ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Calabrian Insurrection: Prelude to the Peninsular War

Updated on June 21, 2018
Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleonic Europe

By 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte had ascended to the throne of France as a result of his military prowess. As First Consul of France he had secured a series of alliances and client states that gave him control of much of Western Europe, but for Napoleon this was not enough.

Napoleon sought to embed his family and their name in to the very fabric of Europe. To achieve this he married an Austrian princess. He also began to replace the French client states, which had been created as sister republics, with client kingdoms headed by his family. While some of his family members were effective rulers, others were not so. Joseph Bonaparte was the least competent member of the Bonaparte family to take a throne and yet he was to be given one of the greatest thrones in Europe, even after his first failure.

Ferdinand I of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies
Ferdinand I of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies

The Kingdom of Two Sicilies

The Kingdom of Two Sicilies was an amalgamation of two old kingdoms, the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Naples, created in 1816 after the Napoleonic Wars. The Kingdom of Naples comprised the southern portion of the Italian mainland, while the Kingdom of Sicily was the island of Sicily. Throughout the High Middle Ages the two kingdoms had been linked, but in 1285 larger powers and local support had split the kingdom in to the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Naples. So when the two kingdoms were brought under one ruler in the 18th century it was not unprecedented.

At the turn of the 19th century the king of Naples and Sicily was Ferdinand, generally known as Ferdinand I, but also III (in Sicily) and IV (in Naples.) Ferdinand ruled as a dual monarch from his capital at Naples, in the Kingdom of Naples, but he also had a capital in The Kingdom of Sicily, the city of Palermo. Ferdinand I was a Bourbon monarch and as such was related to the deposed kings of France and the Emperor of Austria. When Napoleon went to war in Europe, Ferdinand was compelled to join the Coalition against Napoleon.

Joseph Bonaparte, king of Naples
Joseph Bonaparte, king of Naples

The Subjugation of Italy

In 1803 the Great Powers of Europe formed the Third Coalition against Napoleon. Sweden, the Russian Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the United Kingdom, Portugal, the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily assembled their armies in an attempt to squash France because Napoleon claimed the Iron Crown of Lombardy, essentially making himself king of the northern Italian cities.

At the Battle of Austerlitz Napoleon crushed the allied armies and drove them from northern Italy. He then sent his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, and Marshal Massena to destroy the Neopolitan Army of Ferdinand I. When Massena marched in to Naples Ferdinand fled to Sicily to avoid capture. Without their king Naples was thrown in to chaos. The city of Naples was lost to the French, and only two forts were able to hold out against the French army.

Massena split his forces between the two forts. Joseph Bonaparte was crowned king of Naples in March 1806. Under Bonaparte's command his army marched south in to Calabria, under General Jean Reynier. Due to Bonaprte's incompetence they were under-supplied and had to live off the land. When Reynier took food from the local populace the Calabrians revolted.

Calabria and Sicily

The Calabrian Revolt

General Reynier sparked a vicious guerrilla war when he seized materials from the peasants of Calabria. Calabria was a Greek speaking area of southern Italy, and the peasantry were considered extremely loyal to their exiled king, Ferdinand I. Calabrian rebels ambushed soldiers, stole supplies, and generally raised havoc throughout southern Italy.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain saw an opportunity to drive the French out of Italy and sent an expeditionary force to aid the rebellion. With the fortress city of Gaeta still holding out north of Naples General Reynier was unsupported and slowly being overwhelmed. Unfortunately for the Neopolitans the British were unable to make a decisive strike, and the city of Gaeta fell to Marshall Messana who then moved his army south.

The French forces carried out a policy of mass terror against the Calabrians to end the guerrilla war. Without outside support, and swamped by French troops the Calabrian insurrection was put down in 1807.


After the Calabrian Insurrection was put down Joseph reigned in Naples, but was unable to seize Sicily due to the presence of the British navy. In 1808 Joseph was made King of Spain and left Naples. In Spain Joseph found an angry populace who were unhappy with losing their own king. Spain was much larger and the British deployed a far large expeditionary force to aid the Spaniards than they did the Calabrians. Spain would become an ulcer on the French Empire, consuming almost a half million of Napoleons soldiers and supplies at a time when Napoleon direly needed them.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • ata1515 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Buffalo, New York.

      Yes, the Peninsular War was in Spain. The Calabrian Insurrection occurred before the Peninsular War and had many of the same symptoms that accompanied the Peninsular War.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Unifiniti profile image


      6 years ago

      The Peninsular War was in Spain, right?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)