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Acton, Sir John Francis Edward

Sir John Francis Edward Acton, 1736?–1811, Neapolitan statesman of British origin, b. Besançon, France. Called upon by Queen Marie Caroline and King Ferdinand IV of Naples (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies) to reform the Neapolitan army and navy in 1779, Acton also served as minister of finance and as prime minister (1785–1806 with brief interruptions). With the assistance of Emma Lady Hamilton, the queen's confidante, he rid Naples of Spanish influence and strengthened ties with Great Britain and with Austria. He shared the political vicissitudes of the royal family, going with them into exile in 1798 after Naples had been taken by the French. After the fall of the Parthenopean Republic (1799), he played a major role in the bloody reprisals and consolidated absolutism. In 1806, the French reconquest of Naples under Napoleon I forced Acton into exile again.

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