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James III depicted in the Leges palatinae
|King of Majorca|
Count of Roussillon and Cerdanya
|Reign||4 September 1324 1344–c.|
|Lord of Montpellier|
|Reign||4 September 1324–25 October 1349|
|Prince of Achaea|
|Reign||c. 1331–25 October 1349|
|Born||5 April 1315|
Catania, Kingdom of Sicily
|Died||25 October 1349 (aged 34)|
Llucmajor, Kingdom of Majorca
|Spouse||Constance of Aragon|
Violante of Vilaragut
|Issue||James IV of Majorca|
Isabella of Majorca
|Father||Ferdinand of Majorca|
|Mother||Isabella of Sabran|
James was born in Catania, Sicily. Margaret of Villehardouin, James's maternal grandmother, fought to reclaim the Principality of Achaea from the Angevins of the Kingdom of Naples. Isabella died soon after the childbirth, and James was proclaimed Prince of Achaea under the guardianship of his father. Ferdinand invaded the Morea in an effort to bring the principality under his control, but was killed in the Battle of Manolada in 1316. Despite this setback, from 1331 the feudal lords of Achaea began to recognise the rights of James, and in 1333 the recognition was total, though the Angevin heirs of Philip I of Taranto continued to press their claim.
Upon the death of his uncle Sancho in 1324, James inherited the Kingdom of Majorca. His uncle Philip ruled the kingdom as regent until 1329. In order to establish friendly relations with the Crown of Aragon, he married Constance, daughter of Alfonso IV of Aragon. Though the kings of Majorca traditionally swore an oath of fealty to the kings of Aragon, James claimed that no king could have lordship over any other king. He patronised the University of Montpellier, which lay within his continental domains, and the legal scholars of that institution defended his rights as king.
On 9 May 1337 James promulgated the Leges palatinae, an elaborate code for his court and the first of its kind. For it he commissioned a fine illuminated manuscript in an Italian style, which he himself preserved when he lost his throne. He brought it to the Roman curia, then sold it to Philip VI of France.
In 1342 James refused to render the oath of fealty to his cousin Peter IV of Aragon. He was supported, however, by the doctors of the University of Montpellier and by Aragonese troubadour, Thomàs Périz de Fozes, who wrote a poem in his defence. In a short war he was driven out of Majorca by Peter, who reannexed the Balearic Islands to the Crown of Aragon. James died at the Battle of Llucmajor on 25 October 1349 while trying to retake the island.
James and his first wife, Constance of Aragon, had two children:
- James IV of Majorca (c. 1336– 20 January 1375). Married Joanna I of Naples.
- Isabella of Majorca (c. 1337–c. 1406). Married John II of Montferrat.
James and his second wife, Violante of Vilaragut, had one child:
- Esclaramunda of Majorca (unknown). Died shortly after her birth.
|James III of Majorca||Father:
Ferdinand of Majorca
James II of Majorca
James I of Aragon
Violant of Hungary
Esclaramunda of Foix
Roger IV of Foix
Brunissenda of Cardona
Isabella of Sabran
Isnard of Sabran
Margaret of Villehardouin
William of Villehardouin
Anna Komnene Doukaina
- David Abulafia (1994), A Mediterranean Emporium: The Catalan Kingdom of Majorca (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-89405-0.
- Thomas N. Bisson (2000), The Medieval Crown of Aragon: A Short History (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
- G. Kerscher, The first European ceremonial manuscript—Leges Palatinae—and its relevance for the Mediterranean area[permanent dead link], University of Trier.
- Marta Vanlandingham (2002), Transforming the State: King, Court and Political Culture in the Realms of Aragon (1213–1387), (BRILL, ISBN 90-04-12743-7).
| King of Majorca
Count of Roussillon and Cerdanya
| Lord of Montpellier
| Prince of Achaea