vienna of 1725 and the Treaty of Seville of 1729, and he claimed both for the Spanish House of Bourbon. The Duchy would thus be inherited by his first son with Elisabeth, Infante Carlos of Spain, who will reign as Duke Charles I of Parma and Piacenza. He ruled his territories for four years until the end of the War of the Polish Succession, when, according to what was established in the Treaty of Vienna of 1738, he handed over both duchies to the House of Habsburg in exchange for the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily.
The Habsburgs only ruled until the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748, whose final peace treaty, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, ceded back the Duchy to the Bourbons in the person of Infant Philip of Spain, younger brother of Charles I. Duke Philip became the founder of the House of Bourbon-Parma, reigning over an expanded Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla (Italian: Ducato di Parma, Piacenza e Guastalla).
In 1796, the duchy was occupied by French troops under Napoleon Bonaparte, and the political situation of the state became extremely confused. Duke Ferdinand maintained his throne under French military governors until the Treaty of Aranjuez of 1801, when a general agreement between the House of Bourbon and Napoleon formally decided the cession of the duchy to France in exchange for Tuscany, but the Duke lasted in Parma until he died in 1802.
Napoleon Bonaparte was undecided about the future of the duchy, aspiring to a total engagement of the Bourbons in the European wars as his allies. Even as French laws and administration were gradually introduced, the formal annexation to the French Empire was declared only in 1808 after the outbreak of the conflict against Spain. The duchy was reformed as the département of Taro.
In 1814, the duchies were given to Napoleon's Habsburg wife, Marie-Louise, styled Maria-Luigia, who ruled them for the rest of her life. After Maria-Luigia's death in 1847, the Duchy was restored to the Bourbon-Parma line, which had been ruling the tiny Duchy of Lucca. Guastalla was ceded to Modena. The Bourbons ruled until 1859, when they were driven out by a revolution following the French and Sardinian victory in the war against Austria (called Austrian War in France and Second War of Independence in Italy).
The Duchy of Parma and Piacenza joined with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Modena to form the United Provinces of Central Italy in December 1859, and merged with the Kingdom of Sardinia into the Kingdom of Italy in March 1860 after holding a referendum.