|Guy de Boulogne crowning Pope Gregory XI|
The Return of the Durazzo Menace
Louis of Taranto was determined to marry his brother Philip to the widowed Maria. He attempted to circumvent Cardinal Talleyrand’s influence by using Cardinal Guy de Boulogne[i]. Pressed by Talleyrand, Innocent refused to give the necessary dispensation for the marriage. The pope also demanded that Louis of Taranto release Joanna’s nieces properties to the Durazzo family, which Louis refused to do.
In an attempt to end the stalemate Philip of Taranto married Maria, hoping that the pope would change his mind. The pope refused to change his mind and excommunicated Joanna and Louis of Taranto, for failing to pay the annual tribute, and placed the country under interdict.
To make matters worse Sybil del Balzo had taken Robert of Durazzo prisoner in retaliation for the death of Robert del Balzo[ii]. Robert escaped and attacked one of the del Balzo castles in Provence and laid the area around Les Baux to waste.
Louis of Durazzo with the aid of one of the Pipini brothers led an army of mercenaries into the kingdom of Naples and fomented civil war with;
‘Twenty five hundred well-mounted, well-armed barbarians, a large number of horsemen and looters on old horses and beasts of burden, one thousand scoundrels and crooks and courtesans and a motley crew of six thousand men in all.’[iii]
The rebels made camp in Apulia.
|Chateau des Baux|
For lack of ready money Joanna was reduced to offering Guy de Boulogne the hand of her niece Jeanne, Duchess of Durazzo, as wife for his nephew Godfrey. Guy accepted and his attempts to influence Innocent were aided by the antics of the Durazzo brothers.
On May 2nd 1355 Innocent began excommunication proceedings against Robert of Durazzo and on 20th lifted the interdict against Naples. Innocent sent a personal representative to participate in the siege of the Chateau des Baux; it took two months to overcome Robert’s forces. Joanna then had to pay the mercenaries to leave her kingdom and they took service with the Visconti family of Milan.
By the time Niccolo returned to Sicily in September 1356, with more grain to bribe the starving peasants. Louis II had died and his 14 year old brother Frederick[iv] was now king. Messina greeted Niccolo with open arms. Joanna arrived in Messina with Louis of Taranto on 24th December and the couple were installed as king and queen the following day, having finally achieved one of her family’s long-term goals.
|Castell Ursino, Catania|
Joanna stayed in Sicily for eight months, to consolidate her rule. In agreement with the faction that had invited her intervention, all administrators were chosen from the faction’s ranks. Attempts to overcome the pro-Spanish faction were inconclusive despite a raid on Catania by the Neapolitan fleet. Joanna offered Frederick her niece Margherita as his wife.
Attack on Provence
The Durazzo family were incensed by Joanna’s determination to use her nieces as pawns in the power struggle erupting in southern Europe. Louis of Durazzo petitioned Innocent for redress.
But Innocent was powerless. The recent events at Poitiers left Jean II, king of France as a prisoner in England[v] and the Dauphin was only 18. Mercenaries ran unimpeded throughout France and one of the most notorious, the Archpriest[vi], was poised to invade Provence.
‘The Archpriest, took command of a large company of men-at-arms….they therefore went towards Provence, where they took a number of fortified towns and castles and plundered the whole country as far as Avignon. Pope Innocent VII and his cardinals….were in such fear.’[vii]
As the Archpriest’s men looted her lands in Provence Joanna returned to Naples. Panicking Innocent gave the necessary dispensation for Philip of Taranto’s marriage to Maria. In September 1358 Innocent treated with the Archpriest and bribed him with one thousand florins[viii] to withdraw permanently from Provence.
The following spring saw Talleyrand return from his mission to England and he reminded Innocent that Joanna had not returned Maria’s daughters to the care and control of the Durazzo family. Innocent renewed the interdict on the kingdom of Naples and on 21st April 1359 named the Spanish cardinal Gil Alvarez Carillo de Albornoz as legate.
Joanna and Louis of Taranto had already angered the new legate even before Albornoz arrived in Italy. Fighting in the Papal States and against the Visconti in Milan, Albornoz had made much use of the Free Companies; a move decried by Florence and Naples. To appease Innocent Joanna put together as much as she could find to pay her annual tribute to the pope.
In March 1360 Niccolo Acciaiouli took what monies were available to Avignon and by May had succeeded in having the interdict overturned and the appointment of a legate revoked. Innocent was impressed by Niccolo and awarded him the Golden Rose and appointed him papal ambassador to Milan. Despite an offer of 100,000 florins[ix] to come to terms with the pope, Visconti refused Niccolo’s attempts at peace.
In the spring of 1360 Louis of Durazzo launched a further attempt at rebellion from his base in Apulia. Louis of Taranto took to the field against his cousin, besieging and destroying the castles of many of the Durazzo supporters. Louis of Durazzo was forced to come to terms and hand over his three year old son Charles to be brought up at Joanna’s court; a hostage for his father’s good behaviour.
The Siege of Avignon and After
|Sir John Hawkwood|
On 28th December 1360 along with a number of other companies Sir John Hawkwood and his White Company[x] arrived in Pont Saint-Esprit to besiege Avignon. By March the companies were en route to Italy, having been paid off by Innocent to the tune of 60,000 francs[xi]. Innocent was paying Hawkwood to attack Innocent’s enemy, Bernabo Visconti in Milan.
‘On payment of sixty thousand francs by the pope and cardinals several captains of companies, such as Sir John Hawkwood, a fine English knight….and several others gave up Pont-Saint-Esprit and went off to Lombardy.’[xii]
In reply Visconti withdrew from fighting Cardinal Albornoz outside of Bologna. Albornoz’ Hungarian mercenaries, no longer needed to protect the church’s interests, were quickly contracted by Louis of Durazzo. By March 1361 Louis’ mercenary army was ready in Abruzzi to lead a revolt against Joanna and Louis of Taranto.
|Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano|
By May Niccolo Acciaiouli had managed to bribe the Hungarians into Joanna’s service. By December Niccolo had redirected their energies against Milan. Louis of Durazzo sought refuge at the sanctuary of Monte Sant’ Angelo sul Gargano. Fleeing from there Louis was captured and taken to Naples. On 6th February 1362 he prostrated himself before his cousins before being thrown into the Castel dell’Ovo.
Husband Number Three
Three months later one of his opponents was dead; Louis of Taranto died on 24th May, a victim of the resurgent plague. Worried that Philip of Taranto might make a bid for power Joanna kept Louis’ death secret until she had taken full control of the court. Joanna can hardly have mourned the death of one who so openly brutalised her.
Now the race was on to find a new husband; Philip and Robert of Taranto (both married men) were concerned that Joanna’s would choose Louis of Durazzo as her next husband;
‘They obtained letters from her with the assurance that she would not marry Louis….they imposed a guard who then poisoned him [Louis of Durazzo] with some concoction.’[xiii]
Louis died sometime in June or July 1362; Joanna now made a point of singling out Charles of Durazzo in an attempt to counter the loathed Taranto family influence at court.
|Philip the Bold|
Desperate for an heir Joanna began the search for a new husband; both France and Milan sent ambassadors. The French embassy was supported by the pope, but Joanna had no intention of marrying the 20 year old Philip[xiv]. She was fortunate that Innocent died in September 1362 and was succeeded by Urban V who was a compromise candidate.
The day after his coronation Urban issued Joanna with permission to remarry; on 14th December Joanna committed herself to marry James IV, King of Majorca[xv]. Joanna married James in May 1363.
Chronicles – Froissart, Penguin Classics 1968
The Holy Roman Empire – Friedrich Heer, Phoenix 1995
Joanna – Nancy Goldstone, Phoenix 2010
Absolute Monarchs – John Julius Norwich, Random House 2011
Hawkwood – Frances Stonor Saunders, Faber & Faber 2004
A Distant Mirror – Barbara Tuchman, MacMillan London Ltd 1989
The Flower of Chivalry – Richard Vernier, The Boydell Press 2003
[i] To become Talleyrand’s chief rival for influence over the pope. He had long been a supporter of Joanna’s
[ii] Although Robert had nothing to do with her nephew’s death
[iii] Joanna - Goldstone
[iv] Known as the Simple
[v] Cardinal Talleyrand was sent to England in an attempt to ransom Jean II
[vii] Chronicles - Froissart
[x] The company numbered 3,500 horsemen and 2,000 foot soldiers
[xii] Chronicles - Froissart
[xiii] Joanna - Goldstone
[xiv] Duke of Burgundy
[xv] James had only recently escaped from the clutches of Peter IV of Aragon who now ruled Majorca