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Robert of Naples

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Title: Robert of Naples  
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Subject: Capetian dynasty, Sonnet, 1343, Asti, Papal States, Peter III of Aragon, Charles I of Hungary, Charles II of Naples, Joanna I of Naples, Mondino de Liuzzi
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Robert of Naples

King of Naples, Prince of Achaea

King of Naples
Reign 5 May 1309-20 January 1343
Predecessor Charles II
Successor Joan I
Spouse Yolanda of Aragon
Sancha of Majorca
Charles, Duke of Calabria
Louis of Naples
House House of Anjou-Naples
Father Charles II of Naples
Mother Maria of Hungary
Born 1277
Died 20 January 1343 (aged c. 65)
Kingdom of Naples

Robert of Anjou (Italian: Roberto D'Angiò), known as Robert the Wise (Italian: Roberto il Saggio, 1277 – 20 January 1343) was King of Naples, titular King of Jerusalem and Count of Provence and Forcalquier from 1309 to 1343, the central figure of Italian politics of his time.[1] He was the third but eldest surviving son of King Charles II of Naples the Lame and Maria of Hungary. During his father's lifetime he was styled Duke of Calabria (1296–1309).


During the Sicilian Vespers (1282), the child Robert was the hostage of Peter III of Aragon. After the death of his elder brother, Charles Martel of Anjou, he became heir to the crown of Naples;[2] to obtain the crown of neighbouring Sicily, he married King James of Sicily's sister Yolanda, in exchange for James's renouncing of Sicily. However, the Sicilian barons refused him and elected James' brother, Frederick II. The war continued, and with the Peace of Caltabellotta (1302) Robert and the Angevin dynasty lost Sicily forever, their rule limited to the south of peninsular Italy.

Robert inherited the position of papal champion in Italy; his reign being blessed from the papal enclave within Robert's Provence, by the French Pope Clement V, who made him papal vicar in Romagna and Tuscany, where Robert intervened in the war of factions in Florence, accepted the offered signiory of that city, but had to abandon it due to Clement's opposition.[3]

The leader of the Guelph party in Italy, Robert opposed the sojourn of Emperor Henry VII in Italy (1311–13) and his occupation of Rome in 1312. After Henry's death, the Guelf reaction against the Ghibelline leaders in northern Italy, Matteo Visconti and Cangrande della Scala, made it seem for a time that Robert would become the arbiter of Italy.[4] Already ruler of wide possessions in Piedmont, Robert's prestige increased further when in 1317 the pope named him Senator of Rome, and when he became Lord of Genoa (1318–34) and Brescia (1319) and from 1317 onwards held the resounding papal title of vicar general of all Italy, during the absence in Italy of the Holy Roman Emperor, vacante imperio.[5]

In 1328 he fought another emperor who had ventured into Italy, Louis IV of Bavaria, and in 1330 forced John of Bohemia to quit northern Italy. Robert's hegemony in Italy was diminished only by the constant menace of Aragonese Sicily.

When the succession to the margraviate of Saluzzo was disputed between Manfred V and his nephew Thomas II in 1336, Robert intervened on behalf of Manfred, for Thomas had married into the Ghibelline Visconti family. Robert advanced on Saluzzo and besieged it. He succeeded in taking it and sacking it, setting the city on fire and imprisoning Thomas, who had to pay a ransom. The whole dramatic incident is recorded by Silvio Pellico. However, when his viceroy Reforza d'Angoult was defeated in the Battle of Gamenario (22 April 1345), Angevin power in Piedmont began to crumble.

At Robert's death in 1343, he was succeeded by his 16-year-old granddaughter, Joanna I of Naples, his son Charles having predeceased him in 1328. Joanna was already betrothed to her cousin, the 15-year-old Andrew of Hungary, son of the Angevin king of Hungary, Charles Robert. In his last will and testament Robert explicitly excluded the claims of Andrew of Hungary, clearly mandated that he become prince of Salerno and specified that Joanna alone assume the crown in her own right, to be succeeded by her legitimate offspring. If she were to die without heir, her younger sister Maria, newly named the duchess of Calabria, and her legitimate offspring would inherit the throne. There is no mention in the will that Andrew be crowned king; and this historiographical tradition is largely the result of later historians' accepting without examination the assertions of Hungarian royal propaganda following Andrew's murder at Aversa in 1345. This propaganda, the Hungarian assault on Joanna following the murder of Andrew, and Lewis of Hungary's invasion of the Regno eventually led to the end of Angevin rule in Naples.[6]


King Robert was nicknamed "the peace-maker of Italy" due to the years of significant changes he made to Naples. The city and nation's economy lay in the hands of Tuscan merchants, who erected superb buildings, monuments and statues that drastically changed King Robert's capital from a dirty seaport to a city of elegance and medieval splendor. Robert commissioned Tino di Camaino to produce a tomb for his son, who should have been his heir, and Giotto painted several works for him. The University of Naples flourished under the patronage of the king dismissed by Dante as a re di sermone, "king of words", attracting students from all parts of Italy.[7] There was virtually no middle class in the South to balance the local interests and centripetal power of the entrenched aristocracy, who retained the feudal independence that had been their bargain with the Angevins' Norman predecessors.

He was remembered by Petrarch and Boccaccio as a cultured man and a generous patron of the arts, "unique among the kings of our day," Boccaccio claimed after Robert's death, "a friend of knowledge and virtue."[8] Petrarch asked to be examined by Robert before being crowned as poet in the Campidoglio in Rome (1341); his Latin epic Africa is dedicated to Robert, though it was not made available to readers until 1397, long after both Petrarch and Robert were dead.


  • First wife, Yolanda of Aragon, daughter of King Peter III of Aragon and Constance of Sicily.
    • Charles (1298–1328), Duke of Calabria (1309), Viceroy of Naples (1318), who was the father of Queen Joanna I of Naples
    • Louis (1301–10)
  • Second wife, Sancha of Majorca, daughter of King James II of Majorca
  • Unknown mistress, possibly Sibilla Sabran, wife of count Tommaso IV di Aquino[9]
  • Unknown mistress
    • Helene d'Anjou Thopia. Helene fell in love with and married Andrea Thopia, Lord of Matija, without father's consent. Helene was due to marry (possibly) Philip, son of Baldwin II, when this happened. Thopia's emblem contains three lilies separated by a dotted line, indicating an illegitimate child. Andrea and Helene Anjou Thopia had Charles (named after his famous grand grandparent), Georges and Helena together.

Andrea and Helena were murdered by Robert II the Wise to ensure there were no hereditary privileges. Charles revenged his parents' death by expelling the Angevines from Durrazzo and most of their possessions in eastern Illyricum.

King Robert's last descendant through a legitimate line was Queen Joanna II of Naples.


Other sources

  • Coat of arms of the House of Anjou-Sicily (French)


Preceded by
Charles II
King of Naples
Succeeded by
Joan I

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