Giovanna II, Queen of Naples
Giovanna II ascended to the throne in 1414 at the age of 43 after her brother’s death, King Ladislaus. Giovanna was the daughter of Carlo of Durazzo and Margherita Anjou. Carlo Durazzo had taken the throne of the Naples with force, from the main branch of the Anjou family after 30 years of fights. The last descendants of the French Anjou dynasty was Giovanna I. After the death of Carlo Durazzo, the for-Anjou party would have had Louis II of Anjou on the Neapolitan throne, sweeping away the younger branch of Durazzo. But after Carlo Durazzo’s death, his son Ladislaus (ca. 1376-1414) succeeded. Ladislaus spent most of his life in Castel Nuovo, Naples. Ladislao died at the age of 38 and since he had no heirs, Giovanna became the queen. Giovanna's life, as queen, is full of convoluted episodes. The salient and important points of these episodes are best narrated by Machiavelli:
"Ladislaus, king of Naples, at his death, left to his sister Giovanna the kingdom and a large army, under the command of the principal leaders of Italy, among the first of whom was Sforza of Cotignuola, reputed by the soldiery of that period to be a very valiant man. The queen, to shun the disgrace of having kept about her person a certain Pandolfello, whom she had brought up, took for her husband Giacopo della Marca, a Frenchman of the royal line, on the condition that he should be content to be called Prince of Tarento, and leave to her the title and government of the kingdom. But the soldiery, upon his arrival in Naples, proclaimed him king; so that between the husband and the wife wars ensued; and although they contended with varying success, the queen at length obtained the superiority, and became an enemy of the pope. Upon this, in order to reduce her to necessity, and that she might be compelled to throw herself into his lap, Sforza suddenly withdrew from her service without giving her any pervious notice of his intention to do so. She thus found herself at once unarmed, and not having any other source, sought the assistance of Alfonzo, king of Aragon and Sicily, adopted him as her son, and engaged Braccio of Montone as her captain, who was of equal reputation in arms with Sforza, and inimical to the pope, on account of his having taken possession of Perugia and some other places belonging to the church. After this, peace was made between the queen and the pontiff; but King Alfonzo, expecting she would treat him as she had her husband, endeavored secretly to make himself master of the strongholds; but, possessing acute observation, she was beforehand with him, and fortified herself in the castle of Naples. Suspicions increasing between them, they had recourse to arms, and the queen, with the assistance of Sforza, who again resumed her service, drove Alfonzo out of Naples, deprived him of his succession, and adopted Louis of Anjou in his stead. Hence arose new contests between Braccio, who took the part of Alfonzo, and Sforza, who defended the cause of the queen. In the course of the war, Sforza was drowned in endeavoring to pass the river Pescara; the queen was thus again unarmed, and would have been driven out of the kingdom, but for the assistance of Filippo Visconti, the duke of Milan, who compelled Alfonzo to return to Aragon. Braccio, undaunted at the departure of Alfonzo, continued the enterprise against the queen, and besieged L’Aquilla; but the pope, thinking the greatness of Braccio injurious to the church, received into his pay Francesco, the son of Sforza, who went in pursuit of Braccio to L’Aquilla, where he routed and slew him. Of Braccio remained Oddo, his son, from whom the pope took Perugia, and left him the state of Montone alone; but he was shortly afterward slain in Romagna, in the service of the Florentines; so that of those who had fought under Braccio, Niccolo Piccinino remained of greatest reputation" (History of Florence, Book I, Chaper 7)..