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:

Frederick of Aragon was the last and the best of his house to be King of Naples. Hitherto devoted to the arts of peace, the people hailed him with joy, believing that in him they should have a just and benevolent ruler; indeed, all parties, however hostile before, were now ready to make him the centre of their hopes and interests. The principal fortresses of the kingdom were in his power; he had sons whom he hoped would inherit his throne, and when he was crowned by the Cardinal Caesar Borgia, the sovereign, the nobles and the people anticipated a prosperous future. In four short years their hopes were cruelly blighted, and in eight years the painful life of this last Aragonese-Neapolitan king was ended in a hated foreign land.

Ferdinand, the Catholic of Spain, had already determined to dispossess his cousins of the kingdom of Naples. He had proposed its division between France and Spain to Charles VIII., and after that monarch’s death he found a ready listener to his schemes in Louis XII. who desired to rule at Naples and to gain possession of Lombardy, which he claimed in the right of his grandmother, Valentina Visconti.

In November, 1500, at Granada, a treaty of partition was signed with the greatest secrecy. Louis XII. was to be King of Naples with the Abruzzi and Terra di Lavoro; Ferdinand was to add to his greater honors the title of Duke of Apulia and Calabria.

Frederick was first made aware of his betrayal by the approach from Rome of the French army under D’Aubigné; and so blind was he to the character of his Spanish cousin that he confided his cause to Gonsalvo da Cordova, then stationed in the Terra di Lavoro, who marched with Spanish troops to Capua, and joined D’Aubigné in the storming and pillage of that city. De Reumont says:

“When this unnatural alliance became known in Naples, the barons, the gentry, and the people assembled themselves in the cathedral; they heard mass devoutly, and at the elevation of the host they swore aloud to be united and one body, and faithful to their lawful ruler; but when the enemy stood at the gates, union and fidelity were at an end. Then was Naples lost. Frederick, to save his capital from the fate of Capua, concluded, in Aversa, a capitulation with the leader of the victorious army, and promised to give up the castles. The duplicity of Ferdinand had crushed his hopes.”

In 1501 Frederick went, with his queen, Isabella del Balzo, and their children, to Ischia. There, in that castle, high on the rocky promontory which afforded him so extensive a view of the beautiful inheritance which he had lost, he was compelled to choose his future dwelling-place. A month later he sailed for France. Louis XII. assigned to Frederick a large domain in the garden of Anjou, with a generous income; but his hopes were wrecked, and he could but fade away, with his heart-breaking sorrows weighing him down. Not the least of these was the thought that his eldest son was in the power of the perfidious Gonsalvo da Cordova, who had carried him to Spain.

Ill and suffering, Frederick went from Amboise to Blois, whence he was driven by a fire in the palace; and seeking a new refuge in Tours, he rapidly grew more feeble until his end came, in thirteen months from the time when he bade farewell to his beloved Bay of Naples. He was buried with royal obsequies, and a holy brother depicted his lovely character in a sermon, and proclaimed that his soul was already in paradise, to which his patient endurance of many cruel sufferings had earned for him a ready welcome.

His queen Isabella refused to give her children up to Ferdinand, as that king and Louis XII. had agreed that she should do, and her jointure was taken from her. She and her children died, one after another, until, in 1550, the Duke of Calabria, the last of this ill-starred family, died also, and was buried in Spain.