BOOK I: THE RENAISSANCE
PART TWO: POLITICS AND WARFARE
The Hornet’s Nest: The Struggle over Naples
PART TWO: POLITICS AND WARFARE
The Hornet’s Nest: The Struggle over Naples
The defeat of Burgundy, however, did not end the Public Weal, or the Wars of the Public Weal. Burundian dissolution wouldn’t come until 1486, and with Burgundy’s disappearance from the map of France, the new leaders of the Public Weal would be the Angevins. By the end of the Burgundian Phase of the War of the Public Weal the duchy of Burgundy (proper) and the Counties of Nevers and Rethel had passed into the hands of Rene as a gift from his cousin for the support of the House of Anjou against the House of Burgundy.
But within the Renaissance was another Hundred Years’ War that embroiled Southern Europe which is often forgotten for the more famous “Hundreds’ Years War” between France and England, and the jewel city of the Mediterranean was at stake: Naples. Charles of Anjou was the youngest son of Louis VIII of France who died soon after Charles’s birth, and Louis’s heir, Louis IX made his brother apanage Count of Anjou, and through his marriage to Beatrice, eventually acquired the title of Count of Provence and Forcalquier. Although the youngest son of the French king, Charles showed great diplomatic shrewdness and military ability as he joined the mid thirteenth century crusades in Egypt; back in Paris, he was approached by Pope Innocent IV to overthrow the Hohenstaufen kings of Naples and Sicily, to which he more than happily accepted and achieved, leading a French army into Naples and defeating and killing King Manfred in battle, then turning to capturing and killing the teenage king Conrad of Sicily.
FIGURE 1: Charles I of Anjou, the man who would found the great Angevin dynasty that would, for a brief time, rule over Sicily, Naples, and Hungary, along with their French lands. The memory of Charles loomed large over later Angevin rulers who embarked on restoring what they considered their lost lands, along with defeating their longstanding enemies.
Charles showed ever grander ambition and want. Although he was crowned legal king of Naples and Sicily, he invaded Albania and became King of Albania through conquest. Albania, in his eyes, would serve as the base of his operations to wrestle control of the Latin Empire, the Frankish rule over Constantinople and northern Greece stemming from the legacy of the Fourth Crusade. Charles eastward ambitions never came to fruition though, since the restored Palaiologoi Dynasty guarded against Frankish ambition and found a willing partner to ward off Charles’s European dreams through an alliance with Aragon who claimed to the be rightful heirs to Sicily and Naples through marriage into the Hohenstaufens Dynasty that a Popish plot in conjuncture with Charles had overthrown the rightful rulers of Naples and Sicily.
The resulting War of the Sicilian Vespers and Aragonese Crusade against the Angevins wrestled Sicily free from the Kingdom of Naples, and led to an uneasy and tentative truce between the Crown of Aragon and Angevin Naples. Eventually, Charles’s descendants passed on their French titles to Charles of Valois through his marriage to Margaret, daughter of Charles II of Naples. The result was a new Angevin Dynasty rooted in the blood of the Valois and Capetians, eventually leading to the Valois-Anjou Dynasty that lasted from 1360-1553, giving rise to the Quenoy, who through Elisabeth du Quenoy, the mistress of Charles IV of Anjou, who fathered the line that produced Louis-Joseph I, and through the last Valois-Angevin, Nicholas I, and his marriage to Yolande du Quenoy, claimed a lineage rooted in the Capetians and Valois that traced itself back to Charles of Anjou.
FIGURE 2: Francesco Hayez’s “Sicilian Vespers” (1846). The War of the Sicilian Vespers was an alliance between the Byzantines and Aragonese, the latter claiming marriage rights to the Kingdom of Sicily. The Angevins were expelled from Sicily but retained Naples, effectively splitting the Kingdom of Sicily into the Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples. The French presence in Naples had longstanding consequences for politics in the Italian Peninsula.
Eventually the Angevins were also overthrown from Naples, and this was not felt lightly upon the Valois Angevins who, through adoptions, claimed themselves as the rightful inheritors of the Kingdom of Naples. If the Anglo-French Hundred Years’ War captured the imagination and contest between the two great thrones of Western Europe, then the longwinded Aragonese-Angevin War over Naples, Sicily, and Majorca between 1282-1491 was an even grander Hundreds Years’ War between the two great European thrones of the Mediterranean: the Crown of Aragon which ruled over the Kingdoms of Majorca, Valencia Aragon, Sardinia, and Sicily – having wrestled it from the united Angevin Kingdom of Naples (and Sicily), and Angevin Naples. As mentioned in my preceding chapter covering the culture of the Renaissance, Naples was a center of early Renaissance light and became the envy of the Mediterranean world because of the Angevins. Additionally, the Angevins didn’t relinquish their French inheritances, which was theirs by apanage blood right, because they expected to lose control of their kingly holdings in Naples. The (Valois) Angevins, who through their own blood lineage, and adoptions to inherit Naples from Joanna I and Joanna II, were not all too enthused that over the course of 150 years Aragon had wrestled the great achievement of Charles of Anjou from their hands.
This made the Angevins desperate during the League of the Public Weal. After all, had they still held Naples, there would be no problem with French centralization in the same way that the Burgundians did. The Angevins could have always fallen back on their Italian jewel, but with it now under Aragonese rule, this isolated them back to their apanage lands in France and now, having lost what was their prize, found themselves in the precarious position between England (until the English defeat), and their cousins in Paris and Dijon.
The longstanding animosity and political intrigues between the Angevins and Aragonese was made more pronounced through marriage of Yolande of Aragon to Louis II of Naples, the selected heir by adoption to the throne of Naples by Joanna II, the last Angevin-Capetian ruler of Naples. The marriage of Yolande of Aragon to Louis II, and whose seed with Louis birthed Louis III, the same despondent and failed king who was subject of the book Redemption of Louis III, meant that Rene, as the inheritor of his brother’s titles, was matrilineally rooted back to the Crown of Aragon and its titles. Not only, then, did the Angevins see themselves as the rightful kings of Naples who had their throne taken away from them by the Aragonese that also was an usurpation of Papal will and authority since the Papacy had pushed for Charles of Anjou to be king, they also claimed the kingship of Majorca to spite the Aragonese.
If the Hundred Years’ War in France was one fought by archers, footsoldiers, and knights, then the Hundreds Years’ War between the Angevins and Hohenstaufens-Trastámara was far fuller and grand than the land fighting between the English and the French. It was French knights that propelled Charles to victory over Manfred and Conrad, with Charles killing Manfred in personal combat. The Hundred Years’ War between the Angevins and Aragonese over Naples, and then Majorca, saw the employment of warships, sieges, diplomatic and religious politicking and maneuvering, land battles, filial squabbles, all of occurring in four distinct phases: Charles Conquest of Naples, the Sicilian Vespers and Aragonese Crusde which ended in the spectacular Aragonese victories at the Battle of Malta over Angevin Naples and Battle of the Col de Panissars against France. The Crusade against Aragon failed, and also represents the oft forgotten reality that the Crusades were not just against Muslims for reclaiming the Holy Land but also political gambits by other Christian noble families against each other for political power with the special blessing of the Papacy, which, in many ways, acted like the United Nations of the Middle Ages. Finally, in 1372 the Angevins renounced their claims to Sicily. The third phase was the internal collapse of Angevin Naples through Joanna I, the jealousy of her cousin Louis I of Hungary who was head of the Angevin-Hungarian branch, who had her murdered while praying in church and invaded Naples itself, and the rise of Charles III in her place. The Papacy, in the meantime, recognized the renunciation of Angevin claims in Sicily, officially decreeing it to Aragon, but this had unintended consequences throughout the branched realms of Charles’s descendants.
FIGURE 3: A depiction of the victorious Aragonese fleet at Malta, 1283.
The result of Joanna I’s moves to renounce the claim to Sicily damaged Angevin prestige, to the point that the Angevins in Hungary saw her as weak traitor to the family name. Her murder led to Charles III, whose daughter, Joanna II, equally tried to pass the throne to the Angevin-Valois but to no avail. The jewel of the Mediterranean was slipping from Angevin rule. Joanna’s mistake was first adopting Alfonso V of Aragon, the greatest of the Aragonese kings, as heir – then repudiating him for blood ties to Louis III. Alfonso was to reject this disinheritance by adoption, and invaded Naples to claim the throne for himself, and succeeded in deposing Louis III and warding against the claims of Rene who superseded his brother upon his death in 1435. Rene saw himself as the rightful king of Naples, even if Naples had now finally fallen to Aragonese rule.
The Fourth Phase of the Angevin-Aragonese War over Naples spilled over into Majorca through the matrilineal line from Yolande of Aragon through Louis III, Rene, Charles III, and Charles IV. In some ways, the failures of the Angevins to hold onto their holdings in Naples (but also Hungary and Greece), is what caused that crisis moment during the First League of the Public Weal and the Wars of the Public Weal in which they had sided with their cousins in Paris over their cousins in Dijon despite sharing long-term interests with the alliance of aristocrats and nobles assembled by Charles the Unfortunate. Nevertheless, the Fourth Phase of the Hundreds Years’ War in Southern Europe was equally rooted in the success of Rene’s alliance with his cousin. The passing of the titles of the Duke of Burgundy, and count of Rethel and Nevers to Angevin hands, as well as the restoration of the count of Maine to Rene’s many titles and land holdings, made him and the Angevin family the most powerful of the apanage nobility in France. This also provided a calm rest of rebuilding necessary for the Angevins to get their feet underneath them following their exile from Naples and dissolution of the Capetian-Anjou house with Joanna’s death in 1435.
 This could have been historically plausible, and the territories of Majorca are possible to claim anyone in the game. This is what I pursued in game.