Sunday, 20 October 2013

Nelson's Honours Part 4: Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit

After the Battle of the Nile in 1798, Nelson stayed at Naples with the Hamiltons, and became something of an adviser to the royal family of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.  When the French invaded Naples, Nelson helped the royal family and court escape to Palermo, and then he was instrumental in taking Naples back.  

King Ferdinand IV wanted to reward Nelson for his efforts, but the existing Neapolitan chivalric order, the Order of St Januarius, could only be given to catholics.  So, in the same way as the Turkish Sultan created the Order of the Crescent, Ferdinand created the Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, named after his ancestor Ferdinand the Great, King of Castile, which could be given to someone from any religion.  The Order was created in April 1800, to reward people for 'extraordinary and important services' and for showing 'extraordinary proofs of loyalty and attachment to our royal person and to the monarchy'.  After his actions in Naples, which damaged his reputation in England, no one could argue that Nelson's loyalty to the King of the Two Sicilies was anything other than extraordinary.

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