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Ferdinand I of Naples

Ferdinand I of Naples should not be confused with Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, a later king of Naples.
Ferdinand I
King of Naples
Reign 27 June 1458 – 25 January 1494
Coronation 16 August 1458
Barletta, Apulia
Predecessor Alfonso I
Successor Alfonso II
Born (1423-06-02)2 June 1423
Died 25 January 1494(1494-01-25) (aged 70)
Burial San Domenico Maggiore
Spouse Isabella of Clermont
Joanna of Aragon
among others...
Alfonso II, King of Naples
Eleanor, Duchess of Bari and Ferrara
Frederick IV, King of Naples
Cardinal John
Beatrice, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia
Joanna, Queen of Naples
Ferdinand, Duke of Montalto
House House of Trastámara
Father Alfonso V of Aragon
Mother Giraldona Carlino
Religion Roman Catholicism

Ferdinand I (2 June 1423 – 25 January 1494), also called Ferrante, was the King of Naples from 1458 to 1494. He was the son of Alfonso V of Aragon and his mistress, Giraldona Carlino.


  • Biography 1
  • Ferdinand's reputation 2
  • Ancestors 3
  • Marriages and children 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


His mother was Gueraldona Carlino. In order to arrange a good future for Ferdinand, King Alfonso had him married in 1444 to a feudal heiress, Isabella of Clermont, who besides being the elder daughter of Tristan di Chiaramonte (Tristan de Clermont-Lodeve), Count of Copertino, and Catherine of Baux Orsini, was the niece and heiress presumptive of childless prince Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini of Taranto. She was a granddaughter of Mary of Enghien, who had been queen consort of Naples between 1406 and 1414.

Ferdinand's wife was the heiress presumptive of remarkable feudal possessions in Southern Italy.

He used the title Ferdinand I, King of Naples and Jerusalem. In accordance with his father's will, Ferdinand succeeded Alfonso on the throne of Naples in 1458, when he was 35 years old, but Pope Calixtus III declared the line of Aragon extinct and the kingdom a fief of the church. Calixtus died before he could make good his claim (August 1458), and the new Pope Pius II within the year publicly recognized Ferdinand's titles.

In 1459, Ferdinand's rule was threatened by a long revolt of the barons. Among the leaders of revolt were Giovanni Antonio Orsini, Prince of Taranto, and uncle of Ferdinand's wife. The rebels joined to offer the crown to John of Anjou, son of the former king René I of Naples. With the help of the Genoese, John brought a fleet and landed, slowly taking some towns including Nocera. On July 7, 1460, Ferrante was defeated while trying to dislodge John from Sarno. Ferrante was nearly captured. Soon, two of Ferdinand's captains, Alessandro Sforza and the Count of Urbino, were also defeated in a bloody battle at San Fabriano.

Yet despite being in ascendancy, John of Anjou never was quick to capitalize on his successes. The pleas of Ferdinand's wife appear to have helped dissuade Orsini, who died in 1464, from his support of the dilatory Duke of Anjou. Genoa ceased to assist the Angevin claim. With the support of Sforza of Milan, and the help of Alessandro Sforza and of the Albanian chief, Skanderbeg, who came to the aid of the prince whose father had aided him, he defeated the Angevins. Pope Pius also lent his support to Ferdinand. In August 18 1462, the battle at Troia proved decisive in defeating John of Anjou on land. In July of 1465 at Ischia, in a naval battle, the combined forces of Ferrante and King Juan II of Aragon defeated John's fleet.[1]

By 1464 had re-established his authority in the kingdom, although some antipathy by the barons remained. In 1478 he allied himself with Pope Sixtus IV against Lorenzo de' Medici, but the latter journeyed alone to Naples where he succeeded in negotiating an honorable peace with Ferdinand.

Crown issued by Ferdinand I of Naples

The original intent of making Taranto as his and his heirs' main principality was not any longer current, but still it was a strengthening of Ferrante's resources and position that his wife in 1463 succeeded her uncle Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini as possessor of the rich Taranto, Lecce and other fiefs in Apulia. Isabella became also the holder of Brienne rights to the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Ferdinand's wife Isabella's had died in 1465, and by 1476, Ferrante had remarried Joanna of Aragon, his first cousin.

In 1480, forces of the Ottoman Empire under orders of Mehmed II captured Otranto, and massacred the majority of the inhabitants, but in the following year it was retaken by Ferdinand's son Alphonso, duke of Calabria. In 1482, abandoning his traditional position of paladin of the Papal States, he fought alongside Ferrara and Milan against the alliance of Sixtus IV and the Republic of Venice (see War of Ferrara).

Esortazione di insorgere contro i baroni ribelli, 1486

Ferdinand's oppressive government led in 1485 to a reinvigorated rebellion of the aristocracy, known as the Conspiracy of the Barons, which included Francesco Coppola and Antonello Sanseverino of Salerno and supported by Pope Innocent VIII. Coppola and Antonello Petrucci were arrested during a wedding at Castel Nuovo, and subsequently executed. Ultimately this uprising was crushed, many of the nobles, notwithstanding Ferdinand's signing of a general amnesty, were afterwards jailed and executed at his command.

In December 1491 Ferdinand was visited by a group of pilgrims on their return from the Holy Land. This group was led by William I, Landgrave of Hesse.

Encouraged by Ludovico Sforza of Milan, in 1493 King Charles VIII of France was preparing to invade Italy for the conquest of Naples and starting the Italian Wars, and Ferdinand realized that this was a greater danger than any he had yet faced. With almost prophetic instinct he warned the Italian princes of the calamities in store for them, but his negotiations with Pope Alexander VI and Ludovico Sforza failed.

He died on 25 January 1494, worn out with anxiety; he was succeeded by his son, Alphonse, Duke of Calabria, who was soon deposed by the invasion of King Charles which his father had so feared. The cause of his death was determined, in 2006, to have been colorectal cancer (mucinous adenocarcinoma type with mutation in the KRas gene), by examination of his mummy. His remains show levels of carbon 13 and nitrogen 15 consistent with historical reports of considerable consumption of meat.[2]

Ferdinand's reputation

Contemporary bust of Ferdinand I of Naples

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, "Ferdinand was gifted with great courage and real political ability, but his method of government was vicious and disastrous. His financial administration was based on oppressive and dishonest monopolies, and he was mercilessly severe and utterly treacherous towards his enemies."

Ferdinand had many enemies, especially considering his kingdom's importance to other rulers, and he was ruthless in response to any perceived slight. He even fiercely plotted against Pope Alexander VI, after he realized that the pontiff could not secure his position.[3]

As further testimony to the latter, Jacob Burckhardt described his recreational activities as follows: "Besides hunting, which he practiced regardless of all rights of property, his pleasures were of two kinds: he liked to have his opponents near him, either alive in well-guarded prisons, or dead and embalmed, dressed in the costume which they wore in their lifetime."[4] Fearing no one, he would take great pleasure in conducting his guests on a tour of his prized "museum of mummies".


Marriages and children

Ferdinand married twice.

Ferdinand also had a number of illegitimate children:

  • By his mistress Giovanna Caracciolo:
    • Ferdinand d'Aragona, Count of Arsena.
    • Arrigo d'Aragona, Marquess of Gerace.
    • Cesare d'Aragona, Marquess of Santa Agata.
    • Leonor d'Aragona.
    • Alonso, bastard of Aragona (1460–1510), who married Charla of Lusignan (1468 – in prison in Padua, 1480) daughter of King James II of Cyprus.


  1. ^ Modern Europe, by Thomas Henry Dyer, Page 103-105.
  2. ^ Ottini L, Falchetti M, Marinozzi S, Angeletti LR, Fornaciari G (2010) Gene-environment interactions in the pre-Industrial Era: the cancer of King Ferrante I of Aragon (1431-1494). Hum. Pathol.
  3. ^ Br. J.B. Darcy, CFC, What you don't know about the Borgia Pope: Alexander VI (1492-1503) (Catholic Insight). Quote: "Guiliano immediately began to plot with King Ferrante of Naples against the Pope. I have mentioned already that Ferrante refused to acknowledge that he held his kingdom as a fief of the Papacy. Whether he was as evil a man as history has depicted him is hard to say, but he was certainly an ambitious, treacherous person. Determined to extend his rule to parts of the Papal States, he was blocked at every turn by Alexander. To obtain the Pope's approval for his plans, he offered his granddaughter in marriage to Jofre, the Pope's grandnephew but was refused. Finally, he decided that, to make any progress, he had to get rid of his nemesis. For this purpose, to convince the rulers to depose the Pope, he began to write a series of letters to his relatives, the sovereigns of Europe, accusing Alexander of all sorts of evil conduct, particularly of obtaining the papacy by simony."
  4. ^ Jacob Burkhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, 1.5 - The Greater Dynasties


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External links

Ferdinand I of Naples
Born: 2 June 1423 Died: 25 January 1494
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Alfonso I
King of Naples
Succeeded by
Alfonso II
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