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Alfonso V
King of Aragon

(1396-1458)


Other names: the Magnanimous

Other Titles

Alfonso I, King of Naples, 1443-58†
Alfonso I, King of Sicily, 1416-58†
Titular King of Jerusalem, 1443-58†


Biographical

Alfonso represented the old line of the counts of Barcelona through a female line, and was on his father's side descended from the Castilian House of Trastamara. He is one of the most conspicuous figures of the early Renaissance.  No man of his time had a larger share of the quality called by the Italians of the day 'virtue.'

Queen Joanna II of Naples had adopted Alfonso and made him her heir in 1420 in exchange for assistance against Louis III of Anjou. Naples was liberated in 1421, but Joan changed her mind and began to favour Louis, and later made his son, René of Anjou, her heir instead.  Alfonso conquered Naples between 1442 and 1443, however, he claimed (by virtue of his descent from Constance of Sicily) but could not use the title to Jerusalem officially, and neither could his heirs because it had been granted to the House of Anjou by the papacy.  This changed in 1510 when Pope Julius II granted it to Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Alfonso fought and triumphed amid the exuberant development of individuality which accompanied the revival of learning and the birth of the modern world.  When a prisoner in the hands of Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan, in 1435, Alphonso persuaded his ferocious and crafty captor to let him go by making it plain that it was the interest of Milan not to prevent the victory of the Aragonese party in Naples.

Like a true prince of the Renaissance he favoured men of letters whom he trusted to preserve his reputation to posterity.  His devotion to the classics was exceptional even in that time.  He halted his army in pious respect before the birthplace of a Latin writer, carried Livy or Caesar on his campaigns with him, and his panegyrist Panormita did not think it an incredible lie to say that the king was cured of an illness by having a few pages of Quintus Curtius read to him.  The classics had not refined his taste, for he was amused by setting the wandering scholars, who swarmed to his court, to abuse one another in the indescribably filthy Latin scolding matches which were then the fashion.

Alphonso founded nothing, and after his conquest of Naples in 1442 ruled by his mercenary soldiers, and no less mercenary men of letters.  His Spanish possessions were ruled for him by his brother John.  He left his conquest of Naples to his bastard son Ferdinand; his inherited lands, Sicily and Sardinia, going to his brother John who survived him.

Place of death: Naples

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Sources

1. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018.
2. J.E. Morby. Dynasties of the World: A Chronological and Genealogical Handbook. Oxford, etc.: Oxford University Press, 1989.
3. F. Velde. Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Heraldica, 2003.
4.
Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, 11th edn, vol. 1. New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica Co., 1911.
5. P. Anselme.
Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France, 3rd edn, vol. 1. Paris: La Compagnie des Libraires Associez, 1726.
6. G. Magnier. Millenarian prophecy and the mythification of Philip III.
Sharq al-Andalus, 16-17 (1999-2002), pp. 187-209.
 

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