Joan II of Naples

Joan II of Naples

Infobox Austrian Royalty|duchess
name =Joan II
title =Queen of Naples; Duchess consort of Inner Austria, Styria, Carinthia and Carniola

caption =
spouse =William, Duke of Austria
James II, Count of La Marche
reign =1414 – 1435
predecessor =Ladislas
successor =René
royal house =House of Anjou
House of Habsburg
father =Charles III
mother =Margherita of Durazzo
date of birth =23 June 1373
place of birth =Zadar, Kingdom of Dalmatia
date of death =2 February 1435
place of death =
place of burial =

Joan II (23 June 23 1373 – 2 February 1435) was Queen of Naples from 1414 to her death. As a mere formality, she used the title of Queen of Jerusalem, Sicily, and Hungary.

First marriage

Joan was born at Zadar, Dalmatia, the daughter of Charles III of Naples and Margherita of Durazzo. In 1414, she succeeded her brother Ladislaus to the throne of Naples: at that date she was 41 years old and was already the widow of her cousin Jadwiga's rejected fiancée, William, Duke of Austria. Her reign was marked by the power in the court of her numerous favourites and lovers, the first being Pandolfello Alopo.

econd marriage

In 1415, she married a second time, to James of Bourbon, Count of La Marche, in order to gain the support of the French monarchy. Not having received the royal title, James had Alopo killed and forced Joan to name him King of Naples. However, his behaviour gained him the hate of the Neapolitan barons and people. In 1416, a riot exploded in Naples against James, and he was compelled to send back his French administrators and to renounce the title. In this period, Joan began her relationship with Giovanni Caracciolo, better known as Sergianni, who later acquired an almost total power over the court. In 1418, James left Naples for France.

Rupture with the papacy

With James now powerless, Joan could finally celebrate her coronation on 19 October 1419. However, her relationship with Naples' nominal feudal suzerain, Pope Martin V, soon worsened. On advice from Caracciolo, she denied Martin economic aid to rebuild the papal army. In response, the Pope called in Louis III of Anjou, son of the rival of King Ladislaus and himself still a pretender to the Neapolitan throne.

In 1420, Louis invaded Campania, but the Pope, trying to gain personal advantage from the menace posed to Joan, called the ambassadors of the two parties to Florence. However, Joan rejected the ambiguous papal proposal and called on the help of the powerful Alfonso V of Aragon, whom she promised the hereditary title to Naples. Alfonso entered Naples in July 1421.

Louis lost the support of the Pope, but at the same time the relationship between Joan and Alfonso suddenly worsened. In May 1423, Alfonso had Caracciolo arrested and besieged Joan's residence, the Castel Capuano. An agreement was obtained; Sergianni was freed and fled to Aversa with Joan. Here she met again with Louis, declared her adoption of Alfonso to be null and void, and named Louis as her new heir. Alfonso had to return in Spain, and she could easily return to Naples in April 1424.

Years of peace

The remaining years of Joan's reign were peaceful. Louis dwelled in his fief, the Duchy of Calabria, waiting for the call to the throne. He died in 1434. The ageing Joan named René, Louis' brother, her heir.

Joan died in Naples in 1435. With her death the line of Anjou-Durazzo, and the whole senior Angevin line of Naples itself went extinct.

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