The Angevin (dis)connection : Robert of Anjou, King of Naples

Shortly after the creation of L’Abreujamen de las estorias, Paolino Veneto was appointed bishop of Pozzuoli (near Naples) and became a prominent figure at the famous Neapolitan court of Robert of Anjou. He had probably already cultivated Robert’s patronage in Avignon, as Robert was also count of Provence and his court was based there in the early 1320s. As a Franciscan, Paolino would also have been sensitive to this royal patron’s longstanding affection for his order. Yet there is one glaring omission from L’Abreujamen : Robert of Anjou’s head was meant to appear in a prominent location, as the culmination of the French Capetian and (through his mother) the Arpadian Hungarian genealogies, both of which abounded with saints. Robert is not there and roughly where he should appear, we find the head of his rival and nephew, Carobert, king of Hungary and claimant to Robert’s title as king of Naples.

We know from his later writings, in his universal chronicles produced in Naples in the 1330s, that Paolino opposed the ‘Spiritual’ Franciscans who found a haven with Robert and especially his queen, Sancia. However, it is likely that the omission of Robert from the Occitan-language manuscript reflects a Provence-based political tensions between Angevin power and local magnates. The Abreujamen‘s Latin-language counterpart (drafted and illustrated in Avignon as well as in Venice) includes Robert along with his siblings. As the Francophone Angevin court wove lines of power between Provence and the kingdom of Naples, with families holding lands in both regions, concerns rose that found expression in the Occitan language of Provence.

This is developed in full in my article : Catherine Leglu, ‘Ambivalent visual representations of Robert the Wise in Occitan illustrated texts’, Italian Studies, 72.2 (2017) 192-204.

About Catherine Leglu

Catherine Leglu is Professor of French and Occitan Studies at the University of Reading.
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