James III of Majorca

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James on his throne, from a contemporary manuscript of his Leges palatinae.

James III (also Jaume or Jaime; 5 April 1315 – 25 October 1349), called the Rash or the Unfortunate, son of Ferdinand of Majorca and Isabella of Sabran, was the King of Majorca from 1324 to 1344. He was the last independent king of Majorca of the Kingdom of Aragon.

James was born at Catania, Sicily. His parents' marriage in the previous year had been arranged by his maternal grandmother, Margaret of Villehardouin, in an effort to gain armed support for her claims on the Principality of Achaea in southern Greece, which belonged to the Angevins of Naples. His mother died soon after his birth, and James was proclaimed Prince of Achaea under the guardianship of his father. Ferdinand invaded the Morea in an effort to bring the principality under his control, but was killed in 1316. Despite this setback, from 1331 the feudal lords of Achaea began to recognise the rights of James, and in 1333 the recognition was total, though the Angevin heirs of Philip I of Taranto continued to press their claim.

Upon the death of his uncle Sancho in 1324, James took over Majorca as the grandson of James II. In order to establish friendly relations with the Crown of Aragon, he married Constance, daughter of Alfonso IV of Aragon. Though the kings of Majorca traditionally swore an oath of fealty to the kings of Aragon, James claimed that no king could have lordship over any other king. He patronised the University of Montpellier, which lay within his continental domains, and the legal scholars of that institution defended his rights as king.

On 9 May 1337 James promulgated the Leges palatinae, an elaborate code for his court and the first of its kind.[1] For it he commissioned a fine illuminated manuscript in an Italian style, which he himself preserved when he lost his throne. He brought it to the Papal curia, then sold it to Philip VI of France. It was to have an important influence on Aragonese and possibly even Burgundian court functions.

In 1342 James refused to render the oath of fealty to his cousin Peter IV of Aragon. He was supported, however, by the doctors of the University of Montpellier and by an Aragonese troubadour, Thomàs Périz de Fozes, who wrote a poem in his defence. In a short war (1343–44) he was driven out of Majorca by Peter, who reannexed the Balearic Islands to the Crown. He died at the Battle of Llucmajor on 25 October 1349 while trying to retake the island.

He re-married in 1347 to Violante of Vilaragut, who bore him one short-lived daughter.

His heir was his son, James IV, who ruled in Achaea and was a claimant to Majorca. James IV died childless and James III's daughter, Isabella, inherited the family's claims.



  1. ^ Malcolm Vale (2004), The Princely Court: Medieval Courts and Culture in North-West Europe, 1270–1380, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-926993-9), 202–3.
James III of Majorca
Cadet branch of the House of Barcelona
Born: circa 1315 Died: 25 October 1349
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Majorca
Count of Roussillon and Cerdanya

Succeeded by
Peter I
Lord of Montpellier
Title next held by
Charles II of Navarre
Titles in pretence
Loss of title — TITULAR —
King of Majorca
Succeeded by
James IV
Preceded by
Isabella & Ferdinand
Prince of Achaea