Charles I of Sicily

From Academic Kids

Charles I (March 1227 (or 1226) - January 7, 1285) was the posthumous (or born ten months before father's death: sources suggest two possible birth years) son of King Louis VIII of France by Blanche of Castile. He was a younger brother of both Louis IX of France and Alphonse of Toulouse.

He was created Count of Anjou and of Le Maine by his elder brother Louis IX in 1246, thus founding the second Angevin dynasty.

He married in the same year 1246 Beatrice of Provence (1234-1267), youngest daughter of the sonless Count Raymond Berenger V of Provence and Forcalquier (Raymond Berenger had died the previous year, 1245). Beatrice's three elder sisters and their husbands agreed that Beatrice will succeed in the fief of their late father. The two eldest were consorts of kings already, and king Louis IX (Charles's brother) was the husband of the eldest - these facts apparently were behind the amicable deal. Thus, Charles received, jure uxoris, a remarkable land to rule on his own. Provence at that time was officially a part of Holy Roman Empire, and the Empire allowed considerable latitude (almost independence) to its provinces, particularly to those provinces that were far away from Germany (such as Provence).

In 1265 the Pope invited Charles to southern Italy, to help ousting Hohenstaufens. In 1266 Charles was invested by Pope Clement IV with the kingship of Naples and Sicily, in return for expelling Manfred, son of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. In 1261, Sicily alone had been entrusted to his rule.

Charles also began to build conquests around Mediterranean: He wanted to create an own empire, he wanted Holy Land and lands in Greece.

Manfred's defeat and death in the Battle of Benevento on February 26, 1266 were followed by the defeat and execution of his nephew Conradin, ending the Hohenstaufen rule in Sicily. But in 1282, Sicilian Vespers rose against French officialdom and taxes intended to finance Charles's struggle to restore the Latin Empire at Constantinople. Charles was a major enemy of Eastern Roman Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus.

The island was taken by King Peter III of Aragn, who became also Peter I of Sicily, but Charles remained in possession of mainland Naples until his death, acquiring in addition the now almost empty title of King of Jerusalem in 1277 - that kingdom meant only Acre and some coastal trips.

In 1277 Charles acquired rights to the crown of Jerusalem from the elderly Mary of Antioch. She had been a Pretender to the throne of Jerusalem in 1269-77. She died in Castello de Canosa, Apulia (in Charles's lands) after 10.12.1307. She was the daughter of Prince Bohemond IV of Antioch and Tripoli (d 1233) and his second wife Melisend of Cyprus (who died after 1249). Melisend was the youngest daughter of King Amaury I of Cyprus and his third wife Queen Isabella of Jerusalem. Since Mary was, at the time of the death of Conradin, the only living grandchild of Queen Isabella, she claimed the throne on basis of proximity of blood to the Kings of Jerusalem. In feudal successions, proximity in kinship was a strong claim. She sold her rights, by papal blessing and confirmation, to Charles I of Anjou in 1277.

Charles's troops occupied Acre, the remaining stronghold of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. However, his troops were driven away 1285 by the new king Henry II of Cyprus: with a fleet Henry attacked Acre, defended by Charles' lieutenant Hugh Pelerin, and the city was captured on 29 July 1285. Charles and his successors, kings of Sicily (Naples) however continued to use the additional title of King of Jerusalem.

The dispossessed Latin Emperor, Baldwin II of Constantinople wanted to secure Charles's help to regain his lost throne, and therefore gave Charles the overlordship of Principality of Achaia. Charles made its lords to subjugate, by various means. And he married his younger surviving son Philip to a member of its Villehardouin dynasty, later makinng Philip also its Prince. This acquisition led to almost a century of violent strife on possession of Southern Greece between vassals of Angevins and the Villehardouin heirs (1307-1383).

Charles made an alliance with Hungary's king Stephen V, who otherwise was repelled in European circles. This was cemented by dynastic marriages: In 1270, Charles's heir Charles married Stephen's daughter Mary, and Charles's daughter Elisabeth was betrothed to Stephen's only son and heir, the future Ladislaus IV of Hungary, whom she married in 1272 soon after Stephen's death. The Anjou dynasty, as descendants of Mary of Hungary, went on to rule Hungary and Poland for a time in the following century, but lost Naples in 1442 to Charles's other descendants, the Aragons. Charles's male line ended in 1414 with the death of Ladislas of Naples, and the junior Anjou line (descending from Charles's eldest granddaughter and adopted) ended in 1481.

In the Divine Comedy Dante sees Charles "singing in concert" with Peter III outside the gate of Purgatory.


  1. Aix-en-Provence 31.1.1246 Beatrice de Provence (*1234 +23.9.1267)
  2. 18.11.1268 Marguerite de Bourgogne, Cts de Tonnerre (*1250 +4.9.1308)

Children all were born of the first marriage

  • Louis (born and died 1248, Nicosia, Cyprus). The mother was 14 years old. (beware teenage pregnancies)
  • Philip (1256-1277), Prince of Achaia, titular King of Thessalonica, married 1271 Isabelle de Villehardouin, Princess of Achaia and Morea (1263-1312), daughter of Guillaume II de Villehardouin and Anna Angela Komnena. He died childless and she married again, several times.
  • Robert (1258-1265)
  • Blanche of Anjou (1250-1269), married 1265 Count Robert III of Flanders (1249-1322). Her only child, son Charles, died young.
  • Beatrix of Anjou (1252-1275), married 1273 Philippe de Courtenay (Philip Porphyrogennetos), titular Emperor of Constantinople (1243-1283). Her only child was daughter Catherine, future titular empress and second wife of Charles of Valois.
  • Elizabeth of Anjou = Maria (1261-between 20.12.1290-1304), married 1272 King Ladislas IV of Hungary (1262-1290). She was childless.

Preceded by:
King of Sicily
Succeeded by:
Peter I
King of Naples
Charles II
William II Prince of Achaea
Count of Anjou
de:Karl I. (Neapel)

fr:Charles Ier de Sicile it:Carlo I d'Angi ja:シャルル1世 (シチリア王)


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