Joanna I of Naples (1326–1382)

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Joanna I of Naples (1326–1382)

Queen of Naples from 1343 to 1382. Name variations: Giovanna or Giovanni; Giovanna d'Angiò; Joan I; Joanna of Naples; Joanna of Sicily; Joanna of Provence; also known as Jane. Born in 1326 in Spain; died in 1382 in Naples; daughter of Charles of Calabria and Marie of Valois; sister of Marie of Naples; married Andrew of Hungary, about 1333 (died 1345);

married Louis of Taranto; married Jayme of Majorca; married Otto of Brunswick; children: none, except for adoption of Louis I, count of Provence and duke of Anjou (1339–1384), as her successor king.

Joanna I, who reigned as queen-regnant of Naples, was the Spanish-born daughter of Charles of Calabria and Marie of Valois . In 1343, Joanna inherited Naples and Provence from Robert the Wise of Anjou, her grandfather. She then moved to that state, where she reigned for over 40 years. Her years on the throne were marked by political disruption, warfare, and general turmoil.

Joanna had been married to Andrew of Hungary (son of Charles Robert, king and father of the Anjou line in Hungary) at age seven, and is thought to have murdered him two years after taking the Neapolitan throne in 1343. Her motivation may have been Andrew's desire to rule Naples without her assistance, although in their marriage contract he specifically gave up the right to call himself king. As for her actual guilt, however, Andrew's grasping ambition and arrogance had earned him many enemies, so it is possible that either Joanna had help or that she was not involved at all.

Andrew's death did not solve any of the problems Joanna faced. She was forced by political necessity to marry three more times, although she remained childless. Each subsequent husband—Louis of Taranto, James of Majorca, and Otto of Brunswick—brought to the Neapolitan political scene his own set of power-hungry relatives who schemed to remove Joanna from power. Moreover, each husband lost interest in Naples when Joanna refused to allow them any more authority than a queen-consort would have had.

There were also plots against Joanna's sister and heir, Marie of Naples . In the meantime, Andrew of Hungary's brother Louis of Hungary was planning an invasion of Naples and hoped ultimately to annex it. None of Joanna's husbands seemed capable of handling these crises, and so Joanna was left to her own devices. Finally, she altered her choice of heir in a last effort to gain a worthy ally. She chose a relative, Louis I of Anjou, brother to the king of France. Louis of Hungary attacked Naples in support of the heir he wanted on the Neapolitan throne, Charles III of Durazzo (who had been married to Joanna's sister Marie of Naples). Unfortunately, Joanna's ally and heir failed to bring his troops to help her soon enough. Joanna was captured, imprisoned, and then murdered, and Charles of Durazzo became king of Naples. Queen Joanna was 56 years old.

sources:

Anderson, Bonnie S., and Judith P. Zinsser. A History of Their Own. Vol. I. NY: Harper and Row, 1988.

Opfell, Olga. Queens, Empresses, Grand Duchesses, and Regents. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1989.

Uglow, Jennifer, ed. International Dictionary of Women's Biography. NY: Continuum, 1989.

Laura York , Riverside, California