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Ferdinand I of Naples should not be confused with Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, a latter king of Naples.
Ferdinand I of Naples.
Ferdinand I (June 2, 1423 – January 25, 1494), 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.


In order to arrange a good future for Ferdinand, King Alfonso had him married in 1444 to a feudal heiress, Isabella of Taranto, who besides being the elder daughter of Tristan di Chiaramonte (Tristan de Clermont-Lodeve), Count of Copertinomarker, and Catherine of Baux Orsini, was the niece and heiress presumptive of childless prince Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini of Tarantomarker. She was a granddaughter of Queen Mary of Enghien (mother of Giovanni and Catherine), who had been Queen Consort of Naples (Queen of Jerusalem and Sicily) in 1406-14.

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

He used the title King of Naples and Jerusalem (Ferdinand I of Naples). 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. But although he died before he could make good his claim (August 1458), and the new Pope Pius II recognized Ferdinand, John of Anjou, profiting by the discontent of the Neapolitan barons, decided to try to regain the throne of his ancestors that was lost by his father René, and invaded Naples.

Ferdinand was severely defeated by the Angevins and the rebels at the battle of Sarnomarker in July 1460, but with the help of Alessandro Sforza and of the Albanianmarker chief, Skanderbeg, who came to the aid of the prince whose father had aided him, he triumphed over his enemies, and by 1464 had re-established his authority in the kingdom. In that situation the intervention of the people of Cava de' Tirrenimarker, a city close to Sarno, was fundamental: in fact Cavesi, led by the captains Giosuè and Marino Longo, armed themselves with breathless haste at best, with forks, other improvised items and weapons, and attacked Angevins who, astonished by the event and unable to assess the entity of the attack, were forced to pull back, giving the possibility to King Ferdinand of Aragon to create an escape route to Naples. 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 honourable peace with Ferdinand.

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 Tarantomarker, Lecce and other fiefs in Apuliamarker. Isabella became also the holder of Brienne rights to the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

After Isabella's death in 1465, Ferrante married secondly Joanna of Aragon, Queen consort of Naples, his own first cousin, in 1476.

In 1480, forces of the Ottoman Empire under orders of Mehmed II captured Otrantomarker, 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 alongisde Ferraramarker and Milanmarker against the alliance of Sixtus IV and the Republic of Venicemarker (see War of Ferrara).

Ferdinand's oppressive government led in 1485 to an attempt at revolt on the part of the nobles, led by Francesca Coppola and Antonello Sanseverino of Salerno and supported by Pope Innocent VIII; the rising having been crushed, many of the nobles, notwithstanding Ferdinand's promise of a general amnesty, were afterwards treacherously murdered at his express command.
Coronato, Moneta di Ferdinando I di Napoli.

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 Italymarker 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 January 25, 1494, worn out with anxiety; he was succeeded by his son, Alfonso, 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, by examination of his mummy.

Ferdinand's reputation

According to the Encyclopedia 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."

As further testimony to the latter, one historian 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." 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:


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