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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

February 26th, 1266 - The Battle of Benevento

Conflict: Angevin-Hohenstaufen Struggle

Combatants: Anjou (Charles) v. Hohenstaufen (Manfred)

Location: Italy

Outcome: Charles victory


Throughout the early and middle era of the 13th century, Holy Roman Emperor Fredrich II (of the Hohenstaufen dynasty) struggled with the Papal States for the control of Italy. After his death, Manfred, his illegitimate son, conquered most of southern Italy and, in 1256, Sicily. In 1265, a desperate Pope Urban IV petitioned the French Prince Charles of Anjou for assistance. The Pope offered to provide money for the raising of troops and the crown of Sicily in exchange.


Battle of Benevento from the Chronicles of Sanit Denis

Charles invaded Naples and forced his army into a difficult winter march through the mountains in order to foil attempts by Manfred to hold a strong defensive position. Manfred instead pursued Charles to Benevento. The two armies that met on February 26th of 1266 were of roughly equal size.


The Battle of Benevento by Giovanni Villani

Manfred did not coordinate his cavalry and archers to good affect in the battle. This allowed the heavy cavalry of the French to utterly defeat the German and Italian troops. Manfred, seeing that defeat was inevitable, chose to die in battle rather than submit to the French and the Papacy.


Bataille de Bénévent et mort de roi Manfred Giovanni Boccaccio (The Battle of Benevento and the death of King Manfred Giovanni Boccaccio) by an unknown artist

Points of Interest:

  • Charles was crowned King of Naples shortly after the battle, but his strict rule led to revolts in both Naples and southern Italy.

  • In 1268, Charles defeated a German invasion led by Conradin, grandson of Fredrich II. Charles captured and executed Conradin, thus ending the Hohenstaufen line.


Coronation Charles I of Anjou from the Chronicles of St. Denis

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Sources:


Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).


Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.


Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.




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