Lost Kingdoms – Kingdom of Sicily

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The Kingdom of Sicily began its life in 1130 when it was created by Count Roger II of Sicily with the agreement of Pope Innocent II.

Roger was married three times. His first wife was Elvira of Castile who was thus the first Queen of Sicily. They went on to have six children together, and Elvira died in 1135. He remarried in 1149 when he had outlived four of the five sons he had with Elvira. His second wife was Sibylla of Burgundy, but she died a year after their wedding giving birth to a stillborn child. In 1151, he remarried for a third time to Beatrice of Rethel. She was three weeks pregnant with a daughter named Constance when she was widowed. Roger left the throne to his last surviving son, now King William I of Sicily.

Henry VI and Constance (public domain)

William was married to Margaret of Navarre, and they had four sons together, though two would predecease their father. Though it was not a particularly happy marriage, Margaret was left to act as regent for their eldest surviving son upon her husband’s death in 1166. He became King William II at the age of 16. In 1177, he married Joan of England, daughter of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, but they would not have any surviving issue. In 1184, William released his 30-year-old aunt Constance for the convent she had been confined in and married her off to the future Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, perhaps in an attempt to secure the succession. Upon William’s death in 1189, he was succeeded by Tancred, Count of Lecce, an illegitimate grandson of King Roger II, who had the support of the Norman nobles.

Tancred had married Sibylla of Acerra and had six children by her. He crowned his eldest son co-King in 1193, and he became King Roger III. However, he died later that same year. Tancred died in 1194, and he was succeeded by his second son, still only a child, became King William III of Sicily. Meanwhile, Constance’s rival claim to the throne still loomed. Constance’s husband Henry marched on Sicily and dethroned the child King. His subsequent fate is unknown. Constance and Henry were now the King and Queen of Sicily. Constance was 40 years old and after nine years of marriage was pregnant for the first time. Knowing that many would doubt that the child was truly hers, she gave birth to her son in a tent in the market square, and she later returned to publicly breastfeed him. Constance died after a reign of just four years and was succeeded by her only child, the four-year-old Frederick. Her son also became Holy Roman Emperor in 1220 as Frederick II.

Frederick would leave both legitimate and illegitimate issue. His first wife was Constance of Aragon, who was 16 years older than him. They had one son named Henry together. Constance died in 1222 of malaria. In 1225, he remarried to Queen Isabella II of Jerusalem, and he became King of Jerusalem by right of his wife. Isabella gave birth to a short-lived daughter in 1226 and Isabella died in 1228 giving birth to a son – who survived – by the name of Conrad. She was still only 15 or 16 years old. In 1235, Frederick married for a third time – to Isabella of England, daughter of John, King of England and Isabella of Angoulême. They probably had at least four children but only one daughter – named Margaret – survived to adulthood. Isabella died in 1141 after giving birth to Margaret. Frederick also had at least three children – including a son named Manfred – with Bianca Lancia. Upon Frederick’s death in 1250, he was succeeded as King of Sicily by his second son Conrad, as his eldest son Henry had predeceased him. Conrad had already become King of Jerusalem upon his mother’s death.

Conrad had married Elisabeth of Bavaria in 1246, and they had one son named Conradin together. Conrad died after a reign of just four years as King of Sicily, and his young son Conradin became King of Jerusalem and King of Sicily under the regency of his uncle, Manfred. Tragically, Conradin would die in battle at the age of 16, leaving no issue. The heiress of the Kingdom of Sicily was his aunt Margaret, half-sister of his father, Conrad. Her son Frederick claimed Sicily by right of his mother. However, this claim was unpopular and his illegitimate uncle Manfred became King of Sicily.

Manfred married Beatrice of Savoy in 1247, and they had one daughter named Constance together. Beatrice was never Queen of Sicily because she died before her husband became King. He remarried to Helena Angelina Doukaina in 1259, and they went on to have at least five children before her husband was killed in battle in 1266. Manfred was defeated at the Battle of Benevento by a rival claimant named Charles of Anjou. Charles imprisoned Helena for the last five years of her life.

Charles had the support of the Holy See, but his hold on the Kingdom was tenuous. The island and the territories on the mainland were divided. Charles was married twice. His first wife was Beatrice of Provence, and they had at least six children together. She died a year after her husband became King of Sicily. In 1268, he remarried to Margaret of Burgundy, but their only daughter died in infancy. Upon Charles’s death in 1285, he was succeeded in the mainland territories (later better known as the Kingdom of Naples) by his son, now King Charles II of Sicily. On the island, he was succeeded by King Peter III of Aragon and his wife Constance of Sicily, the daughter of Manfred. We will follow the island line.

Constance and Peter had married in 1262, and they had six children together. Peter died in 1285 and was succeeded as King of Aragon by their eldest son, now King Alfonso III of Aragon. Alfonso died in 1291 without leaving issue and was succeeded in Aragon by his younger brother, now King James II. James also succeeded his mother as King of Sicily upon her death in 1302. James was married four times. His first wife was Isabella of Castile, but this marriage was annulled. His second wife was Blanche of Anjou, who gave him ten children. She died in 1310 shortly after giving birth to her tenth child. In 1315, he remarried to Marie of Lusignan, but this marriage remained childless. She died in 1319. In 1322, he remarried to Elisenda de Montcada. They too were childless, and she became a nun after her husband’s death. However, James made a peace treaty with Charles II, and he agreed to give up Sicily, but the Sicilians preferred James’s brother Frederick who became King Frederick III of Sicily.

Frederick married Eleanor of Anjou, the daughter of Charles, on the condition that the Kingdom of Sicily would revert Charles and his heirs after Frederick’s death. He and Eleanor went on to have nine children together, and he ruled the Kingdom of Sicily until his death in 1337. Despite the earlier treaty, he was succeeded as King of Sicily by his son, now King Peter II. Peter married Elisabeth of Carinthia, and they had nine children together. When Peter died in 1342, he was succeeded by his five-year-old son, now King Louis. He died in 1355 and did not leave issue. He was succeeded by his younger brother, now King Frederick IV.

Maria Carolina of Austria (public domain)

On 11 April 1361, Frederick married Constance of Aragon, and they had one daughter named Maria together. Constance died in 1363 and Frederick remarried to Antonia of Baux, but she too died after just two years of marriage. Frederick did not remarry and died in 1377. Maria was only 13 years old when her father died, and she became Queen. The regency was held by several baronial families. In 1379, she was kidnapped by a Sicilian nobleman to prevent her marriage to the Duke of Milan. She was imprisoned for two years before being rescued by an Aragonese fleet. She was taken to Aragon in 1384 where she was married to Martin the Younger, a grandson of Peter IV of Aragon. Maria and Martin returned to Sicily and defeated the barons. Their only son named Peter died before his second birthday. Maria died in 1401, and Martin managed to rule Sicily alone. He remarried to Queen Blanche I of Navarre, but they had no surviving issue. Martin died in 1409 and was briefly succeeded by his father, King Martin II of Sicily (and Aragon). The second Martin now had no legitimate issue and his nephew Infante Ferdinand of Castile became King of Aragon and Sicily. Sicily followed the Kingdom of Aragon until the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, when by the Treaty of Utrecht, Sicily was ceded to the Duke of Savoy.

Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy and later also King of Sardinia, was married to Anne Marie of Orléans and they had nine children together, though only three survived to adulthood. The Kingdom of Sicily was invaded by the Spanish in 1718, and the Duke of Savoy ceded it to Austria in 1720 by the Treaty of The Hague. Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor was now also King of Sicily. His marriage to Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel produced two surviving daughters, Maria Theresa and Maria Anna. During the War of the Polish Succession, Sicily was conquered by Charles I, Duke of Parma, also known as King Charles III of Spain. Charles was married to Maria Amalia of Saxony, and they had 13 children together, though not all survived to adulthood. His third son Ferdinand succeeded him in Naples in 1759 when he abdicated in his son’s favour.

Ferdinand was married to Maria Carolina of Austria, the daughter of Maria Theresa. They had 18 children together, though not all survived to adulthood. Ferdinand and Maria Carolina were the last King and Queen of Sicily. In 1816, the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily were merged as the new Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.


About Moniek Bloks 2701 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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