1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ferdinand I. of Naples

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FERDINAND I. (1423–1494), also called Don Ferrante, king of Naples, the natural son of Alphonso V. of Aragon and I. of Sicily and Naples, was born in 1423. In accordance with his father’s will, he succeeded him on the throne of Naples in 1458, but Pope Calixtus III. declared the line of Aragon extinct and the kingdom a fief of the church. But although he died before he could make good his claim (August 1458), and the new Pope Pius II. recognized Ferdinand, John of Anjou, profiting by the discontent of the Neapolitan barons, decided to try to regain the throne conquered by his ancestors, and invaded Naples. Ferdinand was severely defeated by the Angevins and the rebels at Sarno in July 1460, but with the help of Alessandro Sforza and of the Albanian chief, Skanderbeg, who chivalrously came to the aid of the prince whose father had aided him, he triumphed over his enemies, and by 1464 had re-established his authority in the kingdom. In 1478 he allied himself with Pope Sixtus IV. against Lorenzo de’ Medici, but the latter journeyed alone to Naples when he succeeded in negotiating an honourable peace with Ferdinand. In 1480 the Turks captured Otranto, and massacred the majority of the inhabitants, but in the following year it was retaken by his son Alphonso, duke of Calabria. His oppressive government led in 1485 to an attempt at revolt on the part of the nobles, led by Francesca Coppola and Antonello Sanseverino and supported by Pope Innocent VIII.; the rising having been crushed, many of the nobles, notwithstanding Ferdinand’s promise of a general amnesty, were afterwards treacherously murdered at his express command. In 1493 Charles VIII. of France was preparing to invade Italy for the conquest of Naples, and Ferdinand realized that this was a greater danger than any he had yet faced. With almost prophetic instinct he warned the Italian princes of the calamities in store for them, but his negotiations with Pope Alexander VI. and Ludovico il Moro, lord of Milan, having failed, he died in January 1494, worn out with anxiety. Ferdinand was gifted with great courage and real political ability, but his method of government was vicious and disastrous. His financial administration was based on oppressive and dishonest monopolies, and he was mercilessly severe and utterly treacherous towards his enemies.

Authorities.Codice Aragonese, edited by F. Trinchera (Naples, 1866–1874); P. Giannone, Istoria Civile del Regno di Napoli; J. Alvini, De gestis regum Neapol. ab Aragonia (Naples, 1588); S. de Sismondi, Histoire des républiques italiennes, vols. v. and vi. (Brussels, 1838); P. Villari, Machiavelli, pp. 60-64 (Engl. transl., London, 1892); for the revolt of the nobles in 1485 see Camillo Porzio, La Congiura dei Baroni (first published Rome, 1565; many subsequent editions), written in the Royalist interest.  (L. V.*)