Martin of Aragon

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Martin
Martín I de Aragón.jpg
King of Aragon, Valencia and Majorca and count of Barcelona
Reign 19 May 1396 – 31 May 1410
Predecessor John I
Successor Ferdinand I
King of Sicily
Reign 25 July 1409 – 31 May 1410
Predecessor Martin I
Successor Ferdinand I
Born (1356-07-29)29 July 1356
Girona
Died 20 January 1410(1410-01-20) (aged 53)
Barcelona
Burial Poblet Monastery
Consort Maria de Luna
Margaret of Prades
Issue
more...
Martin I of Sicily
House House of Barcelona
Father Peter IV of Aragon
Mother Eleanor of Sicily
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature

Martin the Humane (29 July 1356 – 31 May 1410), also called the Elder and the Ecclesiastic, was King of Aragon, Valencia, Sardinia and Corsica and Count of Barcelona from 1396 and King of Sicily from 1409 (as Martin II). He failed to secure the accession of his illegitimate grandson, Frederic, Count of Luna, and with him the rule of the House of Barcelona came to an end.

Background[edit]

Martin was born in 1356, in either Girona or Perpignan. He was the second son of King Peter IV of Aragon and Eleanor of Sicily (Leonora), princess of the Sicilian branch of the House of Aragon.[1]

As a cadet prince of the Aragonese royal family, Martin was given the Duchy of Montblanch (modern Montblanc).[2] In Barcelona on 13 June 1373, Martin married María López de Luna (d. Villarreal, 20 December 1406), the daughter and heiress of Lope,[3] Lord and 1st Count of Luna and Lord of Segorbe and his wife Brianda de Got, who was born in Provence and was related to Pope Clement V.

In 1380 his father appointed him lord and regent of the island of Sicily, then known also as Trinacria, since its queen Maria of Sicily, who was also Martin's cousin, was underage (Maria's father, Frederick III the Simple, died in 1377). As a son of Eleanor of Sicily, Martin was himself an heir to the island, should Maria's family die out.

Kingship[edit]

In 1396, Martin succeeded his elder brother John I, who had died sonless, on the throne of Aragon. However, Sicilian nobles were causing unrest and so Martin was kept in Sicily. Meanwhile, Martin's wife, María López de Luna, claimed the throne on his behalf of and acted as his representative until he arrived in 1397. Still, the delay opened the way for more problems and quarrels to surface in Aragon. His right to the throne was contested, first by Count Matthew of Foix on behalf of his wife Joanna, elder daughter of John I. However, Martin succeeded in quashing an invasion by troops of the count. After the death of the childless Joanna, John I's younger daughter Yolande of Aragon, who had married the Angevin King Louis II of Naples, continued the claim, as did her sons.

Martin launched crusades against the Moors in North Africa in 1398 and 1399.

Aragon had been trying to subjugate Sardinia since the reign of James II, and gradually the Aragonese had conquered most of the island. However, in the 1380s, during the reign of Martin's father Peter IV, the remaining independent principality of Arborea became a fortress of rebellion and the Aragonese were rapidly driven back by Eleanor of Arborea, so that practically the whole of Sardinia was lost. King Martin sent his son Martin the Younger, by then king of Sicily through his marriage to Queen Maria, to reconquer Sardinia. The son won the Battle of Sanluri (San Luis, San Luigi) in 1409, drove away the Genoese allies of the Sardinians, and subjugated a vast number of Sardinian nobles. This soon caused Arborea's total loss of independence. Soon after the battle, however, Martin the Younger died suddenly, due to malaria. Martin of Aragon then succeeded his son as King of Sicily, taking the title of Martin II.

Overall, the Kingdom of Aragon enjoyed external peace during Martin's reign and he worked to quell internal strife caused by nobles, factions and bandits. He supported the Avignon line of Popes and Pope Benedict XIII, who was Aragonese, held the seat throughout Martin's reign. Martin's military intervention rescued the imprisoned Benedict in 1403 from the clutches of his rivals and the Pope settled in Valencia's countryside.

Issue[edit]

Martin had four legitimate children by Queen Maria: Martin the Younger (b. 1374/1376), James (b. 1378), John (b. 1380), and Margaret (b. 1384/1388). The three younger children all died early,[3] and so after Martin the Younger's death, King Martin appointed his cousin James II, Count of Urgell, the closest legitimate agnate of the House of Barcelona, as Governor-General of all the kingdoms of Aragon, a position that belonged traditionally to the heir presumptive. Martin still married secondly on 17 September 1409 to his cousin Margaret of Prades, daughter of Peter of Aragon, Baron of Entenza, but the short marriage was childless.

Succession[edit]

Martin died, in the monastery of Valldonzella, extramuros of Barcelona the 31st may 1410. While the reason remains unclear, it is supposed that either plague - present in the area at the time -, uremic coma - the king suffered a severe obesity that affected his health - or the possibility of having been poisoned, only supported by Renaissance chronist Valla. The story of the king's death associated with laughter has no historical evidence in any form whatsoever. Despite the demands to have a heir declared, the physical incapacity of the king prevented him from giving a clear name, and to the question of giving permission to give to the throne to the person who would be most legitimate for it he gave a laconic "Hoc" (Yes).

All of Martin's legitimate descendants, born of his marriage with Queen Maria, were already dead, and his second marriage did not produce any children. Only an illegitimate grandson, Frederick, Count of Luna, a natural son of Martin the Younger, and an illegitimate daughter - non eligible for succession due to the rules established during the times of James I the Conqueror - continued the direct line of inheritance. The king, despite his desire and some effort, was unable to obtain sufficient confirmation of Frederick as his successor prior to his death. As a result, Martin's death led to a two-year interregnum, during which at least five contenders for the throne came forward, including Frederick of Luna and James II of Urgell. Succession of the Crown of Aragon was determined by the Compromise of Caspe on 28 June 1412, in which Martin's nephew Ferdinand, infante of Castile was chosen as the next king, establishing the House of Trastámara.

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bisson, Thomas N. The Medieval Crown of Aragon: A Short History. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986. ISBN 0-19-821987-3.
  2. ^ His contemporary title was duch de Montblanch.
  3. ^ a b Marek, Miroslav. "Barcelona 2". Retrieved 2008-05-13. [self-published source][better source needed]
Martin of Aragon
Cadet branch of the House of Barcelona
Born: 29 July 1356 Died: 31 May 1410
Regnal titles
Preceded by
John I
King of Aragon, Valencia, Majorca,
Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica;
Count of Barcelona, Roussillon and Cerdagne

1396–1410
Succeeded by
Ferdinand I
Preceded by
Martin I
King of Sicily
1409–1410
Spanish nobility
New title Duke of Montblanc
1387–1396
Vacant
Title next held by
John of Trastámara