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The Kingdom of Sicily was a country in the Mediterranean that existed during the early modern period. It was not only composed of its namesake, but also Naples and Sardinia, the Illyrian coast, Morea and Malta (who were semi-independent duchies), and for a brief period of ten years, it also directly held a small African possession - a fort on the river Gambia - which was retroceded back to Poland within a decade of the purchase. However, the crown controlled a network of trading posts and forts in West Africa and India indirectly through the Italian Trading Company.
It was founded in 1648, under the terms of the Treaty of Westphalia. The newly created Kingdom was given to the French king’s younger brother, Philip. This was done more to get him out of France that out of love or affection. That was because he was a war hero and widely popular with the French people, as opposed to his brother Louis XIV, who was seen as an incompetent, lazy, spoiled puppet of the Cardinals and Nobles.
He first came to Sicily as the leader of a French army sent there to help a rebellion against the Spanish during the Thirty Years' War. Because of his training in tactics and combat maneuver, along with a hefty sum of livres from the royal treasury, he was able to turn a rag-tag group of Neapolitan and Sicilian rebels (who were just as likely to kill each other as the Spanish) into a trained and deadly army. Philip was able to defeat the Spanish armies where ever they opposed him, and even occupied Sardinia.
Sicily, Sardinia, Naples, and Malta were all ceded to Philip under the Treaty of Westphalia. The capital, which had temporarily been established at Cagliari (Philip's military headquarters), was moved to Palermo for his coronation. The ceremony was attended by his brother Louis XIV, the Pope, the Portuguese and Savoyard Kings, the doges of many Italian Republics, and ten of thousands of Sicilians, Neapolitans and Sardinians. For the first time since the Norman conquest, the Southern Italians were united.
Philip took Joan, a princess of Portugal, as his wife. In 1650, his heir apparent, Philip, Prince of Sicily, was born.
His reign was that of reform and rebuilding. He instituted a complete reform of the nation's broken bureaucracy. French administrators were brought in to train and recruit local Italian ones. Noble titles that had belonged to Spanish sympathizers were revoked and given to Philip's supporters.
A survey was started to bring up tax income. Windmills, canals, and irrigation projects were constructed to make a profitable agrarian economy. Beggars and homeless children were taken care of in hospices and given work. Sicily became a refuge for Jews fleeing from Cossack uprisings in Poland. Philip gave them a home, and they helped Philip by greatly reforming his country.
The king became a patron of the arts, drawing bright and creative individuals from Northern and Central Italy. They brought to the world one of the crowing achievements of Philip's reign - Sicilian Baroque.
All of this put quite a strain on the economy. The internal improvements, auctioning of noble titles and the replacement of the corrupt Spanish bureaucracy helped, but the new kingdom was pushed nearer and nearer to bankruptcy. He hired Nicolas de Toulon as his Finance Minister, who solved Philip's main monetary problems.