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, was King of Majorca from 1324 to 1344. He was the last ruler of independent Majorca.

Childhood[edit]

James was born at Catania, Sicily. His parents were Ferdinand, the second son of James II of Majorca, and Isabella of Sabran. Margaret of Villehardouin, James's maternal grandmother, fought to reclaim the Principality of Achaea from the Angevins of Naples. Isabella died soon after the childbirth, 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.

Kingship[edit]

Upon the death of his uncle Sancho in 1324, James inherited the crown of Majorca. His uncle Philip ruled the kingdom as regent until 1329. 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.

Issue[edit]

His heir was his son,

By his second wife, Violante of Vilaragut, whom he married in 1347, he had a short-lived daughter.

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  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
Born: circa 1315 Died: 25 October 1349
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Sancho
King of Majorca
Count of Roussillon and Cerdanya

1324–1344
Succeeded by
Peter I
Lord of Montpellier
1324–1349
Vacant
Title next held by
Charles the Bad
Titles in pretence
Loss of title — TITULAR —
King of Majorca
1344–1349
Succeeded by
James IV
Preceded by
Isabella & Ferdinand
— TITULAR —
Prince of Achaea
1315–1349