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John III
LouisOrlean ChristinaPisan.jpg
John III 'the Hapless'
King of France
Reign 12th September, 1414 - 16th February, 1453
Predecessor Philip IV
Successor Louis XII
Born 8th November, 1401
Bourges, France
Died 16th February, 1453
Paris, France
Spouse Kera of Byzantium

Juana of Leon

Issue Louis XII

Philip of Berry

House Capet-Orleanais
Father Charles, Duke of Berry
Mother Isabella of Paris

John III ruled France for much of the early 15th century. He is given the epithet Hapless due to his reputation of 'managing to ruin every good thing to come his way, through ignorance, stupidity and carelessness'.

The nephew of Philip IV, John would become heir to the throne after the early deaths of all Philip and Joanna of Castile's three children. John's succession did however mean that the Duchy of Berry, only recently brought firmly into the French orbit, now became an integral part of the French crown.

He would inherit a war too, albeit a low-intensity one, after Philip IV declared regency over the Imperial Duchy of Bar in 1413, earning instant condemnation from the Imperial court. The Emperor Charles IV had little freedom to respond, soon pressed by the Hussite revolt in his patrimony of Bohemia, Byzantine rumblings on the Hungarian borders and Aragon close to capturing Naples. Instead he sought to rely on Anglia, Arles and Auvergne to oppose France.

As it was these three allies were hardly the effective force the Emperor hoped for. Arles was initially successful and by 1417 the French were forced to deploy scorched earth tactics to prevent the Arelat army from securing Champagne but then became distracted by its ongoing feud with Burgundy whose activities allowed John to consolidate his position in Bar. Auvergne mounted one half-hearted campaign in Berry but lack of funds meant the war was quickly wound up. Meanwhile nominally the most powerful of the three, Anglia, was hamstrung with an inept king. Henry III was overly cautious, much to the annoyance of his own nobles, and stuck to besieging frontier castles.

John III was hardly a shining example of kingly majesty either. The young king stammered, and was supposedly afraid of horses. His arrival in cities, or worse, at a battlefield, in a litter was the subject of mockery. He would marry Princess Kera of Byzantium, but the twice widowed Kera was an ill-fit to the French court and John's adoption of some Byzantine customs in deference to her again invited mockery. Rumours that she never exactly renounced her Orthodox faith abounded and the lack of an heir worried his nobles. The Papacy gave John several chances to divorce her but he would stick by her until her death in 1449.

The ducal family of Bar managed to sneak out of French captivity and into Swabia in 1421 which was a blow to John's prestige, but he seemed to have the backing of his nobles whilst the victories continued. By 1428 Arles was firmly out of Lorraine, and Anglian involvement had just petered out. French ownership of Bar was therefore seen as a done deal and John moved to outlaw Duke Charles. It would all collapse the very next year.

Whilst most of the Empire's military might was concentrated on Bohemia a few Imperial counts were looking to resolve the Bar issue too. Frederich of Anhalt led an assorted coalition but had done little to prevent the French advance into Lorraine. Lorraine would be saved not by Anhalt but by 'a Barrese peasant girl'; Joanna of Wantzenau, who on the indulgence of Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine was given leadership of a Lorraine army to break the siege of Saverne. Which she did. And then she beat the French again at Saint Georges. The nervous German lords sidelined her to a more morale-boosting role but that was enough and the French position soon collapsed. By October John was forced to recognise Bar was lost. The French army was effectively neutered at the Battle of Troyes in 1431 and John sued for peace.

Thereafter John's rule increasingly looked shaky and government was largely taken over by the corrupt Bishop of Paris, Étienne d'Orgemont, of whom John had complete trust in and turned a blind eye to d'Orgemont's embezzlement of the treasury. Despite John's defence d'Orgemont would have to flee into exile in May 1448 as an angry Parisian mob stormed his palace.

After Queen Kera's death John's court urged a hasty marriage to ensure an heir. The young Princess Juana of Leon was brought to Paris and two children soon followed. However when John died in 1453 his son Louis XII of France was only 2 years old. Another long regency would leave France in a moribund state.

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