Ferdinand I of Naples (1423–1494)

views updated

Ferdinand I of Naples (14231494)

King of Naples. Also known as Ferrante, Ferdinand was born in Valencia, Spain, as the illegitimate son of Alfonso V the Magnanimous, the king of Aragon who also ruled in Naples. As a youth Ferdinand was recognized as the Duke of Calabria, the customary title for the successor to the throne of Naples. On the death of Alfonso in 1458, Ferdinand succeeded his father, despite the determined opposition of Pope Calixtus III, who sought to place a member of his own family on the throne of Naples. The opposition ended when Calixtus III died and was succeeded by Pope Pius II, who supported Ferdinand's rights as king. Ferdinand was challenged by nobles who chafed under his strict limitation of their rights in his kingdom. To oppose him, these nobles allied with the Angevins, a French dynasty that had an ancient claim to the throne of Naples. Jean of Anjou, heir to the Angevin dynasty, rode into Italy to press his claim, but his army was defeated in 1462 at the Battle of Troja, an event that confirmed Ferdinand's authority and legitimacy.

Ferdinand had a reputation as a treacherous and utterly ruthless intriguer. Contrary to custom, he took vengeance on Jacopo Piccinino, a mercenary captain who had served against him; after promising him safe conduct to his court, Ferdinand had Piccinino thrown out of a high window to his death. Ferdinand ordered many of his other opponents imprisoned; after their deaths, it was whispered, he had their bodies embalmed and collected into a dungeon for his personal viewing. In the early 1490s, the newly enthroned King Charles VIII of France used this reputation for evil as an excuse to begin planning a campaign to conquer Naples for the Angevin dynasty and make himself master of one of the wealthiest merchant cities in Europe. By the time the French forces arrived at the walls of Naples in early 1495, however, Ferdinand was dead; although his son Alfonso II capitulated, the French were eventually driven out of Italy and the Aragonese dynasty survived.

See Also: Charles VIII; Ferdinand II of Aragon; Naples

About this article

Ferdinand I of Naples (1423–1494)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article