Robert, King of Naples


King Robert from the Bible of Naples
King of Naples
Reign 5 May 1309-20 January 1343
Predecessor Charles II
Successor Joanna I
Born 1277
Died 20 January 1343 (aged c. 65)
Kingdom of Naples
Spouse Yolanda of Aragon
Sancha of Majorca
Charles, Duke of Calabria
Louis of Naples
House House of Anjou-Naples
Father Charles II of Naples
Mother Maria of Hungary

Robert of Anjou (Italian: Roberto d'Angiò), known as Robert the Wise (Italian: Roberto il Saggio; 1277 – 20 January 1343), was King of Naples, titular King of Jerusalem and Count of Provence and Forcalquier from 1309 to 1343, the central figure of Italian politics of his time.[1] He was the third son of King Charles II of Naples and Maria of Hungary, and during his father's lifetime he was styled Duke of Calabria (1296–1309).


During the Sicilian Vespers (1282), the child Robert was the hostage of Peter III of Aragon. After the death of his elder brother, Charles Martel of Anjou, he became heir to the crown of Naples;[2] to obtain the crown of neighbouring Sicily, he married King James of Sicily's sister Yolanda, in exchange for James's renouncing of Sicily. However, the Sicilian barons refused him and elected James' brother, Frederick II. The war continued, and with the Peace of Caltabellotta (1302) Robert and the Angevin dynasty lost Sicily forever, their rule limited to the south of peninsular Italy.

Robert inherited the position of papal champion in Italy; his reign being blessed from the papal enclave within Robert's Provence, by the French Pope Clement V, who made him papal vicar in Romagna and Tuscany, where Robert intervened in the war of factions in Florence, accepted the offered signiory of that city, but had to abandon it due to Clement's opposition.[3]

The leader of the Guelph party in Italy, Robert opposed the sojourn of Emperor Henry VII in Italy (1311–13) and his occupation of Rome in 1312. After Henry's death, the Guelf reaction against the Ghibelline leaders in northern Italy, Matteo Visconti and Cangrande della Scala, made it seem for a time that Robert would become the arbiter of Italy.[4] Already ruler of wide possessions in Piedmont, Robert's prestige increased further when in 1317 the pope named him Senator of Rome, and when he became Lord of Genoa (1318–34) and Brescia (1319) and from 1317 onwards held the resounding papal title of vicar general of all Italy, during the absence in Italy of the Holy Roman Emperor, vacante imperio.[5]

In 1328 he fought another emperor who had ventured into Italy, Louis IV of Bavaria, and in 1330 forced John of Bohemia to quit northern Italy. Robert's hegemony in Italy was diminished only by the constant menace of Aragonese Sicily.

Silver gigliato of Robert I of Anjou King of Naples, 1309-1343.

When the succession to the margraviate of Saluzzo was disputed between Manfred V and his nephew Thomas II in 1336, Robert intervened on behalf of Manfred, for Thomas had married into the Ghibelline Visconti family. Robert advanced on Saluzzo and besieged it. He succeeded in taking it and sacking it, setting the city on fire and imprisoning Thomas, who had to pay a ransom. The whole dramatic incident is recorded by Silvio Pellico. However, when his viceroy Reforza d'Angoult was defeated in the Battle of Gamenario (22 April 1345), Angevin power in Piedmont began to crumble. With his second wife Sancha of Majorca, Robert established the court of Naples as a center of early Renaissance culture and of religious dissent, supporting the Joachimite prophesies of the Spiritual Franciscans. [6]

At Robert's death in 1343, he was succeeded by his 16-year-old granddaughter, Joanna I of Naples, his son Charles having predeceased him in 1328. Joanna was already betrothed to her cousin, the 15-year-old Andrew of Hungary, son of the Angevin king of Hungary, Charles Robert. In his last will and testament Robert explicitly excluded the claims of Andrew of Hungary, clearly mandated that he become prince of Salerno and specified that Joanna alone assume the crown in her own right, to be succeeded by her legitimate offspring. If she were to die without heir, her younger sister Maria, newly named the duchess of Calabria, and her legitimate offspring would inherit the throne. There is no mention in the will that Andrew be crowned king; and this historiographical tradition is largely the result of later historians' accepting without examination the assertions of Hungarian royal propaganda following Andrew's murder at Aversa in 1345. This propaganda, the Hungarian assault on Joanna following the murder of Andrew, and the invasion of the Regno by Louis I of Hungary eventually led to the end of Angevin rule in Naples.[7]


King Robert was nicknamed "the peace-maker of Italy" due to the years of significant changes he made to Naples. The city and nation's economy lay in the hands of Tuscan merchants, who erected superb buildings, monuments and statues that drastically changed King Robert's capital from a dirty seaport to a city of elegance and medieval splendor. Robert commissioned Tino di Camaino to produce a tomb for his son, who should have been his heir, and Giotto painted several works for him. The University of Naples flourished under the patronage of the king dismissed by Dante as a re di sermone, "king of words", attracting students from all parts of Italy.[8] There was virtually no middle class in the South to balance the local interests and centripetal power of the entrenched aristocracy, who retained the feudal independence that had been their bargain with the Angevins' Norman predecessors.

He was remembered by Petrarch and Boccaccio as a cultured man and a generous patron of the arts, "unique among the kings of our day," Boccaccio claimed after Robert's death, "a friend of knowledge and virtue."[9] Petrarch asked to be examined by Robert before being crowned as poet in the Campidoglio in Rome (1341); his Latin epic Africa is dedicated to Robert, though it was not made available to readers until 1397, long after both Petrarch and Robert were dead.


King Robert's last descendant through a legitimate line was Queen Joanna II of Naples.


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  1. H. Hearder and D.P. Waley, eds., A Short History of Italy (Cambridge University Press) 1963, pp 60f.
  2. While Robert's nephew Charles Robert of Anjou could have succeeded just as rightfully, being the son of Charles Martel, he was preoccupied with obtaining the Hungarian crown (which he accomplished in 1310) and did not press his claim to the throne of Naples. Robert was the heir in proximity of blood.
  3. Later, the Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani, recalled Robert with respect.
  4. Alessandro Barbero, Il mito angioino nella cultural italiana e provenziale fra duecento e trecento (Turin, 1983).
  5. Gennaro Maria Monti, "La dottrina anti-imperiale dei angioini di Napoli: i loro vicariati imperiali e Bartolomeo di Capua", Studi in onore di A. Solmi vol. ii (Milan, 1940, noted in Kelly p. 11 note 24
  6. Ronald G. Musto, "Franciscan Joachimism at the Court of Naples, 1309-1345: A New Appraisal," Archivum Franciscanum Historicum 90.3-4 (1997): 419-86
  7. Ronald G. Musto, Medieval Naples: A Documentary History, 400-1400. A Documentary History of Naples. . New York: Italica Press, 2013, "The Angevins: Robert of Anjou, Giovanna I," pp. 192-298
  8. Short History p 60.
  9. Kelly, Samantha, The New Solomon: Robert of Naples (1309-1343) and Fourteenth-Century Kingship, page 2 Google Books
  10. Giovanni Boccaccio, Nathaniel Edward Griffin, Arthur Beckwith Myrick. The Filostrato of Giovanni Boccaccio
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles II
King of Naples
Succeeded by
Joanna I
Count of Provence and Forcalquier
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