Joanna II of Naples (Regina Giovanna)

Joanna II of Naples family of Anjou-Durazzo is commonly known as the Regina Giovanna.

She was born in Zara at June 25, 1373, her father Charles III of Durazzo was King of Naples, her mother was Margaret of Durazzo. Widow of the Duke William of Austria married in 1401 and died five years later, assumed the throne of Naples at age 41, after the death of her brother Ladislas took place in 1414.

Joanna had numerous love affairs, when she ascended to the throne was her favorite Pandolfello Piscopo who was fully involved in the administration of the state. The Neapolitan nobility ordered her to rectify the situation with a marriage. The choice fell on James II of Bourbon, French nobleman Count de La Marche. This marriage allowed her to strengthen the position of Queen of Naples against Louis II of Anjou that, archenemy of the deceased brother Ladislaus, aspired to the crown of the kingdom of Naples.

Giovanna con il consorte Giacomo – La Marche – Rama 2007 CC BY SA 3.0 cz

But James, who at first was not elevated to royal dignity but appointed prince of Taranto, claims the title of King, called several French officials in the administration of the state, excluding his wife by real bargains. The Neapolitan nobility excluded from public tasks rebelled against the tyranny of James.

Joanna, to put stop to this situation, became lover of Sergianni Caracciolo, powerful nobleman of Naples, and with his help, James completely ousted from matters of state. James defeated and humiliated by his wife retired to monastic life in France as Franciscan.

Because of the love life many legends were born on account of Joanna and on the number of lovers which she housed in her alcove. It was said that her emissaries kidnapped beautiful aspect young men who should then meet the amorous desires of the queen. Then, to clear these dangerous witnesses, the same were thrown into a trap door that was found in the dungeons of the Maschio Angioino, the bottom of which there was a bath with a crocodile came from Africa who devoured the unfortunate men.

In 1419 she was officially crowned by Pope Martin V in Queen of Naples with the name of Joanna II of Naples. This was the start of a very troubled, because the Pope, considering the Kingdom of Naples as his vassal, imposed a tax of vassalage. Joanna backed by the lover Sergianni Caracciolo refused to pay, so Pope Martin V allied with Louis III of Anjou, son of Louis II, to avenge for the affront ousting Joanna from the throne.

Louis came with an army in Campania to defeat Joanna and take her place as King of Naples, but the pope, to show falsely equidistant between the two contenders, summoned their ambassadors to Florence for a compromise. Its ambiguity was unmasked and Joanna found an ally in Alfonso V of Aragon and she promised to adopt him as heir to the kingdom of Naples. Louis, to the arrival of the Aragon ships in 1421, left Naples and retired to France.

Soon Joanna broke with Alfonso, who claimed to command in Naples as he was already king, and moved to Castel Capuano, while Alfonso remained in Maschio Angioino. In 1423 Alfonso imprisoned the queen’s lover Sergianni Caracciolo and besieged Castel Capuano.

With a prisoner exchange the queen made to free Sergianni and fled with him to Aversa. There, he agreed with the old enemy, Louis III, and having repudiated Alfonso she adopted Louis as heir. So Louis was in Naples with his army, while Alfonso was recalled by his brother for war to break out between Aragon and Castile.

In 1424, Joanna returned to full power along with Sergianni Caracciolo and ruled for a fairly quiet since Louis III, loved by everyone, he retired in Calabria waiting for his turn to ascend the throne.

Mausoleo di Stanislao I con statua di Stanislao e la sorella Giovanna – Armando Mancini – Fllickr 2010 CCBYSA 2.0

Around 1430 because of the kidnapping of a noble girl traveling to Salerno by inhabitants of Satriano or, in another version, because of a baronet of the town of whom Joanna was madly in love not reciprocated, she completely destroyed Satriano, today we can see only the ruins and a Norman tower strangely intact.

For the increasing power of her lover Sergianni and contrasts with the queen, in 1432 Joanna made assassinate Caracciolo stabbed by his emissaries. Louis III of Anjou died in Cosenza in 1434 without being able to realize his dream of becoming king of Naples.

Tomba della Regina Giovanna chiesa Annunziata Napoli - Wikipedia: Darja82
Tomba della Regina Giovanna chiesa Annunziata Napoli – Wikipedia: Darja82

Joanna left in her will the kingdom of Naples to brother of Louis, Renato I of Anjou. She died in Naples at the age of 62, on February 2, 1435. She was buried in the church of the Santissima Annunziata in Naples.

A conflict began for the succession between Renato D’Anjou and Alfonso V of Aragon who returned to claim the crown of Naples. Alfonso V prevailed and the dynasty of Aragon started in Naples.

It is said that the ghost of the Regina Giovanna (Queen Joanna) roams in the Fortress of Arquata del Tronto where the queen staying in the summer to rest between 1420 and 1435.