Joan I of Naples

Joan I of Naples

Infobox Monarch
name=Joanna I
title=Queen regnant of Naples, Princess of Achaea, Countess of Provence and Forcalquier
Queen consort of Majorca

date of birth=1328
place of birth=
date of death=May 12, 1382
place of death=San Fele
place of burial=
coronation=August 1344
royal house=House of Anjou
father=Charles, Duke of Calabria
mother=Marie of Valois
consort=Andrew, Duke of Calabria
Louis of Taranto
James IV of Majorca
Otto, Duke of Brunswick-Grubenhagen
predecessor = Robert
successor = Charles III

Joan I (1328 – May 12, 1382), born Joanna of Anjou, was Queen of Naples from 1343 until her death. She was also Countess of Provence and Forcalquier, Queen consort of Majorca and titular Queen of Jerusalem and Sicily 1343–82, and Princess of Achaea 1373/5–81.


Born in Naples, Joan was the daughter of Charles, Duke of Calabria (eldest son of King Robert of Naples) and Marie of Valois (a sister of King Philip VI of France). At the age of seven years (1334), she was betrothed to her six-year-old second cousin Prince Andrew ( _hu. Endre) of the Hungarian branch of the House of Anjou, the son of Charles I of Hungary and younger brother of Louis I.

On the death in 1343 of her grandfather, Robert of Naples, his will provided that Andrew should be crowned King of Naples in his own right as well as Joanna's, Robert having displaced Andrew's father, Charles Robert, from the Neapolitan throne. The 16-year-old Joanna resisted this provision of the will with the support of the Neapolitan nobility, and the resulting turmoil resulted in the intervention of Pope Clement VI, as the feudal overlord of the Kingdom. He sent Cardinal Americ of St. Martin to annul Robert's will and take temporary control of the Kingdom of Naples. The Cardinal crowned Joanna alone as Queen of Naples at Santa Chiara in Rome in August 1344. After the assassination of Andrew in 1345 (probably under her own orders), Joanna married three more times: with Louis of Taranto (1320–62), with James IV of Majorca and Prince of Achaea (1336–75) and with Otto, Duke of Brunswick-Grubenhagen (1320–98).

Her one son by Andrew died at a young age, and her two daughters by Louis also died young.

Her reign was marked by violent political struggles among the members of the Angevin house. The assassination of Andrew brought about the enmity of Hungary and an invasion led by Louis I. Her second husband, Louis of Taranto, was crowned as co-king in 1353, the only one of her husbands to whom she willingly accorded that status. In 1373, her cousin and former brother-in-law Philip II of Taranto resigned to her his rights to the Principality of Achaea. Her third husband, James, also left to her, at his death in 1375, his own claim to the Principality. On August 8, 1347 she opened a large brothel on the property in Avignon which was to be used by the wealthy and nobility of Europe. She later sold all the property in Avignon to Pope Clement VI, effectively ending the prostitution trade in Avignon.

In addition, Joan supported the Avignon Papacy during the Western Schism and allied herself with France, adopting Louis I of Anjou, a younger son of John II of France as her heir. France and Antipope Clement VII counted on Naples to give them a foothold in Italy, if it came to resolving the schism by force. In retaliation, Pope Urban VI declared her kingdom (a papal fief) to be forfeit and bestowed it upon Charles of Durazzo, her niece's husband and the heir-male. With Hungarian support, Charles advanced on Naples and captured Joan in 1381. She was strangled in prison in the Castle of San Fele on May 12, 1382.

After Joan's death, Charles of Durazzo succeeded her in the Kingdom of Naples. The Neapolitan kingdom was left to decades of recurring succession wars.

Her adopted heir, Louis of Anjou, was able to retain the mainland counties of Provence and Forcalquier. James of Baux, the nephew of Philip II of Taranto, claimed the Principality of Achaea after her deposition in 1381.

Alexandre Dumas, "père" wrote a romance, "Joan of Naples," part of his eight-volume series "Celebrated Crimes" (1839–40).

A fictionalised account of her life can also be found in the novel "Queen of the Night" by Alan Savage.



*Vittorio Zaccaria's translation of Boccaccio's "De mulieribus claris", second edition (Milan) 1970, biography number 106
*Virginia Brown's translation of Boccaccio's "De mulieribus claris", Harvard University Press, 2001; ISBN 0-674-01130-9
*Guido Guarino's translation of Boccaccio's "Concerning Famous Women", Rutgers University, (New Brunswick), 1963

External links

* [ A. Dumas, "Joan of Naples"] : e-text
* Coat of arms of the House of Anjou-Sicily
* House of Anjou-Sicily

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