Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Margaret of Durazzo: Queen and Regent--and Mother of a Queen

Margaret of Durazzo, queen and regent of Naples (born 28 July 1347)

Margaret of Durazzo was daughter of Charles of Durazzo and Maria of Calabria--whose elder sister was Joanna I, queen regnant of Naples.

In 1370, Margaret of Durazzo was married to her cousin, also named Charles of Durazzo (confusing, isn't it?). The Charles of Durazzo who was Margaret's husband had been held as a hostage for his father's good behavior by Joanna I. Although the queen opposed the marriage for her own political reasons, the two, who were first cousins, received a papal dispensation in order to marry.

Margaret of Durazzo
The conflict between Joanna I and Pope Urban VI, whom she had once supported, involved more than this question of marriage--in 1382, the pope dethroned Joanna and awarded her crown to Margaret of Durazzo's husband. Of course Joanna just didn't hand over Naples to him--he had to fight for the kingdom. And after he captured Joanna, he had her strangled. 

And thus Margaret of Durazzo became queen of Naples. The pope then became suspicious that Charles, now king of Naples, was plotting against him--so he excommunicated both King Charles and Queen Margaret, placing Naples under interdict in 1385. But as the conflict continued, Urban found himself imprisoned by Charles, although he ultimately managed to escape to Genoa.

Meanwhile, Charles of Durazzo, king of Naples, now claimed the throne of Hungary, deposing the country's ruling queen, Mary. He was successful--but only briefly. He was assassinated on 7 February 1386.

Back in Naples, Margaret of Durazzo, queen consort of Naples, now became regent of Naples for her nine-year-old son, Ladislaus. But Pope Urban refused to recognize him and called for a crusade against him. Overwhelmed by opposing forces, Margaret and her son were forced to retreat into the fortress of Gaeta. Fortunately for mother and son, Urban died in 1389 and was replaced by Boniface IX, who recognized Ladislaus's title. 

Margaret of Durazzo's tomb,
Cathedral of Salerno
Margaret's regency ended in 1400, and she retired to Salerno, where she became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis, a lay order whose members lived in community and dedicated their lives to prayer and service. She died on 6 August 1412. 

Margaret's son, Ladislaus "the Magnificent," king of Naples and titular king of Jerusalem, ruled Naples until his death in 1417. He was succeeded by a woman we have met before, his sister Joanna, who ruled Naples as Joanna II.