The History of Sicily

The House of Aragon (1285-1301)

Upon his death in 1285, Peter III’s realm was divided, as he had wished, between his two sons. Aragon went to the older brother, Alfonso (1265-1291); Sicily went to James (1264-1327). When James asked Pope Honorius (1210-1287) to bless his ascension to the Sicilian throne, the Pontiff excommunicated both James and his mother Constance (Manfred’s daughter and Frederick II’s granddaughter), and he placed Sicily under a Papal interdict. Clearly, Rome was still allied to the Angevins. In 1287, a combined French and Papal fleet attacked James, but the Sicilians, led by the brilliant admiral Roger of Lauria (1245-1305), defeated them.

After Alfonso of Aragon died in 1291, his crown passed to James, who then turned the Kingdom of Sicily over to their younger brother, Frederick III (1272-1337). However, James had reached an accord with the Angevins and the Papacy. A combined force, including James’s Aragonese, then attacked Sicily. But Frederick held his own and, in 1301 at Caltabellota (near Sciacca), the warring parties reached an agreement that the Angevins would again leave Sicily, but their leader, Charles II (1248-1309), the son of Charles I , was to retain the title of King of Sicily. Frederick would assume the title of King of Trinacria (the island’s ancient Greek name).

The outcome for Sicily was better than could be expected. Frederick agreed to call Parliament into session at least once a year. He also promised not to wage war or to raise taxes without Parliament’s consent.


Palermo Cathedral: Arabic, Norman, and Byzantine