< EIN REFORMIERTER SCHWEIZER KOMMANDANT AM STRENG KATHOLISCHEN
VOM KOENIGREICH BEIDER SIZILIEN > (*)
Bruno J.R. Nicolaus
Emanuel Burckhardt (1744-1820) was born in Basle as eldest son of
Emanuel Burckhardt-Linder (1719-1765), Jurist and Lieutenant at the
service of Louis XV in the Swiss Regiment
Salis-Samaden located in Paris [1,2,3,5].
True to the ancestor’s tradition, Emanuel junior started a military
career at the early age of 10 (1754) in the father’s regiment, making
his first painful experience during the <seven years war>, when his
uncle Johann died blood-be-spotted at his site. At the age of 15, Emanuel
junior became Cadett and shortly after Flag Bearer (1759). Thereafter, he
continued serving as Captain and Instructor until 1787, when he was
offered to join his Commander Baron von Salis-Marschlins (1731-1815) at
the Kingdom of Naples
with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and the task of
Chief-Instructor of the Neapolitan troops.
As a matter of fact, Ferdinand IV King of Both Sicily, aware of the poor
stand of his troops, asked
King Louis XVI to lend him temporarily some good instructor in order to
reorganize his army. Two years later, Paris eager to get them back,
offered Emanuel an honourable return, promoting him to Major. Emanuel
rejected this offer and decided to stay in Naples. The decision to pass
the Rubicon was undoubtedly well taken and had positive consequences for
Emanuel life and career. He avoided for instance, to get involved into the
tragedy of the forthcoming French Revolution, during which the largest
part of Swiss soldiers at the service of the King died [4,6].
The choice to stay in Naples offered Emanuel, furthermore, the
opportunity of his life, giving him the chance of showing his military
talent, the knowledge acquired during many years of previous service, his
outstanding courage, undertaking and common sense.
At that time, the court was practically ruled by Queen Caroline,
daughter of the Empress Maria
Theresa and sister of Marie Antoinette, an observant catholic, whereas
Emanuel and his wife Theresa were and remained protestant for life.
Despite of the difference of faith, Emanuel succeeded in developing an
excellent relationship with the Queen, as well as with various court
members, the most of which belonged to old families, looking with mistrust
to an heretic individual. Emanuel success must be therefore credited to
his fine feeling and diplomatic talent: two seldom qualities
in a man of arms. The fact of being protestant, precluded however
the way to some conferment
and charge, like the official appointment to Vicario Generale (Vice King),
for which other political solutions were preferred [9,10].
During his life, Emanuel performed several commendable actions, enabling
him to climb up to highest rank of Commander-in-chief of all troops of the
Some relevant steps of Emanuel’s career are listed below:
1787-Lieutenant Colonel, Commander of the Regiment Vallone-Borgogna;
1788-Colonel, Commander of the Regiment Calabria;
1798-Field Marshall, Conquest of Rome;
1799-Reconquest of Naples; conquest of Rome and appointment to
1802-Governor of Sicily with full civil and military powers; President
of the Court-Martial;
1809-Landing and conquest of Procida and Ischia;
1815-Appointment to Captain General (highest military rank);
1819-Conferment of the knightly orders:<Ordine di San Gennaro>
and <Gran Croce dell’Ordine di San Giorgio della Riunione>
(highest civil and military orders in the Kingdom).
Despite of this brilliant career, Emanuel Burckhardt is poorly known in
Switzerland and almost fully ignored in Italian history. At this regard,
one can make following hypothesis. Instead of returning home at the end of
his career, as customary according to the <bon ton de l’epoque >
and to his family tradition, Emanuel preferred to remain with his sons in
his beloved Sicily, integrating themselves in this beautiful country.
Furthermore, changing the glorious Burckhardt name into the melodic French
De Bourcard contributed to the separation from fatherland and to the
progressive oblivion of Emanuel and his exploits. There is no doubt about,
that both facts were not well accepted by the family in Basle.
As to the other point concerning Italian history, it is evident that
both the Savoy Family and fascist regimen shared a common interest in
denigrating and putting in oblivion the Bourbons, their achievements and
all individuals cooperating closely with them.
A new critical and objective evaluation of the merits of the dynasty,
started by Benedetto Croce some years ago, is pursued nowadays by Carlo
Knight  and the new British School of History .
Bibliography and Notes
Hans Adolph Voegelin: <Militaers in fremden und einheimischen
Diensten>,pp.225-230, in <CKDT (Basel) Streiflichter auf
Geschichte und Persoenlichkeiten des Basler Geschlechtes Burckhardt>,Herausgeberin:
Burckhardtsche Familienstiftung, 1990 Buchverlag Basler Zeitung, 4002
 Carlo Knight: <Emanuel De Bourcard,
generalissimo svizzero al servizio di Ferdinando IV di Borbone>,
Atti della Accademia Pontaniana, Napoli, vol. XL, pp. 1-33 (1991).
 Carlo Knight: <Un Generale Svizzero al Servizio
dei Borbone> in < Sulle
orme del Gran Tour- Uomini Luoghi Società del Regno di Napoli > Electa
Napoli, pp. 41-65 (1995).
 August Burckhardt: < Basler in fremden
Diensten >, Basler Neujahrsblatt nr. 95 (1917).
 Theophil Burckhardt-Biedermann, Basler Jahrbuch
 P. De Vallière: < Honneur et Fidelitè,
Histoire des Suisses au Service Etranger >, pp. 469, Lausanne 1940.
 Archivio di Stato di Napoli, Sezione Militare: <
Generali Antichi >, Fascio 17, inc 35, < Stato in cui si
dimostrano gli impieghi occupati al servizio di Sua Maestà il Re, del
Tenente Generale De Bourcard delle Armi del Regno di Sicilia >.
 <Serie cronologica dei Viceré, Luogotenente e
Presidente del Regno di Sicilia > dal < Giornale
Araldico-Storico-Genealogico >, Palermo 1896.
 According to the family archive and other documents deposited in Basle [1,4,5,6], Emanuel was conferred the title of Vice King concomitantly to the appointment of Governor of Sicily (1802). According to other sources [2,3,7], Emanuel, when appointed Governor of Sicily with full civil and military powers (1802), did not obtain the title of Vice King [7,], mainly because of internal political reasons (opposition of the Sicilian people against any Vice King; Faith of Emanuel). Emanuel operated thereafter as Governor and Lieutenant General, with the same powers of a Vice King, to the full satisfaction of Ferdinand IV and the Sicilian folk .
 According to the abovementioned sources [1,4,5,6] and to
information collected personally among living direct descendants, Emanuel
was conferred by King Ferdinand IV the title of < Count of Gaeta
>, (1815). His name does not appear, however, in the Annals of
the Araldic Society of Sicily [3,8].
Emanuele De Bourcard-Pellecchia (1904-1987), the last male
offspring of Don Emanuele, passed away in Milan, Italy a few years ago,
closing in this way the direct glorious Italian branch of the Burckhardt
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