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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311

X: The political Crusades of the thirteenth century,   pp. 343-375 PDF (7.1 MB)

Page 370

speaking for the Sicilian opponents of the Angevins, was not deceived. He
asserted that this would have been a political crusade of the same sort as
the one against Manfred. The cross Charles bore was not the cross of Christ,
but that of the unrepentant thief, and in its name he was going to attack
the friendly Greeks, just as in its name he had shed innocent blood in his
earlier wars.16 
 The combination of Charles's careful planning and papal support might have
been irresistible; certainly Michael Palaeologus had never been in a more
dangerous position. He was saved by the great rebellion known as the Sicilian
Vespers, which made it forever impossible for the Angevins to attack the
Byzantine empire. 
 Charles of Anjou had been no easier master to Sicily than his Hohenstaufen
predecessors; like them, he had imposed heavy taxes in order to carry on
an ambitious foreign policy. His use of French officials added to his unpopularity,
especially in the island of Sicily. Many natives hated him; many foreign
rulers had cause to fear him. In the period just before 1282 a complicated
and still imperfectly known plot was formed against him, involving exiles
from the kingdom, old allies of Manfred in northern Italy, the Byzantine
emperor, and Peter III of Aragon. Peter was the most dangerous of these enemies;
he had a claim to the kingdom through his wife Constance, the daughter of
Manfred, and he possessed the best navy in the Mediterranean. The plotters
probably hoped that when Charles launched his long-planned attack against
Constantinople the kingdom would be left relatively defenseless, but before
Charles could sail or they could strike a popular uprising in the island
of Sicily upset all plans. The famous Sicilian Vespers of March 30, 1282,
wiped out the French garrison of the island, but the king of Aragon did not
profit immediately from the rebel lion. The rebels at first talked of substituting
a league of communes under papal suzerainty for the monarchy; only when Charles
launched a dangerous counterattack did they become convinced that they needed
a protector. They offered the crown to Peter of Aragon; on August 30 he landed
at Trapani and took over the island. 
 Martin IV, as a Frenchman and supporter of the Angevins, probably reacted
more violently to the Sicilian revolution than an Italian would have done.
Looked at cold-bloodedly, the establish ment of the Aragonese in Sicily was
by no means an unmixed evil for the papacy. Charles of Anjou had not been
an easy ally; his 
16 Historia Sicula (ed. Giuseppe Paladino, RISS, XIII, part 3), 10-11. 

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