Joanna I of Naples (1326 – 1382)

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Joanna of Naples

Joanna Anjou, Queen of Naples; Countess of Provence and Forcalquier; Queen Consort of Mojorca, titular Queen of Jerusalem, and Sicily; and Princess of Achaea, was obviously a very wealthy and powerful woman. In fact she became Queen of Naples at the age of 13. Despite being Queen, this was a dangerous time for women to rule. Women heiresses of the nobility were always at risk for being abducted, raped, and forced into marriage. It was very hard for them to hold onto their inheritances on their own. There was always some man trying to take what was rightfully theirs which made these women hard as stone.

Joanna was no different. In fact, she was betrothed to the King of Hungary’s son, Prince Andrey, when she was 8 years old. They were actually raised together. It could be said that the boy was a sort of political hostage when Joanna’s grandfather was alive, who was the King of Naples at that time. Prince Andrey’s father tried to lay claim to the Kingdom of Naples as the heir next in line, but Joanna’s grandfather disagreed. He named his Grand-Daughter as his heir, and betrothed her to the Hungarian Prince as a way to shut his father up for awhile. The Prince then had to live in Naples to further ensure the Hungarian King’s good will. However, there were some arguments about whether Andrey would become King or only be King Consort. The King of Naples did not even want him to be consort, which did not sit well with the Hungarian’s who felt they were entitled to the throne anyway. When the King of Naples died, the Neapolitan’s acted quickly, for they knew Hungary would. Prince Andrey tried to find a way to flee, but he found himself stuck. Joanna was crowned Queen, and Prince Andrey was soon dead. The Hungarian King insisted Joanna marry his other son, Prince Stephan, but she declined. Naples now had an absolute enemy in Hungary.

Joanna decided she would marry Louis of Taranto, a fierce warlord and shrewd advisor. Joanna was shrewd herself and new she needed the protection of a man in order to keep other men away. She was willing to let Louis be her King in return for his protection. So they married, but were attacked by Louis’s brother Robert. They soon found themselves in a fight with Sicily and Hungary.

After her husband died, she married twice more. However, she never granted them title of King. She also took any lover she wanted, and if someone displeased her, she had them dealt with, as she did the Hungarian Prince. Although she ruled with the sword, it really was the only way. There were just too many men trying to take power from women. Regardless of her stone cold ruthlessness at times, she is considered one of Naples greatest rulers. Crime was at an all time low during her reign, she protected business, and she was the patron of art and culture.

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