In the 11th and 12th cent. the Normans under Robert Guiscard and his successors seized S Italy from the Byzantines. The popes, however, claimed suzerainty over S Italy and were to play an important part in the history of Naples. In 1139 Roger II, Guiscard's nephew, was invested by Innocent II with the kingdom of Sicily, including the Norman lands in S Italy. The last Norman king designated Constance, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, as his heir and the kingdom passed successively to Frederick II, Conrad IV, Manfred, and Conradin of Hohenstaufen. Under them S Italy flowered, but in 1266 Charles I (Charles of Anjou), founder of the Angevin dynasty, was invested with the crown by Pope Clement IV, who wished to drive the Hohenstaufen family from Italy. Charles lost Sicily in 1282 but retained his territories on the mainland, which came to be known as the kingdom of Naples. Refusing to give up their claim to Sicily, Charles and his successors warred with the house of Aragón, which held the island, until in 1373 Queen Joanna I of Naples formally renounced her claim.
During her reign began the struggle for succession between Charles of Durazzo (later Charles III of Naples) and Louis of Anjou (Louis I of Naples). The struggle was continued by their heirs. Charles's descendants, Lancelot and Joanna II, successfully defended their thrones despite papal support of their French rivals, but Joanna successively adopted as her heir Alfonso V of Aragón and Louis III and René of Anjou, and the dynastic struggle was prolonged. Alfonso defeated René and in 1442 was invested with Naples by the pope. His successor in Naples, Ferdinand I (Ferrante), suppressed (1485) a conspiracy of the powerful feudal lords. Meanwhile the Angevin claim to Naples had passed to the French crown with the death (1486) of René's nephew, Charles of Maine. Charles VIII of France pressed the claim and in 1495 briefly seized Naples, thus starting the Italian Wars between France and Spain. Louis XII, Charles's successor, temporarily joined forces with Spain and dethroned Frederick (1501), the last Aragonese king of Naples, but fell out with his allies, who defeated him.
The Treaties of Blois (1504-5) gave Naples and Sicily to Spain, which for two centuries ruled the two kingdoms through viceroys—one at Palermo, one at Naples. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba was the first viceroy of Naples. Under Spain, S Italy became one of the most backward and exploited areas in Europe. Heavy taxation (from which the nobility and clergy were exempt) filled the Spanish treasury; agriculture suffered from the accumulation of huge estates by quarreling Italian and Spanish nobles and the church; famines were almost chronic; disease, superstition, and ignorance flourished. A popular revolt against these conditions, led by Masaniello, was crushed in 1648. In the War of the Spanish Succession the kingdom was occupied (1707) by Austria, which kept it by the terms of the Peace of Utrecht (1713; see Utrecht, Peace of). During the War of the Polish Succession, however, Don Carlos of Bourbon (later Charles III of Spain) reconquered Naples and Sicily. The Treaty of Vienna (1738) confirmed the conquest, and the two kingdoms became subsidiary to the Spanish crown, ruled in personal union by a cadet branch of the Spanish line of Bourbon. Naples then had its own dynasty, but conditions improved little.
In 1798 Ferdinand IV and his queen, Marie Caroline, fled from the French Revolutionary army. The Parthenopean Republic was set up (1799), but the Bourbons returned the same year with the help of the English under Lord Nelson. Reprisals were severe; Sir John Acton, the queen's favorite, once more was supreme. In 1806 the French again drove out the royal couple, who fled to Sicily. Joseph Bonaparte (see under Bonaparte, made king of Naples by Napoleon I, was replaced in 1808 by Joachim Murat. Murat's beneficent reforms were revoked after his fall and execution (1815) by Ferdinand, who was restored to the throne (Marie Caroline had died in 1814). In 1816 Ferdinand merged Sicily and Naples and styled himself Ferdinand I, king of the Two Sicilies.
For the remaining history of Naples, annexed to Sardinia in 1860, see Two Sicilies, kingdom of the.
See H. Acton, The Bourbons of Naples (1734-1825) (1956) and The Last Bourbons of Naples 1825-61 (1961); B.Croce, History of the Kingdom of Naples (1925, tr. 1970).
The Kingdom of Naples was an informal name of the polity officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily which existed on the mainland of the southern Italian peninsula after the secession of the island of Sicily from the old Kingdom of Sicily after the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282.
Queen Joan I also played a part in the ultimate demise of the first Kingdom of Naples. As she was childless, she adopted Louis I, Duke of Anjou as her heir, in spite of the claims of her cousin, the Prince of Durazzo, effectively setting up a junior Angevin line in competition with the senior line. This led to Joan I's murder at the hands of the Prince of Durazzo in 1382, and his seizing the throne as Charles III of Naples. The two competing Angevin lines contested each other for the possession of the Kingdom of Naples over the following decades. Charles III's daughter Joan II (r. 1414-1435) adopted Alfonso V of Aragon (whom she later repudiated) and Louis III of Anjou as heirs alternately, finally settling succession on Louis' brother René of Anjou of the junior Angevin line, and he succeeded her in 1435.
René of Anjou temporarily united the claims of junior and senior Angevin lines. In 1442, however, Alfonso V conquered the Kingdom of Naples and unified Sicily and Naples once again as dependencies of Aragon. At his death in 1458, the kingdom was again separated and Naples was inherited by Ferrante, Alfonso's illegitimate son.
When Ferrante died in 1493, Charles VIII of France invaded Italy, using the Angevin claim to the throne of Naples, which his father had inherited on the death of King René's nephew in 1481, as a pretext, thus beginning the Italian Wars. Charles VIII expelled Alfonso II of Naples from Naples in 1495, but was soon forced to withdraw due to the support of Ferdinand II of Aragon for his cousin, Alfonso II's son Ferrantino. Ferrantino was restored to the throne, but died in 1496, and was succeeded by his uncle, Frederick IV. The French, however, did not give up their claim, and in 1501 agreed to a partition of the kingdom with Ferdinand of Aragon, who abandoned his cousin King Frederick. The deal soon fell through, however, and Aragon and France resumed their war over the kingdom, ultimately resulting in an Aragonese victory leaving Ferdinand in control of the kingdom by 1504.
The kingdom continued to be a focus of dispute between France and Spain for the next several decades, but French efforts to gain control of it became feebler as the decades went on, and Spanish control was never genuinely endangered. The French finally abandoned their claims to the kingdom by the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559.
Being a member of the House of Bourbon, Ferdinand IV was a natural opponent of the French Revolution and Napoleon. In 1798, he briefly occupied Rome, but was expelled from it by French Revolutionary forces within the year. Soon afterwards Ferdinand fled to Sicily. In January 1799 the French armies installed a Parthenopaean Republic, but this proved short-lived, and a peasant counter-revolution inspired by the clergy allowed Ferdinand to return to his capital. However in 1801 Ferdinand was compelled to make important concessions to the French by the Treaty of Florence, which reinforced France's position as the dominant power in mainland Italy.
Meanwhile, Ferdinand had fled to Sicily, where he retained his throne, despite successive attempts by Murat to invade the island. The British would defend Sicily for the remainder of the war but despite the Kingdom of Sicily nominally being part of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Coalitions against Napoleon, Ferdinand and the British were unable to ever challenge French control of the Italian mainland.
After Napoleon's defeat in 1814, Murat reached an agreement with Austria and was allowed to retain the throne of Naples, despite the lobbying efforts of Ferdinand and his supporters. However, with most of the other powers, particularly Britain, hostile towards him and dependent on the uncertain support of Austria, Murat's position became less and less secure. Therefore when Napoleon returned to France for the Hundred Days in 1815, Murat once again sided with him. Realising the Austrians would soon attempt to remove him, Murat gave the Rimini Proclamation in a hope to save his kingdom by allying himself with Italian nationalists. The ensuing Neapolitan War between Murat and the Austrians was short, ending with a decisive victory for the Austrian forces at the Battle of Tolentino. Murat was forced to flee, and Ferdinand IV of Sicily was restored to the throne of Naples. Murat would attempt to regain his throne but was quickly captured and executed by firing squad in Pizzo, Calabria. The next year, 1816, finally saw the formal union of the Kingdom of Naples with the Kingdom of Sicily into the new Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
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