René rənā´ [key], 1409–80, king of Naples (1435–80; rival claimant to Alfonso V of Aragón and Ferdinand I of Naples), duke of Anjou, Bar, and Lorraine, count of Provence. He was also called René of Anjou and Good King René. The second son of King Louis II of Naples, he was count of Guise when he married (1419) Isabella, heiress of Lorraine and Bar. He inherited Bar (1430) and Lorraine (1431), but the latter title was contested by a rival supported by Philip the Good of Burgundy. René was captured (1431) and held prisoner, although Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund awarded him Lorraine. At the death (1434) of his brother, Louis III of Naples, he inherited Anjou, Provence, and the claim to the succession of Joanna II of Naples (d. 1435), who adopted him as heir. Released from his imprisonment in 1437, René arrived (1438) in Italy to take possession of his kingdom. Alfonso V, who had taken over the kingdom when Joanna died, defeated (1442) him; René returned to France and established a brilliant court at Angers. In 1445 his daughter, Margaret of Anjou, married Henry VI of England. René about that time delegated his interests in Lorraine and Naples to his son John, whom he made duke of Lorraine and Bar in 1452. John's expedition to Naples ended with defeat (1462) at Troja, and he died in 1470. René was obliged by King Louis XI of France to make the French crown his heir in Anjou. In 1473 he retired to Provence and there devoted himself to poetry and painting, for which he acquired a certain reputation. His titles to Provence and Naples passed to his nephew Charles, count of Maine; they reverted to the French crown when the death (1481) of Charles ended the Angevin dynasty. Lorraine and Bar remained under René's descendants. Important in history for his dynastic connections, René was also remarkable as one of the last representatives of medieval chivalry and culture.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Italian History: Biographies