Martin I of Aragon

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Martin I (13561410), "the Elder", "the Humane", "the Ecclesiastic", King of Aragon (1396 - 1410), King of Sicily (1409 - 1410) was the last direct descendant in legitimate male line of Wilfred "the Hairy", Count of Barcelona, to rule Aragon. He became also the King of Sicily (as Martin II, King of Trinacria) after the death of his son, Martin I of Sicily.

Martin was born 1356 either in Gerona or in Perpignan, and died 31 May 1410 in Barcelona. He was second son of King Peter IV of Aragon and Leonora of Trinacria, princess of that cadet royal Aragonese branch.

As cadet prince of Aragonese royal family, Martin was given the Duchy of Monblanch (Montblanc). In 1380 his father appointed him as lord and regent of the island of Sicily, its heiress Mary of Sicily being underage (Mary's father, Frederick III of Trinacria, having died 1377).

Martin's son, Martin the Younger was then married to the young heiress. The island of Sicily (the vassal kingdom of Trinacria) was thus intended to be the own fief of Martin's descendants. The son was known as King Martin I of Sicily, already in lifetime of Martin the father.

In 1396, Martin succeeded his elder brother John I (who died sonless) on the throne of Aragon. However, Sicilian nobles were causing unrest, and Martin was kept on Sicily until 1397, when he personally took over in Aragon. Martin's wife Maria de Luna had claimed the throne on behalf of Martin, and acted as his representative until he personally arrived. However, the delay opened further way to problems and quarrels to surface in Aragon. His right to the throne was contested, firstly by Count Matthew of Foix on behalf of his wife Joanna, elder daughter of John I of Aragon. However, Martin succeeded in quashing invasion by the troops of Count of Foix. After the death of Joanna, childless, the second daughter Yolande of Aragon, married with the Anjou King of Sicily, and Yolande's sons, continued this claim.

Martin launched crusades against moors in North Africa 1398 and 1399.

Sardinia had been attempted to subjugation under Aragon since the reign of James II, and gradually the Aragonese had conquered most of the island. However, in 1380's, in reign of Peter IV, the remaining independent principality Arborea became fortress of rebellion and the Aragonese were rapidly driven back during Eleanor of Arborea so that practically the whole Sardinia was lost. King Martin sent his son Martin the Younger to reconquer Sardinia, and just before his own death he won the battle of Sanluri (San Luis, San Luigi) in 1409, drove away Genovese allies of Sardinians and subjugated a vast number of Sardinian nobles. This soon caused the total loss of independence of Arborea.

Martin I of Aragon became also the King of Sicily (as Martin II) after the 1409 death of his son, Martin I of Sicily, widower of Mary of Sicily. Martin the father was himself son of Eleanor of Sicily, and a heir of that island after Mary's family had died out.

Overall, the Kingdom of Aragon enjoyed external peace during Martin's reign, and he worked to quell internal strifes caused by nobles, factions and bandites. He supported the Avignon line of Popes, and an Aragonese Antipope Benedict XIII held the seat throughout Martin's reign. Martin's military intervention rescued the imprisoned Benedict in 1403 from clutches of his rivals, and the Pope settled in countryside of Valencia.

After the death of his legitimate children, King Martin appointed Jaime of Urgel, the closest legitimate agnate of the Royal House of Aragon (his first cousin's son), as Governor General of all the kingdoms of Aragon, which position belonged traditionally to the heir presumptive.

When Martin died in 1410, his legitimate descendants (born of marriage with queen Maria) were already all dead. Martin's second marriage with Margarita of Aragon-Prades did not produce any children.

Only a bastard grandson, Fadrique, count of Luna, continued the line of Martin. (Fadrique was the bastard son of Martin the Younger.) The king, despite his desire and some efforts, was not able to obtain sufficient confirmation to his bastard grandson as his successor.

Thus, Martin's death led to a two-year interregnum, which was ended only in 1412 by Pact of Caspe, in which Ferdinand I of Aragon, infante of Castile of Trastamare descent, younger son of a sister of Martin's, was chosen as next king from among at least five pretenders.


Preceded by:
John I
King of Aragon Succeeded by:
Ferdinand I
Count of Barcelona
King of Valencia
Martin I King of Sicily

See also: Kings of Aragon, Monarchs of Naples and Sicily

es:Martín I de Aragón ca:Marti I it:Martino de Aragona fr:Martin Ier d'Aragon de:Martin I. (Aragón)

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