Niccolo Acciaiuoli

Acciaiuoli (or Acciajuoli), Niccolo: (b. Sept. 12, 1310, Montegufoni, Val di Pesa [near Florence]. d. Nov. 8, 1365, Naples or Florence). Statesman, soldier, and grand seneschal of Naples. Born into a prominent Florentine family, he moved to Naples in 1331 to oversee a branch of the family’s banking empire. It was there that he became close friends with King Robert the Wise and earned the title of cavaliere (knight). Becoming an advisor to Robert’s nephew, Philip of Taranto. In reward for his financial help in the reconquest of the principality of Achaia by Philip’s son, Robert, Niccolo was granted benefices and fiefs. In 1347, Acciaiuoli played a pivotal role in arranging the marriage of Queen Joanna I to Louis of Taranto. This placed him in a position of considerable influence over Joanna who soon appointed him (1348) Grand Seneschal of the Kingdom of Naples. Having now become the most powerful man, he defended Joanna and Louis when they were attacked by Louis I of Hungary. In 1356, Niccolo captured Messina, beginning an attempt to regain Sicily for the Angevins. For his efforts he was awarded with the title of Count of Malta and Gozo. In 1358, he was appointed Baron and governor of Corinth to defend Angevin control of Achaia against the Turks and the Catalans. During this time he refortified the Isthmus of Corinth. Returning to Italy he spent some time consolidating his power in Messina before traveling north to meet with Pope Innocent VI at Avignon (1360). He remained in northern Italy for some time, serving as the Pope’s governor of Bologna and the Romagna. In 1364 he returned to Naples to help Joanna restore order after a revolt of several barons. Despite the immense wealth and power Acciaiuoli held, he remained a man of honesty and integrity. Both Petrarch and Boccaccio speak highly of him in their writings. For the great benefit of both Naples and Florence, he created strong commercial ties between the two states. Acciaiuoli spent his final years in retirement in the Certosa del Galluzzo, a Carthusian monastery he founded near his native Florence.