Joan of Naples HTML version

Chapter 5
The terrible part that Charles of Durazzo was to play began as soon as this crime was
accomplished. The duke left the corpse two whole days exposed to the wind and the
rain, unburied and dishonoured, the corpse of a man whom the pope had made King of
Sicily and Jerusalem, so that the indignation of the mob might be increased by the
dreadful sight. On the third he ordered it to be conveyed with the utmost pomp to the
cathedral of Naples, and assembling all the Hungarians around the catafalque, he thus
addressed them, in a voice of thunder:--
"Nobles and commoners, behold our king hanged like a dog by infamous traitors. God
will soon make known to us the names of all the guilty: let those who desire that justice
may be done hold up their hands and swear against murderers bloody persecution,
implacable hatred, everlasting vengeance."
It was this one man's cry that brought death and desolation to the murderers' hearts,
and the people dispersed about the town, shrieking, "Vengeance, vengeance!"
Divine justice, which knows naught of privilege and respects no crown, struck Joan first
of all in her love. When the two lovers first met, both were seized alike with terror and
disgust; they recoiled trembling, the queen seeing in Bertrand her husband's
executioner, and he in her the cause of his crime, possibly of his speedy punishment.
Bertrand's looks were disordered, his cheeks hollow, his eyes encircled with black rings,
his mouth horribly distorted; his arm and forefinger extended towards his accomplice, he
seemed to behold a frightful vision rising before him. The same cord he had used when
he strangled Andre, he now saw round the queen's neck, so tight that it made its way
into her flesh: an invisible force, a Satanic impulse, urged him to strangle with his own
hands the woman he had loved so dearly, had at one time adored on his knees. The
count rushed out of the room with gestures of desperation, muttering incoherent words;
and as he shewed plain signs of mental aberration, his father, Charles of Artois, took
him away, and they went that same evening to their palace of St. Agatha, and there
prepared a defence in case they should be attacked.
But Joan's punishment, which was destined to be slow as well as dreadful, to last thirty-
seven years and--end in a ghastly death, was now only beginning. All the wretched
beings who were stained with Andre's death came in turn to her to demand the price of
blood. The Catanese and her son, who held in their hands not only the queen's honour
but her life, now became doubly greedy and exacting. Dona Cancha no longer put any
bridle on her licentiousness; and the Empress of Constantinople ordered her niece to
marry her eldest son, Robert, Prince of Tarentum. Joan, consumed by remorse, full of
indignation and shame at the arrogant conduct of her subjects, dared scarcely lift her
head, and stooped to entreaties, only stipulating for a few days' delay before giving her
answer: the empress consented, on condition that her son should come to reside at