The History of Sicily

The House of Aragon (1301-1377)

In the succeeding decades, the Angevins made several unsuccessful attempts to recapture Sicily. Frederick’s troubles would not have been so severe had it not been for a treacherous baronage, many of whose members were not native Sicilians but holdovers from the regimes of Charles and James. By the time of Frederick’s death in 1337, it could be said that the island was ruled not by a king, but by a gang of noblemen.

Frederick was succeeded by his son Peter II (1304-1342), who died only five years after his father. Shortly thereafter, a Genoese merchant ship from the Levant dropped anchor in Messina, bringing to Sicily the Black Plague, which was to devastate all of Europe during the 14th century. In fact, Peter II’s son Louis died of the plague at age 16. Louis’s 14-year-old brother, Frederick IV (1341-1377), then assumed the throne in 1357, but by that time the island had become ungovernable. In fact, civil war had broken out between two leading baronial factions: the “Latins” were led by the Chiaramonte family, while the “Catalans” were led by the Ventimiglia family. The Chiaramontes allied themselves with the Angevins, now ruling southern Italy from Naples.

Peace was achieved when Palermo and Naples made an accord reaffirming Frederick’s rule in Sicily as King of Trinacria, while the Angevin monarch retained the title King of Sicily, once more. Frederick was to pay homage to the Papacy, which had returned to Rome from Avignon.


Figure on Interior Wall, Royal Palace, Courtyard, Palermo