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Ladislao di Durazzo: il re di Napoli che provò a conquistare l'Italia intera

Ladislao di Durazzo: the king of Naples who tried to conquer the whole of Italy

by Federico Quagliuolo

Ladislao of Durazzo it was the king who tried to unite Italy under a single crown four hundred years before the Risorgimento. Even if the ideals that moved him were very different from those that inspired the carbonar motions.

We work with the imagination, often nailed to the events of 1861: via i Savoia and via i Bourbon. Via Garibaldi and via Mazzini. They weren't even born.
We meet at the end of the Middle Ages, under the reign of King Ladislao of Durazzo, who rests today in gigantic mausoleum in the church of San Giovanni in Carbonara.

Ladislao di Durazzo monumento
The monument to Ladislao di Durazzo in the church of San Giovanni in Carbonara

Ladislao di Durazzo, an ambitious and ruthless king

He ran the year 1399 and the whole of Southern Italy was upset by dynastic struggles, eager to fill the created void from the imminent collapse of the Angevin dynasty, divided by the Western schism it created Popes and Antipopes.
Between the swords, the blood and the struggles of the barons of Puglia and Calabria, emerged with ferocity and strength a very young Ladislao.
And, like today a young man of 23 years dreams of finishing his studies and succeeding in life, Ladislao at the same age dreamed of conquer the world. Or at least Italy.
Young, ambitious, crazy and bold: his dreams were bigger than the world he lived in, but that didn't matter to him. Somehow - he thought - it would become the most powerful emperor in Europe starting right from the Naples that he had conquered in long and complex political events, ferried to success with mastery from father Charles III.

With his rebellious and brazen attitude, he found alone enemies on his way: hated by the French, by the Pope and by the Antipope, by all of Northern Italy and by the Neapolitan nobles themselves, Ladislao had no problem inflicting bereavement to anyone who goes against him.
THE internal enemies they were in fact those who worried him most and who created numerous problems for the Angevins when they arrived in Naples with Charles. Not to mention the troubles that will pass Ferrante I of Aragon a few years later!

Ladislao di Durazzo: il re di Napoli che provò a conquistare l'Italia intera

The conquest of Italy: a war against everyone

Silence all opponents in the kingdom, between murders, agreements with the Pope and marriages among allied families, Ladislao left for his dream: launched the Neapolitan army to the conquest of the whole of Italy. And he began by marching against one of his own ally: dad.

Wiped out in three years the entire Papal State: the Neapolitans besieged Rome and, in 1408, the city was conquered after an unsuccessful first siege. With one step arrived in Perugia and with another step Ladislao di Durazzò arrived at Talamone, on the border of Tuscany.

Aut Caesar, aut nihil! (Either Caesar or nothing!)

The motto of Ladislao di Durazzo, later taken up by Cesare Borgia

Northern Italy was already shaking and asked for help from Louis II of Anjou, who came down from France to stop Ladislao.
Florence and Siena they therefore decided to create the League, also composed of Bologna and other cities in central Italy, which they tried to slow the impetuous advance of the troops of the Kingdom of Naples. They succeeded, not without very serious losses, leading the King of Naples to sign a peace. But they liberated Rome in 1410 and the Pope returned to the throne of Peter.
The troops of Louis II, advancing towards Naples. The French were annihilated and forced to retreat, Rome was invaded and sacked and Florence was the last stronghold free from the control of Naples before arriving at the gates of the northern dominions.

Ladislao conquiste
The conquests of Ladislao di Durazzo at the time of the Italian campaign

One step away from the dream

It was the 1414 and Ladislao di Durazzo already felt the crown that would transform him into his own first King of Italy: there was no enemy but trembled in front of his gaze and it was even said that could not be killed by any living man.
Very true: it was not a man, but a disease to bring Ladislao di Durazzi to the tomb at only 38 years old, just as he was leaving at the conquest of Florence which, without allies, it seemed now close to surrender.

Naples and its entire kingdom fell in chaos and, after him, the throne passed to his sister, Joan of Anjou. Was missing

To see united Italy, instead, we will have to wait four hundred years and the future capital will be called Turin. And Ladislao will remain as a small footnote in the history books.

Mysteries about the death of Ladislao di Durazzo

Ladislao's death is really a mystery and there are two thoughts on this:

the chronicle of the time was convinced that it had been poisoned by his Florentine enemies. On the other hand, it was one strategic and mysterious death, just like that of Alexander the Great. Killing Ladislao meant get rid of enemy number one half of Italy.

On the other hand, modern historians attribute death to sexual habits of the King.
Ladislao was in fact usual getting lost in the craziest and most dissolute sexual rituals as in festivals of ancient Rome and, most likely, he must have contracted one disease just for the bad hygienic conditions of the time.

-Federico Quagliuolo

References:
Gio. Antonio Summonte, Historia of the city and of the Kingdom of Naples, Antonio Bulifon, 1671
https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/ladislao-d-angio-durazzo-re-di-sicilia_(Dizionario-Biografico)/

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