Medalla_de_Alfonso_V_de_AragónSilver medal of Alfonso V (1449) by Pisanello. Source: Luis García / Wikimedia / Creative Commons

As described in my previous post, King Alfonso V of Aragon eventually defeated King René of Naples in 1442. He then ruled until his death in 1458 as Alfonso I of Naples. He was also Alfonso I of Sicily, meaning that he ruled over both parts of the former Norman kingdom of Sicily. At his death, he was succeeded in Aragon and Sicily by his son John II and in Naples by his illegitimate son Ferdinand. He thus began the Aragonese dynasty of Naples. Clara Erskine Clement gives her evaluations of Alfonso V and René:

De la Marche is right in affirming that the Aragonese monarch had neither the bravery, the uprightness, the chivalric gallantry, nor the popularity of King René. Even Alfonso recognized the furia francese of his rival, which always amazed the Italians and filled them with admiration, when he exclaimed, ” Take care, the lion is unchained! “But the Aragonese was a master in strategy; his patience was untiring, and he hesitated at nothing that could further his cause; and since address often surpasses courage, and cunning overmasters integrity, the reasons for the failure of René and the success of Alfonso are not far to seek. The latter was undoubtedly the most able sovereign who had ruled at Naples since the days of the Hohenstaufen Frederick.

Castel_Nuovo_Arco_trionfaleArco trionfale, Source: Lalupa / Wikimedia / Creative Commons

She next describes the great monument to Alfonso’s victory:

The entrance to the Castel Nuovo, opposite the Strada del Castello, leads to a Triumphal Arch which commemorates the entrance of Alfonso into Naples after the defeat of King René, in 1442. This arch was erected in 1470, twelve years after the death of Alfonso. Vasari calls it the work of the architects, Pietro di Martino of Milan and Giuliano da Maiano of Florence. Strictly speaking, this arch formed the entrance to the fortifications, and is sometimes called the finest monument at Naples. On each side are Corinthian columns which support a frieze and cornice; above is an attic with bas-reliefs representing the entrance of Alfonso, by the sculptors Isaia da Pisa and Silvestro delP Aquila. There are statues of the four Cardinal Virtues, in niches; and above are SS. Michael, Anthony Abbot, and Sebastian, by Giovanni da Nola, which were added by Don Pedro de Toledo. The celebrated bronze gates are by the monk Guglielmo of Naples, and represent the victories of Ferdinand I. over Duke John of Anjou and his own rebellious barons. A cannon-ball embedded in the left wing is a souvenir of the time of Gonsalvo da Cordova, early in the sixteenth century.