Mary of Enghien

Mary of Enghien, also Maria d'Enghien (1367 or 1370 – 9 May 1446), was Countess of Lecce from 1384 to 1446 and Queen of Naples as well as titular Queen of Sicily, Jerusalem, and Hungary by marriage to Ladislaus of Naples from 1406 to 1414.[1]

Mary of Enghien
Countess of Lecce
PredecessorPeter of Enghien
SuccessorGiovanni Antonio Orsini Del Balzo
Queen consort of Naples
Reign1406 – 6 August 1414
Born1367 or 1370
Died9 May 1446
SpouseRaimondo Orsini Del Balzo
Ladislaus of Naples
Caterina del Balzo Orsini
Giovanni Antonio Orsini Del Balzo
FatherJohn of Enghien
MotherSancia Del Balzo



Probably born in Lecce, she was the daughter of John of Enghien, Count of Castro, and Sancia Del Balzo. Her father was the third son of Isabella of Brienne (who died in 1360) and her husband Walter of Enghien (who had died in 1345).

Her paternal grandmother Isabella survived her brother Walter VI of Brienne, titular Duke of Athens etc., who died without surviving issue in 1356 at the Battle of Poitiers. As his heir, she became Countess of Lecce and Brienne etc., as well as titular Duchess of Athens. Since her eldest son Walter had died before her brother, her heir was her second son Sohier of Enghien. She allowed her inherited lands to be divided between her numerous children during her own lifetime. Mary's father, the third (but second surviving) son, had received the County of Lecce and the lordship of Castro.

Countess of LecceEdit

Mary's father John died in 1380, leaving minor children. Mary's brother Peter of Enghien, also called Pyrrhus (Pyrro or Pirro), became the Count of Lecce. However, Peter died childless in 1384 and was succeeded by Mary and her husband Raimondo del Balzo Orsini di Nola, whom she married that same year in Taranto.

Chroniclers describe her as beautiful, intrepid and adventurous: adored by her children, loved by her first husband, besieged by King Ladislaus of Naples, and treated cruelly by the king's sister.

She stayed in her castles of Lecce and Copertino when Raimondo travelled, and gave his services to the king against the papal troops and supporters of the junior Angevin line. She was occupied by their children, Marias, Caterina, Giovanni Antonio, and Gabriele.

Raimondo was created Prince of Taranto (in her hereditary rights) and died in 1406.

Queen of NaplesEdit

After her husband's death, she was besieged in Taranto (1406) and resisted the troops of Ladislaus till he decided to propose marriage to her. Thus forced to marry Ladislaus, the wedding was held in the chapel of the Castle of Taranto. Her second marriage was childless. Ladislaus died on 6 August 1414; his sister and successor Joan II of Naples, described as cruel, hated Mary and imprisoned her. Joan's husband James II, Count of La Marche, however, soon allowed Mary to go. She returned to Lecce, Joan having driven her and her children from the royal domains back to Tarentine lands.

Mary lived a long life, dying at the age of 78 in Lecce. She witnessed the marriage of her granddaughter Isabella of Clermont, daughter of Tristan and Catherine and an heiress of remarkable feudal possessions in Southern Italy, to Ferdinand of Aragon in 1444. He was the bastard son of King Alfonso V of Aragon, who had conquered Southern Italy in 1441.


Peter Paul Rubens's copy of The Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci. Allegedly the knight at far right is Giovanni Orsini.

Her children were:

  • Maria del Balzo Orsini (died after 1410), married Antonio di Acquaviva, Duke of Atri, etc. Childless.
  • Caterina del Balzo Orsini, also known as Catherine of Taranto. Married with Bartholomew Tristan of Clermont (Bartolomeo Tristano di Chiaramonte or Chiaromonte), a knight of the French family of de Clermont-Lodeve. Tristan became Count of Capertino by the dowry of his wife. (That Catherine del Balzo Orsini who lived almost in the same period and married Giulio Antonio di Aragona di Acquaviva, Duke of Atri, etc., bringing him the dowry of Casamassima and Conversano, apparently was not this Catherine but a kinswoman, perhaps daughter of Giovanni Antonio or daughter of Gabriel, Duke of Venosa.)
  • Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini, John, Prince of Taranto. Died childless in 1463, when his niece Isabella brought the fiefs to her husband King Ferrante.
  • (possibly natural son of her husband) Gabriele del Balzo Orsini (d. 1453), Count of Ugento, etc., Duke of Venosa. Married Giovanna Caracciolo del Sole dei Duchi di Melfi.


  1. ^ "MARIA d'Enghien, regina di Sicilia in "Dizionario Biografico"".

External linksEdit

Royal titles
Preceded by Queen consort of Naples
1406 – 6 August 1414
Succeeded by
Regnal titles
Preceded by Countess of Lecce
with Raimondo Orsini Del Balzo
Ladislaus of Naples
Succeeded by