Joanna II of Naples (1374–1435)

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Joanna II of Naples (1374–1435)

Queen of Naples who reigned from 1414 to 1435. Name variations: Giovanna or Giovanni II; Joan II; Joanna II of Naples; Johanna of Durazzo. Born on June 25, 1374, in Naples; died on February 2, 1435, in Naples; daughter of Charles III of Durazzo, king of Naples (r. 1382–1386), also ruled Hungary as Charles II (r. 1385–1386) and Margaret of Naples (daughter of Marie of Naples ); sister of Ladislas I, king of Naples (r. 1386–1414); married Wilhelm also known as William (1370–1406), duke of Austria; married James of La Marche (a French count); children: none.

Joanna II of Naples ruled under the same chaos which had marked the reign of Joanna I of Naples . She was the daughter of Charles III of Durazzo, king of Naples, who had stolen the throne from Joanna I and had her murdered in 1382. When Charles died in 1385 while trying to take over the throne of Maria of Hungary (1370–1395), the unstable kingdom of Naples passed to his son Ladislas. When Ladislas died in 1414 without heirs, Naples then accepted his sister Joanna as its queen.

Joanna married more than once but with little success. Her first husband was William of Austria. William died after only a few years, leaving Joanna a childless widow before her succession. After becoming queen in 1414, she wed the French count James of La Marche but refused to make him king. James was thrown out of Naples in 1416 for his arrogance and insistence on giving important political positions to his French relatives. The queen then proceeded to take a long series of lovers, whom she treated as her consorts, provoking the anger of many Neapolitans.

Naples was suffering greatly under the feudal warring and rivalries of its nobility, but Joanna did not seem to care much about its people, concentrating instead on her personal enjoyment. She gave up some of her power to her lovers, which further alienated her people. The barons eventually took up arms against the government which they viewed as corrupt and immoral, even by their somewhat lax standards. But because of quarrels between the rebels no one noble was strong enough to take over Naples, and thus Joanna remained on the throne for 20 years.

Joanna was childless, and therefore had to choose an heir. This proved a difficult choice, and for years she would name an heir and soon afterwards change her mind, provoking even more confusion in the city-state as to its future. She was not much mourned when she died about age 61, leaving the question of her successor still undecided.


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

Laura York , Riverside, California

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Joanna II of Naples (1374–1435)

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