Battle of Benevento

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The Battle of Benevento was fought near Benevento, in present-day Southern Italy, on February 26, 1266, between the troops of Charles of Anjou and Manfred of Sicily. Manfred's defeat and death resulted in the capture of the Kingdom of Sicily by Charles.

Contents

Background

The Papacy had long been in conflict with the Imperial house of Hohenstaufen over their rule in Italy. At the time of the battle, the Hohenstaufen ruler in the Kingdom of Sicily (which included Sicily and southern Italy) was Manfred, illegitimate son of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. While the rightful heir to the kingdom was Frederick's legitimate grandson Conradin, he was young and safely across the Alps in Bavaria. Taking advantage of a false rumor of Conradin's death, Manfred had usurped the throne in 1258. Pope Urban IV determined to wrench the Kingdom from him, and in 1263, concluded a secret treaty with Charles of Anjou, giving him the Sicilian throne.

Prelude

Charles reached Rome in 1265, but was temporarily halted by financial embarrassments. Manfred, however, did not take the field against him until January 1266, when Charles' main army had crossed the Alps. Alarmed by desertions among his followers and fearing further treachery, Manfred sought to bring Charles to battle as swiftly as possible. Charles attempted to turn Manfred's position at Capua by a perilous crossing of the Apennines which wrecked his supply line; but Manfred had intelligence of his move and lay in a strong position across the River Calore, crossed only by one bridge.

Charles had divided his cavalry into three "battles". The infantry and the first battle, consisting of 900 Provençals were at the front, commanded by Hugh of Mirepoix and Philip of Montfort, Lord of Castres. Behind them were the second battle, which consisted of 400 Italians and 1,000 men of Languedoc and central France. Charles would command the second battle in person. Behind them, the third battle of consisted of about 700 men from the county of Flanders under Gilles II de Trasignies, Constable of France, and Robert III of Flanders.

Manfred had adopted similar dispositions. His Saracen archers were in the fore. Behind them was the first battle, 1,200 German mercenaries armed in coats-of-plates (a novelty at the time), commanded by his cousin Giordano d'Anglano and Galvano of Anglona. The second battle consisted of the Italian mercenaries, about 1,000, and 300 Saracen light horse, commanded by his uncle Galvano Lancia. The third battle, numbering 1,400, were the feudatories of the Kingdom, under Manfred's personal command.

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