Duchy of Parma

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The Duchy of Parma was created in 1545 from that part of the Duchy of Milan south of the Po River, as a fief for Pope Paul III's illegitimate son, Pier Luigi Farnese, centered around the city of Parma. In 1556, the second Duke, Ottavio Farnese, was given the city of Piacenza, becoming thus also Duke of Piacenza, and thus the state was thereafter properly known as the Duchies of Parma and Piacenza.

The Farnese family continued to rule until their extinction in 1731, at which point the Duchy was inherited by the young son of the King of Spain, Don Charles, whose mother Elizabeth Farnese was the Farnese heiress. He ruled until the end of the War of the Polish Succession in 1735, when Parma was ceded to Emperor Charles VI in exchange for the Two Sicilies. The Habsburgs only ruled until the conclusion of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, when it was ceded back to the Bourbons in the person of Don Philip, Don Charles's younger brother. As Duke Filippo, he became the founder of the House of Bourbon-Parma.

In 1802, following the death of Duke Ferdinand, the Duchies were occupied by Napoleonic France, who took over administration, and, in 1808, annexed them, forming out of them the Département of Taro (although two officials were given the titles of Duc de Parme and Duc de Piacenze). In 1814, the Duchies were restored under Napoleon's wife, Marie Louise of the Habsburgs, who was to rule them for her lifetime. She died in 1847, and the Bourbon-Parma line, which had heretofore been ruling the tiny Duchy of Lucca, returned. The Bourbons ruled until 1859, when they were driven out by a revolution following the Sardinian victory in their war against Austria. The Duchies joined with Tuscany and Modena to form the United Provinces of Central Italy in December, and were annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia in March of 1860.

The House of Bourbon continues to maintain the title Duke of Parma to this day; Carlos-Hugo (pretender to the Spanish throne in the 1970s) has held the title since 1977.

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