History Files


European Kingdoms

Italian Peninsula





Naples in southern Italy and the adjacent island of Sicily have large swathes of shared history dating back over two thousand years, but the first known signs of settlement around Naples go back even further, to the second millennium BC. Greek settlements were established in the Naples region shortly before the first millennium, and a major settlement called Parthenope emerged during the ninth and eighth centuries BC. This city, now declining, was re-established as Neapolis in the sixth century BC and it remained important during subsequent domination by the Roman republic.

Following centuries of domination by the Roman empire, Naples' fate followed the general course of events in Italy, with control being seized in turn by the Gothic kingdom of Odoacer and then by the Ostrogoths. A resurgent Eastern Roman empire conquered southern Italy in the sixth century AD, along with much of the Mediterranean coastline. But the empire's control of Italy was never complete, and it had to face continual attacks from the Lombards who had become dominant in the north and areas of central Italy. The remaining Eastern Roman influence in the south was gradually whittled away after the sudden rise of the Islamic empire, although the Norman counts of Apulia finished off the Catepanate.

536 - 540

After arriving in Italy before the close of the previous year, General Belisarius captures Naples and enters Rome, shortly before it is besieged by the Ostrogoth King Vittigis. The city suffers starvation until the siege is lifted in 537, and Belisarius pursues his opponents to Ravenna where they are defeated and Vittigis is killed in 540.

540 - 553

Along with much of the rest of the country, Naples witnesses the to-and-fro battles between Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman military commanders who are based in Italy. The death of Totila in 552 at the Battle of Taginae allows Rome to be retaken by the Eastern Romans, who then govern Italy from Ravenna. A final defeat in battle near Mount Vesuvius in 553 means the death of the last Ostrogothic king and the end of their rule in Italy. The exarchate of Ravenna is now the main centre of power in Italy, although not the only one.

Ravenna had been the home of the last Roman emperors, as well as the capital of the succeeding Goths and Ostrogoths, before serving the same role for the Eastern Romans

575/576 - 581

Following the Lombard seizure of the region of Spoleto in 570, the Lombard military commander, Faroald, seizes Nursia and Spoleto to establish his own independent duchy. By this time, Benevento has become the capital of another Lombard commander, Zottone, and he is besieging Naples to the south, in an attempt to expand his new territory to cover all of southern Italy. The siege fails and is lifted in 581. Another siege is initiated by Zottone's successor, but this also fails.


Eastern Roman Emperor Tiberius II reorganises the surviving Roman territories in Italy into five provinces which are given the Greek name eparchies. The new provinces are the Annonaria in northern Italy around Ravenna, the duchy of Calabria, the Campania, Emilia and Liguria, and the Urbicaria around the city of Rome (Urbs). To the north, the duchy of Venice remains nominally under the service of the Eastern Romans.

early 600s

The details of the reign of Duke Arechi of Benevento seem to be fairly obscure, but he conquers Capua and Venafro in the Campania and also areas of the Basilicata and Calabria. Like his predecessor he besieges Naples, but again this attempt to conquer the south fails.

616 - 617

John of Conza / Giovanni Consino

Rebel who seized Naples. Killed by Eleutherius of Ravenna.

616 - 617

Exarch Eleutherius puts to death all those who are implicated in the death of his predecessor, but immediately Naples is withdrawn from his control by one John of Conza. Eleutherius marches on the city, retakes it for Ravenna and kills the rebel. To make the situation worse the Lombards threaten to attack, so they have to be bought off with promises of an annual tribute.

Byzantine Dukes of Neapolis
AD 638 - 755

In response to the rebellion of John of Conza in 616-617, the exarchate of Ravenna created the duchy of Naples, or Neapolis, the sixth such division of Eastern Roman territories in Italy. A military dux or duke was brought into Italy to command Naples, and he reported directly to the strategos of Sicily. The new duchy was similar in size and territory to the modern province of Naples. The earliest dukes are unknown, with the recorded list beginning only with the appointment of the first native duke in 661.

638 - ?


First dux. Name(s) unknown. Answered directly to Sicily.


Eastern Roman Emperor Constans II is highly interested in affairs in southern Italy, which causes him to move his capital to Syracuse on Sicily. He appoints a native of Naples, one Basil, as the new dux, the military commander of the city. This is not the first dux to be appointed, but it seems to be the first about whom anything concrete is known, the previous incumbents being foreigners who had been forced to answer directly to the strategos of Sicily. Now Naples is its own master, with theoretical authority over the neighbouring seaports of Amalfi, Gaeta, and Sorrento (although these are de facto autonomous).

Early medieval Naples was crowded behind its defensive walls, threatened by Lombards, and Saracens as well as neighbouring states

661 - 666


A native Neapolitan.

666 - 670

Theophilatus I / Theophylactus I

670 - 673


673 - 677

Andrew I

677 - 681

Caesarius I

681 - 687

Stephen I

687 - 696


696 - 706


706 - 711

Caesarius II

711 - 719

John I



Rimoaldo of Benevento is frequently in conflict with Spoleto and Naples during his reign. That also brings him into conflict with Rome. After capturing the castle of Cumae from Duke John and ignoring pleas from Pope Gregory II to return it in lieu of compensation, the Pope funds an expedition by Naples to recapture the castle. Rimoaldo's men are soundly defeated and expelled from Cuma.

719 - 729

Theodore I

729 - 739




George's reign sees Naples defending the Italian coast between Terracina, which lies to the north of Gaeta, and Palermo, which is located at the western tip of Sicily.

740 - 755

Gregory I

752 - 755

The exarchate of Ravenna is recaptured by the Lombards, permanently ending Byzantine influence in much of Italy. In the south, the catepanate of Italy at Bari is reorganised so that the catepan there is the chief Byzantine authority in its remaining territories, incorporating Naples and Calabria. In Naples, however, the governing dukes soon decide that they can do without the diminished authority of Constantinople, and within three years they have declared their independence of outside control.

Independent Dukes of Naples
AD 755 - 1139

The events of 752 in which Constantinople's central authority in Italy, at Ravenna, was permanently ended resulted in the former Byzantine dux becoming independent. As there was no break in rule, or any changes wrought by an external invader, the ruling office remained much as it did before the official split with Constantinople, and the numbering of dukes continued. Greek culture remained dominant, as it did throughout much of southern Italy, but Roman influence quickly began to make itself felt, and the office of duke became dynastic.

755 - 766

Stephen II

Appointed by the patrician of Sicily. Abdicated. Died 799.


Duke Stephen is quick to recognise the new political situation in Italy now that the protection of Byzantine Ravenna has gone, and he accepts Papal suzerainty by this date.

Duke Stephen governed Naples during Italy's transition from Byzantine domination to a series of patchwork states all vying for supremacy

767 - 794

Gregory II


794 - 801

Theophilatus II / Theophylactus II


801 - c.818

Anthemus / Anthimus



Anthemus demonstrates the removal of Naples from the Byzantine sphere of influence by ignoring an order by the emperor to submit its forces to a naval fleet. The fleet is to be used against the Islamic forces on Sicily, but Naples feels that it does not need to be involved, while two of its own subject cities, Amalfi and Gaeta, make up their own minds to join the fleet. Naples clearly has about as much control over its own subjects as the Byzantine emperor does over Naples.


The death of Anthemus prompts a war of succession in Naples. A number of would-be dukes come forward but Anthemus had not given his permission to the nobility for an election to take place. Left without a ruler, the city's populace unites with senior military figures to force the city council to send a delegation to Sicily. Theoctistus is appointed as the city's new duke without reference to or the approval of the Byzantine emperor.

c.818 - 821


Appointed by patrician of Sicily without imperial approval.


Theodore II

The emperor's replacement for Theoctistus.


The unpopular Theodore is chased from the city by a disgruntled population and Stephen III is elected as his replacement. This duke makes the most of his position, and the waning influence of Byzantine Constantinople, by minting coins not with the initials of the Byzantine emperor but with his own.

821 - 832

Stephen III

Established the full independence of Naples.

827 - 878

Byzantine Sicily is occupied by the Aghlabids as part of the Islamic empire. This loss virtually severs communications between Constantinople and Sardinia, leaving the island isolated. The political position in Naples also becomes less stable, with several pretenders vying for the ducal office.

832 - 834




Deposed by Andrew.

834 - 840

Andrew II

Father-in-law and usurper.


Naples is largely a military city full of troops who are prepared to fight to defend their territory. The city's outlying countryside has already been lost to the Lombards, and now Benevento besieges the city itself, as Andrew has ceased paying tribute. Determined to defend Naples, help is requested of the Saracens, presumably the Aghlabids, and the siege is duly broken. However, during Andrew's reign, the subordinate city of Gaeta slips towards full independence.

837 - 840

Warfare between Naples and Benevento continues, despite a peace treaty. Andrew calls on the Saracens for help again and when Sicardo, prince of Benevento dies in 839, Andrew calls for further help against his successor. Lothar I, king of Italy, sends Contardus to Naples to support the city's efforts. A worried Andrew plays politics by promising marriage between Contardus and his own daughter, Eupraxia, Leo's widow. Andrew continually delays the wedding into 840, so Contardus rises up and kills him, taking his place as duke of Naples.


Contardo / Contardus

Frankish general under Lothar I, king of Italy, and usurper.

840 - 864

Sergio I Contardo / Sergius I

Former dux of Cumae. Made the succession hereditary.

841 - 843

Continuing the beneficial alliance between Naples and the Saracens, Sergius aids the Aghlabid ruler, Muhammad I, in capturing Bari and Taranto (temporarily) in 841 and Apulia and Messina in 843. The emirate of Bari rules the south until 871.


Naples has now realised that the Saracens have become too powerful, and Sergius is forced to ally himself with Naples' former subject cities, Amalfi, Gaeta, and Sorrento, to force the Saracens out of Ponza. An Aghlabid fleet sails up the River Tiber and attacks Rome. The residents at the foreign schools - Franks, Saxons, Lombards and Frisians - help defend the fortifications, along with Neapolitan forces and others, but further Saracen raids are to come.


A further Aghlabid incursion threatens Rome and other Italian coastal cities, so the pope organises the creation of a defensive league. The league, under the command of Caesar, son of Duke Sergius, sails out to meet the Saracen fleet at the Battle of Ostia. A storm divides the participants halfway through the fight and the Italians return safely to port while the Saracens are scattered. Their remnants are easily picked off or captured afterwards and the successful defence of Italy is celebrated.

864 - 870

Gregory III

Son. Co-regent from 850.

870 - 877

Sergio II / Sergius II

Son. Blinded and deposed by Athanasius.


Sergio has been excommunicated by Pope John VIII for his continued friendly relations with the Aghlabids. His brother, Bishop Athanasius, also opposes him, and in this year has Sergius blinded and deposed. Initially this is done with the support of the pope, but it only takes two years in which Athanasius has not yet broken communications with the Aghlabids for him also to be excommunicated (until 886).

877 - 898


Brother. Duke-Bishop Athanasius II of Naples.


With the help of Byzantine troops, Athanasius besieges Capua, an object that he has long sought to capture. This time he is successful, and he rules Capua for some years, although in theory he is a vassal of Prince Guaimar I of Salerno.

898 - 915

Gregory IV

Son of Sergius II. Died months after Garigliano.


As the latest in a series of conflicts with the Saracens, the forces of the new Byzantine strategos of Bari, one Nicolaus Picingli, assemble alongside those of various other southern Italian princes in the Christian League. It includes Landulf I of Benevento, John I and Docibilis II of Gaeta, Gregory IV and John II of Naples, Pope John X, Guaimar II of Salerno, and Alberic I of Spoleto. The allied Byzantine-Lombard army fights and defeats the Fatamids at the Battle of Garigliano, a drawn-out combination of fights and a siege. The Saracens find themselves in a worsening situation and eventually attempt to flee, only to be captured and killed. It is a militarily significant victory in the fight against Islamic advances in Italy.

Italian knights
The defeat of the Saracens at the Battle of Garigliano was a major triumph in the war against Islamic incursions into Italy

915 - 919

John II

Son. Also at Garigliano.

919 - 928

Marino I / Marinus I


928 - 968

John III


968 - 975?

Marino II / Marinus II

Son. Co-regent from 944.

975? - 999?

Sergio III / Sergius III


999? - 1002

John IV

Son. Held in captivity for much of his reign.

999 - 1002

John is captured and taken prisoner. He is held first in Capua, and is then taken to Germany by Otto III following the latter's visit to St Nilus the Younger in Gaeta. During his absence, Naples apparently maintains its allegiance to the Byzantines, although Ademar of Spoleto is theoretically the city's overlord in John's absence. John finally reappears in 1002, possibly following release by the new emperor, Henry II.

1002 - 1027

Sergio IV / Sergius IV

Son. Defeated and deposed by Capua.

1027 - 1030

Pandulf IV of Capua defeats and deposes Sergius for giving asylum to his own enemy, the deposed Pandulf V of Capua, but his victory is short-lived. A Norman army under Rainulf Drengot, former ally of Pandulf, arrives in 1029 to dislodge him. A grateful Sergius grants Rainulf the county of Aversa in reward. Sergius later cements this newfound alliance with marriages, but when these break down, his Norman allies abandon him.

1030 - 1036

Sergio IV / Sergius IV

Restored. Abdicated and died shortly after second abdication.


Still scheming against Sergius, Pandulf IV instigates a revolt in Sorrento which allows him to annexe it to Capua. In the same year, Sergius' sister dies and Rainulf Drengot returns to Pandulf as his ally. Sergius is broken by these defeats, and within two years he retires to a monastery, the Holy Saviour in insula maris.

1036 - 1050

John V



Sergio IV / Sergius IV

Returned briefly to act as regent in John's absence.


This year sees the death of Rainulf Drengot, who still holds the county of Aversa which had originally been granted to him by the duke of Naples. Despite the protestations of Guaimar IV of Salerno, the county passes to Rainulf's nephew, Asclettin Drengot. Later that same year, Guaimar opposes the succession of Asclettin's cousin, Rainulf Trincanocte, but again is overridden. These quarrels lead the once-loyal Aversa to return its allegiance to Pandulf of Capua (co-ruler of Benevento). War against Pandulf continues until 1047.

1050 - 1082

Sergio V / Sergius V

Son of John V.



Name or names unknown. Possibly an interim regent.

1082? - 1097

Sergio VI / Sergius VI

Nephew of Sergius V.



Name or names unknown. Possibly an interim regent.

1097? - 1120

John VI

Son of Sergius VI.

1120 - 1137

Sergio VII / Sergius VII

Son. Died without an heir.

1137 - 1139

Naples has stood unconquered while all of the various Lombard and Greek states have been conquered. But now, Sergius surrenders his city to Roger II, the Norman duke of Apulia and Calabria, and count of Sicily. Pope Innocent II excommunicates his ardent enemy, but further conflict follows during which the city of Benevento becomes an outlying possession of the Papal States. Most of the principality's lands fall under the control of Naples which is now governed by Roger through Sicily. As Sergius had no offspring of his own, Naples deliberates over a choice of successor. In 1139, Roger II absorbs the city into his own kingdom, ending its line of independent dukes for good.

1139 - 1154

Naples remains part of the domains of Roger II of Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, until 1154 which is when the world atlas by the Arabic geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi is commissioned by Roger II. Later in the same year, following the accession of Roger's successor, William, the county of Sicily is effectively merged with the county of Apulia to form a single Norman kingdom of Naples & Sicily.

Angevin Kingdom of Naples
AD 1268 - 1435

1266 - 1285

Charles I of Anjou

Senator of Rome (1263-1284). King of Hungary (1308-1342).


A populist government controls the city of Rome. The Ghibelline party is crushed at the Battle of Tagliacozzo in 1268, and Charles of Anjou is able to retake control of the city and resume his post as senator.


Construction on Castel Nuovo in Naples is begun.


At the Sicilian Vespers of 30 March, Sicily revolts against and massacres its French occupiers. Pedro III of Aragon is invited in, and the Aragonese line begins in Sicily, with the Angevins continuing to rule Naples.

1285 - 1309

Charles II

King of Naples.

1309 - 1343

Robert of Anjou

Senator of Rome (1314-1335).

1331 - 1335

Azzone, lord of Milan, allies himself with Theodore I, marquess of Montferrat. Their common enemy is Robert of Anjou, and Azzone is keen to reclaim his possessions in north-western Italy. The following year, he takes Bergamo and Pizzighettone. Further conquests in 1335 include Crema, Cremona, Lodi, and Vercelli, along with other territories in Lombardy that had ceded control to the Papal States.

1343 - 1382

Joanna I

Murdered by Charles III.

1382 - 1384

Joanna wills her lands to Louis I, duke of Anjou in France, who secures Provence, but her cousin Charles III conquers Naples. Louis dies in 1384.

1382 - 1386

Charles III

Charles II of Hungary (1385-1386).

1386 - 1414


Rival candidate for crown of Croatia. Lord of Rome (1408-1414).

1414 - 1435

Joanna II

1435 - 1442

The Angevin line ends. The claim to Naples passes to René I the Good of Anjou, duke of Lorraine, with Isabel his queen consort. By 1442 Alfonso V of Aragon and Sicily conquers the kingdom. In 1442, the kingdom of Naples & Sicily is re-united under Alfonso.

1435 - 1442

René I the Good of Anjou

Duke of Bar. Duke of Lorraine.


Upon the death of Nicholas of Anjou, the duchy of Lorraine passes to his aunt, Yolanda, the sister of the late Duke John II. She immediately passes all of the duties and responsibilities of the title to her son, René (her husband, Ferri/Frederick II, count of Vaudémont, had died in 1470). When she inherits the duchy of Bar upon the death of her father in 1480, she repeats the act. The dukes of Lorraine also continue to claim the kingship of Naples.

1495 - 1496

An alliance is formed between Naples, the Pope, Milan, Venice, and the Emperor in order to defend Italy from Charles VIII of France. The conflict sees Naples occupied by the French.

1496 - 1501

Frederick IV (III)

King of Naples. Deposed by Ferdinand II of Aragon. Died 1504.


After uniting Spain, Ferdinand II of Aragon deposes his cousin in Naples and unites Sicily and Naples to the Spanish joint kingdom of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre. Local viceroys are given control of Sicily.

1504 - 1507

Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba

Viceroy of Naples. Grandfather of Gonzalo II, governor of Milan.

1556 - 1557

Pedro Enríquez de Acevedo

Count of Fuentes. Viceroy Naples. Gov Spanish Nthrlands & Milan.


The Italian War of 1551-1559 ends with the signing of the Peace of Cateau Cambrésis between England, France and Spain. Emmanuel Philibert regains his duchy of Piedmont and Savoy in full as part of the war's ending and he departs his post in the Spanish Netherlands to take up his duties. Corsica is restored to Genoa, while Spain is confirmed in its direct control of Milan, Naples, Presidi, Sardinia, and Sicily.

1579 - 1582

Juan de Zúñiga y Requesens

Viceroy of Naples. Brother of Governor Luis de Zúñiga of Milan.

1644 - 1646

Juan Alfonso Enríquez de Cabrera

Viceroy of Naples. Viceroy of Sicily (1641-1644).

1647 - 1649

Gian Giacomo Teodoro Trivulzio

Viceroy of Aragon (1642), & Sardinia (1649). Gov of Milan (1656).

1662 - 1667

Francesco Caetani

Governor of Milan (1660-1662).

1670 - 1674

Claude Lamoral

Governor of Milan (1674-1678).

1678 - 1687

Francisco de Benavides de la Cueva

Viceroy of Sardinia (1675-1677) & Naples (1687-1696).

1696 - 1701

Pedro Manuel Colón de Portugal

Duke of Veragua. Viceroy of Valencia (1679) & Sardinia (1706).

1702 - 1715

Spain is involved in the War of Succession as Austria, Britain, and Portugal dispute the Bourbon accession. The conclusion of the war sees Spain giving up Milan, Naples, Sardinia, and the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium) to Austria, and Sicily to the duchy of Savoy (in 1713). The Papal States are forced to hand over the territories of Parma and Piacenza to Austria, a definite blow to the papacy's prestige. Philip, duke of Anjou, is recognised as the Bourbon King Philip V of Spain, but only on the condition that the Bourbon crowns of Spain and France can never be united under a single ruler.

1718 - 1718

Pedro Manuel Colón de Portugal

A Spanish Netherlands Belgian. Viceroy of Sardinia (1717).

1717 - 1720

King Philip V of Spain is unhappy with the arrangements set at the end of the War of Succession and occupies Sardinia and Sicily, triggering the War of the Quadruple Alliance. Austria, Britain, France, and Holland unite to defeat Spain, and peace is again declared with the Treaty of The Hague which is signed in 1720. As part of this treaty, the duchy of Savoy trades the important island of Sicily to Austria for the far less important Sardinia, which is closer to its own territory. So as not to lose out on the trade, the former dukes are promoted, and Savoy is merged with Sardinia to form a single kingdom of Sardinia.

War of the Spanish Succession
The War of the Spanish Succession was fought to avoid a shift in the balance of power in Europe with the proposed unification of the Bourbon kingdoms of Spain and France


Otto Ferdinand von Abensberg und Traun

Later Austrian governor of Milan (1736-1743).

1733 - 1735

The War of the Polish Succession gains Naples and Sicily for the Bourbons of Spain. The Spanish Philip V reunites his possessions as the kingdom of the Two Sicilies and gives them to a younger son under an agreement that the kingdom will not be reunited with Spain. In exchange, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI gains the duchy of Parma in addition to his existing Italian possessions.


The Parthenopean Republic is declared in Naples in January, but the Bourbons are restored in June of the same year.


The Bourbons are deposed by Napoleon Bonaparte's French First Empire, and the emperor forms his own kingdom of Naples. Protected by the British Royal Navy, the Bourbons continue to rule from Sicily but without any power over Naples.

Napoleonic Kingdom of Naples
AD 1806 - 1815

The Bourbon kingdom of the Two Sicilies in southern Italy was conquered by the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Napoleonic kingdom of Naples was created in its place, incorporating much of the former principality of Benevento.

1806 - 1808

Joseph Bonaparte

Brother of Napoleon I of France.

1808 - 1815

Joachim Murat

Brother-in-law of Napoleon I.

1814 - 1815

With Napoleon Bonaparte's return from exile on Elba, Joachim Murat launches an ill-advised campaign to the north of the kingdom, occupying Rome for a period. When Napoleon falls, Murat flees to Corsica, launches an attempt to retake Naples, and is arrested and executed by the rightful Bourbon king of Naples and Sicily. Austria renews its control of northern Italy, and the Papal States are restored to Rome, which includes the medieval principality of Benevento.


Garibaldi defeats the Bourbons in his unification of Italy. The following year, Sicily and Naples are joined to Sardinia and Italy.