Queen Maria transferred her Hungarian dynastic rights to her eldest son, Charles Martel of Anjou (1271 – 95), who died young, and with Andrew III finding it difficult to assert his authority the Angevin claim was supported by Hungary’s Church leaders. Charles Martel’s son, Charles Robert (1288 – 1342), pursued his claim to the throne in Hungary from 1300 onwards, and his coronation as Charles I of Hungary in 1312 marks the start of the Hungarian Angevins’ dynastic history. Primogeniture should have also made him his grandfather’s heir in Naples, but Charles II chose his youngest son Robert of Anjou (1277 – 1343) as successor.
Crowned king in 1309, Robert was an enlightened patron of the arts, and as leader of the Guelph party in Italian politics he resisted the territorial ambitions of the emperor Louis IV (1282 – 1347) in north Italy. Ancestral guilt about Charles I of Hungary’s exclusion from the line of Neapolitan succession nonetheless clung to Robert, and following the death of his own son and heir he wished to make reparation. He therefore arranged for his grand-daughter Joanna (1328 – 82) – who had become his heir – to marry prince Andrew, Charles I of Hungary’s younger son and the brother of Louis I (1326 – 82), who succeeded to the Hungarian throne in 1342. The Angevin dynasty’s Italianizing influence had by now raised Hungary to new levels of cultural achievement and economic growth, and in 1370 Louis also became king of Poland in succession to his maternal uncle, Casimir III.
In his will, King Robert of Naples specified that Prince Andrew and Joanna were both to be crowned monarchs of Naples in their own right. Joanna, however, refused to share sovereignty, and in August 1344 she was crowned sole monarch. In 1345 her husband Andrew was murdered by Neapolitan aristocrats determined to prevent his coronation, and although a trial held under papal auspices in Avignon acquitted Joanna of complicity the event undermined her authority.
Determined to avenge his brother’s murder, Louis invaded Naples on several expeditions conducted in 1346 – 48 and again in 1350 but failed to establish himself as the kingdom’s permanent ruler. The beleaguered queen’s decision to adopt Louis I of Anjou (1339 – 84), a younger son of John II of France, as her heir established a junior Angevin line in opposition to the senior line whose rights of succession were represented by Charles of Durazzo (1345 – 86), a direct descendant of Charles II.
Joanna’s support for the Avignon papacy during the western schism led in 1381 to her official condemnation by Pope Urban VI as a heretic. He bestowed her kingdom, which was a papal fief, on Charles of Durazzo, who arranged for Joanna to be murdered in 1382. The prince of Durazzo then ruled as Charles III of Naples, and he also tried to seize the Hungarian throne after Louis I died and during the minority of Louis’s heir, Mary (c. 1371 – 95). Here though he was less successful. The Hungarian Queen Mother Elisabeth arranged for Charles’s assassination on 7th February 1386, and Mary was reinstated. Mary’s husband Sigismund (1368 – 1437), originally a German prince whose father was the emperor Charles IV, became entirely devoted to the Hungarian cause, and his long reign as king of Hungary from 1387 onwards ended any prospects of the Angevin restoration.
Charles III was succeeded as king of Naples by his son Ladislaus (1376 – 1414), who nonetheless had to fight Louis II of Anjou (1377 – 1417) for his inheritance. Louis II reigned in Naples for ten years (1389 – 99) before being ejected by forces loyal to Ladislaus, whose sister and successor Joan II of Naples (1373 – 1435) was the last Anjou-Durazzo to reign in Naples. Local anti-French sentiment was revived by the behaviour of Joan’s husband, James of Bourbon (1370 – 1438), the count of la Marche who acquired the title of king marriage. After a riot broke out in Naples in 1416 James had to remove the French administrators he had introduced to the kingdom. Renouncing his regal title, James had left Naples by 1419 and the senior Angevin line of Neapolitan monarch became extinct when Joan died.
She had settled the succession on René of Anjou (1409 – 80) of the junior Angevin line, but his reign was brief (1438 – 42). Following a successful siege of Naples in 1441-42, Alfonso V (1396 – 1458), king of Aragon and of Sicily, accomplished the tremendous feat of reuniting the island of Sicily with the southern Italian mainland in one kingdom, which he ruled as a dependency of Aragon.