1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charles II. (King of Naples)

CHARLES II. (1250–1309), king of Naples and Sicily, son of Charles I., had been captured by Ruggiero di Lauria in the naval battle at Naples in 1284, and when his father died he was still a prisoner in the hands of Peter of Aragon. In 1288 King Edward I. of England had mediated to make peace, and Charles was liberated on the understanding that he was to retain Naples alone, Sicily being left to the Aragonese; Charles was also to induce his cousin Charles of Valois to renounce for twenty thousand pounds of silver the kingdom of Aragon which had been given to him by Pope Martin IV. to punish Peter for having invaded Sicily, but which the Valois had never effectively occupied. The Angevin king was thereupon set free, leaving three of his sons and sixty Provençal nobles as hostages, promising to pay 30,000 marks and to return a prisoner if the conditions were not fulfilled within three years. He went to Rieti, where the new pope Nicholas IV. immediately absolved him from all the conditions he had sworn to observe, crowned him king of the Two Sicilies (1289), and excommunicated Alphonso, while Charles of Valois, in alliance with Castile, prepared to take possession of Aragon. Alphonso III, the Aragonese king, being hard pressed, had to promise to withdraw the troops he had sent to help his brother James in Sicily, to renounce all rights over the island, and pay a tribute to the Holy See. But Alphonso died childless in 1291 before the treaty could be carried out, and James took possession of Aragon, leaving the government of Sicily to the third brother Frederick. The new pope Boniface VIII., elected in 1294 at Naples under the auspices of King Charles, mediated between the latter and James, and a most dishonourable treaty was signed: James was to marry Charles’s daughter Bianca and was promised the investiture by the pope of Sardinia and Corsica, while he was to leave the Angevin a free hand in Sicily and even to assist him if the Sicilians resisted. An attempt was made to bribe Frederick into consenting to this arrangement, but being backed up by his people he refused, and was afterwards crowned king of Sicily. The war was fought with great fury on land and sea, but Charles, although aided by the pope, by Charles of Valois, and by James II. of Aragon, was unable to conquer the island, and his son the prince of Taranto was taken prisoner at the battle of La Falconara in 1299. Peace was at last made in 1302 at Caltabellotta, Charles II. giving up all rights to Sicily and agreeing to the marriage of his daughter Leonora to King Frederick; the treaty was ratified by the pope in 1303. Charles spent his last years quietly in Naples, which city he improved and embellished. He died in August 1309, and was succeeded by his son Robert.

Bibliography.—A. de Saint-Priest, Histoire de la conquête de Naples par Charles d’Anjou (4 vols., Paris, 1847–1849), is still of use for the documents from the archives of Barcelona, but it needs to be collated with more recent works; S. de Sismondi, in vol. ii. of his Histoire des républiques italiennes (Brussels, 1838), gives a good general sketch of the reigns of Charles I. and II., but is occasionally inaccurate as to details; the best authority on the early life of Charles I. is R. Sternfeld, Karl von Anjou als Graf von Provence (Berlin, 1888); Charles’s connexion with north Italy is dealt with in Merkel’s La Dominazione di Carlo d’Angiò in Piemonte e in Lombardia (Turin, 1891), while the R. Deputazione di Storia Patria Toscana has recently published a Codice diplomatico delle relazioni di Carlo d’Angiò con la Toscana; the contents of the Angevin archives at Naples have been published by Durrien, Archives angevines de Naples (Toulouse, 1866–1867). M. Amari’s La Guerra del Vespro Siciliano (8th ed., Florence, 1876) is a valuable history, but the author is too bitterly prejudiced against the French to be quite impartial; his work should be compared with L. Cadier’s Essai sur l’administration du royaume de Sicile sous Charles I et Charles II d’Anjou (Paris, 1891, Bibl. des écoles françaises d’Athènes et de Rome, fasc. 59), which contains many documents, and tends somewhat to rehabilitate the Angevin rule.