The War of the Sicilian Vespers isn't terribly well known in Britain, but it was one of the most important conflicts in the Medieval Mediterranean, involving the Papacy, France and Aragon in a struggle for control of Sicily and southern Italy, a war that grew out of the wider conflict between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Emperors. At the time of his death in 1250 the Emperor Frederick II held Sicily and Naples, as well as Germany, but his heirs were unable to hold onto the entire kingdom, and in the 1260s the Pope sold the Kingdom of Sicily to Charles of Anjou. Anjou turned out to be a harsh and unpopular monarch, and in 1282 an incident at a wedding on Sicily triggered a revolt across the island. The rebels involved Peter, king of Aragon, to take the throne, triggering a war that outlived both of them, and dragged on into 1302.
The early stages of this war had a number of unusual features, including a crusade into Aragon, and a suggested duel between Charles of Anjou and Peter of Aragon that came closer to actually happening than most similar events. Both of these are covered, along with the naval warfare that played a major part in the Aragonese victory. The articles focus on the first part of the war, up to the deaths of Charles and Peter, and at least a summary of the later events would have been useful, but we get an interesting selection of articles that do make me want to go and read up on this war in more detail.
Away from the main theme the secondary focus is on English and Scottish history, with a look at part of the Anarchy, the defeat of Hotspur at Shrewsbury, a comparison of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, and the siege of Caerlaverock Castle, one of the most impressive fortifications on the Scottish borders. Finally there is a look at the battle of Karbala, an important moment for the development of Islam that saw the death of Hussain, the grandson of the prophet Mohammad.
Pope against King: Causes for the War of the Sicilian Vespers
Of oars and men: Ships of the 13th century Angevin navy
The crusade against Aragon: An unjust and unnecessary enterprise
Men of the setting sun: Italian and Sicilian armies, ca.1282-1302
Papal strongman: Charles of Anjou
Pageantry in plaster: Duelling knights, circa 1282
The Challenge of Bordeaux: Peter of Aragon versus Charles of Anjou
Karbala: A battle revisited
The War of the Two Matildas: A Queen and an empress at Odds
The gateway to England: The Siege of Caerlaverock Castle
A brave defiance: The Battle of Shrewsbury
Scottish profiles in leadership: William Wallace and Robert the Bruce