King Ferrante I of Naples Historical ProfileThis is a featured page

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King Ferrante I of Naples Historical Profile
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KING FERRANTE I OF NAPLES STATS
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Name: Ferrante (Ferdinand) of Naples
Born: about 1425
Home town: Naples
Died: 25 January 1494
Position: King of Naples, natural son of Alfonso V of Aragon (I of Naples)
House of: Trastamara, d'Aragona
Marriage(s): Firstly to Isabella of Taranto, a wealthy Italian noblewoman; secondly to his cousin Joanna of Aragon
Personality type: Ruthless, cruel, vindictive
Famous for: Ruling Naples with a strong hand since his father's death.
Strength(s): A determined and effective politician, who held his kingdom in the face of numerous rebellions
Weakness(es): Treacherous and untrustworthy
Quirks: As well as the 'black museum', Ferrante kept pet crocodiles to devour the bodies of those who displeased him
Busto - Ferrante I di Napoli

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KING FERRANTE I OF NAPLES BIO
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Ferrante was the only son of King Alfonso 'the Magnanimous', who conqueredNaples in 1443. He was born somewhere between 1423 and 1431 in Aragon, with a birth date of around 1425 being the most likely. His mother was Geraldine Carlino, whom Alfonso also brought from Spain to Naples. In the absence of any legitimate children, Alfonso trained Ferrante to be the heir of Naples. In looks, Ferrante did not resemble his father - he was short, heavily-built and very dark in complexion, whilst the Trastamara kings of Aragon had fair skins and dark auburn hair. He was so dark-skinned that some observers suggested that his father was a Valencian Moor (very unlikely) or that his mother had Moorish ancestors (which is possible).

Ferrante was also unlike his father in personality. Whilst Alfonso had been ruthless when he had to be but was generally courteous and even-tempered, Ferrante was cruel, treacherous and vindictive. He murdered his enemies and had some of their bodies mummified and kept in a private museum so that he could show them to anyone considering betraying him as a warning.

Ferrante's marriage to Isabella of Taranto in 1444 brought him considerable lands in southern Italy. They had six children, two of whom, Alfonso and Frederick (Federico), became kings of Naples. Their daughter, Eleanor (Leonora), married Ercole I d'Este of Ferrara and was the mother of Alfonso I d'Este, third husband of Lucrezia Borgia. By his second marriage to his cousin Joanna of Aragon, he had one daughter, also called Joanna, and a son who died young. Ferrante also had nine illegitimate children who married into the Italian nobility.

Ferrante was fortunate that Pope Calixtus III, who had vehemently opposed his succession in Naples and who was the feudal overload of the kingdom, died in August 1458. The next Pope, Pius II recognised Ferrante's claims, but the Angevin threat and counterclaim remained. In 1460, Rene's son John of Lorraine invaded Naples and defeated Ferrante at the Battle of Sarno. But with the help of the Albanian leader Skanderbeg, he was able to defeat his enemies and re-establish his authority by 1464.


Ferrante's kingdom faced a further invasion in 1480 when an Ottoman army captured the port of Otranto. The following year, his eldest son Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, succeeded in ousting the Turks, who were disheartened by the death of their Sultan, Mehmet II. The Angevin barons continued to plot and in 1485, they rose against him under the leadership of Francesco Coppola and with the support of Pope Innocent VIII. Ferrante made a deal with the rebels under the promise of an amnesty - having quelled the revolt, he then treacherously murdered them.

By 1493, Ferrante was aware that Charles VIII of France, heir to the Angevin claims, was planning to invade Naples. His efforts to persuade the other Italian princes, which by then included Pope Alexander VI, met with limited success. However, with Spanish help, he was able to form an alliance with the Pope and arrange the marriage of his granddaughter Sancia to the Pope's son Joffre.

Ferrante died on 25th January 1494, aged about 68. Ironically, in view of his macabre hobby, his mummified body has remained in a good state of preservation to this day. Its examination by medical experts in 2006 showed that Ferrante died of colon cancer.


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page logo KING FERRANTE I OF NAPLES TRIVIA
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  • His 'black museum' of mummified enemies
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