There was a problem sending you an sms. Check your phone number or try again later.
We've sent a link to the Scribd app. If you didn't receive it, try again.
The next day, Easter Monday, thousands of Sicilians gathered on a green in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit just outside their capital of Palermo for a traditional Easter Monday festival. Some of Charles' French troops were there as well, behaving in their usual arrogant fashion, occasionally searching some of the Sicilians present and insulting their women. One of them was a sergeant named Drouet. He seized an attractive Sicilian woman and dragged her away from her husband and her friends. Her husband whipped out a dagger and plunged it into Drouet's heart. As though it were a signal, most of the Sicilians present fell upon the French. Not one of them survived.'
A dubious later tradition says that the vesper bells of the churches in Palermo began to ring at this moment, and to the sound of their tolling men rushed into the center of the city crying "death to the French!" This tradition gave the deceptively peaceful name of "Sicilian Vespers" to this bloody uprising. Be that as it may, the bells were no signal for the rising: Drouet's lust and the vengeful young husband's dagger were. A frightful massacre followed. No Frenchman or woman found in Palermo was spared. About two thousand were slain.7
This revolt was not unprovoked; French rule in Sicily had long been very oppressive.38 But the stark savagery of the massacre sent a shudder of horror through Europe, and the Pope, personally a gentle man, was appalled. He
demanded Sicily's unconditional surrender to the raging Charles, on pain of excommunication for every Sicilian refusing full submission, and at the same time he renewed his excommunication of Michael Palaeologus, whose involvement in the uprising he strongly suspected39
In fact, the manner in which the rising occurred virtually rules out foreign instigation. There is no evidence that either Peter III of Aragon or Emperor Michael expected it then. Peter was preparing a naval expedition to the coast
of Muslim North Africa at the time, which he undertook in early June.' But there is reason to believe that he intended to come to Sicily from Africa later in the year, and that the "Vespers" merely anticipated plans he had already set in motion.41 Evidently he had his agents already in place, for in less than a month a Sicilian ambassador had set off westward to offer Peter the rule of their island, while another had set off eastward to make contact with Emperor Michael."
on Sicily July 25 and laid siege to Messina, only to be hurled back in five successive major assaults on the city. On August 30 Peter III of Aragon arrived with his fleet and army, and was crowned King of Sicily in Palermo September 4. Charles was not strong enough to face the combined Aragonese and Sicilian forces and had to withdraw from the island at the end of September. Peter's Catalan navy proceeded to gain command of the sea by inflicting two stinging defeats on Charles' warships, enabling the Aragonese to land on the narrowest part of the Calabrian peninsula and cut off Charles' army south of them. Though Charles' son broke through with 600 knights to rescue him, there was no question that the haughty king of Naples had suffered a devastating defeat, and that
Now bringing you back...
Does that email address look wrong? Try again with a different email.