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League of Napoli (Magnam Europae)

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League of Napoli
Napoli
Timeline: Magnam Europae

897-924
NapoliExtent.png
CapitalCapua (897-918)

Salerno (918-924)

Official languages Latin; Old Italian
Ethnic groups  Franks

Lombards

Sicilians

Demonym Napolitan
Religion Christianity
Government Confederation
 -  Sedia Atenulf (897-910)

Landulf I (910-918) Atenulf III (918-923)


Establishment
 -  Formation 897 
 -  Reclamation of Spoleto February 5, 909 
 -  Battle of the Pentapolis October 913 
 -  Battle of Capua 16 June 918 
 -  Betrayal of Sicily 920 
 -  Battle of Benevento 8 September 921 
 -  Battle of Salerno 31 March 923 
 -  Surrender April 924 

The League of Napoli was a league formed by Amalfi, Benevento, Capua, and Salerno to counteract Carolingian aggression in Italy during the Italian Wars. Directly opposed to the Carolingian Empire's agenda in Italy, the League was successful in retaking many parts of Italy, including the entirety of Spoleto and parts of the Papal States. At its height in 813, the League was capable of attacking the Pentapolis and crippling the Carolingian war effort. Following multiple Carolingian invasions and the betrayal of the Emirate of Sicily in 920, the League dissolved in 924, surrendering to the Carolingian Empire.

Name

The League of Napoli was named for the town of Naples near Benevento and Capua. While Naples was controlled by the Carolingian Empire, the League was attempting to appeal to the people of Ravenna, though it was also an attempt to appear much more powerful in the face of the Carolingian Empire. Naples was, in fact, taken by the League of Napoli, though it was retaken during the fall of the League of Napoli. Despite the League's temporary ownership of Naples, the capital was never moved to Naples.

Background

Following the initation of the Italian Wars, the nations of Italy were torn between assisting the Papal States or remaining neutral to avoid destruction by the Carolingian Empire. Following the annexation of Spoleto and the Papal States, the major Italian nations realized that the Carolingian Empire would destroy them easily if they did not stand together. Benevento and Capua, already sharing a leader, proposed an alliance between all southern Italian nations in order to stand against the impending Carolingian attack.

History

Formation

In 897, Benevento and Capua, deciding that an alliance between all southern Italian states would be best, formed the League of Napoli. The southern Italian nations were not known for their compliance with each other, making this alliance seem impossible in the eyes of the Carolingians. Benevento and Capua had made themselves targets of the Carolingians. However, in late 897, Salerno joined the League of Napoli. In 898, Amalfi joined the League of Napoli to ensure its survival. With the Carolingians distracted by Spoleto, the League began preparations for an invasion of the Byzantine holdings in southern Italy.

Invasions of Southern Ravenna

Immediately, the League was surrounded on all sides by hostile Carolingians. Acting quickly, they invaded southern Ravenna with the intent to take over all Carolingian holdings south of Spoleto. These parts of Italy were easily taken by the League of Napoli, Calabria and Apulia in Napolitan hands by 902. With southern Italy completely under the influence of the League of Napoli, the Sicilian Emirate, also enemies of the Carolingians, was approached with an offer to work together to expel the Carolingians from Italy. The Sicilians gladly accepted.

Second Battle of Spoleto

The League of Napoli invaded the city state of Spoleto in 908 from the south while the Emirate of Sicily distracted the Carolingian Eastern Fleets with several naval battles in the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. Before long, the city of Spoleto was reached by the League of Napoli. While the Carolingian occupiers attempted to fight back against the League of Napoli, the League sieged the city of Spoleto for several months. In February of 909, the siege broke and the Napolitan forces entered Spoleto.

The initial battle went well, despite the league heavily damaging the crucial Ponte Sanguinario in their final push into the city. Before long, the Napolitans had trapped the Carolingians in the city, flanking it on all sides before finally taking out the remaining Carolingian holdings in the northern flank of the city.

Battles of the Pentapolis

Pentapolis within the exarchate of Ravenna

The Five Pentapolis Cities

First Battle of Ancona

The First Battle of Ancona, the southmost city in the Pentapolis, occurred in 913. Launched by the League of Napoli, the First Battle of Ancona was a decisive Napolitan victory. With the Emirate of Sicily providing naval support, the League of Napoli was able to not only quickly secure Ancona, but also hold it against Carolingian counterattacks in 913 and 914 along with attempts to retake the city throughout the decade, none of which were successful. For much of the Pentapolis Battles, Ancona remained a Napolitan city.

Battle of Senigallia

The Battle of Senigallia took place in 914 between the Carolingians and the Napolitans. Like the First Battle of Ancona, the Battle of Senigallia was a clear and concise victory for the League of Napoli. Despite Carolingian attempts, Sicilian ships proved to be too much of an obstacle once Senigallia was taken. In a similar fashion to Ancona, Senigallia rarely changed hands until 918 immediately following Landulf I's death.

The Scourge of Fano and Pesaro

Unlike the previous cities, Fano and Pesaro changed hands several times over the course of the Battles of the Pentapolis. In late 915, Fano was taken by the League of Napoli. Pesaro, a stone's throw away from the city of Fano, was next on the Napolitan hit-list. Pesaro held its own until March of 916, when the Napolitans overtook the city. A counterattack by the Carolingians occurred later that year, retaking the city successfully. The city once again fell under Napolitan rule in 918, though the Carolingians were again able to reclaim Pesaro and Fano that year due to Landulf's death.

The Second Battle of Ancona

Following the death of Landulf I and the betrayal of the Sicilians, Atenulf III was unable to keep the Carolingians at bay. In 920, a naval invasion took Ancona by force while Carolingian armies marched from Northern Italy to finish the job, thus ending the Battles of the Pentapolis.

Fall of Capua

On 9 June 918, the Carolingian Navy slipped through Napolitan defenses early in the morning to strike the city of Capua, the capital of the League of Napoli. Following a brief naval battle, Carolingian forces attacked the cities of Naples and Capua. The battle in Naples was relatively easy due to overwhelming Carolingian forces and unpreparedness of the League of Napoli for an invasion of Naples. The battle lasted for roughly a day before Naples was liberated and returned to Carolingian rule.

From Naples, the Carolingians were able to launch an attack on the city of Capua, first attempting to reach the city on 12 June and again the next day. On 16 June, however, a distraction team allowed the Caroligians to attack from the south. Carolingian forces arrived in the morning, attacking the Napolitan city. As the day progressed, the Carolingians entered the city and attacked, setting fire to several portions of the city. While the tide was initially in favor of the Napolitans, the Carolingians were able to turn this around upon the death of Landulf I, the leader of Napoli.

With the loss of their leader, the League of Napoli began to fall apart on the battlefield. By nightfall, Capua belonged to the Carolingian Empire.

Battle of Benevento

Following the reclamation of the territories seized by the League of Napoli, Christophorus hoped to gain control of the League of Napoli or, at the very least, fracture it. Benevento was next on the chopping block for the Carolingian Empire after Spoleto was captured. An invasion along the border of Benevento in mid-921 was the herald to an attack on the city of Benevento. A full-on invasion of Benevento occurred in August of 921. By early September, the Carolingians were right at Benevento's doorstep.

An invasion from the north took Benevento relatively by surprise; the city-state was unprepared for the attack and resistance was relatively minimal. While Christophorus attributed the lack of preparedness to Benevento's decades of weakness, other generals suggested that Benevento had been abandoned by the League of Napoli. The Napolitan formations and defenses that were generally highly successful were easily toppled during this battle. By 9 September 921, the fighting in Benevento had stopped.

Battle of Salerno

Following the reclamation of the territories seized by the League of Napoli, Christophorus hoped to gain control of the League of Napoli or, at the very least, fracture it. Benevento was next on the chopping block for the Carolingian Empire after Spoleto was captured. An invasion along the border of Benevento in mid-921 was the herald to an attack on the city of Benevento. A full-on invasion of Benevento occurred in August of 921. By early September, the Carolingians were right at Benevento's doorstep.

An invasion from the north took Benevento relatively by surprise; the city-state was unprepared for the attack and resistance was relatively minimal. While Christophorus attributed the lack of preparedness to Benevento's decades of weakness, other generals suggested that Benevento had been abandoned by the League of Napoli. The Napolitan formations and defenses that were generally highly successful were easily toppled during this battle. By 9 September 921, the fighting in Benevento had stopped.

Legacy

The League of Napoli left a long-lasting form of identity among the Lombard nations. Even into the time of the renaissance, the Lombard nations remained relatively culturally independent from the Carolingians, even enjoying a revival of culture in the renaissance. The damage left by the war was long-lasting, resulting in the destruction of Italian towns and several parts of major cities. The area was relatively rebuilt by the turn of the millennium.

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