Skanderbeg's Italian expedition (1460--1462) was undertaken to aid his ally Ferdinand I of Naples, whose rulership was threatened by the Angevin Dynasty. George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was the ruler of Albania (Latin: dominus Albaniae) who had been leading a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire since 1443 and allied himself with several Western European monarchs in order to consolidate his domains. In 1458, Alfonso V of Aragon, ruler of Sicily and Naples and Skanderbeg's most important ally, died, leaving his illegitimate son, Ferdinand, on the Neapolitan throne; René d'Anjou, the French Duke of Anjou, laid claim to the throne. The conflict between René's and Ferdinand's supporters soon erupted into a civil war. Pope Calixtus III, of Spanish background himself, could do little to secure Ferdinand, so he turned to Skanderbeg for aid.
In 1457, Skanderbeg had achieved his most famous victory over the Ottoman Empire at Albulena (Ujëbardha), which was received with great enthusiasm throughout Italy. In order to repay Alfonso for the financial and military assistance given to him years before, Skanderbeg took up the pope's pleas to help out Alfonso's son by sending a military expedition to Italy. Before leaving, Skanderbeg tried to negotiate a ceasefire with Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, to ensure his domain's safety. Mehmed had not declared a truce and he was still sending his armies against Bosnia and the Morea. It was not until 1459, after Mehmed's conquest of Serbia, that Mehmed not only declared a truce, but also a three-year ceasefire with Skanderbeg. This gave Skanderbeg his opportunity to send his men to Italy.
Due to fears of an approaching Ottoman army, Skanderbeg first sent his nephew, Constantine, with 500 cavalry to Barletta. They were incorporated into Ferdinand's forces to combat his Angevin rivals. They held back their enemy for a year, but did not gain much ground until Skanderbeg arrived in September 1461. Before reaching Italy, Skanderbeg visited Ragusa (Dubrovnik) to convince its rectors to help fund his campaign. Meanwhile, his men landed in Italy and Angevin forces lifted their siege on Barletta. Upon arriving, Skanderbeg continued to pursue his ally's enemies with great success. Ferdinand's adversaries thus began to retreat from his territories and Skanderbeg went back to Albania; a troop of his men stayed until Ferdinand managed to finally defeat the pretenders to his throne at the Battle of Orsara, although it is not known if Skanderbeg's men participated.
In 1456, Skanderbeg's ally, Janos Hunyadi, died, and his son, Mathias Corvinus, was crowned King of Hungary. Hunyadi had been an advocate for an offensive war against the Ottoman Empire, whereas the Hungarian nobility and his son promoted a defensive war. The next year, however, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg defeated a sizable Ottoman force at the Battle of Albulena (Ujëbardha). Rome had been desperately waiting for such a victory after the Siege of Belgrade, as Pope Calixtus III had wanted to assure himself of the feasibility of a crusade before declaring one. Calixtus thus named Skanderbeg the Captain-General of the Curia; to secure the pope's interests, Skanderbeg sent twelve Turkish prisoners of war that had been captured at Albulena to Rome. Despite seeing his forces defeated the year before, Sultan Mehmed II prepared another force to be sent into Albania. The country had been obstructing his ambitions for empire in the West and he grew restless to defeat Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg sent delegations to several Western European states to convince them to stop fighting each other and unite for Calixtus' crusade.
On 27 September 1458, Alfonso V of Aragon, Skanderbeg's most important and helpful ally after the stipulation of the Treaty of Gaeta, died. In 1448, as gesture of friendship with Alfonso, Skanderbeg sent a detachment of Albanian troops commanded by General Demetrios Reres to Crotone to quell a rebellion against Alfonso. The next year, many of these men were allowed to settle four villages in Sicily which Alfonso controlled. Upon hearing of his ally's death, Skanderbeg sent emissaries to the new King of Naples, Ferdinand I, to give condolence for his father's death, but also to congratulate him on his accession to the throne of Naples. The succession was not without turbulence, however: René d'Anjou laid claim to the throne since his family had controlled Naples before Aragon had taken control of it, and also because Ferdinand was Alfonso's illegitimate son. The Southern Italian nobility, many of Angevin background, supported René d'Anjou over the Aragonese Ferdinand. Among them was Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini, the Prince of Taranto, and Jacopo Piccinino, a famed condottieri who had been invited by the Angevins. Francisco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, who was wary of a French presence in Italy, sided with Ferdinand and sent his nephew, Alessandro Sforza, to command his army in southern Italy