I. Queen of Naples, daughter of Charles, duke of Calabria, and granddaughter of Robert of Anjou, born about 1327, put to death at the fortress of Muro, in the province of Ba-silicata, May 22, 1382. An attempt was made by her father to secure harmony between the two branches of the Anjou family which had claims to the Neapolitan throne, by marrying Joanna when about seven years old to her second cousin Andrew of Hungary; but the plan proved an entire failure. As the young couple grew up the most bitter enmity arose between them, and was constantly encouraged by the opposing parties among their relatives. Duke Charles died before his father Robert, and Joanna therefore directly succeeded the latter on his death in 1343. Her court speedily divided into two factions, taking sides respectively with the queen and her husband; and two years of intense hostility terminated, in September, 1345, in the assassination of the king by a party of conspirators who enticed him from his room and strangled him in a corridor of the palace.
Joanna seems to have deserved the accusation universally brought against her, of having inspired and directed this plot down to its smallest details; though the story of the old chroniclers that she wove the rope of gold thread with which Andrew was strangled is probably exaggerated. Shortly after the death of her husband she married her relative and supposed paramour, Louis of Taranto, without obtaining a papal dispensation. Louis the Great of Hungary, anxious for an opportunity to avenge his brother's death, made this his pretext, and in 1347 invaded the Neapolitan territory. Joanna, unprepared for defence, fled to Avignon, then the residence of the popes; but here she was summoned before a consistory and charged with the murder of her husband. She escaped the prosecution of this charge by consenting to cede Avignon to the holy see for a permanent possession, on payment of 80,000 gold florins, and on condition that the pope should formally proclaim her innocence and the validity of her new marriage. In the mean time the king of Hungary retired from Naples, leaving a strong garrison behind him; and this was soon after removed, through the mediation of the pope.
Louis of Taranto died in 1362, and Joanna married in 1363 James of Aragon, king of Majorca, who left her soon after and returned to his home in Spain, where he died in 1376. Joanna now married a fourth husband, Otho of Brunswick, and by this gave offence to Duke Charles of Durazzo, whose wife was heir presumptive to the throne. In 1378, when the rival popes Clement VII. and Urban VI. contested the papal see, Joanna declared for Clement. Urban in revenge immediately summoned the duke of Durazzo and proclaimed his right to the throne of Naples. Acting under the advice of Clement, Joanna made a special will, making the second son of the king of France her heir, and entirely disinheriting the duke and his wife. These events gave Charles of Durazzo the pretext for which he had long wished. He invaded Joanna's territory, met with little opposition from the people, advanced to Naples, captured the queen in the castle, and sent her a prisoner to Muro. Here she was placed at the disposition of the king of Hungary, who ordered her immediate execution. She was smothered with pillows, in revenge for the method of Andrew's assassination.
II. Queen of Naples, grandniece of the preceding, and daughter of Duke Charles of Durazzo, born about 1370, died in 1435. Married when young to William of Austria, and several years after left a widow, she succeeded her brother Ladislas in 1414. Since her husband's death she had maintained a secret connection with Count Pandolfello Alopo, and this she now continued without attempt at concealment, appointing her favorite to the highest offices and giving him virtual control of the affairs of the kingdom. She was finally persuaded by her councillors, however, to marry again, and chose as her husband Jacques de Bourbon, count of La Marche. Joanna's marriage did not put an end to her dissolute manner of life; and her husband, detecting her infidelity, rid the court of her favorites, had Pandolfello publicly beheaded, and sent the queen into retirement. An apparent reconciliation soon followed, but Joanna was no sooner allowed to resume her place at court than she succeeded by a stratagem in imprisoning her husband in one of the Neapolitan forts, from which he escaped with difficulty only to retire from the country, and to enter a monastery in Burgundy. The rule of favorites now began again, and the history of her reign for some years is little more than a record of intrigues, which, with the hatred of the people throughout the kingdom, gave rise to constant feuds at court and insurrections in the country.
The strife of parties was augmented by the conflicts between Louis III. of Anjou and Alfonso of Aragon, who claimed the succession to the throne. Joanna decided first for Alfonso, and then reversed her decision, and on Louis III.'s death changed her choice to another member of the Anjou house. Alfonso, however, was able to seize the throne, to which he succeeded in spite of his testamentary exclusion.