CIC 477

Past Issues
CIC 476
CIC 475
CIC 474
CIC 473
CIC 472
CIC 471
CIC 470
CIC 469
CIC 468
CIC 467
CIC 466
CIC 465
CIC 464
CIC 463
CIC 462
CIC 461
CIC 460
CIC 459
CIC 458
CIC 457
CIC 456
CIC 455
CIC 454
CIC 453
CIC 452
CIC 451
CIC 450
CIC 449
CIC 448
CIC 447
CIC 446
CIC 445
CIC 444
CIC 443
CIC 442
CIC 441
CIC 440
CIC 439
CIC 438
CIC 437
CIC 436
CIC 435
CIC 434
CIC 433
CIC 432
CIC 431
CIC 430
CIC 429
CIC 428
CIC 427
CIC 426
CIC 425
CIC 424
CIC 423
CIC 422
CIC 421
CIC 420
CIC 419
CIC 418
CIC 417
CIC 416
CIC 415
CIC 414
CIC 413
CIC 412
CIC 411
CIC 410
CIC 409
CIC 408
CIC 407
CIC 406
CIC 405
CIC 404
CIC 403
CIC 402
CIC 401
CIC 400
CIC 399
CIC 398
CIC 397
CIC 396
CIC 395
CIC 394
CIC 393
CIC 392
CIC 391
CIC 390
CIC 389
CIC 388
CIC 387
CIC 386
CIC 385
CIC 384
CIC 383
CIC 382
CIC 381
CIC 380
CIC 379
CIC 378
CIC 377
CIC 375
CIC 374
CIC 373
CIC 372
CIC 371
CIC 370
CIC 369
CIC 368
CIC 367
CIC 366
CIC 365
CIC 364
CIC 363
CIC 362
CIC 361
CIC 360
CIC 359
CIC 358
CIC 357
CIC 356
CIC 355
CIC 354
CIC 353
CIC 352
CIC 351
CIC 350
CIC 349
CIC 348
CIC 347
CIC 346
CIC 345
CIC 344
CIC 343
CIC 342
CIC 341
CIC 340
CIC 339
CIC 338
CIC 337
CIC 336
CIC 335
CIC 334
CIC 333
CIC 332
CIC 331
CIC 330
CIC 329
CIC 328
CIC 327
CIC 326
CIC 325
CIC 324
CIC 323
CIC 322
CIC 321
CIC 320
CIC 319
CIC 318
CIC 317
CIC 316
CIC 315
CIC 314
CIC 313
CIC 312
CIC 311
CIC 310
CIC 309
CIC 308
CIC 307
CIC 306
CIC 305
CIC 304
CIC 303
CIC 302
CIC 301
CIC 300
CIC 299
CIC 298
CIC 297
CIC 296
CIC 295
CIC 294
CIC 293
CIC 292
CIC 291
CIC 290
CIC 289
CIC 288
CIC 287
CIC 286
CIC 285
CIC 284
CIC 283
CIC 282
CIC 281
CIC 280
CIC 279
CIC 278
CIC 277
CIC 276
CIC 275
CIC 274
CIC 273
CIC 272
CIC 271
CIC 270
CIC 269
CIC 268
CIC 267
CIC 266
CIC 265
CIC 264
CIC 263
CIC 262
CIC 261
CIC 260
CIC 259
CIC 258
CIC 257
CIC 256
CIC 255
CIC 254
CIC 253
CIC 252
CIC 251
CIC 250
CIC 249
CIC 248
CIC 247
CIC 246
CIC 245
CIC 244
CIC 243
CIC 242
CIC 241
CIC 240
CIC 239
CIC 238
CIC 237
CIC 236
CIC 235
CIC 234
CIC 233
CIC 232
CIC 231
CIC 230
CIC 229
CIC 228
CIC 227
CIC 226
CIC 225
CIC 224
CIC 223
CIC 222
CIC 221
CIC 220
CIC 219
CIC 218
CIC 217
CIC 216
CIC 215
CIC 214
CIC 213
CIC 212
CIC 211
CIC 210
CIC 209
CIC 208
CIC 207
CIC 206
CIC 205
CIC 204
CIC 203
CIC 202
CIC 201
CIC 200
CIC 199
CIC 198
CIC 197
CIC 196
CIC 195
CIC 194
CIC 193
CIC 192
CIC 191
CIC 190
CIC 189
CIC 188
CIC 187
CIC 186
CIC 185
CIC 184
CIC 183
CIC 182
CIC 181
CIC 180
CIC 179
CIC 178
CIC 177
CIC 176
CIC 175
CIC 174
CIC 173
CIC 172
CIC 171
CIC 170
CIC 169
CIC 168
CIC 167
CIC 166
CIC 165
CIC 164
CIC 163
CIC 162
CIC 161
CIC 160
CIC 159
CIC 158
CIC 157
CIC 156
CIC 155
CIC 154
CIC 153
CIC 152
CIC 151
CIC 150
CIC 149
CIC 148
CIC 147
CIC 146
CIC 145
CIC 144
CIC 143
CIC 142
CIC 141
CIC 140
CIC 139
CIC 138
CIC 137
CIC 136
CIC 135
CIC 134
CIC 133
CIC 132
CIC 131
CIC 130
CIC 129
CIC 128
CIC 127
CIC 126
CIC 125
CIC 124
CIC 123
CIC 122
CIC 121
CIC 120
CIC 119
CIC 118
CIC 117
CIC 116
CIC 115
CIC 114
CIC 113
CIC 112
CIC 111
CIC 110
CIC 109
CIC 108
CIC 107
CIC 106
CIC 105
CIC 104
CIC 103
CIC 102
CIC 101
CIC 100
CIC 99
CIC 98
CIC 97
CIC 96
CIC 95
CIC 94
CIC 93
CIC 92
CIC 91
CIC 90
CIC 89
CIC 88
CIC 87
CIC 86
CIC 85
CIC 84
CIC 83
CIC 82
CIC 81
CIC 80
CIC 79
CIC 78
CIC 77
CIC 76
CIC 75
CIC 74
CIC 73
CIC 72
CIC 71
CIC 70
CIC 69
CIC 68
CIC 67
CIC 66
CIC 65
CIC 64
CIC 63
CIC 62
CIC 61
CIC 60
CIC 59
CIC 58
CIC 57
CIC 56
CIC 55
CIC 54
CIC 53
CIC 52
CIC 51
CIC 50
CIC 49
CIC 48
CIC 47
CIC 46
CIC 45
CIC 44
CIC 43
CIC 42
CIC 41
CIC 40
CIC 39
CIC 38
CIC 37
CIC 36
CIC 35
CIC 34
CIC 33
CIC 32
CIC 31
CIC 30
CIC 29
CIC 28
CIC 27
CIC 26
CIC 25
CIC 24
CIC 23
CIC 22
CIC 21
CIC 20
CIC 19
CIC 18
CIC 17
CIC 16
CIC 15
CIC 14
CIC 13
CIC 12
CIC 11
CIC 10
CIC 9
CIC 8
CIC 7
CIC 6
CIC 5
CIC 4
CIC 3
CIC 2
CIC 1

Incidents of War - How to Capture Naples

The collapse of Roman power in Western Europe during the fifth century did not affect the eastern areas of the Empire, ruled from Constantinople.  In the mid-sixth century Emperor Justinian I (r. 525-565) decided to retake all the lost lands in the west, and dispatched a brilliant commander, Flavius Belisarius (c. 500-565).  Belisarius quickly recovered North Africa and Sicily from the Vandals.  In the Spring of 536 he led his army into Italy, held by the Ostrogoths.  By autumn Belisarius had overrun Calabria, occupied Campania, and invested Naples, which was stoutly fortified and held by a determined garrison.  What happened next comes down to us from Belisarius’ own secretary, Procopius of Caesarea (c. 500-565), who wrote a multi-volume account of the wars of Justinian including The Gothic War not to mention the wonderfully scandalous Anekdota or The Secret History

The siege of Naples proved difficult.  Despite severing the city’s water supply by cutting the aqueducts and maintaining a close blockade, so that no food could enter the place either by land or sea, Naples held.  The siege dragged on for more than a month.  Aware that the Goths were concentrating a large army at Rome, Belisarius began to consider abandoning the siege.  Then fate intervened, in the person of a curious Isaurian soldier in the Roman ranks.  The man was so impressed by the colossal aqueducts that he took a walk inside one, following it as far as he could go, to a point where the channel narrowed as it passed under the city walls.  Beyond that point, he noticed that the channel widened again, and he reasoned that a few hours work might enlarge it sufficiently for armed men to pass unnoticed into the city.  The man immediately reported this to his superiors, who passed the word up to Belisarius.

The Isaurian’s discovery greatly heartened Belisarius, who rewarded the man with a good deal of money and put him in charge of widening the passage.  The work proceeded quickly, despite the necessity of having to make as little noise as possible, and soon the passage had been widened suitably to permit a fully armed soldier to pass.  A reconnaissance was made.  Now the defenders had posted guards on the inner ends of the broken aqueducts.  But they had also concluded that this particular one was too narrow to worry about, thus leaving an exploitable vulnerability unguarded.  The reconnoitering party discovered the absence of guards, and also determined that there was an exit from the aqueduct into a garden that was quite near one of the city gates.

Belisarius shortly sent 400 picked men through the aqueduct.  They entered the city, debouched from the garden to capture the gate, and then held it while the rest of Belisarius’ forces poured in.  Naples fell with much slaughter in a morning’s fighting in mid-November – Procopius does not tell us the date.  Belisarius was soon the march for Rome, which he captured on December 9th.

Now to “fast forward” several centuries.  In the mid-12th century, the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily had been formed by the Neapolitan Normans as a fief of the papacy.  The kingdoms passed to the House of Hohenstaufen by the end of the century.  In the mid-13th century the papacy had had a falling out with the Hohenstaufen and invited the French House of Anjou to assume the property.  This initiated a very long war -- arguably lasting, off and on, from 1266 to 1815, between the heirs of the Hohenstaufen and the heirs of the Angevines for control of the two kingdoms.  In the mid-15th century, the childless Angevine Queen Giovanna II (r. 1414-1435) held Naples, while King Alfonso V of Aragon (r. 1416-1458), heir to the Hohenstaufen, held Sicily.  Upon Giovanna's death left the property to Duke Rene d’Anjou, who became king as Rene I (r. 1435-1442).  This greatly irked, Alfonso, for back in 1421 Giovanna had named him heir, in return for help in suppressing one of her cousins, who had set himself up as claimant to the throne.  Although Giovanna had disinherited Alfonso years earlier, he asserted his claim, arguably doubly valid since he could claim to be heir to the Hohenstaufen, who had been ousted from Naples in 1266 by Giovanna's ancestors.  War broke out in 1438, as Alfonso invaded Naples.  Many disaffected nobles flocked to his banner -- Neapolitan nobles were always disaffected -- and a long war ensued. 

Finally, by the Spring of 1442 only the actual city of Naples still held out against Alfonso.  A long, difficult siege began.  The fighting was severe, and Alfonso himself was badly wounded.  While recuperating, he decided to read the account of Belisarius’ campaign against Naples nine centuries earlier in Procopius’ History.  Alfonso immediately realized that the ancient aqueducts were the key to the city, for all of them had long since ceased to function and were by his time largely forgotten.  As a result, his troops entered Naples on the night of June 1st-2nd, as Rene d’Anjou fled into exile, while Alfonso settled down to enjoy his newly-won realm.  

Aside from rather dramatically demonstrating the value of a classical education, Alfonso's capture of Naples also suggests that old tricks con sometime work more than once.  Indeed, the trick was old long before Belisarius captured Naples by sending troops through the aqueduct.  As recounted in 2 Samuel, 5.6-8, the trick had been used around 1003 B.C. when King David of the Hebrews captured Jerusalem from the Jesubites in this fashion, and nearly 175 years after Belisarius' feat, the deposed Romano-Byzantine Emperor Justinian II “No-Nose” regained his throne by recapturing Constantinople in the same way in A.D. 705.

Note:  In keeping with medieval tradition, Rene d'Anjou never conceded his claim to Naples.  Upon his death, in 1480, it passed to the Crown of France.  As a result, in 1494, Charles VIII of France (1483-1498), invaded Naples, ousting Alfonso's grandson, and incidentally initiating an intense series of wars between France and Spain that would span more than 35 of the years between 1494 and 1559.  Arguably, the last French attempt to seize Naples was under Napoleon, who made it a satellite kingdom in 1806 which endured until 1815

 


© 1998 - 2021 StrategyWorld.com. All rights Reserved.
StrategyWorld.com, StrategyPage.com, FYEO, For Your Eyes Only and Al Nofi's CIC are all trademarks of StrategyWorld.com
Privacy Policy