Upon the death
of Peter III of Aragon in 1285, his realm in
Spain and Sicily passed first to his short-lived older son Alphonso
III and then in 1291 to Alphonso's devious and craven brother James
II. James appointed his younger brother Frederick as his regent for
Sicily, retaining the crown for himself.
conflict between Aragon and Anjou arising over control of Sicily continued
abated. In 1295, shaken by some military reverses, James entered a
treaty that--through Pope Boniface VIII as intermediary--purported
to surrender the island of Sicily to the Anjou French. The capitulation
was particularly shameful in view of the fact that the Anjou French's
earlier period of control over the island had begun with murder of
Alphonso's own grandfather Manfred after the Battle of Benevento in
1266, and had ended in 1282 with revolt by the long-suffering Sicilian
people because of the cruel treatment they suffered at the hands of
the Anjou French.
Rule by the
Anjou French was as unacceptable to the Sicilians in 1295 as it had
been in 1282. This time they found their ally in their regent Frederick,
who joined the Sicilians in rejecting a return to Anjou French rule.
Frederick was crowned king of the island of Sicily in 1296, and he
defended his crown through six years of warfare with forces of both
the Pope and the Anjou French. Finally, in 1302 Frederick's forces
prevailed and his reign was accepted by the Pope and Anjou French.
As a face-saving device for his opponents, Frederick agreed to marry
the daughter of Charles II of Anjou and allow the island to pass to
the Anjou French upon his death. In fact, no such transfer was actually
intended or, indeed, expected.
death in 1337 Frederick's reign was punctuated by periodic warfare
with the Pope, whom Frederick periodically enraged by siding with
the Holy Roman Empire and its Ghibelline allies of northern Italy
in their conflicts with the Pope. Frederick's reign was important
in forging a common national spirit among the people of his island