Joan of Naples HTML version

Chapter 7
The King of Hungary, his black flag ever borne before him, started for Naples, reusing
all offered honours, and rejecting the canopy beneath which he was to make his entry,
not even stopping to give audience to the chief citizens or to receive the acclamations of
the crowd. Armed at all points, he made for Castel Nuovo, leaving behind him dismay
and fear. His first act on entering the city was to order Dona Cancha to be burnt, her
punishment having been deferred by reason of her pregnancy. Like the others, she was
drawn on a cart to the square of St. Eligius, and there consigned to the flames. The
young creature, whose suffering had not impaired her beauty, was dressed as for a
festival, and laughing like a mad thing up to the last moment, mocked at her
executioners and threw kisses to the crowd.
A few days later, Godfrey of Marsana, Count of Squillace and grand admiral of the
kingdom, was arrested by the king's orders. His life was promised him on condition of
his delivering up Conrad of Catanzaro, one of his relatives, accused of conspiring
against Andre. The grand admiral committed, this act of shameless treachery, and did
not shrink from sending his own son to persuade Conrad to come to the town. The poor
wretch was given over to the king, and tortured alive on a wheel made with sharp
knives. The sight of these barbarities, far from calming the king's rage; seemed to
inflame it the more. Every day there were new accusations and new sentences. The
prisons were crowded: Louis's punishments were redoubled in severity. A fear arose
that the town, and indeed the whole kingdom, were to be treated as having taken part in
Andre's death. Murmurs arose against this barbarous rule, and all men's thoughts
turned towards their fugitive queen. The Neapolitan barons had taken the oath of fidelity
with no willing hearts; and when it came to the turn of the Counts of San Severino, they
feared a trick of some kind, and refused to appear all together before the Hungarian, but
took refuge in the town of Salerno, and sent Archbishop Roger, their brother, to make
sure of the king's intentions beforehand. Louis received him magnificently, and
appointed him privy councillor and grand proto notary. Then, and not till then, did Robert
of San Severino and Roger, Count of Chiaramonte, venture into the king's presence;
after doing homage, they retired to their homes. The other barons followed their
example of caution, and hiding their discontent under a show of respect, awaited a
favourable moment for shaking off the foreign yoke. But the queen had encountered no
obstacle in her flight, and arrived at Nice five days later. Her passage through Provence
was like a triumph. Her beauty, youth, and misfortunes, even certain mysterious reports
as to her adventures, all contributed to arouse the interest of the Provencal people.
Games and fetes were improvised to soften the hardship of exile for the proscribed
princess; but amid the outbursts of joy from every town, castle, and city, Joan, always
sad, lived ever in her silent grief and glowing memories.
At the gates of Aix she found the clergy, the nobility, and the chief magistrates, who
received her respectfully but with no signs of enthusiasm. As the queen advanced, her
astonishment increased as she saw the coldness of the people and the solemn,