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Charles I

Charles I (Charles of Anjou), 1227–85, king of Naples and Sicily (1266–85), count of Anjou and Provence, youngest brother of King Louis IX of France. He took part in Louis's crusades to Egypt (1248) and Tunisia (1270). After obtaining Provence by marriage (1246), he extended his influence into Piedmont. He became senator of Rome (1263, 1265–78) and undertook to champion the papal cause against Manfred in the kingdom of Naples and Sicily. In reward, he was crowned king (1266) by Pope Clement IV. Charles defeated (1266) Manfred at Benevento and defeated and executed Conradin in 1268. As leader of the Guelphs, or papal faction, he gained political hegemony in Italy and won suzerainty over several cities in Tuscany, Piedmont, and Lombardy, but his overbearing policies led to a cooling of his relations with the papacy. Planning to establish his own empire, he allied himself with the deposed Byzantine emperor, Baldwin II, against Michael VIII and fought for years in the Balkans. Corfu, Epirus, and Albania were taken, but the crushing taxes necessitated by his wars and his appointment of oppressive French officials to exact them led to the Sicilian Vespers (1282). The ensuing war against the Sicilian rebels and Peter III of Aragón, chosen by the rebels as king of Sicily, continued under Charles's son and successor, Charles II. Charles I was the founder of the first Angevin dynasty in Naples.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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