Ladislaus of Naples

Ladislaus the Magnanimous (Italian: Ladislao, Hungarian: László; 15 February 1377 – 6 August 1414) was King of Naples from 1386 until his death and an unsuccessful claimant to the kingdoms of Hungary and Croatia. Ladislaus was a skilled political and military leader, protector and controller of Pope Innocent VII; however, he earned a bad reputation concerning his personal life. He profited from disorder throughout Italy to greatly expand his kingdom and his power, appropriating much of the Papal States to his own use. He was the last male of the Capetian House of Anjou.

Ladislas of Naples (head).jpg
Painting of Ladislaus
King of Naples
Reign24 February 1386 – 6 August 1414
(Contested by Louis II of Anjou in 1389–1399)
Coronation29 May 1390
Gaeta, by Angelo Acciaioli II
PredecessorCharles III
SuccessorJoanna II
Born15 February 1377
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Died6 August 1414(1414-08-06) (aged 37)
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
...among others
Reynold, Prince of Capua
FatherCharles III of Naples
MotherMargaret of Durazzo


Ladislaus was born in Naples on 15 February 1377 during the reign of his grandaunt Queen Joanna I of Naples. He was the son of Charles and Margaret of Durazzo, both members of the Capetian House of Anjou. His parents, having lived for years at the court of their kinsman King Louis I of Hungary, named him after King Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary. In 1379 his father declared war on Joanna and proclaimed himself king with the backing of Pope Urban VI. Fearing that Joanna would take her as hostage, Margaret fled with Ladislaus to her castle in Morcone. They returned to Naples on 11 September 1381, after Charles prevailed over Joanna. On 5 November Charles invested Ladislaus with the Duchy of Calabria, traditionally held by the heir apparent.[1]

Ladislaus became King of Naples at the age of nine (1386) under his mother's regency after his father was assassinated while pursuing his claim to the throne of Hungary. At the time the kingdom saw a rebellion of the barons (fomented by Pope Urban VI), and there was a risk of a French invasion, since in 1385 the pope had assigned the throne to Louis II of Anjou, Count of Provence.[1] Urban VI refused to recognize Ladislaus, and in 1387 called a crusade against him. Margaret and her son at the time controlled not much more than Naples and its neighborhood. After turmoil broke out in the city, they fled to the fortress of Gaeta, while Naples was occupied by an Angevin army led by Otto of Brunswick, widower of Joanna I of Naples, who had named Louis' father as her heir.[1]

In 1389 the new Pope Boniface IX recognized Ladislaus as King of Naples, although he forbade him to unite it with his family lands in Germany and Italy. In Gaeta, Ladislaus married Costanza Chiaramonte, the daughter of the powerful Sicilian baron, Manfredi Chiaramonte. Within a few years the marriage was annulled.

In 1390, the archbishop of Arles poisoned Ladislaus, and though he survived, he subsequently stuttered and was forced to take repeated periods of rest.[1] Also in 1390, Louis II invaded Naples, starting a war with Ladislaus lasting nine years. Ladislaus limited Louis' control to the city of Naples and the Terra d'Otranto.[1] In 1399, while Louis was fighting against the Count of Lecce, Ladislaus regained the city of Naples with the support of several powerful barons of the kingdom, including Raimondo Del Balzo Orsini. Louis of Anjou then decided to return to the County of Provence. Ladislaus spent the year 1400 subduing Onorato Caetani, count of Fondi, and the last rebellions in Abruzzo and Apulia.[1]

Claim to HungaryEdit

Coat of arms of Ladislaus, depicting his claims to the kingdoms of Hungary, Naples and Jerusalem

In 1401 Ladislaus married Mary of Lusignan, daughter of the King of Cyprus. She arrived in Naples in 1402. In the same period, Ladislaus tried to restore Angevin rule in Hungary and Croatia, where some of the nobles opposed King Sigismund. Between 1403 and 1414, Ladislaus ordered the painting of a cycle of the Legend of Saint Ladislaus in the church of Santa Maria dell'Incoronata in Naples. In these paintings, the Hungarian king is depicted receiving the royal crown, fighting against the pagans, and receiving the crown of Croatia. (The cult of Saint Ladislaus and other Hungarian kings was already present in Naples and other Italian regions since the second half of the 13th century, thanks to Mary of Hungary, Queen of Naples, who brought them when she married Charles II of Naples.)[2]

Considering himself the heir of the kings of Hungary, Ladislaus tried many times to obtain the crown of Hungary. He also proclaimed himself Duke of Slavonia, a title with no basis. He first negotiated a treaty with the Republic of Venice, ceding the island of Corfu. He thus obtained free passage in the Adriatic Sea and, with the partial support of the Pope, landed at Zadar on 19 July 1403. On 5 August 1403, while in the town of Zara, Ladislaus was crowned king of Hungary and Croatia by János Kanizsai, archbishop of Esztergom, in the presence of the papal legate, Cardinal Angelo Acciajuoli.[3] Even after his coronation, the rule of Ladislaus in Croatia and Hungary never extended beyond Dalmatia. His father grew up in Hungary governing Croatia as viceroy, and eventually became king. However, Ladislaus remained inactive, and returned to Apulia; his authority in Dalmatia remained restricted to little more than the city of Zara. The following year, after the death of Boniface IX, he intervened in Rome in support of the Colonna family, two days after the election of the new pope, Innocent VII.[1]

Conquest of central ItalyEdit

Ladislaus endeavored to consolidate the royal power at the expense of the barons, and brought about the murder of several members of the Sanseverino family for frustrating his ends. In 1405, he went again to Rome. When some nobles offered him the lordship of the city, the Pope responded by deposing him as King of Naples on 9 January 1406. The Pope had incited Raimondo Del Balzo Orsini to rebel, but he died soon after.[4] His wife, Mary of Enghien, continued the rebellion and successfully defended Taranto against a two-month long siege by Ladislaus in the spring of 1406. She did not surrender even after Ladislaus and the Pope signed a treaty of peace in July, by which Ladislaus became the protector of the Papal States. He moved to Taranto again early in 1407, this time with diplomatic intentions. Since his second wife had died in 1404, Ladislaus solved the matter of Taranto by marrying Mary of Enghien on 23 April 1407.

In 1407, trying to taking advantage of the feebler personality of the new pope, Gregory XII, Ladislaus invaded the Papal States and conquered Ascoli Piceno and Fermo.[5] In 1408, he besieged Ostia to prevent a success of the French party in the schism between Gregory XII and Antipope Benedict XIII.[6] After a short siege, he captured the city by bribing the Papal commander, Paolo Orsini, and entered Rome on 25 April. Later, Perugia also fell into his hands.

In 1409, Ladislaus sold his rights to Dalmatia to Venice for 100,000 ducats. This was part of his attempts to gain allies in the upcoming war against the Republic of Florence, caused by his expansion in central Italy and his alliance with Paolo Guinigi, lord of Lucca, a traditional enemy of the Florentines.[1] Ladislaus invaded Tuscany, capturing Cortona and the island of Elba from Gherardo Appiani. Florence hired the condottiere Braccio da Montone, who defeated Ladislaus, and he was forced to retreat. However, he had not abandoned his aims in northern Italy, and took advantage of the presence of Pope Gregory XII in Gaeta.[1]

Fearing his aims, the Republics of Siena and Florence and the powerful cardinal Baldassarre Cossa allied against him. Antipope Alexander V excommunicated him, and called Louis II of Anjou back to Italy to conquer Naples. Louis arrived in late July 1409 with 1,500 cavalry and was invested with the Neapolitan crown. The allies' troops, under Muzio Attendolo, Braccio da Montone and other condottieri, invaded the Papal lands under Ladislaus' control and moved to Rome; Orsini, left by Ladislaus to protect the city, defected to them with 2,000 men. However, the allies captured only the Vatican and the Trastevere quarter. Cardinal Cossa and Louis left the siege to their condottieri, and moved to northern Italy and Provence in search of further support.

Ladislaus took advantage of an anti-French revolt in Genoa to gain the support of that city (1410). Rome fell on 2 January, and the allies did not score any other notable results. On 16 or 17 May May, Louis' fleet, carrying new troops from Provence, was intercepted and partly destroyed off the Tuscan coast, with the loss of 6,000 men and Louis' treasure (for a value of 600,000 ducats), which fell into the hands of Ladislaus.[1] In the meantime, Alexander had died, being replaced by Cossa himself as John XXIII. John XXIII proclaimed a crusade against Ladislaus and authorised the sale of indulgences to finance it.[7]

The slow pace of the allied army led the Florentines and Sienese to accept peace with Ladislaus, which he bought by renouncing some of his Tuscan conquests. Louis continued the struggle: his army, led by Muzio Attendolo, crushed the Neapolitan army at Roccasecca on 19 May 1411. He was unable to exploit this success, as he could not breach the defensive line that Ladislaus had set up at San Germano. Louis soon returned to Rome and Provence, where he died six years later. In 1412, the situation turned more favorable to Ladislaus: his condottiere Carlo I Malatesta occupied part of the March of Ancona, and, above all, Muzio Attendolo joined Ladislaus. A peace was eventually signed on 14 June 1412, by which the Antipope paid 75,000 florins, invested Ladislaus with the Neapolitan crown and named him as Gonfalonier of the Church. Ladislaus promised in turn to abandon the cause of Gregory XII, who was ousted from Gaeta and moved to Rimini.

Last campaigns and deathEdit

Equestrian statue of Ladislaus atop his tomb monument

The peace was only a means to gain time for both John XXIII, who did not want to pay the 75,000 florins, and Ladislaus, who feared intervention in Italy by Sigismund of Hungary.[1] After Florence initiated diplomatic contacts with Sigismund, Ladislaus marched northwards in mid-May 1413. On 8 June, his troops conquered and sacked Rome, after which he went into Umbria and northern Latium. As it was clearly his next objective, Florence forestalled him by signing a treaty, which recognized Ladislaus' conquest of the Papal States (only Todi and Bologna had not fallen).

Having fallen ill in July 1414, Ladislaus was forced to return to Naples, where he died on 6 August 1414.[6] Rumours that he had been poisoned remain unproven: it is more likely that he fell ill due to an infection to his genitals.[1] He is buried in the church of San Giovanni a Carbonara, where a monument was built over his tomb. He was succeeded by his sister, Joanna II, the last member of the senior Angevin line in Italy.

Marriages and childrenEdit

Ladislaus married three times:

There were no children from any of his marriages. However Ladislaus had at least two illegitimate children:

  • Reynold of Durazzo, Titular "Prince of Capua", buried in Foggia. Married and had children of his own:
    • Francis of Durazzo. Married and had a son:
      • Reynold di Durazzo (1469 – 1 September 1494 and buried in Foggia), married to Camilla Tomacelli, without issue
    • Catherine of Durazzo
    • Camilla of Durazzo
    • Hippolyta of Durazzo
  • Mary of Durazzo, who died young


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kiesewetter, A. "LADISLAO d'Angiò Durazzo, re di Sicilia". Dizionario Enciclopedico degli Italiani. Enciclopedia Italiana. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  2. ^ Madas, E., Horváth, Z. (2008). Középkori predikációk és felképek Szent László királyról. San Ladislao d'Ungheria nella predicazione e nei dipinti murali. Romanika. Budapest. pp. 432-440.
  3. ^ Kenneth Setton (1976): The Papacy and the Levant, 1204-1571: The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (Volume I) p. 403.
  4. ^ Toomaspoeg, Kristjan (2013). "ORSINI DEL BALZO, Raimondo". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). Vol. 79.
  5. ^ Descriptions of his army numbering 12,000 cavalry and 12,000 infantry are considered exaggerated, due to Ladislaus' always limited financial basis; see A. Kiesewetter, "LADISLAO d'Angiò Durazzo, re di Sicilia", Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani.
  6. ^ a b ""Da Papa Bonifacio IX a Papa Martino V", Cronologia d'Italia". Archived from the original on 25 January 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  7. ^ Jan Hus, the Czech reformer, protested against the sale of these indulgences in Bohemia, a protest which led to his death at Constance and the Hussite movement.

External linksEdit

Ladislaus of Naples
Cadet branch of the House of Anjou
Born: 5 September 1187 Died: 8 November 1226
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of Naples
Succeeded by
Preceded by King of Naples
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prince of Taranto
Succeeded by
Preceded by Count of Lecce
With: Mary
Succeeded by