Sicilian Vespers, in Italian history, name given the rebellion staged by the Sicilians against the Angevin French domination of Sicily; the rebellion broke out at Palermo at the start of Vespers on Easter Monday, Mar. 30, 1282. The revolt quickly spread over the island; nearly all the French in Sicily were massacred. Although basically a move for Sicilian independence, the insurrection was instigated as part of a widespread conspiracy against the Angevin ruler of Naples and Sicily, King Charles I, who dreamed of establishing an Angevin empire in the East. Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII financed the plot, hoping to preoccupy Charles and thus avert the Angevin's imminent invasion of the Byzantine Empire. John of Procida, a loyal supporter of the Hohenstaufen, and King Peter III of Aragón, who claimed rule of the island as the husband of Constance, heiress of the Hohenstaufen claim there, also joined the intrigue. Peter accepted the throne offered by the Sicilians, and a 20-year war for possession of Sicily followed between the Angevin kings of Naples and the Aragonese kings of Sicily. The rising secured Sicilian independence for more than a century, with the house of Aragón keeping Sicily and the Angevin dynasty holding the S Italian mainland kingdom of Naples. The two territories were finally reunited (1442) under Alfonso V of Aragón.
See study by S. Runciman (1958).
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