Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Aragonese-Neapolitan War (1435–1442)

Aragonese-Neapolitan War (1435–1442)



DECLARATION: Aragon on Naples, 1435

MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Alfonso IV, king of Aragon,
fought a war of conquest when the crown, once promised
him by Neapolitan queen Joanna, went instead to the duke
of Anjou.

OUTCOME: Anjou was defeated and Alfonso became, with
the pope’s blessing, king of Naples as well as Aragon.



TREATIES: None identified

During the 15th century the small city-states of Italy
fought almost incessantly in senseless wars of little consequence
and almost no lasting results. The armies were
filled with mercenary condottieri, soldiers who were for
sale at any time to the highest bidder—even during the
heat of battle—and no warrior, from private to general,
felt safe going into a war, much less patriotic or glorybound.
They fought for personal profit, and they were not
eager to risk life or limb for those who were more their
employers than their inspiration. Limited engagements
became chess matches that were given up the moment it
became clear one side or the other had gained an advantage.
Heavy cavalrymen, bearing the brunt of battle, were
so thoroughly armored they could hardly be seriously
injured, and casualties were limited to prisoners of war or
fools who for one reason or another decided to stand their
ground. Central to the condottieris’ business dealings during
war was ransoming prisoners after a battle. As a result,
for the next three centuries Italy would become a battleground
for the great European powers and their more serious
armies. On the Iberian Peninsula during the first half
of the century, anarchy reigned except in Aragon, which—
though it occasionally fell victim to internal disturbances—
continued its reign as the major maritime power
of the western Mediterranean.
Almost naturally, it seems, Aragon would attack the
Italian seaport kingdom of Naples, especially after Alfonso
IV (1396–1458), king of Aragon, who had been made heir
to the throne in Naples by Neapolitan queen Joanna
(1371–1435) in 1421, was disinherited by her two years
later when he attempted to seize the crown prematurely.
Joanna had turned to him in the first place for intervening
on her behalf during the incessant conflicts—coached and
refereed from Rome—that she engaged in with the
Neapolitan nobility beginning in 1414. When she died in
1435, the throne went not to Alfonso but to René I
(1409–80), duke of Anjou, and Aragon prepared to invade.
The attack on Naples came the same year, but Anjou’s
forces defeated the Aragonese at the port of Gaeta, and a
routed Alfonso was captured by the Genoese. Alfonso
obtained the help of the duke of Milan (and his considerable
purse), with whom he then made an alliance, inviting
Milan to join the fight against Naples. In 1442 Alfonso
defeated René in battle, took possession of Naples, and proclaimed
himself king. In Rome the following year he was
even recognized as such by Pope Eugene IV (1388–1431).

Further reading: Tommaso Astarita, The Continuity of
Feudal Power: The Caracciolo Di Brienza in Spanish Naples
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Bernard
F. Reilly, The Medieval Spains (New York: Cambridge University
Press, 1993).

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