Joanna II of Naples
|Coronation||28 October 1419|
|Spouse||William, Duke of Austria
James II, Count of La Marche
|House||Capetian House of Anjou|
|Father||Charles III of Naples|
|Mother||Margaret of Durazzo|
25 June 1373|
|Died||2 February 1435
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
|Burial||Church of Santa Annunziata, Naples|
Joanna II (25 June 1373 – 2 February 1435) was Queen of Naples from 1414 to her death, upon which the senior Angevin line of Naples became extinct. As a mere formality, she used the title of Queen of Jerusalem, Sicily, and Hungary.
Joanna was born at Zadar, Dalmatia on 25 June 1373, as the daughter of Charles III of Naples and Margaret 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 Hedwig's rejected fiancé, William, Duke of Austria. Her reign was marked by her quarrel with Pope Martin V and the power in the court of her numerous favourites and lovers, the first being Pandolfello Alopo. Although Joanna married twice, she did not have any children.
Joanna married her first husband, William, Duke of Austria in Vienna in the autumn of 1401 when she was 28 years of age. He had been rejected as a husband by her cousin, Hedwig of Poland. Joanna did not have any children by William, who died in 1406 after five years of marriage. It was sometime after his death, that she acquired a lover by the name of Pandolfello Alopo, whom she appointed Grand Chamberlain. Alopo was the first in what would become a series of lovers and male favourites. He later caused the downfall of the influential condottiero Muzio Sforza, who held the important office of Gran Connestabile which had provoked the jealousy of Joan's favourite. In early 1415, she became affianced to John of Aragon, a son of King Ferdinand I of Aragon, and 25 years her junior. The betrothal was shortly afterwards annulled, which left Joanna free to choose another husband.
On 10 August 1415, she married a second time, to James of Bourbon, Count of La Marche, in order to gain the support of the French monarchy. The marriage contract stipulated that upon his marriage to Joanna he would be granted the title of Prince of Taranto. Not having received the promised title, James had Alopo killed and forced Joanna to name him King of Naples. In an attempt to assume complete power, he imprisoned Joanna in her own apartments in the royal palace; however, she was later released by the nobles. His behaviour earned him the hate of the Neapolitan barons and the populace. In 1416, a riot exploded in Naples against James, and he was compelled to send back his French administrators and to renounce his title. In this period, Joanna began her relationship with Giovanni Caracciolo, better known as Sergianni, who later acquired an almost total power over the court. On 28 August 1417, she reconquered Rome, and the following year in 1418, James left Naples for France.
Rupture with the papacy
With James now powerless, Joanna could finally celebrate her coronation on 28 October 1419, when she was crowned Queen of Sicily and Naples. 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, Joanna rejected the ambiguous papal proposal and called on the help of the brother of her erstwhile betrothed, the powerful King 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 Joanna 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.
Sergianni's exceeding ambition pushed Joan to plot his assassination in 1432. On 19 August 1432, Sergianni Caracciolo was stabbed in his room in Castel Capuano. He was buried in Naples, in the church of San Giovanni a Carbonara.
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 aging Joanna named René, Louis' brother, her heir.
Joanna died in Naples on 2 February 1435 at the age of 61, and was buried in the Church of Santa Annunziata. With her death the entire Capetian House of Anjou became extinct.
|Ancestors of Joanna II of Naples|
- Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Sicily/Naples
|Queen of Naples