Ferdinand II of Naples

Ferdinando Trastámara d'Aragona, of the branch of Naples, known to contemporaries especially with the name of Ferrandino (Naples, 26 June 1467 - Naples, 7 October 1496). Acclaimed "the first among all the Kings and Lords of the World"[1] and universally praised for his excellent virtues was King of Naples for just under two years, from 23 January 1495 to 7 October 1496. Prince of Capua from birth until 25 January 1494 and Duke of Calabria from 25 January 1494 to 23 January 1495 as heir to the throne.[2]

Ferdinand II
Adriano fiorentino, medaglia di ferdinando d'aragona principe di capua.JPG
Medal of Ferdinand as Duke of Calabria by Adriano Fiorentino
King of Naples
Reign23 January 1495 – 7 September 1496
PredecessorAlfonso II
Born26 August 1467
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Died7 September 1496(1496-09-07) (aged 29)
Somma Vesuviana, Kingdom of Naples
SpouseJoanna of Naples
HouseHouse of Trastámara
FatherAlfonso II of Naples
MotherIppolita Maria Sforza
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Valiant prince, magnanimous, forgiving, and truly endowed with every good disposition of the soul as well as of the body, he demonstrated, in the few years he lived, great audacity and high military valor, as well as rare political acumen. Since adolescence he lent his sword for the defense of the kingdom, which among a thousand dangers he regained when by now, due to the nefarious politics of his father, he had been lost. For it, as an extreme sacrifice, he finally gave his life: exhausted by the many battles, and consumed by a serious illness, after defeating the French, he was defeated by death and died, still at the height of his youth, weeping with incredible pain by his subjects.[3][4]

"A man of true beauty, of indomitable courage, so that he seemed born for the struggle, and yet a lover of culture and music and, for the sweetness of the soul, very different from his father, he was sovereign actually loved by the people" (Nino Cortese).[4]

"This prince full of enlightened piety tried to provide tranquility and well-being to his peoples, so much so that he aspired to be called more than king, father of his subjects" (Niccola Morelli).[5]



On 26 June 1467, Ferrandino was born in Castel Capuano, a residence that King Ferrante had given to his son Alfonso and his wife Ippolita Maria Sforza as a wedding gift. Her mother, Ippolita, found herself alone to give birth, as her husband was engaged on the war front in Abruzzo to fight against the Florentines, while her father-in-law was in Terra di lavoro. The prince's birth was nevertheless immediately greeted with great joy, as the kingdom had had its rightful heir. He was baptized on 5 July and was given the names Ferdinando, in honor of his grandfather, and Vincenzo, for his mother's devotion to San Vincenzo Ferreri.[6]

Thus entered into life the one who was to become the unhappy king Ferrandino. Welcomed with great joy by King Ferrante, by his family, by all Neapolitans, no pain was spared during his brief existence [...]

— Alessandro Cutolo, La nascita di Ferrandino d'Aragona.
Neapolitan Albarello with a probable childish portrait of Ferrandino, then Prince of Capua. There you can recognize the unmistakable flowing hair also present in his other portraits. The year 1475-1480 approximately.

The letters of his mother dating back to this early period describe him as a healthy, beautiful, and capricious newborn; in fact, it is Ippolita herself who disconsolately informs her mother, Bianca Maria Visconti, that Ferrandino is "beautiful as a pearl" but "pleasant with every person except with me; I have hope in short days we will have to be domestic and friends".[7]


He had as tutors, but also as advisors and secretaries, Aulus Janus Parrasius,[8] Gabriele Altilio and Chariteo, who followed their pupil with dedication and loyalty even when he, still a teenager, was called to try his hand at the art of war.[9]

Already at the age of fourteen, he had the opportunity to demonstrate his readiness in war, when his grandfather Ferrante put him at the head of a military expedition directed to Abruzzo, as a lieutenant of the king, with the task of defending the coasts from the attacks of the Venetian fleet, when, after the reconquest of Otranto, a new war front opened between Venice and Ferrara (Salt War,1482-1484) and Ferrante had to intervene in defense of his son-in-law Ercole I d'Este.[4]

In the following years, Ferrandino continuously defended the kingdom, fighting against the rebellious barons during the second baronial revolt that, between 1485 and 1486, put King Ferrante in great difficulty. This was still nothing, however, compared to what would have awaited the young Ferrandino in the years of the descent of Charles VIII.[4]

Giovanni Sabadino degli Arienti tells of a certain incident that took place on an unspecified day, but since the writer places it a few months before the death of Ippolita Maria Sforza, it would be to be traced back to when the young prince was about twenty years old. It so happened that Ferrandino "for greatness and prowess of spirit, I asked for a stout horse, that fell on him, so that he was taken away believing that he was dead". The young prince would then remain in a coma for 13 days until his mother Hippolyta, crying and devoutly invoking the help of the Virgin with endless prayers, obtained that "the lost, or perhaps lost spirits returned to the lifeless body of the son".[10] Although the story is far-fetched, there is news from the ambassadors of his ruinous fall from his horse in the summer of 1486: initially the prince seemed to have done nothing, in fact he did not want to be medicated,[11] but then he was assailed by a great fever and was in danger of life.[12] Since he was now considered dead and with no hope of healing, it was "opinione de tucto lo populo" that it was the "infinite orationi made the Ill.ma madamma duchessa his mother" to free him from evil. As an ex voto, his father Alfonso had a silver image of the prince made and donated it to the church of Santa Maria di Loreto,where he had gone to request grace.[13]

At the death of his younger brother Pietro, which occurred due to illness in 1491, he remained the last hope of Naples and of his old grandfather Ferrante, who by dying already foreshadowed the terrible war that was about to strike the kingdom. The sovereign died on 25 January 1494, Alfonso II ascended to the throne of Naples and did not hesitate a single moment before declaring war on Ludovico il Moro, occupying as the first act of hostility the city of Bari, a fief of the duke. Alfonso thus came to the rescue of his daughter Isabella, wife of Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza, nephew of Ludovico, to whom his uncle had usurped the Duchy of Milan.[14][15]

Medal of Ferrandino Duke of Calabria, Adriano Fiorentino, dated 1494.

Ludovico responded to the threat by giving the green light to the monarch French Charles VIII to descend to Italy to reconquer the kingdom of Naples, which the latter believed usurped by the Aragonese to the Neapolitan Angevins.[14][15]

As supreme captain of the army of the kingdom of Naples, Ferrandino always behaved honestly and, although very young, he knew how to impose order and discipline on his men. In October 1494, for example, he was fighting in Romagna against the French as an ally of Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forlì. To cause the break between the two was the so-called sack of Mordano, which took place between 20 and 21 October: around the city of Mordano they had gathered between fourteen thousand and sixteen thousand French to encircles it with siege and at the same time to trap Ferrandino, who, having fewer men, would almost certainly have been defeated.[16]

Therefore, understanding the situation and on his generals' advice, he decided not to respond to the countess's requests for help. Caterina, very angry, passed on the side of the French, who had devastated her lands and torn her subjects, breaking the alliance with the Neapolitans, and therefore Ferrandino, having learned the news, under a diverted rain was forced to leave Faenza with his men and to get on the way to Cesena. Although they were now enemies and despite the Neapolitan army being short of food, not having been well supplied by the countess even when they were allies, notes Leone Cobelli, a chronicler from Forlì, that Ferrandino always behaved honestly and that vice versa Countess Caterina sent his men to rob him, albeit unsuccessfully:[16]

Those of Bertenoro and Cesena did not want to give him more provisions: where the Duke of Calabria and he were reluctant. Now note, reader, that certainly the Duke of Calabria behaved honestly in these lands and countries, and he did not do what he could have done having become our enemy. And when he was our friend he never wanted them to be damaged either in the vineyards or in the branches, and his camp was free and those who brought him provisions wanted them to be well paid, protected and honored, and I never know of a dishonesty of that. encampment: he certainly has a good reputation for it. But we have given him well credit, for people were sent after him to steal and take away horses, weapons and robes.

— Leone Cobelli, "Cronache Forlivesi"
Posthumous portrait of Ferrandino, Italian school of the seventeenth century.

The sources describe him always impatient to clash with the French and to test his war skills. In fact, when he was still near Imola, on 16 September 1494 "with the helmet on his head and throwing it on his thigh" he went down to openly challenge the French, and seeing that the enemy did not leave the camp "he sent some crossbowmen to invite him up to half a mile below; and no one ever showed up". Two days later, not happy, he sent a herald to the enemy captain, Gianfrancesco Sanseverino d'Aragona, Count of Caiazzo, to ask him "if he wanted to come and break some spear", with a negative result. He then repeated the challenge to the captain French, Robert Stuart d'Aubigny, and the French this time accepted, but the Count of Caiazzo prevented the test from being held and Ferrandino, disappointed, had to settle for small skirmishes.[17]

The French invasionEdit

An attempt to stop the French fleet at Rapallo carrying the heavy artillery of King French resulted in disaster. After leaving Romagna, Ferrandino had gone to Rome to exhort Pope Alexander VI "to be constant and firm, and not to abandon the king his father". But the Pope, reluctantly, finally yielded to the French, and if nothing else, in an extreme conversation, embracing the young Ferrandino weepingly, offered him safe conduct with which he could cross undisturbed the entire Papal States so as to return to Naples. Ferrandino instead, by nature proud and regardless of the danger, refused indignantly the safe conduct and on the last day of the year he went out to the door of San Sebastiano, just as King Charles VIII entered from that of Santa Maria del Popolo with the army French.[18]

With the approach of the enemy troops, Alfonso II, mentally unstable and persecuted, it is said, by the shadows of the killed barons, thought of ensuring greater stability to the throne and to the descendants by deciding to abdicate in favor of his eldest son, and he retired to monastic life at the monastery of Mazzara in Sicily.

Let's go back to Ferdinand the young boy,

seen in the crowned kingdom.
Daring, youth warms his chest,
eager to save the state of him,
he made up his mind and thought this:
not wanting to be locked up in the house,
but as a new frank and powerful king

to meet the enemy people.

— Gerolamo Senese. La venuta del Re Carlo con la rotta del Taro (1496-1497). Guerre d'Italia in ottava rima (II 4.8:58)

Unlike his father, a man feared for his cruelty and hated by the Neapolitans, he was much loved by the whole population "to be human and benign king" and young man of good customs, qualities that he demonstrated immediately, returning, despite the situation of deep economic crisis, to the legitimate owners the lands unjustly stolen by his father for the construction of the villa of Poggioreale, to the nuns of La Maddalena the convent that Alfonso had expropriated them for the construction of the villa called the Duchesca, and likewise returning freedom to those who for years languished in the unhealthy prisons of the castle.[19] Ferrandino remedied in short all the offenses caused over the years by his father and grandfather, but this did not, however, prevent the end of the reign. He had also challenged King Charles VIII to a duel to decide in the old fashioned way who should own the kingdom, but the monarch French, knowing the skill of the young Neapolitan, did not want to face it.[20]

Medal of Ferrandino prince of Capua. Adriano Fiorentino, before 1494, National Gallery of Art, Washington

A real betrayal was consumed against him: the cities began to give themselves spontaneously to the French and the captains and generals to plot behind him with the enemy, favoring his advance. Back in Naples from Capua, the young king was in a very bad mood, so much so that the dowager queen Joan induced him to feed after two days of fasting. He lamented that Fortune was against him and that he was losing the kingdom "without breaking a spear." When he was then told that the people were looting his stables, enraged, with a handful of men rushed to the place with the unhinged stocco and began to vehemently reproach the looters, wounding some and recovering a number of horses.[21]

Realizing by now that the situation was irreparable, Ferrandino therefore decided to move away from Naples in search of reinforcements. Before embarking for Ischia with his family, however, he summoned the entire people and promised them that he would return within 15 days and that, if this were not the case, they could all consider themselves freed from the oath of fidelity and obedience made towards him.

He then left the new Castel to Alfonso II d'Avalos, Marquis of Pescara with 4000 Swiss mercenaries; and with 14 galleys led by Berardino Villamarina went to Ischia.[22]

Famous remains the betrayal of the castellan of the fortress of Ischia, Justo della Candida, who made the royal family find the doors of the castle barred. Ferrandino then, under the pretext of securing at least the dowager queen Giovanna and princess Giovannella (or, according to other sources, asking to be a parliamentarian with the castellan), persuaded Justo to let him enter the fortress in the company of a single man, not believing that he alone constituted a danger. Ferrandino instead, as soon as he found himself in front of him, pulled out a dagger and "he threw himself on him with such impetus that, with the ferocity and the memory of the royal authority, he frightened the others in such a way that in his power he immediately reduced the castle and the fortress".[18] Then, after killing him, he cut off his head with a sword blow and threw the body into the sea, thus regaining possession of the castle and the garrison.[23][24]

Charles VIII in NaplesEdit

The French entered Naples on 22 February 1495 and Charles[25] took up residence in Castel Capuano, the ancient fortified palace of the Norman rulers. Now master of Naples, Charles asked to meet Prince Frederick in conversation and through him offered Ferrandino large possessions in France, provided that he renounced any claim to the kingdom of Naples and royal dignity. Frederick, who knew well the intentions of his nephew, immediately replied that Ferrandino would never accept such an offer, since "he was deliberate to live and die as a king, as he was born".[26]

Despite having many supporters among the Neapolitan nobles, largely nostalgic for the Angevin period,and the almost total control of the kingdom, Charles did not know how to exploit these conditions in his favor and imposed French officials at the top of all administrations.

The Entry of the French into Naples (22 February 1495), from the Figurative Chronicle of the Fifteenth Century by Melchiorre Ferraiolo

The weakness of his choices, dictated by the arrogant conviction of being the undisputed master of the realm and perhaps of the entire Peninsula,gave time and strength to the other Italian states to coalesce against him and ferrandino to reorganize the Neapolitan armies.

At the beginning of May 1495 a heavy naval defeat at the hands of the Genoese fleet (second battle of Rapallo)almost totally deprived Carlo of the naval support necessary for the transport of heavy artillery and the logistics of the army. In the same month the king of France, following the pro-Aragonese impulses of the Neapolitan people and the advance of Ferrandino's armies in the Kingdom, understood the need to leave Naples and set out to return to his homeland, where he managed to arrive despite the defeat suffered by the forces of the anti-French league in the battle of Fornovo.[22]

Charles, despite having many supporters among the Neapolitan nobles, largely nostalgic for the Angevin period, and the almost total control of the kingdom, did not know how to exploit these conditions in his favor and imposed French officials at the top of all administrations. The weakness of his choices, dictated by the arrogant conviction of being the undisputed master of the realm and perhaps of the entire Peninsula, gave time and strength to the other Italian states to unite against him and Ferrandino to reorganize the Neapolitan armies.

[...] And long live King Fernando, flower of the garden,

and let the King of France die a crooked foot!
And long live King Fernando and the Crowns
and let the King of France die drunkard!
And long live the crowned King Fernando,
and let the King of France die and be quartered!
And the King of France who has pain in his calzone,
and he holds a nose like a corbellone,
And long live King Fernando and his wand,
and let the King of France and whoever awaits him die!
Long live the ever victorious army,
and the strong arm of King Fernando.
Long live the captain of Zaragoza;
Night with days never rests,
fighting the French all of them

that have plundered Ponente and Levante.

— Canzone diffusa a Napoli ai tempi della cacciata dei francesi (1495). Riportata da Anne Denis nella sua opera "Charles VIII et les Italiens".

The Battle of Seminara and the Reconquest of the KingdomEdit

Ferrandino, who in the meantime had brought himself from Ischia to Messina,joined his cousin, Ferdinand II of Aragon, king of Sicily and Spain,who offered him assistance in the reconquest of the Kingdom. The Spanish general Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba arrived from Spain with a small army consisting of 600 lancers of the Spanish cavalry and 1,500 infantry: he had been chosen by Queen Isabella to lead the Spanish contingent both because he was a court favorite and also as a soldier of considerable fame despite his young age.[27][22]

The noble John of Capua (the knight on the right with shield and sword raised) rescues Ferrandino (on the dying white horse on his left) unseated during the battle of Seminara.

De Córdoba arrived at the port of Messina on 24 May 1495, where he found Alfonso and Ferrandino very anxious; but when Ferrandino saw the Grand Captain he rejoiced, hoping to recover the kingdom. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba having comforted Alfonso and Ferrandino, left for Calabria, to discover that the latter had passed in Calabria with the army before him, bringing with him the fleet of Admiral Requesens, and had reoccupied Reggio. De Córdoba arrived in Calabria two days later. Ferrandino, rejoicing in this, ordered that the Companies pass in front, thus assaulting the French who had occupied the lands of Calabria.[22]

Ferrandino led the Allied army out of the town of Seminara on 28 June and took a position along a stream. Initially the fighting turned in favor of the allies with the Spanish jinetes who prevented the Fording of the French-Swiss gendarmes by throwing their javelles and retreating, the same method used in Spain against the Moors. Ferrandino fought with great value, so that "it seemed that great Hector of Troy had resurrected",[28] but the Calabrian militia, panicked, went back; although Ferrandino tried to block their escape, the retreating Calabrians were attacked by the gendarmes who had managed to cross the waterway triumphing.[29]

Coin of Ferdinand II.

The situation soon became desperate for the allied forces: the Scottish Estuardo, nicknamed Monsignor of Aubigny, Governor of Calabria, outraged by the so daring of the Aragonese Captain, recruited from Calabria, Basilicata and other lands of the Kingdom a large number of French soldiers, and with these formed a good army, and challenged the king. Although the Grand Captain tried not to come into battle, finally to satisfy the king he accepted, and arrived on the appointed day, at the River of Seminara, fought with great courage; but King Ferrandino was easily recognized by the luxurious clothing of Aubigny, who killed his horse, causing him to fall to the ground, and would have been in danger of life, if John of Capua, brother of Andrew, Count of Altavilla[30] had not put him back on horseback, and left protecting him as best as possible, but the Aragonese, not being able to resist the fury of the French, on the advice of the Grand Captain he returned to Reggio, and the king having realized that he had made a great mistake in having exposed in danger his person and that of all his allies, recommending all the weight of that war to the Grand Captain, he returned to his father in Messina, who found him anxious for the course of this war.[22]

Despite the victory that the French and Swiss forces gathered on the battlefield, Ferrandino, thanks to the loyalty of the populace, was soon able to retake Naples. De Córdoba, using guerrilla tactics and carefully avoiding any confrontation with the fearsome Swiss battalions, slowly reconquered the rest of Calabria. Many of the mercenaries in the service of the French mutinied due to the non-payment of money and returned to their homeland, the remaining French forces were trapped in Atella by the combined forces of Ferdinand and de Cordova and forced to surrender. Already on 7 July, after defeating the last French garrisons, Ferrandino was able to return to Naples, welcomed by the festive population who ran to meet him among great cries, while the women covered him with flowers and odoriferous waters, and many of the noblest ran into the street to embrace him and wipe the sweat from his face.[31][22]

Death and successionEdit

Slight aftermath of the war against the soldiers of Charles VIII dragged on until the following year, but in fact the kingdom had returned firmly into the hands of Ferrandino, who was thus able to celebrate his wedding with his aunt Giovanna, younger than him. Costei was a half-sister of Alfonso II, born from the second marriage of King Ferrante to Joan of Aragon. At the time of the marriage, Ferrandino was 29 years old, Giovanna 18. The wedding was celebrated in Somma Vesuviana, where the royal couple decided to stop for some time and where Ferrandino appointed his wife queen, crowning her by his hand. The marriage, however, was just able to be consummated, because immediately after Ferrandino, already ill previously with malaria, which raged at that time for Calabria, seeing his health deteriorate, he was taken to the church of the Annunziata in Naples to obtain grace of health, where he arrived there found a large part of the people who in procession had come to pray for him; and having prayed with great tears of the surrounding, he was taken to Castel Nuovo.[22]

Ferrandino depicted in the work Portraits of one hundred illustrious captains by Aliprando Caprioli,1596

In this regard, the Milanese historian Bernardino Corio writes: "Ferdinando, having recovered almost everything [...] joining his wife who was the infante of Naples his friend, sister of Alfonso on his father's side, and as in love with her, taking loving pleasure, he aggravated himself more in the beginning of illness [...] and despairing of healing he was taken to Naples, where at the age of twenty-nine with incredible pain of his subjects he abandoned life".[32]

Without a shadow of a doubt the labors of an entire life spent since the very first youth fighting for the defense of the kingdom, exposed to water, wind and frost, without indulging in the last three years even a moment of rest, had to contribute more than illness and more than marriage to his untimely death.

Ferrandino, then made a will in which he established universal heir of the kingdom Don Federico, his paternal uncle. Having then devoutly obtained the extreme anoding, he died on 7 October, at Castel Capuano, where he had been transported to litter, among the great mourning of the people who had led in procession relics, including the miraculous blood of San Gennaro, and long prayed for his healing. And again in these terms Giuliano Passaro, a saddler craftsman, describes the general condolences to his death:

What can you cry about, Neapolitan peoples, what

today you have lost your Crown; and for this they weep the moon with the stars, the stones with the earth; weep, big and small, female and male, that I believe since God made the world more pitiful what was not seen! The wretched Queen, his wife, and also his mother-in-law, cried, saying: "Where is your strength, where is your glorious fame, which in your youth you acquired with as much effort as ever prince of this century, to recover your ancient home, from which with great treachery you were driven out by King Charles of France, and you with your glorious wit and strength have regained it? And now at one point you have abandoned us, son and husband! Who are you leaving us with? " [...] Big and small beat their heads for the walls for the great pain they had for the past memory of the Lord King, saying: «O our Lord, how have you abandoned us in such a short time? Where is your gagliardia? where is your tinkering with so much prowess, that Hector or Hercules was never equal to Your Majesty; and today for your passing away you have abandoned us! " [...] And know, magnificent gentlemen, that today the most virtuous, victorious and beloved King of vassals has died, that he had ever been in this century and that he has endured so much trouble, since many times he was tried to poison him and always the fortune

he helped her and immediately the betrayal was discovered; and today he died so softly, at the end of him winning him.

— Giuliano Passaro, Libro delle cose di Napoli

The good King Ferrandino was then buried with funeral gifts in the sacristy of San Domenico, near the tomb of his grandfather Ferrante.[22] In the absence of direct heirs of the late king, the crown was inherited by his uncle Frederick, the legitimate brother of Alfonso II. Ascended to the throne with the name of Frederick I of Naples, he was the last Neapolitan king of the Aragonese dynasty, who then ceded the kingdom to the French. Following these painful events and the definitive sunset of the Aragonese lineage, the laments for the premature death of the good Ferrandino multiplied:

If I had the son King Ferdinand,

that he was alive with me in such misfortune,
would give notice to all my worries,
but unhappy to me no one is left to me,
and I remember them weeping,
for the fountain of mercy withered to his vessel
for me, being a receptacle of torments

devoid of children and friends and relatives.

— El lamento e la discordia de Italia Universale (1510 ca.); Guerre d'Italia in ottava rima (II-10.10:14)

I am that unfortunate kingdom

full of tears, damage and war,
France and Spain at sea on land
they all desolate me.
For me every person mourns,
gentle kingdom full of troubles,
since five kings of crown
I have died in thirteen years,
with torments and severe damage.
[...] I am that unfortunate kingdom,
first King Ferrando old,
King Alfonso his son,
Ferrandino of virtue is spechio,
you have French in great pain
and King Charles with his stole
he drove off towards the west;

death took him out of the present.

— Dragoncino da Fano, El lamento del Reame di Napoli (1528). Guerre in Ottava rima (III-1.1)

Appearance and personalityEdit

Since childhood Ferrandino was initiated to the arts of the body as of the intellect, in fact the contemporary sources, including Baldassare Castiglione, describe him as agile and well disposed in the person, very skilled in jumping, running, vaulting, tinkering and horseback riding, as well as in rides and tournaments, competitions in which he always reported the first honor. Nevertheless, it is described just as modest: "so it was his habit that he neither rejoiced at prosperity nor troubled by sadness, with a cheerful face he gave thanks to everyone"[33]

He was valiant, of royal customs, loving, liberal and forgiving.[34] Vincenzo Calmeta calls him "prince of high spirit and endowed with all those graces that nature and chance can give".[35]

[...] always this King was vigorous, kind, meek, costumed, virtuous, and truly worthy of that Realm, named the first of all the Kings and Lords of the World, as I will say. And finally she made of his person what was possible, as it is known, at the age of twenty-seven, in a very reasonable aspect. And as it is said above, crowned he mounted a horse with all his troops of arms with a heart of Caesar [...].

— Chronicon Venetum (Anonimo).[1]

[...] a young man who manifested with arts contrary to those of his father, wanting to reach the sign of true glory, as if by confession of all peoples he would have reached it later, if the adverse fate of the kingdom in the flowering of the years had not taken it away from him.

— Camillo Porzio, La congiura dei baroni.

In fact, Cariteo says of it: "Of the intrepid cor similar to the father, of humanity to the mother".

Alleged portrait of King Ferrandino. For the obvious similarities with the sixteenth-century engraving, it is in all probability on this portrait that Aliprando Caprioli relied to make it.

Physically he was a good-looking young man, aitante in the person, with bright eyes, head high, wide chest, dry and muscular.[20] Precisely with regard to this curious tendency to keep one's head held high, Castiglione reports that "what custom King Ferrandino had contracted from infirmity" while not specifying which disease it was. He also reports that knowing that he was "very handsome" of body, "King Ferrando took the opportunity to undress sometimes in a doublet".[36] Alleged portrait of King Ferrandino. For the obvious similarities with the sixteenth-century engraving, it is in all probability on this portrait that Aliprando Caprioli relied to make it.

He was also cultivated in the literary arts, having as teachers Gabriele Altilio and Aulo Giano Parrasio, and in fact he delighted in composing poems and wacky people in his spare time. One wrote, for example, to his own subject, who was amazed at his departure from Naples, probably in the dramatic days of the invasion French:[37]

Who is content with my departure,

who rejoices, and laughs at who they like,
who complains and who complains,
who is afflicted by it and who despairs.
Who pulls me in this trouble and who pushes me away,
who is sorry and who is sorry.
My wretched soul that torments itself

in this fire it consumes itself and is silent.

— Ferrandino d'Aragona, strambotto.

Amorous AdventuresEdit

Unlike his father and grandfather, Ferrandino did not usually keep fixed lovers with him, and in fact the existence of his illegitimate children is not known, however, like his grandfather and father he had very free sexual customs. As proof of his physical prowess as well as the favor he enjoyed among women, an episode is known to have occurred during September 1494, while Ferrandino, then Duke of Calabria, was encamped at the city of Cesena.[38]

The event is reported in a letter dated 4 October by Bernardo Dovizi from Bibbiena to Piero il Fatuo:Ferrandino was approached one evening by a "good man" named Mattio, who made him understand that he had to talk about a matter of enormous importance. Received by the duke the next day, Mattio reported to him that there was a "noble and beautiful woman [...] for nobility and beauty, the first girl in all of Romagna" who having admired four years ago a portrait of Ferrandino and having heard praise for his countless virtues, had fallen madly in love with him and with her own risk and had come to Cesena only to be able to see him; moreover, having seen him, she had become so inflamed of him that "she finds no rest or place or thing that brings any relief to so much its fire". Mattio therefore prayed that he would deign to "have compassion on those who die for you", and that he wanted to satisfy her in his desire, because otherwise "the life of the miserable would soon be missing". Ferrandino, as is reasonable, initially remained in doubt that it could be a plot against him and that the woman wanted to poison him through coith, especially since he came from enemy territory, and therefore made her wait a few more days, meanwhile inquired about his identity, before being convinced that it was foolish on his part to doubt some danger and to consent to the meeting. Therefore, pretending to go out hunting, he went in great secrecy to a country house where the woman was waiting for her and where "he consumed the holy marriage with great sweetness of one side and the other".[39]

This woman, indicated in the letter with the name of Caterina Gonzaga, was perhaps a Gonzaga of the Novellara branch and perhaps daughter of that Giorgio Gonzaga who died in 1487 and therefore sister of that Taddea who married Matteo Maria Boiardo.[40] Dovizi, who is very sceptical about the sincerity of the love professed by the woman, does not fail to write his impressions in this regard to Piero il Fatuo, judging that Caterina must perhaps have heard of the considerable size of Ferrandino's manly member, whom he describes in enthusiastic terms as "very honorable", and that therefore more than by love he was driven by lust.

Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena in a print of the eighteenth century, Carlo Faucci.

Although Ferrandino has not then "for his conscience" revealed to anyone the relationship if not to a few people, including precisely the Dovizi (with whom he used to speak "freely of everything") and the Marquis of Pescara Alfonso II d'Avalos, the fame of the great beauty of this Catherine came to the ears of Ludovico il Moro who at that time was in Asti in the company of the King of France, who was always eager to have beautiful women around him. Ludovico then sent a put to Catherine inviting her to go to Asti to please the king and offered her in return the sum of over 3500 ducats that should have been used to pay for the trip. Caterina, however, outraged by the proposal, prayed to Ferrandino that he would help her to invent a good excuse to decline the offer, because "she neither wants nor can leave". He then decided, to the laughter of his friends, that Caterina promised the Moro to go and accept the offer in money, but that he instead stole the duchies from the man who would bring them to him and stay with him in Cesena.

Nevertheless Ferrandino, since he had been told that Piero il Fatuo had tried to obtain the woman without succeeding, showed himself very willing to lend it to him, saying: "I want these women's things, like the others, to be common among us". Dovizi replied by saying that the exchange offer to Piero would certainly not be agreed, as Piero had lovers with him while Ferrandino did not, he also judged that his availability was due to the fact that in truth he did not like Caterina's "meat", something that Ferrandino assured him not to be true, claiming "that he likes everything about her" and that indeed before leaving "he wants another feast".

From a subsequent letter from Dovizi, dated 9 October, we learn that Piero il Fatuo then sent certain letters to the camp with a portrait of Caterina herself, demonstrating that the woman had already been his lover. Dovizi reports that Ferrandino, after reading the letter with him, "laughed so much and so heartily that I could not say any more, and I swear to you that I have not seen him nor do I think I can ever see him in such joy as he was then", and he wanted it to be re-read several times even in the presence of the Avalos. Ferrandino then confessed that he had lied in saying that he liked the woman, believing that neither Piero nor Dovizi knew her, while in truth he had not liked it at all, if not for "a little manners", and that he was "more out of boredom than the devil". He also adds that if Caterina still wants him, then she will have to come herself to the military camp to find him, "otherwise she can scratch it so much that she coves the desire by herself", since he "will not move a step", and that "if she does not come to the camp, she can be hanged for him, who no longer plans to see him again, and if he came to the camp he would prove how heavy the Marquis weighs", or if he showed up in the military camp Ferrandino would offer it as much to his friend Alfonso d'Avalos. Dovizi concludes the matter by saying that Ferrandino also offered him to try the woman, but that he would never have allowed himself to lie with a woman with whom he had already lay his lord Piero, in fact "where the master has gone he would beware as much as the fire and the devil himself go there".[41]

Posthumous engraving Ferrandino, c. 1600-1700.

The letters of Dovizi of this period, overly stuffed with obscenity and double meanings, since the nineteenth century have been abundantly censored in all the works and essays that deal with the subject, however they are still preserved at theMedici state archive in Florence and digitally usable.

Certainly Ferrandino was aware of his physical qualities and did not exploit them only for his own personal gain, but also for those political-diplomatic issues that could benefit the state: in fact, he always writes the usual Dovizi, who in presenting himself in Forlì to countess Caterina Sforza, of whom he sought the alliance in the war against the French, Ferrandino "went tight and beautifully dressed in the Neapolitan style". In fact, he knew that Countess Catherine had a real passion for good-looking men and probably hoped to win their friendship. The attempt, perhaps, had a certain success, as Dovizi, in a specially enigmatic language, goes on to say that although Ferrandino the countess was not physically liked then very much, nevertheless "they shook hands scratching and at the same time noticed a lot of sparkling eyes", also the castellan Giacomo Feo, then a young lover of the same countess, showed himself quite jealous, in fact Ferrandino and Caterina "they stayed about two hours together but under the eyes of all, since the Feo wants she for himself".[16]

In mass cultureEdit

  • The character Ferdinand in William Shakespeare's play The Tempest is based on the historical figure of Ferrandino.
  • In the 2011-2013 Canadian television series I Borgia, Ferrandino is theoretically played by the Swedish actor Matias Varela, however the character shown in the series has nothing in common with the historical figure of Ferrandino, if not the name.


Knight of the Order of the Ermine

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Rerum italicarum Scriptores. Vol. 24. Forni. 1738. p. 13. ISBN 9788827159262.
  2. ^ "Treccani - la cultura italiana | Treccani, il portale del sapere".
  3. ^ Benedetto Croce, Storie e leggende napoletane, Gli Adelphi, 1990, pp. 157-179.
  4. ^ a b c d "FERDINANDO II d'Aragona, re di Napoli, detto Ferrandino".
  5. ^ Morelli, Nicolò (23 August 1825). "Biografia De Re Di Napoli: Ornata de loro rispettivi ritratti". N. Gervasi – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Ciro Raia. Breve storia di Re Ferrandino.
  7. ^ Ippolita Maria Sforza. Lettere. Edizioni dell'Orso. p. XXVII.
  8. ^ "FERDINANDO II d'Aragona, re di Napoli, detto Ferrandino in "Enciclopedia Italiana"". www.treccani.it.
  9. ^ "Ferdinando II d'Aragona re di Napoli, detto Ferrandino in "Enciclopedia machiavelliana"". www.treccani.it.
  10. ^ Giovanni Sabadino degli Arienti. Gynevera de le clare donne.
  11. ^ Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane, Nuova serie Anno IX. - XLVIII. dell'intera collezione, 1923, p. 234.
  12. ^ Corrispondenza degli ambasciatori fiorentini a Napoli, Volume 8, 2002, p. 628.
  13. ^ Documenti per la storia: Effemeridi delle cose fatte per il duca di Calabria (1484-1491) di Joampiero Leostello ... da un codice della Biblioteca nazionale di Parigi, Di Joampiero Leostello · 1883, p. 116.
  14. ^ a b Dina, p. 328.
  15. ^ a b Corio, p. 1029.
  16. ^ a b c conte Pier Desiderio Pasolini. Caterina Sforza.
  17. ^ Marin Sanudo. La spedizione di Carlo VIII.
  18. ^ a b Francesco Guicciardini. Storia d'Italia.
  19. ^ Marcello Orefice. Napoli Aragonese.
  20. ^ a b Benedetto Croce. Storie e leggende napoletane.
  21. ^ Giacomo Gallo. Diurnali.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h Biancardi, Bastian (1737). Le vite de Re di Napoli, Raccolte succintamente con ogni accuratezza. Napoli. F. Pitteri.
  23. ^ "Ferrandino d'Aragona e "l'omicidio d'autore" sul Castello Aragonese". 28 September 2015.
  24. ^ "Ferrandino d'Aragona".
  25. ^ "Carlino (Con stemma coronato)".
  26. ^ Niccola Morelli (1849). Vite de' re di Napoli. p. 196.
  27. ^ Prescott, 272.
  28. ^ G. Passaro. Historia.
  29. ^ Prescott, 277.
  30. ^ Roscoe, Leo X, p. 135. Roscoe dichiara che il di Capua fosse paggio di Ferdinando e fratello del duca di Termoli.
  31. ^ Notar Giacomo. Cronica di Napoli.
  32. ^ Bernardino Corio. Storia di Milano.
  33. ^ Joampiero Leostello. Effemeridi delle cose fatte per il Duca di Calabria.
  34. ^ Antonio Foresti (1711). Mappamondo Istorico Cioè Ordinata Narrazione Dei Quattro Sommi Imperi Del Mondo Da ... toccante le vite de' primi Dominanti in Sicilia, e de' Re di Napoli ... Parma. Oglio.
  35. ^ Giovanni Filoteo Achillini (1504). Collettanee grece, latine, e vulgari per diuersi auctori moderni, nella morte de lardente Seraphino Aquilano, per Gioanne Philotheo Achillino bolognese in uno corpo redutte.
  36. ^ Baldassarre Castiglione. Il Cortegiano.
  37. ^ Francesco Torraca. Discussioni e ricerche letterarie. F. Vigo.
  38. ^ Rita Delcroix. Giuliano de' Medici: il crepuscolo del Rinascimento.
  39. ^ Marcello Simonetta. Rinascimento segreto. Il mondo del Segretario da Petrarca a Machiavelli.
  40. ^ Rubiconia Accademia dei Filopatridi, Savignano. Quaderno, Volumi 1-5.
  41. ^ Rinascimento: rivista dell'istituto nazionale di studi sul Rinascimento, volumi 5-6.


  • Musto, Ronald G. (2019). Writing Southern Italy Before the Renaissance: Trecento Historians of the Mezzogiorno. Routledge.
  • Williams, George L. (1998). Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes. McFarland & Company, Inc.
  • Bernardino Corio (1565). L'Historia di Milano. presso Giorgio de' Caualli. Giorgio de' Cavalli.
  • Achille Dina. Isabella d'Aragona Duchessa di Milano e di Bari.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Ferdinand II of Naples at Wikimedia Commons

Ferdinand II of Naples
Born: 26 August 1469 Died: 7 September 1496
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Naples
Succeeded by