Archive for 'Italy'

The Kingdom of Naples, Part 19: Philip [III of Spain] (1598-1621)

coin 1617coin 1618Neapolitan coins of Philip III from 1617 and 1618


In the seventeenth century Naples was governed by Philip III., Philip IV., and Charles II. of Spain. Neither of these sovereigns merit our attention, and in the long procession of their viceroys and lieutenants, there is rarely one of whom we have occasion to speak at length. During this epoch Naples suffered the results of the policy which had been pursued by its preceding rulers. Industries, commerce, and everything that makes the financial prosperity of a nation were at the lowest ebb. Villages deserted and rich fields lying fallow spoke but too plainly of the decrease in population, and the weak sovereigns at Madrid were powerless to confer prosperity on their provinces; taken for all in all, the story of Naples in this era is sad and depressing.

As Clara Erskine Clement describes it in the paragraph quoted above, the seventeenth century was not a happy time for the kingdom of Naples under Spanish rule. She describes the conditions for the nobility under the Spanish viceroys:

The court of a viceroy is apt to be a travesty on the court of a sovereign, even when the sovereign and his deputy are able men; how much more so, when, as in the case of Naples at this period, the sovereign was weak, and the viceroy mercenary! The pivot on which the affairs of Naples turned was at Madrid; there was no central point at home; no dignified relations abroad which opened a field to diplomatic talent, and the Neapolitan nobles must be either courtiers or soldiers. Many chose the military profession, raised troops at their own cost, conducted them to other countries, and won admiration and respect from brave enemies in various portions of the vast Spanish territory.

The Spanish viceroys under Philip III were:

› Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 18: Philip [II of Spain] (1554-1598)

italy_16thDetail from a map of Italy at the end of the Sixteenth Century showing the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily.

When the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V retired to a monastery, he left the empire to his brother Ferdinand I and his Spanish and Italian possessions to his son, Philip II. Clara Erskine Clement describes the king’s relationship with the kingdom of Naples:

During forty-four years this king had eight viceroys and two lieutenants in Naples, no one of whom remained five entire years. We shall not rehearse the reasons for these changes, nor the special acts of these officials in detail. So much had been accomplished under Toledo, that in a certain sense the responsibilities of the viceroys were much lessened, especially as the Consejo de Italia, at Madrid, for the oversight of Spanish interests in Italy, actually governed the Italian provinces. The viceroy and the Consiglio Colaterale at Naples simply executed the orders received from the Spanish capital. When the viceroy was a man of great ability, he sometimes changed this condition of things; but, as a rule, he and his council of five the majority being Spaniards were guided by the higher authority of the council at Madrid. › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 17: Charles [V, Holy Roman Emperor] (1516-1554)

Charles V Empire map

After the death of Ferdinand II of Aragon, the kingdom of Naples passed to his daughter, Joanna, and to her son Charles, who ruled the large territories in the posession of the Hapsburg dynasty. He was Charles I of Spain, Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles II of Sicily and Charles IV of Naples. › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 16: Ferdinand [II of Aragon] (1504-1516)

Ferdinand IIFerdinand of Aragon, painted by Michael Sittow

The first result of the war of the Sicilian Vespers was that two sovereigns called themselves kings of Sicily, namely, those of the house of Aragon, who remained in possession, and those of the house of Anjou, who never recovered what Charles had lost. The kingdoms were therefore called the ‘Two Sicilies,’ the one being the island and the other the mainland, with Naples for its capital, and they continued to be so called even after they were finally united under Ferdinand the Catholic, who was the Second of Sicily, the Second of Aragon, the First of united Naples and Sicily, and the Third of Naples.
–Francis Marion Crawford, The Rulers of the South (1900)

With Frederick of Naples and Louis XII of France out of the picture, Ferdinand of Aragon now ruled both the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples. They would continue under Spanish rule for three centuries, while remaining separate kingdoms. › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 15: Louis [XII of France] (1501-1504)

Roi_Louis_XII_de_FranceLouis XII (Wikimedia)

Like his predecessor, Charles VIII, King Louis XII of France invaded Naples, having arranged a secret treaty with Ferdinand II of Aragon to divide the kingdom. Conquering the Duchy of Milan in 1500, his army moved on to Naples where he was proclaimed king in 1501. His control of Naples did not last long, as Clara Erskine Clement describes:

Such an alliance as that of Ferdinand and Louis XII. of Spain and France could scarcely endure for long, or be advantageous to either country during its existence. After a series of misunderstandings and quarrels, actual hostilities began in 1502; and, the French army being defeated in four battles in eighteen months, the kingdom of Naples became an absolute possession of Spain. › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 14: Frederick (1496-1501)

Castello_Aragonese_IschiaIschia (Source: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Clara Erskine Clement, in her 1894 book Naples, the City of Parthenope and its Environs, describes the reign and sad end of Frederick, sometimes called Frederick IV or Frederick II, who would be the last independent king of Naples for many centuries: › Continue reading…

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The Kingdom of Naples, Part 12: Alfonso II (1494-1495)

Alfonso IIAlfonso, Duke of Calabria, later Alfonso II, King of Naples
(Source Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

When Ferdinand I, King of Naples, died, the French King, Charles VIII, was preparing to invade. As Clara Erskine Clement describes the ensuing conflict:

Had Ferdinand lived, he would have avoided war with France, if possible; but Alfonso [II], who was as much hated as his father had been, was of a proud and determined character, and prepared to defend himself against his enemy. He made an alliance with Pope Alexander, and together they proposed friendship to the Sultan Bajazet, and advised him to attack the French, warning him of the plan that Charles VIII. had made against Constantinople. The Sultan considered the threatened danger as too distant to demand immediate attention, and declined the alliance with the Holy Father and the King of Naples. › Continue reading…

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