Alfonso of Aragon Historical Profile

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ALFONSO OF ARAGON Historical Profile
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ALFONSO OF ARAGON (Duke of Bisceglie) STATS
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Name: Alfonso of Aragon (d'Aragona)
Born: 1481
Home town: Naples or environs
Died: 18 August 1500
Position: Duke of Bisceglie and Prince of Salerno
House of: 'Aragon' denotes his paternal family - he was the illegitimate son of Alfonso II of Aragon (Duke of Calabria and briefly King of Naples)
Personality type: Exceptionally handsome young nobleman, genuinely in love with Lucrezia
Hobbies: War, love, the hunt, despising his brother-in-law Cesare Borgia
Strength(s): Young, brave, and likely in love with his beautiful, charming wife
Weakness(es): Known to be jealous of his brother in-law Cesare Borgia due to the close relationship between him and Lucrezia.
Quirks: Brazen - allegedly aimed a cross-bow at Cesare from an open window


Pisanello, Medal of Alfonso of Aragon



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ALFONSO OF ARAGON BIO
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Alfonso of Aragon, Duke of Bisceglie and Prince of Salerno (1481 - 18 August 1500) was a member of the royal family of Aragon and Naples, being the illegitimate son of Alfonso II of King of Naples (born 1448 - died 1495). His father, Alfonso, (duke of Calabria and later reigned as King Alfonso II) was a cousin of Ferdinand II of Aragon. The duke of Bisceglie's father, King Alfonso II of Naples, only ruled from January 1494 to January 1495. He abdicated in favour of his legitimate son and heir, Ferrante II of Naples (Ferrantino, born 1469 - died 1496, who only ruled from late 1495 until his untimely death in September 1496).

After the murder of his beloved son Juan Borgia, (1497) Pope Alexander VI's ambitions to ally his family with the Kingdom of Naples now turned towards marrying his daughter Lucrezia to the illegitimate son of the late king Alfonso II. Alfonso Bisceglie's sister, Sancia of Aragon, was given the principality of Squillace as her dowry when she wed the pope's youngest son Jofre Borgia. Alexander's original idea was for his son Cesare (by 1497 no longer a cardinal) to marry Carlotta (Charlotte), legitimate daughter of the newly crowned King Federico IV of Naples, (Frederick, born 1452 - died 1504). King Federico was adamantly against this match. To appease the holy father king Federico consented to a match between Lucrezia and the illegitimate son of the late(previous) king Alfonso II - Alfonso duke of Bisceglie.

Alfonso and Lucrezia were married in the Vatican on July 21, 1498. With Alfonso came the princely cities of Salerno, Quadrata, and Bisceglie. Lucrezia brought with her a dowry of 40,000 ducats. Lucrezia and Alfonso did not retire to Bbisceglie but rather stayed inRome at the request of the pope. It was part of the agreement that they would remain in Rome for at least one year and not be forced to live permanently at Bisceglie until her father's death (from a despatch of Giovanni Cataneo, Rome 8 August 1498, Gonzaga Archives, quoted by Gregorovius, p. 113). According to Gregorovius, "the youthful Alfonso was fair and amiable...a Roman chronicler pronounced him the handsomest young man ever seen in the Imperial city. According to a statement made by the mantuan agent in August, Lucrezia was really fond of him. A sudden change in affairs, however, deprived her of the calm joys of domestic life" (Ibid). In July of 1499 - less than one year after his wedding - Alfonso fled Rome in fear, probably due to the shift in alliegances and the impending French invasion of Milan and Naples simultaneously. His flight incensed the pope who sent troops after him but failed to find him in hiding. Lucrezia was constantly in tears and six months pregnant. Eventually the pope sent Lucrezia to Spoleto (as its ruler, guided by a council) and ordered her to lure Alfonso there, which she did. Lucrezia and Alfosno returned to Romein the autumn, where she gave birth to a son on November 1, 1499. He was christened Rodrigo.

"From the Borgia point of view, Lucrezia's marriage to the Duke of Bisceglie was by 1500 politically useless, and Duke Alfonso had enemies at Rome amongst the baronial families, including the Orsini. At the same time, he became increasingly antagonistic to Cesare, whose every action he suspected. More than one person therefore had reason to try to attack Alfonso, and it seems possible that the Orsini engineered the attempt on his life in July, 1500, rather than Cesare. Quite certainly, however, Alfonso suspected his brother-in-law and during his temporary convalescence he tried to shoot him in the Vatican Gardens. In return, Cesare openly planned to kill Alfonso, and other writers more explicitly recorded what Burchard only circumspectly noted: on August 18, 1500, Cesare forced his way into Alfonso's apartment, despite the pleas of Lucrezia and Sancia who were tending him, and Michelotto strangled the doomed man. Popular reaction in Rome was profound, but significantly the pope did nothing. Cesare's ascendancy over his father was marked, and the crime opened the way for him to complete his ties with France." - Geoffrey Parker, editor At the Court of the Borgia by Johann Burchard, p. 182

See below for an account of the murder of young Alfonso.

At this time the pope was trying to prevent the French King Charles VIII (who died in 1498) in taking control of Naples and Sicily. As members of the league of Venice (1495), the pope and the Catholic Monarchs successfully protected the new king, Ferrante II of Naples (Ferrantino), who died without issue in 1496. The throne then went to his uncle Frederick (Federigo) who was deposed in 1501 as the French under the new king Louis XII agreed to partition the kingdom with King (of unified Spain) Ferdinand II of Aragon. The agreement failed, however, and Louis XII claimed the right to rule the kingdom through his father's Angevin claim to the throne of Naples (which was in dispute even before the Aragonese conquest of 1442). Italy andSpain went to war with France, exacerbating the long-drawn out series of battles known as the Italian Wars, but the Spanish general Gonsalvo de Cordoba gradually overcame the French armies. Naples became a Spanish possession by 1504 and remained so for the next two and a half centuries.


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FROM JOHANN BURCHARD'S DIARY "LIBER NOTARIUM":
"On Wednesday, July 15th, at six o'clock in the evening, Don Alfonso of Aragon, the Duke of Bisceglia and Donna Lucrezia's husband, was attacked at the top of the steps before the entrance to St Peter's Basilica. He was gravely wounded in his head, right arm and leg, whilst his assailants escaped down the steps to join about forty waiting horsemen, with whom they rode out of the city by the Porta Portusa. The duke, badly wounded, was carried to a room in the Torre Borgia, and there was carefully tended to prevent his dying from his injuries. But on Tuesday, August 18th, he was strangled in his bed at about eleven o'clock, and later on that same evening, his body was carried to the Basilica of St Peter and there deposited in the Chapel of Santa Maria della Febbre. Don Francesco Borgia, the Archbishop of Cosenza and the papal treasurer, with his household, provided the escort for the funeral procession. The doctors who had attended the dead man were seized and taken to the Castel Sant' Angelo, together with a certain hunchback who had been accustomed to look after the duke, but after close questioning, they were soon released for they were innocent, and the man who ordered the deed was well known.

Her Highness Donna Lucrezia, lately of Aragon, left Rome on Monday, August 31st, with only a retinue of six horsemen, to ride to Nepi and there seek consolation and relief for her sadness and grief at the death of her husband."
Johann Burchard, At the Court of the Borgia, The Folio Society, 2002 edition, page 183.



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page logo ALFONSO OF ARAGON QUOTES
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page logo ALFONSO OF ARAGON TRIVIA
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  • Aimed a crossbow at Cesare Borgia through an open window
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page logo ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND MATERIALS
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BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS WEBSITES & MEDIA
  • Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy (Sarah Bradford), pages 73-80 for the wedding ceremonies and marriage to Lucrezia
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