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Kingdom of Naples

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kingdom of Sicily (Naples)
Regnum Neapolitanum (in Latin)
Regne de Nàpols (in Catalan)
Reino de Nápoles (in Spanish)
Regno di Napoli (in Italian)
'Royaume de Naples (in French)
Regno 'e Napule (in Neapolitan)
Sovereign state under Capetian Angevins (1282–1442)
Part of the Crown of Aragon
Sovereign state under a cadet branch of the Aragonese House of Trastámara (1458–1501)
Personal union with the Kingdom of France (1501–1504)
Under the Kingdom of Aragon(1504–1516)
Part of the Empire of Charles V (1516–1555)
Part of the Spanish Empire(1555–1714)
Part of the Habsburg Empire(1714–1735)
Sovereign state under the Bourbons of Spain (1735–1806) and (1815–1816)
Client state of the French Empire (1806–1815)





Coat of arms
Flag under the Aragonese Regime (1442–1458) Coat of arms under the Aragonese Regime
The territory of the Kingdom of Naples
Capital Naples
Government Feudal absolute monarchy
 •  1282–1285 Charles I (first)
 •  1815–1816 Ferdinand IV (last)
 •  Sicilian Vespers 1282
 •  Peace of Caltabellotta 31 August 1302
 •  Neapolitan rebellion 7 July 1647
 •  Treaty of Rastatt 7 March 1714
 •  Battle of Campo Tenese 10 March 1806
 •  Two Sicilies established 8 December 1816
 •  1450[1] 73,223 km2 (28,272 sq mi)
 •  1450[1] +1,500,000 
Density 20.5 /km2  (53.1 /sq mi)
Today part of  Italy

The Kingdom of Naples (Latin: Regnum Neapolitanum; Catalan: Regne de Nàpols; Spanish: Reino de Nápoles; French: Royaume de Naples; Italian: Regno di Napoli) comprised that part of the Italian Peninsula south of the Papal States between 1282 and 1816. It was created as a result of the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282–1302), when the island of Sicily revolted and was conquered by the Crown of Aragon, becoming a separate Kingdom of Sicily.[2] Naples continued to be officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily, the name of the formerly unified kingdom. For much of its existence, the realm was contested between French and Spanish dynasties. In 1816, it was reunified with the island kingdom of Sicily once again to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

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It’s 1494. As King Charles VIII prepares his invasion, many in Italy ponder on the legitimacy and the utility of this. The Ottoman Turks had invaded Italy 14 years previously and Charles now plans a crusade against them. He intends to use the Kingdom of Naples as a base. In any case, he is the rightful heir to the throne of Naples, Ferdinand, the current king being a usurper. Or so he claims. Ferdinand would disagree. To understand whose claim is the right claim, one must take a closer look at the history of Naples. Angevin Kings It’s 1382, one century before Charles’s invasion. Once a great kingdom, Naples is well passed its glory. Sicily had been lost to Aragon leaving only the mainland and Provence to its Angevin rulers. The childless Queen Joanna I dies leaving the kingdom in disarray. Rather than bequeathing it to a cadet branch of the Anjou – the Anjou-Durazzo, she decides to leave it to a more distant claimant, Louis I of the house Anjou-Valois. Both Anjou and Valois are proud descendants of the ancient Capetian line of Frankish kings. The Valois rule France, and the Anjou rule Naples. The Anjou-Valois are a hybrid of the two – Louis I being the second son of the King of France. His opponent is Charles III of the Anjou-Durazzo line. Charles presses his claim vigorously and manages to win the Kingdom of Naples. Louis and the Anjou-Valois are left with Provence. Joanna II Charles is succeeded by his son Ladislaus, who in turn has to battle with Louis I’s son, Louis II. When he dies in 1414, his 41 year-old sister Joanna II takes the throne. Like her previous namesake Joanna I, she is also childless. Alfonso V Wishing to avoid a war for succession, Pope Martin V who is the nominal feudal lord of the Kingdom of Naples (and no friend of Joanna) decides to invite Louis III, grandson of Louis I of the house Anjou-Valois to succeed her. Joanna has other ideas, so she appeals for help to the powerful and ambitious King of Aragon, Alfonso V. Alfonso lands in Italy and expels Louis from Naples. The delighted Joanna names him as her heir, however after Alfonso kills her lover, she changes her mind. Fleeing to Louis, she declares her previous will null and void, and names Louis as her rightful heir. At this point Alfonso has to return to Iberia to pursue a war with Castile. In his absence, Joanna and Louis retake the kingdom by 1424. Alfonso decides to bide his time. Louis dies in 1434, Joanna one year later. In her final will she leaves her kingdom to Rene of Anjou, Duke of Provence, and brother of Louis III. Rene tries to press his claim; however Alfonso outmaneuvers and outfights him. Might is right; he takes possession of Naples in 1442 after a 6 month siege, ending the 1.5 century rule of Angevin monarchs. Not having any legitimate children, he leaves the Kingdom of Naples to his illegitimate son, Ferdinand I (or Ferrante), and Aragon with Sicily to his brother, John II. French Claim to Naples Being an illegitimate son at the head of an ill gotten kingdom, it’s no wonder Ferdinand’s rule is challenged. His power is more a result of his opponent’s weakness rather than his own strength. Rene is far too impoverished to challenge him, however when Rene dies, he has to face a far more capable enemy, the sovereign of the strongest country in Europe, the King of France. Charles being of the house Valois has an obvious claim to the throne that rightfully belongs to the Anjou-Valois. He himself has some Anjou blood, his grandmother being Marie of Anjou, the daughter of Louis II, son of Louis I. The same Louis to whom Joanna I had bequeathed Naples way back in 1382. Furthermore, Charles’s father managed to coerce Rene to will his provinces and his claim to Naples to the French crown. Charles clearly has the better claim to Naples, but to get there he has to cross Italy, and the multitude of independent states that lye in his way. The 5 City States After the Wars in Lombardy that raged between 1423 and 1454, five leading city states emerged on the peninsula. Venice being the victor of the war greatly expanded its territory. Augmented by its naval empire, it dominates trade in the Mediterranean, and thus possesses wealth rivaling that of the greatest kingdoms of Europe. Milan, a center of manufacturing is ruled by the Sforza. They are a family of former soldiers, self-made men who took power after the old dukes of Milan, the Visconti died out. Florence is ruled by the Medici. Like the Sforza, they are also self-made men. Their power comes from money – the Medici being the greatest bankers in Italy. They are capitalists, a new breed of men. They approach politics from the point of view of business. War is bad for business, so the Medici desire peace above all else. Between them and the Kingdom of Naples are the Papal States. The Papal State is a clerical land, but this fact does not prevent its sovereign ruler, the pope from pursuing secular matters. The popes of this age are some of Italy's most prominent secular rulers, signing treaties, doing politics, and waging wars. Peace of Lodi Italic League The peace of Lodi concludes the Wars in Lombardy instituting a regional balance of power. The five major states: Venice, Milan, Florence, The Papal States, and Naples acknowledge that none could dominate the other. This ushers in 40 years of peace and prosperity, however it also prevents Italy from unifying under a single monarch, as had happened in France or in Spain. To remedy this, they form a mutual defense pact, the Italic League. All states agree to maintain status quo, and to not conclude any alliances with foreign powers. This was all good and well until some unforeseen events started to happen in Milan. Milan was ruled by Francesco I Sforza, and then by his son Galeazzo Maria Sforza, who was assassinated in 1476. Next in line is his 7 year-old son, Gian Galeazzo Sforza. Due to his young age, he is assisted in governance by his uncle - the 4th son of Francesco I, Ludovico “Il Moro” Sforza. Thus Ludovico is the de facto ruler of Milan, and he grows to love power, so when the young duke comes of age, he decides to act. In the autumn of 1494 Gian Galeazzo dies under mysterious circumstances. Many say as a result of poison administered to him by his uncle. Gian Galeazzo was married to Isabella of Naples and has a son, Francesco. He is the rightful heir to Milan, and Isabella’s father Ferdinand I of Naples decides to press his claim. A Neapolitan invasion of Milan is imminent, Ludovico Must act. Enter Charles VIII claimant to the throne of Naples, the enemy of Ludovico’s enemy. An expedient solution to an imminent problem. The consequences? No one knows them yet, but they will soon find out. Including Ludovico himself.



The name "Kingdom of Naples" was not used officially. Officially, under the Angevins it was still the Kingdom of Sicily (regnum Siciliae). The Peace of Caltabellotta (1302) that ended the War of the Vespers provided that the name of the island kingdom would be Trinacria (regnum Trinacriae). This usage did not become established. In the late Middle Ages, it was common to distinguish the two kingdoms named Sicily as being on this or that side of the Punta del Faro, i.e., the Strait of Messina. Naples was citra Farum or al di qua del Faro (on this side of Faro) and Sicily was ultra Farum or di la del Faro (on the other side). When both kingdoms came under the rule of Alfonso the Magnanimous in 1442, this usage became official, although Ferdinand I (1458–94) preferred the simple title King of Sicily (rex Sicilie).[3]

In regular speech and in unofficial documents, especially narrative histories, the Kingdom of Sicily citra Farum was commonly called the Kingdom of Naples (regnum Neapolitanum or regno di Napoli) by the late Middle Ages. It was sometimes even called the regno di Puglia, kingdom of Apulia. In the 18th century, the Neapolitan intellectual Giuseppe Maria Galanti argued that the latter was the true "national" name of the kingdom. By the time of Alfonso the Magnanimous, the two kingdoms were sufficiently distinct that they were no longer seen as divisions of a single kingdom. They remained administratively separate, despite being repeatedly in personal union, until 1816.[3]

The term "Kingdom of Naples" is in near universal use among historians.[3]


Angevin dynasty

Following the rebellion in 1282, King Charles I of Sicily (Charles of Anjou) was forced to leave the island of Sicily by Peter III of Aragon's troops. Charles, however, maintained his possessions on the mainland, customarily known as the "Kingdom of Naples", after its capital city.

Charles and his Angevin successors maintained a claim to Sicily, warring against the Aragonese until 1373, when Queen Joan I of Naples formally renounced the claim by the Treaty of Villeneuve. Joan's reign was contested by Louis the Great, the Angevin King of Hungary, who captured the kingdom several times (1348–1352).

Queen Joan I also played a part in the ultimate demise of the first Kingdom of Naples. As she was childless, she adopted Louis I, Duke of Anjou, as her heir, in spite of the claims of her cousin, the Prince of Durazzo, effectively setting up a junior Angevin line in competition with the senior line. This led to Joan I's murder at the hands of the Prince of Durazzo in 1382, and his seizing the throne as Charles III of Naples.

The two competing Angevin lines contested each other for the possession of the Kingdom of Naples over the following decades. Charles III's daughter Joan II (r. 1414–1435) adopted Alfonso V of Aragon (whom she later repudiated) and Louis III of Anjou as heirs alternately, finally settling succession on Louis' brother René of Anjou of the junior Angevin line, and he succeeded her in 1435.

René of Anjou temporarily united the claims of junior and senior Angevin lines. In 1442, however, Alfonso V conquered the Kingdom of Naples and unified Sicily and Naples once again as dependencies of Aragon. At his death in 1458, the kingdom was again separated and Naples was inherited by Ferrante, Alfonso's illegitimate son.

Aragonese dynasty

When Ferrante died in 1494, Charles VIII of France invaded Italy, using as a pretext the Angevin claim to the throne of Naples, which his father had inherited on the death of King René's nephew in 1481. This began the Italian Wars.

Charles VIII expelled Alfonso II of Naples from Naples in 1495, but was soon forced to withdraw due to the support of Ferdinand II of Aragon for his cousin, Alfonso II's son Ferrantino. Ferrantino was restored to the throne, but died in 1496, and was succeeded by his uncle, Frederick IV.

Provinces of the "Kingdom of Naples"
Provinces of the "Kingdom of Naples"

Charles VIII's successor, Louis XII reiterated the French claim. In 1501, he occupied Naples and partitioned the kingdom with Ferdinand of Aragon, who abandoned his cousin King Frederick. The deal soon fell through, however, and Aragon and France resumed their war over the kingdom, ultimately resulting in an Aragonese victory leaving Ferdinand in control of the kingdom by 1504.

The Spanish troops occupying Calabria and Apulia, led by Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova did not respect the new agreement, and expelled all Frenchmen from the area. The peace treaties that continued were never definitive, but they established at least that the title of King of Naples was reserved for Ferdinand's grandson, the future Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Ferdinand nevertheless continued in possession of the kingdom, being considered as the legitimate heir of his uncle Alfonso I of Naples and also to the former Kingdom of Sicily (Regnum Utriusque Siciliae).

The kingdom continued as a focus of dispute between France and Spain for the next several decades, but French efforts to gain control of it became feebler as the decades went on, and never genuinely endangered Spanish control.

The French finally abandoned their claims to Naples by the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559.

In the Treaty of London (1557), five cities on coast of Tuscany were designated the Stato dei Presidi (State of the Presidi), and part of the Kingdom of Naples.

Spanish Rule under the Habsburgs and Bourbons

After the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 18th century, possession of the kingdom again changed hands. Under the terms of the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714, Naples was given to Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor. He also gained control of Sicily in 1720, but Austrian rule did not last long. Both Naples and Sicily were conquered by a Spanish army during the War of the Polish Succession in 1734, and Charles, Duke of Parma, a younger son of King Philip V of Spain was installed as King of Naples and Sicily from 1735. When Charles inherited the Spanish throne from his older half-brother in 1759, he left Naples and Sicily to his younger son, Ferdinand IV. Despite the two Kingdoms being in a personal union under the Habsburg and Bourbon dynasties, they remained constitutionally separate.

Being a member of the House of Bourbon, Ferdinand IV was a natural opponent of the French Revolution and Napoleon. On 29 November 1798, he effectively started the War of the Second Coalition by briefly occupying Rome, but was expelled from it by French Revolutionary forces within the year and safely returned home. Soon afterwards, on 23 December 1798, Ferdinand fled Naples to Palermo, Sicily as a French army closed in. In January 1799 the French armies installed a Parthenopaean Republic, but this proved short-lived, and a peasant counter-revolution inspired by the clergy allowed Ferdinand to return to his capital. However, in 1801 Ferdinand was compelled to make important concessions to the French by the Treaty of Florence, which reinforced France's position as the dominant power in mainland Italy.

Napoleonic kingdom

Territorial evolution of the "Kingdom of Naples"
Territorial evolution of the "Kingdom of Naples"

Ferdinand's decision to ally with the Third Coalition against Napoleon in 1805 proved more damaging. In 1806, following decisive victories over the allied armies at Austerlitz and over the Neapolitans at Campo Tenese, Napoleon installed his brother, Joseph as King of Naples, he conferred the title "Prince of Naples" to be hereditary on his children and grandchildren. When Joseph was sent off to Spain two years later, he was replaced by Napoleon's sister Caroline and his brother-in-law Marshal Joachim Murat, as King of the Two Sicilies.

Meanwhile, Ferdinand had fled to Sicily, where he retained his throne, despite successive attempts by Murat to invade the island. The British would defend Sicily for the remainder of the war but despite the Kingdom of Sicily nominally being part of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Coalitions against Napoleon, Ferdinand and the British were unable to ever challenge French control of the Italian mainland.

After Napoleon's defeat in 1814, Murat reached an agreement with Austria and was allowed to retain the throne of Naples, despite the lobbying efforts of Ferdinand and his supporters. However, with most of the other powers, particularly Britain, hostile towards him and dependent on the uncertain support of Austria, Murat's position became less and less secure. Therefore, when Napoleon returned to France for the Hundred Days in 1815, Murat once again sided with him. Realising the Austrians would soon attempt to remove him, Murat gave the Rimini Proclamation in a hope to save his kingdom by allying himself with Italian nationalists.

The ensuing Neapolitan War between Murat and the Austrians was short, ending with a decisive victory for the Austrian forces at the Battle of Tolentino. Murat was forced to flee, and Ferdinand IV of Sicily was restored to the throne of Naples. Murat would attempt to regain his throne but was quickly captured and executed by firing squad in Pizzo, Calabria. The next year, 1816, finally saw the formal union of the Kingdom of Naples with the Kingdom of Sicily into the new Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Flags and Portrait Gallery

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Fremont-Barnes, Gregory (2007). Encyclopedia of the Age of Political Revolutions and New Ideologies, 1760–1815: Volume 1. Greenwood. p. 495. ISBN 978-0-313-33446-7.
  3. ^ a b c Eleni Sakellariou, Southern Italy in the Late Middle Ages: Demographic, Institutional and Economic Change in the Kingdom of Naples, c.1440–c.1530 (Brill, 2012), pp. 63–64.


This page was last edited on 22 March 2019, at 02:14
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