Frederick III of Sicily

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Frederick II (or III) (13 December 1272 – 25 June 1337) was the regent (from 1291) and subsequently King of Sicily from 1295 until his death. He was the third son of Peter III of Aragon and served in the War of the Sicilian Vespers on behalf of his father and brothers, Alfonso and James. He was confirmed as King of Trinacria (another name for the island of Sicily) by the Peace of Caltabellotta in 1302. His reign saw important constitutional reforms: the Constitutiones regales, Capitula alia, and Ordinationes generales.

Contents

Name

Although the second Frederick of Sicily, he chose to call himself "Frederick III" (being one of the rare medieval monarchs who actually used a regnal number) — presumably because only some fifty years before, his well-known and remembered great-grandfather had reigned Sicily and also used an official ordinal: Fridericus secundus, imperator etc.. Thus, Fridericus tertius was better in line with the precedent of his ancestor's ordinal. However, an anecdote attributes Frederick's choice of numeral to him being the third son of Peter. The next man called Frederick to occupy the Sicilian throne was dubbed by later generations of historians as Frederick III: Frederick III the Simple, though he himself did not use an ordinal.

Biography

Early years

Frederick was born in Barcelona to Peter III of Aragon and Constantia of Sicily, daughter of King Manfred of Sicily.

When his father died in 1285, he left the Kingdom of Aragon to his eldest son, Alfonso, and that of Sicily to his second son, James. When Alfonso died in 1291, James became king of Aragon and left Frederick as regent in Sicily. The war between the Angevins, who contested the title to Sicily from their peninsular possessions centred around Naples (the so-called Kingdom of Naples), and the Aragonese for the possession of the island was still in progress, and although the Aragonese were successful in Italy, James’ position in Spain became very insecure due to internal troubles and French attacks. Peace negotiations were begun with Charles II of Naples, but were interrupted by the successive deaths of two popes. At last, under the auspices of Pope Boniface VIII, James concluded a shameful treaty, by which, in exchange for being left undisturbed in Aragon and promised possession of Sardinia and Corsica, he gave up Sicily to the Church, for whom it was to be held by the Angevins (Treaty of Anagni, 10 June 1295). The Sicilians refused to be made over once more to the hated French they had expelled in 1282 (in the Sicilian Vespers), and found a national leader in the regent Frederick. In vain the pope tried to bribe him with promises and dignities; he was determined to stand by his subjects, and was crowned king by the nobles at Palermo in 1296. Young, brave, and handsome, he won the love and devotion of his people, and guided them through long years of storm and stress with wisdom and ability.

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