Biography of King of Aragón y Nápoles Alfonso V (1396-1458)

Aragon (Alfonso V, 1416-1458) and King of Naples and Sicily (Alfonso I, 1435-1458), born probably in Medina del Campo (Valladolid), December 18, 1396, and died 27 June 1458 in Naples. Nicknamed the magnanimous, was the second monarch of the dynasty of Trastamara in govern the Crown of Aragon, contributing main in the expansion of his dominions by the Mediterranean, mainly in the South of Italy. His relationship with the Peninsular kingdoms was tense due to his prolonged absences and stays in Naples, where he/she created a poetic and literary Court of great magnitude, at the time who encouraged his work of cultural and artistic patron the takeoff of the humanism in the Crown of Aragon.

Alfonso V, the magnanimous, King of Aragon.

Early years (1396-1416)

Alfonso was the eldest son of the infante Fernando, second son of the King of Castile, Juan I, and wife of the former, his aunt Eleanor of Alburquerque, dubbed the female Rica large territories which had inherited from his father, Sancho de Trastamara. The infante Fernando, although segundogenito and therefore apart from the succession of Castile by his older brother, the future Henry III, had been considerably inherited by Juan I in the form of trades, rents and manors; joining these with the inherited by his wife, it was the most powerful noble of Castile after his brother King Enrique III, that his personal rule to 1396, began the same year Alfonso was born. Logically, Alfonso became the heir not only of income, lands and offices of his father, but that this purported also to it inherit its hegemonic position in Castile, in such a way that its stem education was decided with care. Eloy Benito Ruano historian, in his masterful work on so-called infants of Aragon, i.e., Alfonso and his brothers, said with enough probability that his second uncle, the famous Enrique de Villena, was in charge of the education of the young sons of Fernando de Antequera, this being a fairly plausible explanation to locate the origin of the interest that Alfonso had throughout his life to the arts and Sciences. In addition to Enrique de Villena, was a catalan Franciscan, Pere de Santa Eulalia, responsible for educating infants in the basics, and be, therefore, the first master of the future King.

His childhood was spent quietly in Castile, joining the itinerant regia cutting to the beat of his father, the infante Fernando. When Enrique III, died in 1406 Christmas, Alfonso had barely 10 years old, but had already been involved in one of the traditional marriage pacts signed between the Royals at the time. Although his son, Juan II, would happen to Enrique III born just a year before his death, the deceased monarch had already agreed the marriage of his daughter, the infanta María, with Alfonso, in order to preserve the heritage of the throne, however, would enjoy in principle Juan II, proclaimed King in 1406. But by its minority of age, the infante Fernando was not only the most powerful noble, but guardian of his nephew, which made possible to its importance in the Government of Castile to grow, and therefore also that of their children, who now began to be called the infantes of Aragon. When the Covenant marriage was held, in 1415, Alfonso was already a young man of almost 20 years, and that in addition he/she had been become heir to Aragon for his father had been recognized as the most suitable candidate for the realm compromisarios gathered in Caspe (1412), and enthroned as Fernando I of Aragon in 1414. In these early years, Alfonso was revealed to be a close associate of his father, because this, in pursuit of the rebel count of Urgel, left his firstborn the Presidency of the general courts of Aragon in 1412. The signing of a truce with Venice and Genoa in 1413 also was the work of Alfonso, as lieutenant general of Aragon, as well as the received the obedience of the courts of all kingdoms. During the few four years Fernando I reigned in Aragon, his son Alfonso was his right arm, getting no doubt by the time they had it that govern the destinies of the Crown recently acquired by his family. And the expectations upon him were highest, because it combined the skill and cunning Knight as ruler, as testifies the description made by Alfonso of the young heir to a French Ambassador in 1416:

It manages to perfection a two-handed sword, is an excellent rider and enjoy in the jousts and tournaments... Very elegant in dress, plays all the instruments and dance admirably. And it is over so prudent a man of fifty years. (Collected by Ryder, op. cit., p. 67).

The first companies of Italian Alfonso v (1416-1423)

After the death of his father, he/she was quickly enthroned as new monarch, and set out to take some populist measures to avoid that part of Catalan, rebellious aristocracy to his father through the count of Urgel Jaime, could rise up against. Soon after, his brother Juan, who had been appointed viceroy of Naples, by Fernando I decided to return to Spain to take marriage to Blanca de Navarra and take charge of the succulent territorial legacy of Fernando I in Castile. Little or no passionate Italian lands forward Juan I of Navarre (and still later, Juan II of Aragon), opposite that to Alfonso, who then, after appeasing always warlike institutions in Catalonia and Valencia, began his career of Mediterranean expansion with the focus located in the Kingdom of Naples and, above allSicily. The appointment of this Kingdom, owned by the Pope, had been carried out on behalf of his father, Fernando I, in gratitude for the support given to the resolution of the Schism, but never had taken possession of it. Alfonso, who always had a chivalrous and adventurous spirit of first magnitude, was invaded from the beginning of his reign by rushing the Sicilian company, in addition to large incomes that could be obtained from the domain of the rich Mediterranean island. Basically, Alfonso was convinced that with the Mediterranean spread in Aragon not only would the fame for its military and chivalrous, but that the economy of the Crown of Aragon, which was going through a serious crisis, would recover tremendously, hence, Alfonso V vaciase ahead the road to Italy. Therefore, it didn't you leave the policy issues Castilian in the hands of his brother Juan, or leave to his wife, the Queen María, as lieutenant general of Aragon. In fact, it would be the Queen María, with whom Alfonso not kept a good relationship, which would govern Aragon for many years by delegation of her husband.

The first Mediterranean project presented by Alfonso V to their kingdoms was the recover Corsica and Sardinia, which had fallen into the hands of the Genoese. After many pleas and requests made between 1417 and 1420, finally convinced individual courts of each realm to be granted the necessary funding, so that it fell to the sea with a warrior fleet supplied at the port of Mallorca with the remains of the Genoese Navy there resident, who was already seen as enemy. In June 1420 became Alghero (Sardinia), which was conquered thanks to the support of the local nobility. While in Alghero and before leaving for Corsica, Alfonso received an Embassy from Queen Joan II of Naples, it begged that help to fight against the enemies to change of name it heir to the throne. Request emboldened Alfonso v, who quickly imagined triumphant in the company that had designed its interior with much less effort than expected. It was how he/she moved to Corsica, proceeding to the siege of the city of Bonifacio, which was rejected by the great strength of the city and by the help of a Genoese fleet, which thus responded to the hostilities opened by Alfonso V. Despite the defeat, in January 1421, the mood not declined, for the Neapolitan issue kept the flame alive, although the Pope Martín V had intervened in the conflict in favour of another candidate to the Neapolitan throne, Luis de Anjou, ally of the Sforza family, and which also had the support of the Genoese. In October of the same year of 1421 the first naval confrontation between both quotas, took place at the battle of Foz Pisana, whose result benefited Alfonso V, who swift headed to Naples to sign the agreement with Queen Juana allowing him to rule the Kingdom. But this one, always capricious and ignoring of the caprices of the era, it signed an agreement with the condottiero Caracciolo and the Sforza, and preferred the candidacy of Luis de Anjou, forcing Alfonso V, after almost a year in Naples, to return to the peninsula, where claimed it the serious economic situation in Catalonia and Valencia.

From the Iberian peninsula to Ponza (1423-1435)

Enormous costs produced by the Neapolitan companies were the cause of the bad relationship that since the return of the monarch to Barcelona in the last days of 1423, remained with the courts and the estates of the Crown. In addition, the strained relationship was ballasted by the struggles of camps in Catalonia, between the counts of Urgell and Cardona, and Valencia, with different lineages faced each other for matters domestic, mainly for supporting or not Mediterranean companies of Alfonso V. The situation in Castile, where the brothers of the Aragonese King, called infants of Aragon, had large interests, nor passed through a good moment, since the friction between Juan and Enrique had provoked the parsimony of the first prison of the second, imprisoned by Constable Álvaro de Luna, the private King Juan II of Castile. The situation between 1429 and 1430 led to a climate of war between Castile and Aragon, although the authority of Alfonso V was enough for the Moon Constable aprestase to negotiate, which was accepted on the spot by a monarch, the magnanimous, who did not want to lose time or financial resources in a war that did not interest him absolutely nothing: he/she preferred to concentrate all their efforts and energies to appease his Kingdom to return to fulfill your Italian dream.

Courts and institutions were so difficult, because costs were extremely large. Finally, despite the protests of the majority of Catalan nobles and thanks to the mediation of the María reina, lieutenant general in the absence of her husband, Alfonso could receive a donation of 80,000 guilders, which could assemble a fleet that, in principle, under the pretext of an expedition against the Muslims of the Mediterranean, departed toward the island of Djerba, but whose effective base was established in Sicily. There, Alfonso V held constant talks with the condottiero Gianni Caracciolo, who finally convinced the Queen Juana to the Aragonese monarch was his successor, as Luis of Anjou had just died (1434). The Lord of Genoa, Philip Visconti, together with the Milanese Sforza and the Papacy, is quickly ready to consider a military response. During these preparations died the same Queen Juana, 2 February 1435, in such a way that the Angevins of Naples (see Angevin Empire) proclaimed that, according to the Testament, the inheritance of the Kingdom was René of Anjou. But the pro-aragonesas forces of Caracciolo proclaimed Alfonso v, who sent an army from Gaeta to Naples. The ambition of the monarch was such that in the army to Naples accompanied him of the nobility of his Kingdom, including his brothers Enrique, master of the order of Santiago in the Kingdom of Castile, and Juan, who was already King of Navarre. But in the waters of Ponza the fate was adverse and the Italian Coalition defeated Navy aragonesa, making prisoner to the King himself and his brothers. The Marquis of Santillana, Iñigo López de Mendoza, a Spanish nobleman who was always fond of the cause of the infants of Aragon, found inspiration in this event to give shape to his Comedieta of Ponca, in which showed his disgust by the adverse fortunes of Alfonso V and his brothers, as, for example, is shown in the famous stanza LXIII:

You will be you, Ponca, never memoradapor this fierce lid, cruel, sanguinosa, and avra your perpetual name duration, e of all the Islands will be more famous.You was cridada with boz pavorosaen the two buys: battle, battle!Manly was the view that could mirallasin fear of death, and more than game.(Marquis of Santillana, complete poems, ed. cit., p. 327.)

The conquest of Naples (1435-1443)

Despite the commotion involving the news of the prison of the sons of Fernando de Antequera, the truth was that the captivity, first in Genoa and later in Milan, was characterized by his benevolence. The Duke Filipo Visconti was so pleasantly impressed by the personality of Alfonso V, which quickly reached an agreement, the Treaty of Milan, signed the 8 October 1435, by which both leaders agreed to a split in the Italian companies: the North (including Corsica, where the Aragonese monarch he/she resigned), would be under the influence of Milanesewhile Italy, especially Naples, southern area of Aragonese expansion. The courts of Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia were also forced to pay thirty thousand ducats as a rescue of its King, amount which, despite being paid quickly so that the monarch pluck freedom, cooled a little more tense relations between Alfonso V and its Hispanic territories. Alfonso V, in January 1436, appointed his brother, Juan I de Navarra, lieutenant general of Valencia and Aragon, while his wife, the María reina, remained it in Catalonia, which, in practice, meant to delegate all peninsular politics to continue pursuing the Neapolitan dream. With more grief than glory, Alfonso V was getting the necessary funding to repair damage suffered in Ponza and return to the fray, encouraged by the strange inner workings of the Covenants on political between the Italian States in its fleet.

In 1435, the Pope Eugenio IV rewarded the loyalty of the Anjou the party guelfo through recognition of René of Anjou as the legitimate heir of Naples, as contained in the will of the deceased Queen Juana. But the Visconti and the Sforza were not willing to accept without further this French interference, while during these years continued battling between them on several fronts. In 1438 the own René landed in Italy, but the problems of the Papacy, immersed in the crisis of the Council of Basel (1439) worked in favour of Alfonso V, which counted with the blessing of many Italian nobles in their fight against the Anjou. From its base in Gaeta, the magnanimous was slowly filing Angevin power in the island and gaining popularity: the conquest of Aversa (1440) and Benevento (1441) preludiaron the long siege of Naples by part of the Navy and the army of Alfonso V. Although Genoese and Milanese tried to react against their common enemy of Aragon by signing the peace of Cremona (1441), it was too late: the 2 June 1442 Alfonso V conquered the Neapolitan capital, making a spectacular triumphal entry into the Castilnuovo the day, February 26, 1443. The nobility of the Kingdom accepted him as monarch and undertook to pay a large donation in cash to cover the costs of the war. After long years of struggle and setbacks, the Neapolitan determination of the monarch had managed to come to an end, start giving the Italian period of life of which now began to be called by writers humanists Alfonsus rex Hispanic, Siculus, Italicus, pius, clemens, invictus. In the peace of Terracina (1443), the own Eugenio IV acknowledged the Government of Alfonso V Naples, completed the emphatic victory against all their enemies.

The splendor of a reign (1445-1458)

Naples became since 1443 in the capital of a Mediterranean Aragonese Empire, as Alfonso V not already returned to the Iberian peninsula. From there, he/she tried to convert to Naples as Mediterranean link which would guarantee trade with their Hispanic kingdoms and, therefore, the Neapolitan domain would become Center of economic prosperity for Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia. But the very complex internal situation in Italy would imply the existence of wars that Alfonso V was not alien, especially against Genoa and Milan. At times, as in 1447, when Filipo Visconti, in his will, gave him the Government of all its States except the castles of Milan and Pavia, Alfonso the magnanimous cherished the idea of becoming King of all Italy. But first the Milanese themselves, proclaiming the Ambrosiana Republic (1448), and later the Sforza, taking possession of the Government of the Duchy (1450), foiled plans of Alfonso V. panitalicos The attempt of the Emperor Federico III to be crowned Emperor of Rome, in 1452, when the magnanimous King was already almost a sixtyish monarch, marks the turning point of these dreams of expansion, as it preferred to stay its Germanic host and cede the domain of its northern territories. In April 1454, the signing of the peace of Lodi between the Italian States put an end to these conflicts, but, at the same time, the confrontation between Germany and France would be the origin of the later French pressure on the Neapolitan territories controlled by the Aragonese monarchy.

The last action of Alfonso V was to instruct the Admiral Bernat de Vilamarí go with the Aragonese fleet to besiege Genoa, before the breakdown of the peace of Lodi by the Genoese. But the death called the magnanimous the 27 June 1458, leaving unfinished this new company. He/She had no legitimate children of his wife, the Queen María de Aragón, and must not seek further explanation for this fact that see how at forty-three years that both were married just spent together five. Alfonso V did have two illegitimate sons, Fernando (Ferrante) and Juan (Gianni), in two of his Italian lovers. The first would inherit the Kingdom of Naples, while the second would do with the rest of Duchies and transalpine titles. However, in Aragon would rule his brother, Juan I de Navarra (Juan II of Aragon), because the children of mistresses were not heirs. Paradoxically, Alfonso V did not have any son of his most famous mistress, the beautiful Lucrezia d'Alagno, who showered privileges and money in his last years of life. Excessive love that felt by this maid dominated his last years, as it shows us the story of Eneas Silvio Piccolomini:

Amazing what the power of love! A great King, Lord of the most noble regions of Hispania, Lord of the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily itself, the man who has conquered so many provinces of Italy and defeated in battle the mightiest princes, at the end he/she was defeated by the love and just like a prisoner became servant of a simple woman.(Collected by Ryder, op. cit., p. 481).

The absentee King, King Knight, the scholar King, the patron King

The foremost vital Alfonso constant is hardly had attachment to the Hispanic kingdoms of the Crown of Aragon, who almost saw as agents of financing for its Italian companies, especially Naples, which became, in the words of Vicens Vices, «the Grand tombant in la seva life» (op. cit., p. 130). Prosecutors of courts of their kingdoms, the sectors represented in the assemblies, and even some great nobles, cried without success against that, perhaps, is the most absentee monarch in the history of Spain; Perhaps the Emperor Carlos V was more chronological issues, but Alfonso V, was also convinced to do right thing absenting are. Much of historians, especially the based in the Catalan area, responsible for the economic and institutional crisis in Catalonia during the first half of the 15th century to these absences of the monarch, which paralyzed the decisions and the future of the Kingdom. However, shown on the other hand the good do the María reina as Lieutenant, so categorical affirmation must be taken cautiously precise, since the conquest of Naples also meant the commercial opening of the Mediterranean for Catalan, Aragonese and Valencian, who until that moment had been relegated by the Genoese might.

What does seem to be confirmed is that the conquest of Naples marks a before and an after in the biography of Alfonso V. During his youth and during the years of effervescence of the Italian company, was the noble that vigorous and unambiguous, Monarch embedded the chivalrous ideal so in vogue at the time. For example, you know that the order of chivalry established by his father, the stole and the pitcher, typically Aragonese, was promoted by Alfonso the magnanimous throughout his life. Not in vain, the King's favourite currency was known Siti perillós, i.e. the site dangerous of the round table, one of the myths of the Arthurian chivalric universe, appearing drawn and represented in crests, walls, cabinets, tiles and many other decorative items of your property. Needless to say that all these chivalrous elements were reinforced with the conquest of Naples, city which greatly embellished by building or reform of sumptuous palaces, huge castles, buildings, etc. The King humanist, in addition, became not only an avid reader of novels of chivalry, enlarging its library constantly, but he/she was also patron and protector of the arts. Years after his death, Lucio Marineo Sículo synthesized so fame and the aura of scholar King who during always accompanied Alfonso the magnanimous:

This noble King honoured beautifully, helped and encouraged all poets and men of letters who, in their times, across Italy and Sicily were hallavan, because what wonderful thing with them is Indian and quanto passatiempo had in talking to them. Came in this which, when already embarked to like really the fruit of the letters, was wonderful library that ayuntó, assi for itself as to their own, looking for everywhere quantos precious books could be aver and buying them for qualsiquier price for them pidiessen. And those who could not aver by price, avian them borrowed from qualesquier libraries to estuviessen, public or private, and mandavalos move. He/She worked inter alia that many Greek books fuessen recognized and translated in latin by designated male and the Faculty well learned. It was both the favor given therein and the mercedes that the sages did, without a doubt, the Latin letters turned to revive and be estimated, that already all lost, dead yvan and quasi without Esperança render the world in such a way that with this so designated Prince not only flourished good captains and what weapons they wanted noted, but also learned men and poets and speakers are preciaron of good letters, and all, in the end, with the greatness of Prince d'Este were awakened.(Sailor Siculus, crónica d' Aragón, ed. cit., p. 87).

The library of Alfonso the magnanimous, later the Duke of Calabria, don Fernando, would inherit was one of the choicest of their time, helping to make Naples a kind of paradise for the letters of the time, one cut humanist of the first magnitude. If this is added, as it has been seen above, the deep feeling of love that, in his old age, awoke in Alfonso V to her lover, Lucrezia d'Alagno, must be the raison d ' être of the lyrical universe courtier whose greater reflection is called Estuñiga Songbook. This lyrical collection owes its name to the first poet whose rhymes can be read is Lope de Estuñiga, but actually reflects the splendor of courtly festivities and music evenings Poetics of the Neapolitan of Alfonso the magnanimous Court, as demonstrated in his study, Professor N. Salvador Miguel. In that Court loaron the military, chivalrous and amorous adventures of the noble poets such as the aforementioned Lope de Estúñiga, Carvajales, Diego de el Castillo, Juan Tapia, Andújar JuanDiego Ribera, and several other prominent poets of which can be considered as leaven for cultural relations between Spain and Italy that gave ferment to humanism in the 15th century.




BARRIENTOS, l., recasting of the Chronicle of hawker, ed. M. j. Carriazo, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1946.BECADELLI, a. (Panormita), dictys et factis Alphonsi regis Aragonum Neapolis, Basel, 1538.BISTICCI, V. DA, et Le Vite, ed. A. Greco, Florence, 1970. Dietari the capellà d'Angfos el Magnànim, ed. J. Sanchís Sivera, Valencia, Valencian bibliographical action, 1932. Ed. facsimile Valencia, Valencia City Council, 2001.MARINEO SICULUS, l., crónica d' Aragón, translated into Spanish by bachiller Juan de Molina (Valencia, Joan Jofré, 1524), ed. O. Perea Rodríguez, University of California Santa Barbara, Warneth, 2003. Access on the Internet through the following ruta:, a. DE, Chronicle of Henry IV, trad. A peace and Melia, Madrid, Atlas, 1973-74, 3 vols.PÉREZ DE GUZMÁN, f., generations and biographical sketches, ed. J. Domíngez Bordona, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1979.ZURITA, j., Annals of the Kingdom of Aragon, ed. A. Cañellas, Zaragoza, institution «Fernando el Católico», 1989-1996, 9 vols.


ATLAS, a., Music at the Aragonese Court of Naples, Cambridge University Press, 1985.BENITO RUANO, e., Los infantes de Aragón, Madrid, CSIC, 1952. (Reed. Madrid, RAH, 2002) .da 1995.gomez MUNTANÉ, M. C., music at the Royal House of Aragon, Barcelona, A. Bosch, 1979.MAZZATINTI, g., the library dei re d'Aragona in Napoli, Naples, Licinio Capelli, 1989.PONTIERI, e., Alfonso il magnanimous, re di Napoli 1435-1458, Naples, Edizione Scientifique Italiane, 1975.ROVIRA, J. C.: humanists and poets at the Neapolitan Court of Alfonso the magnanimousAlicante, Instituto de Cultura Juan Gil Albert, 1990.RYDER, a., Alfonso the magnanimous, King of Aragon, Naples and Sicily (1396-1458), Valencia, Edicions Alfons el Magnànim, 1992.SANTILLANA, Marquis of, complete poems, ed. M. P. A. M. Kerkhof and A. Gómez Moreno, Madrid, Castalia, 2003.SALVADOR MIGUEL, N., cancioneril poetry. The Cancionero de Estuñiga, Madrid, Alhambra, ARAGONESE 1977.sanchez, l., Cortes, monarchy and cities in Aragon during the reign of Alfonso the magnanimous (1416-1458), Zaragoza, institution «Fernando el Católico», 1994.suarez FERNANDEZ, l., et to the. The Trastamaras of Castile and Aragon in the century XV, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1968. Vol. XV of encyclopedia of the history of Spain, dir. R. Menéndez Pidal.VICENS VIVES, J. Els Trastamares. (Segle XV), Barcelona, Teide, 1956.