NAME  GIOVANNA  ( JOAN )  the second

Giovanna the second went to the  Throne  in 1414 at the age of 43  after  her brother’s death, King Ladislao. Giovanna was the daughter of Carlo Durazzo and Margherita Anjou. Carlo Durazzo had taken the throne of the Naples with force, from the main branch of the Anjou family after 30 years of fights. The last descendants of the French Anjou dynasty was Giovanna the 1st , perhaps killed on Carlo Durazzo’s order. After the death of Carlo Durazzo, the for-Anjou party would have had Luigi the 2nd Anjou on the Neapolitan throne, sweeping away the younger branch of Durazzo. But after Carlo Durazzo’s death,  his son Ladislao succeded, and he spent his life in Castel Nuovo ( also called Maschio Angioino ) . 

His life was unscrupulous; he was married but he spent his time with several maids and ladies, he was an example of luxury, but even a very sharp, clever and brave warrior who had a terrific  dream : to conquer all the Italian counties to create a unified Italy. Even Princess Giovanna, Ladislao’s sister, had an unscrupulous life with several men, wasting her time in tournments, parties, gossips , political tricks. But that was the typical atmosphere in quite every reigns during the Middle Ages. 

In 1406 Giovanna was given as a bride to William, Duke of Austria, but after 4 years William died and Giovanna came back to Naples. She didn’t care about politics very much and she still went on wasting her time, together with Ladislao. It was during that time that she revealed to everybody her love relationship with Pandolfello Piscopo. Their relationship had been going on since she was a very young girl; Pandolfello, engaged as drink-organiser  (coppiere), followed Giovanna to Austria and came back to Naples with her.

Ladislao died at the age of 37 and since he had no heirs, Giovanna became the queen. Once queen, Giovanna appointed Pandolfello Gran Camerlengo (a very important role at court ) as a sign of her love but of her lack of confidence : the new queen was not surrounded by loyal men to whom she could give the government of her reign. Moreover she tried in many ways to get the formal approval ( Investiture ) from the Pope to ensure the legitimacy of her rule. The legitimacy was important even because the Pope in Rome considered the Reign of Naples as his own feud land from which he received taxes. 

The Pope was unsure on giving the investiture even because he desired Giovanna to get married in order to give more stability to the throne. The Pope had suggested Luigi 2nd Anjou as bridegroom, but the hypothesis was abandoned by the Neapolitan court because it was too dangerous : Luigi could have seized of king. After several discussions, Giacomo of Borbone, earl of La Marche, was chosen as Giovanna’s husband. He was one of the most famous prince in Paris, accepted even by the Pope. He was a 45-years-old widow with a daughter, and he loved enjoying life. Once arrived in the Reign of Naples, in Manfredonia, he was received by a delegation of Barons of the Queen and it was just from those men that Giacomo learned about the love affair between Giovanna and Pandolfello and about her esteem for Muzio Sforza, a brave warrior. The Barons told Giacomo a lot of gossips. As consequence, he decided to organize a conspiracy to aleniate Muzio Sforza who, with a false accuse, was imprisoned in the castle of Benevento. After that, Giacomo moved to Naples in Castel dell’ Ovo where Giovanna lived. He organized a trap, in fact Pandolfello, found during the night in the queen’s bedroom, was caught and imprisoned directly in the Castel dell’Ovo. Obviously, Giovanna didn’t suspect that it was just Giacomo to send and Sforza into prison, the two most important men in the Reign. 

Giovanna  welcomed Giacomo when he arrived in Naples and the wedding was celebrated immediately. After the celebration, Giacomo asked for a private meeting with the Queen and soon after that meeting Giovanna talked about her husband as “ Sovereign “ and a few days Giovanna realized that she was just a puppet in her husband’s hands. She was isolated in the rooms of the Castle, far from each sort of direct contact with the Court and the common people. Giacomo spent his time with young ladies and at tournaments and feasts. 

Some months later Muzio Sforza and Pandolfello were interrogated and tortured. Pandolfello was forced to describe his sexual relationship with the Queen, and after that he was beheaded in Piazza Mercato and then dragged up to the port and hanged by feet. On the other side, Muzio was not killed because the Barons realized it was better to leave him alive. So Giacomo de la Marche used the against-Durazzo Barons to kill Pandolfello and to exclude Muzio  and to isolate the queen in the Castle. But after the Barons’ help he didn’t keep on the promises to grant titles : in fact Giacomo granted the powers of the Reign just to French people and so many Barons were disappointed. Even the common people didn’t like to see that the Queen was put aside and that her husband was surrounded just by French people. 

So tow Barons who couldn’t stand Giacomo’s arrogance anymore, that is Ottino Caracciolo and Annecchino Mormile, with the help of the merchant Agostino Bongiani organized a conspiracy against Giacomo without informing Giovanna. And Giovanna realized about the conspiracy just when, invited to the wedding party of Bongiani’s daughter, she was not carried to Bongiani’s house but to the bishop’s house, and all the way long people cheered her and showed love for her. Giacomo realized the conspiracy and escaped to Castel dell’ Ovo which was soon besieged. The pro-Durazzo Barons thought it would have been better not to kill Giacomo : better to have a husband with no power than another lover like Pandolfello. So it was decided that Giacomo could remain at the court but all his men should have gone back to Paris. His happy time was at the end : Giovanna kept him half-prisoner in the Castle; his French friends were sent away and for the loyal Barons a golden age started with the granting of titles, privileges, favours. It was 1416 and only in 1419, Giacomo, unprisoned by the Queen , not well accepted by common people, went back to France. 

In the meantime, even Muzio Sforza was freed, and Giovanna had a new lover, Urbano Orilia, even if there was a young nobleman who started to attend the Neapolitan Court : Sergianni Caracciolo and soon the Queen fell in love with him, and because of that love the court life was conditioned for 16 years. While Giovanna tried to be allied to the Papacy, still for the matter of the investiture, Sergianni followed, without any obstacle, the route followed by Pandolfello and by Giacomo de la Marche : Sergianni kept the Queen far from every man who could have disturbed his relationship and day after day Sergianni got more and more political relevance. Once again Queen Giovanna showed herself as an unconfident woman delegating the care of the government to her lovers, while Sergianni tried to get as much as advantages as possible for him and for his family. 
Eventually on the 29th October 1419, Pope Martino V ‘s legacy came to Naples for the investiture. The Queen promised fidelity and subordination and organized great feasts. 

But the happiness in the Reign lasted few days. The Neapolitan Reign didn’t have money to pay the feud debt to the Pope Martino V so he established a contact with Luigi III Anjou ( son of the late Luigi II ) who had surely much money; the Pope sent him a Bull of Investiture to be king in Naples, but only after the Queen’s death. Giovanna was very disillusioned and another disappointment came from Muzio Sforza who, angry because never paid by the Queen, convinced by the Pope, recognized as legitimate Luigi III’s claims. So Giovanna had lost another friend,  she was alone in the chaos, instigated by Sergianni, hated by the pro-Anjou Barons, hated for having appointed Sergianni Gran Siniscalco ( Master of Cerimonies ) , threatened by Pope Martino V, obstructed by Muzio Sforza, who wanted to siege Naples, threatened by Luigi III. 

In that condition a man was needed , a very powerful man who could help to pass over the crisis of the Reign. Giovanna was able to find that man : Alfonso, 24 years old,King of Aragon and Sicily. Giovanna’s legacy proposed him the adoption so he could have come to the throne after Giovanna’s death .  Obviously, Alfonso accepted the proposal because he would have unified Southern Italy. When Luigi III Anjou knew about those facts he rushed to Naples, but Alfonso entered Naples with great feats and honours, with an air of pomp. Soon after even Alfonso revealed himself as a selfish man who wanted to conquer new lands; he tried to conquer Acerra ( a small town near Naples ) but he didn’t succeed; but he conquered other small towns near Naples, that is Massa, Vico, Sorrento, leaving them to the Aragoneses. Even Muzio Sforza had conquered new lands. 

On 25th May 1423 several important events happened. Alfonso imprisoned Sergianni in Castel Nuovo, then tried to capture the Queen in Castel Capuano but he didn’t succeed. The common people started to reveal their scorn for Alfonso and so once again Giovanna was I  trouble because of a man chosen by her. The Queen was forced to ask for help to Muzio Sforza who fought against Alfonso’s army. The battle ended with pillages on behalf of Alfonso’s army who took Castel Nuovo was brought to Aversa conquered by Muzio Sforza. Giovanna let Sergianni free and he reached her in Aversa. Now Naples was in the hands of the Aragoneses. 

On the 1st July 1423 Giovanna took another important decision : Alfonso’s adoption was revocated while the ex-enemy Luigi III was adopted and even the Pope was glad of that. At that point Alfonso was worried : Giovanna, Luigi III, Muzio Sforza, the Pope, all united against him; in fact an army led by Muzio Sforza arrived in Naples, but the situation didn’t change because Naples was still in the hands of the Aragoneses. Soon after that battle Alfonso went back to Spain to help his brother Henry against the King of Castile while Muzio Sforza died drowning in a river. That was a big lost for the Queen who soon appointed Sergianni as Constable . On 12th April 1424 Giovanna’s army led by Muzio Sforza’s son, Francesco, entered in Naples clapping Giovanna and Luigi III Anjou. Castel Capuano was conquered while Castel Nuovo was still in the hands of the Aragoneses. And later on the Aragoneses took also Castel dell’Ovo. In the meantime, Sergianni even with Luigi III at the Court, kept on enriching and that fact bothered the Pope especially because the Reign of Naples never paid the feudal taxes while it could waste money for men like Sergianni. Suddenly Luigi III was forced to leave the Reign to go back to France that had problems with England. And, obviously, Sergianni was glad that both Alfondo of Aragon and Luigi III Anjou were far from Naples; he was even thinking of getting the crown! But other facts happened. Suddenly Sergianni started to keep in touch with Alfonso suggesting him to take the throne of Naples. The Queen knew about Sergianni’s contacts with Alfonso and approved, in fact she revocated the adoption of Luigi III. In that period, the decline of the relantioship between Giovanna and Sergianni had started. In fact Sergianni, who had become Prince of Capua, Constable, Earl of Avellino wanted the Queen to grant his son the title of Prince of Salerno, usually granted to the heir to the throne. Queen Giovanna refused and it seemed that Sergianni had beaten her.

Now everyone  was tired of Sergianni’s behaviour. Against him a conspiracy was organized. Giovanna wanted a trial for him but she didn’t oppose when some Barons killed him. In 19th August 1431 Sergianni was killed. The Queen realized about his abuse of power but we don’t have to forget that the Queen herself gave him all the powers when she was in love with him. The ping-pong of the adoption was not at the end. Once again Giovanni appointed Alfonso as her heir ( after the Pope Eugenio IV ‘s suggestion ) and once again revocated the adoption in favour of Luigi III. In 1434, suddenly, Luigi III died at the age of 31. 

Once again Giovanna was in serious trouble; but she didn’t have the time to solve the problem because on 2nd February 1435 she died. In her last will , it was read about a new heir, Roberto Anjou, Luigi III ‘s brother : so other surprises. But Alfonso of Aragon attacked Roberto Anjou and defeated him in 1443 and the Reign of Naples passed definitively to Alfonso; during his Reign Naples had a very great time.

Giovanna  was a weak  woman who took the Crown quite late when she thought she would have always been a princess with no responsibilities, living her unscrupulous life. Moreover she had the habit of looking constantly for sexual relantionship. The chronicles of her time were just about that aspect of her life : she was called ‘ The Queen-Bee ‘. The chronicles of her time wrote that everybody, inside and outside the Reign of Naples, knew about her luxury. Even a legacy, coming from Florence for political discussion, asked Giovanna  to make love to him. Common people admitted that the Queen had even an obscene way of speaking and that she liked to attract men, to love them and them to kill them. She was so perverse that she even had sexual experiences with animals. But, was this the result of people imagination, especially women who were in some way jealous of her, or was it true? For sure, Giovanna showed everybody her incapability of being on her own, choosing each time a favourite man who could be for her a physical relief and a psychological supporter. She wanted her lover to be a friend and a counsellor, granting as exchange her body, besides lands, wealth and titles. But in the popular imaginary love and death were very linked to Giovanna’s name ( the men first loved then killed)  such as , in the reality, fortune and tragedy accompanied the destiny of the Queen’s lovers, killed with no mercy at the top of the success. Other chronicles described Giovanna as a vampire or crocodile who ate her lovers after killing them. For example, a legend told about who, one day, walking across Santa Lucia ( a beach in Naples ) saw a young fisherman and called him. “ Take me to Mergellina ( which is another place on the beach ) by your boat”. So the fisherman, named Peppe, set the Queen in the boat and soon they arrived in a very solitary place. They remained there for three days and three night making love. At the dawn of the 4th day, a trapdoor was opened under Peppe’s feet who disappeared down there. Giovanna, satisfied for sexual love, left the place, while on the beach  in Santa Lucia, the fisherman’s girlfriend, named Stella, was still waiting for him.

Today the opinions about Giovanna have changed. With the modern morality, she is just considered as a woman free to live her life and to use her body without being considered a whore. If she was a negative political figure, it was even a fault of the atmosphere of the medieval courts, and in particular of the Neapolitan one, which was the centre of the tricks and the corruption where selfish people, by means of conspiracy, tried in every way to take economic benefits, where the Barons wanted to conquer more and more their independence and power and at the time of Giovanna all those problems were at the top and she, weak woman, spent all her time as Queen to defend herself by someone.