John III
Lucas Cranach the Younger - Prince Elector Moritz of Saxony (1578) - Google Art Project.jpg
John III
King of Anglia
Reign 3rd December, 1563 - 4th August, 1574
Predecessor Henry IV
Successor Richard II
Reign June, 1577 - September, 1577
Predecessor Richard II
Successor Richard III
Reign 12th June, 1580 - 23rd October, 1581
Predecessor Richard III
Successor Richard III
Born 7th January, 1530
Northampton, Anglia
Died 23rd October, 1581
Lincoln, Anglia
Spouse Anne of Brittany

Antoinette of Auvergne

Issue Henry of Ripon

William IV

House Norfolk
Father William III
Mother Elizabeth of Luxembourg

John III dominated Anglia for two decades of the 16th century. He would oversee much of Anglia's slow drift toward becoming a Lutheran country, however his reign would be disrupted by the Anglian War of Religion and he would be deposed twice.

The second son of William III and Elizabeth of Luxembourg, John of Northampton became heir apparent after the death of his nephew, Henry of St. Edmundsbury, in 1561. His elder brother Henry IV had reigned for 22 years but outlived all of his children. Therefore when Henry died in 1563 John was readily accepted by the Witenage as the rightful king and crowned in early 1564.

Henry had been an idle king allowing his privy council to effectively rule for him but then dragging his heels over certain areas. Unless it related to military matters, or getting more money to pay for military matters then it appears he simply wasn't interested. This included the religious development of Anglia and Henry or his council made no concrete moves to either ban Lutheranism or discourage its spread. The result was that by the end of his reign almost half the population was Lutheran. This mostly manifested itself in the towns and cities but the eastern counties boasted a rural population which had mostly converted too. John had secretly converted as well, alongside his sisters Elizabeth and Estrid but seemed happy to continue with the status quo in Anglia, suggesting he was not ideologically motivated at this point.

His early reign saw a progression of he was much interested in the standardisation of laws across the country. For instance he fixed 1st January as the official beginning of the calendar year, replacing the various dates which often changed from diocese to diocese. He would also implement new coins, increasing the amount of silver within them. This move was welcomed by the populace which had been troubled by increasingly debased coinage, but put a squeeze on the crown's treasury. There was also a revision of the kingdom's poor laws, long overdue considering the number of beggars crowding the towns after being dispossessed by enclosures or ruined by famine, but this put another squeeze on funds.

In 1566 John married for a second time to Antoinette of Auvergne. Some Catholic lords questioned the match considering Auvergne's militant Lutheranism but it was explained away as a part of Luxembourg's anti-French alliance to which Anglia was a nominal but inactive part. Antoinette does appear to have rekindled John's Lutheranism though and after the marriage he can be seen to promote Lutherans, or Lutheran sympathisers to important positions. (It is however worth noting that John's first wife Anne of Brittany was most certainly a Lutheran too, perhaps even with Calvinist sympathies). Privately he conferred with his wife's Lutheran priests while continuing to publicly attend Catholic mass. There were modest proposals to curb the amount of land a monastic house could own or eke more taxes out of the church but these withered under the hostility of the Archbishop of Jorvik, Thomas Sampson.

Archbishop Matthew Parker

John III & William IV's Archbishop of Jorvik, Thomas Parker

In May 1574 having reigned over a religiously peaceful Anglia for ten years, he asked his privy council to work toward an act of religious tolerance such as had been enacted in Poland. This immediately drew fierce criticism from Archbishop Sampson, supported by the Catholic majority Witenage. John would not back down however and on Sampson's death in late June he promoted a Lutheran to Archbishop without waiting for Rome's candidate. When challenged he expelled the papal legates and proclaimed Anglia a Lutheran country. Battle lines were soon drawn with John's younger brother Richard of Jorvikshire on the Catholic side and, with Lincoln rioting, he fled south to Grantbridge. The Witenage had meanwhile deposed him, electing 'the good Catholic' Richard of Jorvikshire as rightful king and civil war broke out. The initial engagements did not go John's way however and he would be forced to retreat to Fryslan. In the north his eldest son Henry of Ripon attempted to hold a line north of the Tees but would be defeated, captured and would die in 1575.

Luckily much of the navy had fallen into Lutheran hands so Richard could not challenge John's position in Fryslân and as pro- and anti-Lutheran revolts swept Anglia in 1577 John could return with a formidable force. Hiring mercenaries from Hesse-Kassel he invaded Anglia in the Spring of 1577. Subsequently at the Battle of Stamford Richard II would die of wounds inflicted and John reclaimed the throne. However John's army failed to secure any lasting victories and he was forced once more to flee, holding only the eastern coast.

Richard II was replaced by his even more fervently Catholic son Richard III and Anglia reeled from further purges which did nothing to increase Richard's position or shift John from his eastern fortresses. By 1580 John was strong enough to launch a fresh offensive which would sweep Richard out and into exile in Wessex. Faced with a Witenage which was near 100% Catholic John suspended it and attempted to rule through the privy council. However his health was failing and unable to pay for his mercenaries faced increased revolt. He would die in October 1581, of tuberculosis which had left him weak and unable to rule effectively. On his death Richard III swept back into power and John's successor, William of Dunholm retreated back to Fryslân to rebuild the Lutheran cause.


In he married Anne of Brittany in 1545 and they had three children:

  • Henry of Ripon (1550-1574)
  • William IV (1552-1603)
  • Estrid (1558-1598)

In 1566 he married Antoinette of Auvergne. They would have four children:

  • Elizabeth (1569-1587)
  • Katherine (Twin of Conrad) (1571-1573)
  • Conrad (Twin of Katherine) (1571)
  • Henry (1575-1589)
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