“On May 29, 1343, Francesco Petrarch (1304–74) wrote to Robert’s former secretary, Barbato da Sulmona (d. 1363), about the state of affairs in Naples. …Petrarch’s letter describes his grief over Robert’s death and his fears about impending disaster in the divided court: I am really alarmed about the youthfulness of the young queen, and of the new king, about the age and intent of [Sancia], about the talents and ways of the courtiers. I wish that I could be a lying prophet about these things, but I see two lambs entrusted to the care of a multitude of wolves, and I see a kingdom without a king. How can I call someone a king who is ruled by another and who is exposed to the greed of so many and (I sadly add) to the cruelty of so many? …Some days later, Petrarch wrote again to Cardinal Colonna to describe the gangs of noblemen who terrorized Naples by night and the bloody gladiatorial games staged there by day.
The royal family sanctioned the games, and, according to Petrarch, on the day he accidentally happened upon them, “the Queen was present, as was Prince Andrew, a boy of noble mind, if ever he were to assume the long-deferred crown.” Petrarch saw a troubling connection between the nightly brigandage and daytime gladiatorial games. He presented the Regno’s chief city as mired in immorality, a place where evil was tolerated and even supported by those designated to rule. Furthermore, he seems in this letter to anticipate the day when Andrew would don the “long-deferred crown” and restore order to the kingdom. His letter suggests that he hoped Andrew would grow from a noble-minded boy into a mature king who would rule alongside Johanna, whom Petrarch unquestionably recognized as the Regno’s queen. His picture of her rule, however, suggests that she was as yet unfit to reign and that the governing council meant to prevent disorder had led Naples into chaos and violence.
…As time passed and Johanna became increasingly intractable and her supporters—to whom she alienated vast amounts of territory—were increasingly reputed to control Naples, Clement began to insist that Andrew be recognized as Johanna’s co-ruler, in name if not in fact. On March 31, 1344, he wrote to the Regno via Aimery, informing its people that Andrew and Johanna were to be anointed as king and queen, thus giving Andrew public recognition as Johanna’s titular equal. From mid-April onward, Clement insisted that Andrew be allowed some part in the administration, and he began to address both Andrew and Johanna in official correspondence. Yet Clement’s letters to Aimery about the Regno’s administration continue to refer solely to Johanna as monarch. In a letter of May 22, 1344, regarding Johanna’s oath of fealty to her papal suzerain, no mention is made of Andrew at all.
…Attempting to persuade Johanna of Andrew’s merit, Clement described his beata stirps and royal lineage, insisting that he was possessed of innate goodness and virtue, with elegance, circumspection, and diligence—to the extent that his age would allow. Furthermore, the pope wrote, Andrew had inherited and exhibited the attractive ways of his forebears, which, with the aid of divine grace, must (one day) make him a vigorous man with many virtues. Yet Andrew’s potential lay in the future—what Clement saw in him was but the promise of the man he might become, and he seems to have had little idea of allowing Andrew to actually rule Naples. Matters came to a head early in the summer of 1345. Aimery, despite Clement’s initial determination to recall him from Naples in December 1344, had remained to monitor the explosive situation.
Writing to Philip VI of France on May 11, Clement explained that Johanna continued to make territorial alienations and refused to allow Andrew to participate in government business. On June 10, 1345, Clement instructed Johanna in no uncertain terms to allow Andrew to be crowned, anointed, and allowed into her administration. In a second letter of the same day, Clement again told her that she should allow Andrew to partake in the administration of the realm and not hinder his kingship with “contrary suggestions.” Yet, despite Hungarian threats, Neapolitan plots, and the growing impatience of the papacy, Johanna refused to capitulate. She wrote to Clement objecting to Andrew’s elevation, expressing her determination to retain control of her administration and arguing that no one could better look after Andrew’s interests and honor than she herself—suggesting an interesting inversion in Johanna’s understanding of gender roles within her marriage.
Clement’s irritation with Johanna was clearly growing. On July 9, he threatened her with excommunication if she continued to make territorial alienations. He attributed the bad blood between Andrew and Johanna to the machinations of their familiars—including the very people to whom Johanna was making such large donations—who sowed discord between them to further their own interests and influence. Aimery’s reports depict the Neapolitan court as the proverbial house divided against itself, its factionalism approaching mayhem. Yet later in the summer, partially owing to the intervention of Guillaume Lamy, bishop of Chartres (d. 1349), who replaced Aimery as papal nuncio and Johanna’s advisor in February 1345, the situation seemed to have ameliorated. Clement could praise both Andrew and Johanna for having surrounded themselves with wise, God-fearing advisors.
It was at about this time that Johanna’s pregnancy, and thus the imminent birth of an heir, was announced, and it seemed that impending parenthood might bring peace to Naples’s embattled royal couple. The brief peace was not to last. On July 28, 1345, Sancia died, and with her death the ruling council Robert had established—already rendered formally defunct by Aimery—died as well. Without her influence, bedlam broke out. Johanna was reportedly engaged in numerous adulterous affairs, including with her cousin, Louis of Taranto (d. 1362). Guillaume Lamy wrote to Clement in frustration that Johanna had abandoned her husband to the mockery of her retinue. The Tuscan scholar Donato degli Albanzani, commenting on his friend Giovanni Boccaccio’s Eclogues, later wrote of rumors that Johanna and her followers openly laughed at Andrew, while the Neapolitan Domenico da Gravina (d. ca. 1355) recorded in his Chronicle that Andrew grew incensed by his ill treatment and made childish demonstrations of military prowess as a threat of future retaliation against his enemies, should he ever come into power.
Further rumors of this sort reached Clement, who wrote to Johanna in May 1346 about sinister allegations regarding her conduct during Andrew’s life. Late in the summer, Clement decided that Andrew must quickly be given a real role in government. He instructed Aimery to crown and anoint Andrew, and plans for the coronation went forward. The legate set out for Naples from Avignon with a papal bull empowering him to perform a double coronation of the king and queen, who would be anointed together and recognized as co-rulers of the Regno. Clement began to send letters addressed only to Andrew regarding how he should treat papal representatives, probably because he feared Johanna would attempt to prevent the coronation. Indeed, on September 20, more than a day after Andrew’s murder, he wrote to Johanna warning her not to temporize about being crowned and anointed; the next day he wrote to Andrew, telling him to delay the ceremony no longer.
Even at this juncture, Andrew was not accorded specific powers; indeed, he was forced to sign a document stating that he had no rights to the kingdom. Johanna’s pregnancy made the issue of who should succeed her if she died in childbirth urgent. Andrew and all of the Neapolitan clergy and nobility were required to swear a public oath that Andrew would not be declared king if Johanna died. Whatever his claims about Andrew’s suitability for rulership, Clement clearly believed that he would seize the throne if given the opportunity—an eventuality Clement feared and sought to prevent. Johanna was unquestionably the queen regnant, and it was she whom Clement meant to rule Naples. Up to this point, Clement had trusted Andrew only with small matters and had placated him with virtually empty concessions. Even in preparing for his coronation, Clement felt the need to ensure that Andrew could not wield power independently. The pope’s caution, however, proved insufficient to calm the anxieties plaguing the factions in Naples, whose members must have feared the power that fatherhood and even nominal kingship would give Andrew.”
- Elizabeth Casteen, “The Murder of Andrew of Hungary and the Making of a Neapolitan She–Wolf.” in From She-Wolf to Martyr: The Reign and Disputed Reputation of Johanna I of Naples