Ferdinand grew up athletic, but ignorant, ill-bred, addicted to the lowest amusements; he delighted in the company of the lazzaroni (the most degraded class of the Neapolitan people), whose dialect and habits he affected, and he even sold fish in the market, haggling over the price.
The wildest confusion prevailed, and the lazzaroni massacred numbers of persons suspected of republican sympathies, while the nobility and the educated classes, finding themselves abandoned by their king in this cowardly manner, began to contemplate a republic under French auspices as their only means of salvation from anarchy.
For weeks the Calabresi and lazzaroni continued to pillage and massacre, and Ruffo was unable, even if willing, to restrain them.
The king, after a somewhat farcical occupation of Rome, which had been evacuated by the French, hurried back to Naples as soon as the French attacked his troops, and although the lazzaroni (the lowest class of the people) were devoted to the dynasty and ready to defend it, he fled with the court to Palermo in a panic on board Nelson's ships.
His army and the lazzaroni committed nameless atrocities, which he honestly tried to prevent, and the Parthenopaean Republic collapsed.