Naples, kingdom of

Naples, kingdom of

Naples, kingdom of, former state, occupying the Italian peninsula south of the former Papal States. It comprised roughly the present regions of Campania, Abruzzi, Molise, Basilicata, Apulia, and Calabria. Naples was the capital.

In the 11th and 12th cent. the Normans under Robert Guiscard and his successors seized S Italy from the Byzantines. The popes, however, claimed suzerainty over S Italy and were to play an important part in the history of Naples. In 1139 Roger II, Guiscard's nephew, was invested by Innocent II with the kingdom of Sicily, including the Norman lands in S Italy. The last Norman king designated Constance, wife of Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, as his heir and the kingdom passed successively to Frederick II, Conrad IV, Manfred, and Conradin of Hohenstaufen. Under them S Italy flowered, but in 1266 Charles I (Charles of Anjou), founder of the Angevin dynasty, was invested with the crown by Pope Clement IV, who wished to drive the Hohenstaufen family from Italy. Charles lost Sicily in 1282 but retained his territories on the mainland, which came to be known as the kingdom of Naples. Refusing to give up their claim to Sicily, Charles and his successors warred with the house of Aragón, which held the island, until in 1373 Queen Joanna I of Naples formally renounced her claim.

During her reign began the struggle for succession between Charles of Durazzo (later Charles III of Naples) and Louis of Anjou (Louis I of Naples). The struggle was continued by their heirs. Charles's descendants, Lancelot and Joanna II, successfully defended their thrones despite papal support of their French rivals, but Joanna successively adopted as her heir Alfonso V of Aragón and Louis III and René of Anjou, and the dynastic struggle was prolonged. Alfonso defeated René and in 1442 was invested with Naples by the pope. His successor in Naples, Ferdinand I (Ferrante), suppressed (1485) a conspiracy of the powerful feudal lords. Meanwhile the Angevin claim to Naples had passed to the French crown with the death (1486) of René's nephew, Charles of Maine. Charles VIII of France pressed the claim and in 1495 briefly seized Naples, thus starting the Italian Wars between France and Spain. Louis XII, Charles's successor, temporarily joined forces with Spain and dethroned Frederick (1501), the last Aragonese king of Naples, but fell out with his allies, who defeated him.

The Treaties of Blois (1504–5) gave Naples and Sicily to Spain, which for two centuries ruled the two kingdoms through viceroys—one at Palermo, one at Naples. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba was the first viceroy of Naples. Under Spain, S Italy became one of the most backward and exploited areas in Europe. Heavy taxation (from which the nobility and clergy were exempt) filled the Spanish treasury; agriculture suffered from the accumulation of huge estates by quarreling Italian and Spanish nobles and the church; famines were almost chronic; disease, superstition, and ignorance flourished. A popular revolt against these conditions, led by Masaniello, was crushed in 1648. In the War of the Spanish Succession the kingdom was occupied (1707) by Austria, which kept it by the terms of the Peace of Utrecht (1713; see Utrecht, Peace of). During the War of the Polish Succession, however, Don Carlos of Bourbon (later Charles III of Spain) reconquered Naples and Sicily. The Treaty of Vienna (1738) confirmed the conquest, and the two kingdoms became subsidiary to the Spanish crown, ruled in personal union by a cadet branch of the Spanish line of Bourbon. Naples then had its own dynasty, but conditions improved little.

In 1798 Ferdinand IV and his queen, Marie Caroline, fled from the French Revolutionary army. The Parthenopean Republic was set up (1799), but the Bourbons returned the same year with the help of the English under Lord Nelson. Reprisals were severe; Sir John Acton, the queen's favorite, once more was supreme. In 1806 the French again drove out the royal couple, who fled to Sicily. Joseph Bonaparte (see under Bonaparte, made king of Naples by Napoleon I, was replaced in 1808 by Joachim Murat. Murat's beneficent reforms were revoked after his fall and execution (1815) by Ferdinand, who was restored to the throne (Marie Caroline had died in 1814). In 1816 Ferdinand merged Sicily and Naples and styled himself Ferdinand I, king of the Two Sicilies.

For the remaining history of Naples, annexed to Sardinia in 1860, see Two Sicilies, kingdom of the.

Bibliography

See H. Acton, The Bourbons of Naples (1734–1825) (1956) and The Last Bourbons of Naples 1825–61 (1961); B.Croce, History of the Kingdom of Naples (1925, tr. 1970).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Naples, Kingdom of

 

(1) A state in southern Italy, formed in 1282 after the Angevin rulers of the Kingdom of Sicily lost Sicily itself. The dynasty retained its rule over the Kingdom of Naples until 1442. Naples became the capital of this state. During the Angevin rule, the feudal system was consolidated; feudal lords, including many from abroad, especially France, enserfed the peasants and acquired a number of important political rights. Constant internal strife and wars against Sicily, where the Aragonese dynasty had established itself, weakened royal power. Oppressive taxation and royal grants of privileges to merchants from northern and central Italy at the expense of local merchants further retarded growth of the economy.

In 1442, the Kingdom of Naples was conquered by King Alfonso V of Aragon, who combined it with Sicily and proclaimed himself Alfonso I, “King of the Two Sicilies.” He granted vast privileges to both local and Spanish nobles, thus intensifying the tendencies toward decentralization. After the death of Alfonso I in 1458, Naples and Sicily were again separated. During the wars waged in Italy from 1494 to 1559, the Kingdom of Naples became a Spanish possession (1504) and with Sicily again made up the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The term “Kingdom of Naples” continued to refer to the continental portion of this state.

M. L. ABRAMSON

(2) An Italian state dependent on France and located in the continental portion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; it existed from 1806 to 1815, while the country was occupied by the French. The Kingdom of Naples was ruled by Joseph Bonaparte from 1806 to 1808 and by J. Murat from 1808 to 1815.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.