Alfonso II of Naples

Alfonso II of Naples

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Alfonso II of Naples also called Alfonso II d'Aragon, was King of Naples from 25 January 1494 to 22 February 1495 with the title King of Naples and Jerusalem. As Duke of Calabria
Duke of Calabria
Duke of Calabria was the traditional title of the heir apparent of the Kingdom of Naples after the accession of Robert of Naples. It was also adopted by the heads of certain Houses that had once claimed the Kingdom of Naples in lieu of the royal title....

 he was a patron of Renaissance poets and builders during his tenure as the heir to the throne of Naples.

Biography


Born at Naples, Alfonso was the oldest child of Ferdinand I of Naples
Ferdinand I of Naples
Ferdinand I , also called Don Ferrante, was the King of Naples from 1458 to 1494. He was the natural son of Alfonso V of Aragon by Giraldona Carlino.-Biography:...

 and his first wife, Isabella of Taranto
Isabella of Taranto
Isabella of Taranto , born Isabella of Clermont, was a Princess of Taranto in her own right and first Queen consort of Ferdinand I of Naples.-Family:...

, the daughter of Tristan
Tristan de Clermont
Tristan de Clermont was a French-born knight who married Catherine of Taranto, youngest daughter of Mary of Enghien and Raimondo del Balzo Orsini, Prince of Taranto....

, Count of Copertino
Copertino
Copertino is a town and comune in the province of Lecce in the Apulia region of south-east Italy.-History:Following Charles of Anjou's successful campaign in 1266, the Hohenstaufen tower of Copertino was held first by the de Pratis family and then by Walter VI of Brienne, Duke of Athens, Duke of...

 and Caterina Orsini
Catherine of Taranto
Caterina d'Enghien Orsini was a daughter of Mary of Enghien and Raimondo del Balzo Orsini di Nola.She was married to Tristan, Count of Copertino , a knight of the French family of de Clermont-Lodeve....

. He was the cousin of Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

, king of Aragon
Crown of Aragon
The Crown of Aragon Corona d'Aragón Corona d'Aragó Corona Aragonum controlling a large portion of the present-day eastern Spain and southeastern France, as well as some of the major islands and mainland possessions stretching across the Mediterranean as far as Greece...

 and the first (co
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I was Queen of Castile and León. She and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon brought stability to both kingdoms that became the basis for the unification of Spain. Later the two laid the foundations for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor...

-)ruler of a unified Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. His teacher was the humanist Giovanni Pontano, whose De splendore describes the proper virtues and manner of life becoming to a prince.

When his mother Isabella of Taranto died (1465), he succeeded to her feudal claims, which included the Brienne claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Brienne claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Hugh, Count of Brienne claimed the regency of Jerusalem in 1264 as senior heir of Hugh I of Cyprus and Alice of Jerusalem, being the son of their eldest daughter, but was passed over by the Haute Cour in favor of his cousin Hugh III of Cyprus. This claim fell to his son Walter V of Brienne and...

.

In 1463, when Alfonso was fifteen, his great-uncle Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini
Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini
Giovanni Antonio Del Balzo Orsini was Prince of Taranto, Duke of Bari, Count of Lecce, Acerra, Soleto and Conversano, as well as Count of Matera and of Ugento ....

, Prince of Taranto
Principality of Taranto
The Principality of Taranto was a state in southern Italy created in 1088 for Bohemond I, eldest son of Robert Guiscard, as part of the peace between him and his younger brother Roger Borsa after a dispute over the succession to the Duchy of Apulia....

, died, and he obtained some lands from the inheritance. Alfonso had shown himself a skilled and determined soldier, helping his father in the suppression of the Conjure of the Barons (1485) and in the defence of the Kingdom's territory against the Papal
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

 claims.

As a condottiero
Condottieri
thumb|Depiction of [[Farinata degli Uberti]] by [[Andrea del Castagno]], showing a 15th century condottiero's typical attire.Condottieri were the mercenary soldier leaders of the professional, military free companies contracted by the Italian city-states and the Papacy, from the late Middle Ages...

, he fought in the most important wars of the age, such the war following the Pazzi Conspiracy (1478–1480) and the War of Ferrara (1482–1484).

Alfonso's reign was destined to be short. When his father died, the kingdom's finances were exhausted and the invasion of King Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII, called the Affable, , was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498. Charles was a member of the House of Valois...

 was imminent; Charles (instigated by Lodovico Sforza, who wished to stir up trouble to allow him to seize power in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

) had decided to reassert the Angevin
House of Valois-Anjou
The Valois House of Anjou, or the Younger House of Anjou, was a noble French family, deriving from the royal family, the House of Valois. They were monarchs of Naples, as well as various other territories....

 claim to Naples and the accompanying title of King of Jerusalem.

Charles invaded Italy in September, 1494. Alfonso managed to gain back the support of Pope Alexander VI, who invited Charles to devote his effort against the Turks instead. Alfonso received the official Papal coronation as Rex Siciliae on May 8, 1494 from Juan de Borja Lanzol de Romaní, el mayor
Juan de Borja Lanzol de Romaní, el mayor
Juan de Borja Lanzol de Romaní, el mayor was the first of ten cardinal-nephews elevated by Pope Alexander VI, the cousin of his father, Galcerán de Borja y Moncada....

, previously the papal legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

 to Alfonso II.

However, the King of France did not relent; by early 1495 Charles was approaching Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, after having defeated Florence and the Neapolitan fleet under Alfonso's brother, Frederick of Calabria
Frederick IV of Naples
Frederick IV , sometimes known as Frederick I or Federico d'Aragona, was the last King of Naples of the House of Trastámara, ruling from 1496 to 1501...

 at Porto Venere. Alfonso, terrified by a series of portents, as well as unusual dreams (perhaps attributable to memories of his victims), abdicated in favour of his son, Ferdinand
Ferdinand II of Naples
Ferdinand II or Ferrante II of Naples , sometimes known as Ferrandino, was King of Naples from 1495 to 1496...

 or Ferrandino, and fled, entering a Sicilian monastery. He died in Messina later that year.

Renaissance culture


As Crown Prince, Alfonso had participated in the brilliant Renaissance culture that surrounded his father's court. His lasting contribution to European culture was the example set at his villas of La Duchesca and especially Poggio Reale just outside Naples, which so captivated Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII of France
Charles VIII, called the Affable, , was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498. Charles was a member of the House of Valois...

 during his brief sojourn at Naples during February–June 1495, that he was inspired to emulation of the "earthly paradise" he encountered.

Poggio Reale, which Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

 said was designed by Giuliano da Maiano
Giuliano da Maiano
Giuliano da Maiano was an Italian architect, intarsia-worker and sculptor, the elder brother of Benedetto da Maiano, with whom he often collaborated.- Biography :...

 and which was laid out in the 1480s, has utterly disappeared and no extensive description has survived. Decades later, Vasari reported, "At Poggio Reale [Giuliano da Maiano] laid out the architecture of that palazzo, always considered a most beautiful thing; and to fresco it he brought there Pietro del Donzello
Pietro del Donzello
Pietro del Donzello was an Italian artist and painter.Donzello was born in Florence. His brother Ippolito was also a painter. Pietro primarily painted traditional scenes and shields. Some of his other works reside at the Cleveland Museum of Art....

, a Florentine, and Polito
Ippolito del Donzello
Ippolito del Donzello and his brother Piero were the sons by different mothers of Francesco d'Antonio di Jacopo, bailiff of the Signoria of Florence, and were both born in that city — Piero in 1451, and Ippolito in 1455. Ippolito was the pupil of Neri di Bicci from 1469 to 1471, and the brothers...

 his brother who was considered in that time a good master, who painted the whole palazzo, inside and out, with the history of the said king." There are no archives to connect Giuliano or his brother Benedetto with the project; for documentation only a section and plan, reproduced with apologies for its inaccuracy, by Sebastiano Serlio
Sebastiano Serlio
Sebastiano Serlio was an Italian Mannerist architect, who was part of the Italian team building the Palace of Fontainebleau...

. Serlio's reproduction seems to show an idealized plan, identical on all four sides, ranged around a court with a double arcading.

It is clear that the Aragonese court at Naples introduced the Moorish garden traditions of Andalusia
Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

, with its shaded avenues and baths, sophisticated hydraulics that powered splendid waterworks, formal tanks, fishponds and fountains, as a luxurious and secluded setting for court life, and combined them with Roman features: Alfonso's Poggio Reale was built around three sides of an arcaded courtyard with tiers of seating round a sunken centre that could be flooded for water spectacles; on the fourth side it opened onto a garden that framed a spectacular view of Vesuvius.

It was all unlike anything experienced by the French king, who retreated from Italy, loaded with tapestries and works of art, and filled with building and gardening ambitions.

Ancestry





Marriages and children


Like his father, Alfonso married twice. His first wife was Ippolita Maria Sforza
Ippolita Maria Sforza
Ippolita Maria Sforza , Duchess of Calabria, was a member of the powerful Italian condottieri Sforza family which ruled the Duchy of Milan from 1450 until 1535...

, whom he married on October 10, 1465, in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. His mistress, by whom he also had children, was Trogia Gazzela.

He had three children with Ippolita:
  • King Ferdinand II of Naples
    Ferdinand II of Naples
    Ferdinand II or Ferrante II of Naples , sometimes known as Ferrandino, was King of Naples from 1495 to 1496...

     (born 26 August 1469)
  • Isabella of Naples
    Isabella of Naples
    Isabella of Naples was the daughter of King Alphonse II of Naples by his wife, Ippolita Maria Sforza. From 1489 to 1494, she was the Duchess consort of Milan, and from 1499 to 1524 the Duchess of Bari and Princess of Rossano...

    , Duchess of Bari
    Bari
    Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

     (born 2 October 1470)
  • Piero of Rossano, Prince de Rossano
    Rossano
    Rossano is a town and comune in Southern Italy, in the province of Cosenza . The city is situated on an eminence c. 3. km from the Gulf of Taranto. The town is known for its marble and alabaster quarries....

     (born 31 March 1472)


and two with Trogia:
  • Sancha of Aragon
    Sancha of Aragon
    Donna Sancha of Aragon , or Sancia of Aragon, was an illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso II of Naples and his mistress Trogia Gazzela. In 1494, she was married to Gioffre Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI. Upon her marriage she and her new husband were created Prince and Princess of Squillace,...

     (born 1478 in Gaeta
    Gaeta
    Gaeta is a city and comune in the province of Latina, in Lazio, central Italy. Set on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta, it is 120 km from Rome and 80 km from Naples....

    )
  • Alfonso of Aragon
    Alfonso of Aragon
    Alfonso of Aragon was the Duke of Bisceglie and Prince of Salerno, as the son of King Alfonso II of Naples by his mistress Truzia Gazzela ....

    , Duke of Bisceglie and Prince of Salerno
    Salerno
    Salerno is a city and comune in Campania and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea....

    (born 1481, in Naples)