Post-classical history

Charles II of Anjou (1253-1309)

King of Sicily (Naples) and count of Provence (1285-1309). Charles II of Anjou was born on 18 November 1253, the eldest son of Charles I of Anjou and Beatrice of Provence.

After the rebellion of the Sicilian Vespers (1282), through which the island of Sicily broke away from his father’s rule, Charles held the office of lieutenant of the kingdom of Naples for his father and tried to regain the confidence of his subjects with reforms. These resulted in the Capitula of San Martino (30 March 1283), which granted important privileges to the nobility, the clergy, and the citizens of the kingdom.

Captured in the naval battle of Naples on 5 June 1284 by the Aragonese admiral Roger Lauria, Charles was not released until November 1288 after long negotiations, by which time his father had died (1285). During Charles’s captivity, Angevin rule in the kingdom of Jerusalem collapsed, and his bailli (regent) in Acre, Odo Poilechien, was forced to surrender the citadel of the city to Charles’s rival Henry II, king of Cyprus, in the last days of June 1286. The Angevin possessions in Albania were lost at the same time.

After his coronation as king on 29 May 1289, Charles attempted in vain to resolve the Sicilian question by diplomacy or military means and was finally forced in 1302 to ratify the Treaty of Caltabellotta, which guaranteed the independence of the island of Sicily under a collateral line of the Aragonese royal family. According to his plan for a decentralization of the Angevin possessions in the Mediterranean, Charles bestowed sovereignty over the principality of Achaia, as well as direct rule over Corfu and the defunct kingdom of Albania, on his fourth son, Philip I, prince of Taranto (1294). He then granted Philip direct possession of Achaia after the deposition of Isabella of Villehardouin and her husband Philip of Savoy as rulers in 1304-1307.

The climax of Charles’s foreign policy, however, was the general acknowledgement of his grandson Charles Robert as king of Hungary in 1308, which guaranteed the crown of St. Stephen for the Angevin dynasty. During his reign, Charles II attempted to continue with the reform of the kingdom of Naples, although with largely negative results, because the power of the nobility had been strengthened. His administrative reforms in the county of Provence, by contrast, were much more successful. The War of the Sicilian Vespers proved disastrous for the finances of the kingdom of Naples and prevented the rise of trade and industry, but Charles succeeded at least in securing the continuation of Angevin rule in the mainland part of the former kingdom of Sicily. He died on 5 May 1309 in Naples, and was succeeded by his son Robert.

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