Joan of Naples HTML version

Chapter 6
The spectacle of this frightful punishment did not satisfy the revenge of Charles of
Durazzo. Seconded by the chief-justice, he daily brought about fresh executions, till
Andre's death came to be no more than a pretext for the legal murder of all who
opposed his projects. But Louis of Tarentum, who had won Joan's heart, and was
eagerly trying to get the necessary dispensation for legalising the marriage, from this
time forward took as a personal insult every act of the high court of justice which was
performed against his will and against the queen's prerogative: he armed all his
adherents, increasing their number by all the adventurers he could get together, and so
put on foot a strong enough force to support his own party and resist his cousin. Naples
was thus split up into hostile camps, ready to come to blows on the smallest pretext,
whose daily skirmishes, moreover, were always followed by some scene of pillage or
But Louis had need of money both to pay his mercenaries and to hold his own against
the Duke of Durazzo and his own brother Robert, and one day he discovered that the
queen's coffers were empty. Joan was wretched and desperate, and her lover, though
generous and brave and anxious to reassure her so far as he could, did not very clearly
see how to extricate himself from such a difficult situation. But his mother Catherine,
whose ambition was satisfied in seeing one of her sons, no matter which, attain to the
throne of Naples, came unexpectedly to their aid, promising solemnly that it would only
take her a few days to be able to lay at her niece's feet a treasure richer than anything
she had ever dreamed of, queen as she was.
The empress then took half her son's troops, made for Saint Agatha, and besieged the
fortress where Charles and Bertrand of Artois had taken refuge when they fled from
justice. The old count, astonished at the sight of this woman, who had been the very
soul of the conspiracy, and not in the least understanding her arrival as an enemy, sent
out to ask the intention of this display of military force. To which Catherine replied in
words which we translate literally:
"My friends, tell Charles, our faithful friend, that we desire to speak with him privately
and alone concerning a matter equally interesting to us both, and he is not to be
alarmed at our arriving in the guise of an enemy, for this we have done designedly, as
we shall explain in the course of our interview. We know he is confined to bed by the
gout, and therefore feel no surprise at his not coming out to meet us. Have the
goodness to salute him on our part and reassure him, telling him that we desire to come
in, if such is his good pleasure, with our intimate counsellor, Nicholas Acciajuoli, and ten
soldiers only, to speak with him concerning an important matter that cannot be
entrusted to go-betweens."
Entirely reassured by these frank, friendly explanations, Charles of Artois sent out his
son Bertrand to the empress to receive her with the respect due to her rank and high