|King of France|
|Reign||18th September, 1364 - 5th July, 1388|
|Born|| 13th December, 1357 |
|Died|| 5th July, 1388 |
|Spouse||Joanna of Castile|
|Issue|| Philip IV|
|Mother||Catherine of Vienne|
John II was King of France for 24 years in the late 14th century. France spent his reign in a blur of wars but, unlike his predecessors, the wars tended to go France's way.
Hugh II died suddenly in 1364 and the six-year old John was proclaimed king. Whilst officially he was Louis XI's second son, it was a widely believed rumour that he was actually the love-child of Catherine of Vienne and her presumed lover, Nicole de Mézières. And not only that but rumours that the legitimate Hugh II was murdered to place the illegitimate John on the throne gained traction too. This played into the hands of France's enemies; Henry II of Anglia, who's wife Jeanne was John's elder half-sister, and had a decent claim to the throne; and also the hugely ambitious Emperor Olaf, eager to fold Francia back into the Holy Roman Empire.
Presumed invasion from Anglia's continental properties would never materialise; Henry II was soon fighting for his own throne at home but the preparations John's loyal nobles made served them well when Olaf III sent an army in 1366. Meant as a show of force to peacefully get John's fealty the German imperial army was in reality overawed by the well-rested French. Olaf would revisit the situation in time but for now he concentrated on Italian affairs.
With the country outwardly safe France's nobles could afford to indulge in a civil war. The issue effectively came down to John's parentage; between those nobles supporting John's legitimacy and those who didn't, those who didn't soon found support from Champagne and Bar too. It would take five years but Nicole de Mézières eventually subdued the rebels.
A marriage to the Castilian infanta Joanna was arranged to shore up John's royal pedigree and, (hopefully) produce an heir as soon as possible. Whilst this helped John's standing it was not a diplomatic masterstroke. An alliance between France and Castile irked Aragon *and* France's nominal ally within Francia, Aquitaine. Plus Castile was fairly insular, it didn't appear to be interested in anything going on outside the Iberian peninsula and in fact was about to descend into civil war.
Joanne's father Sancho V was deposed in 1372 by a cousin. John, now of age, led a French contingent to Toledo to restore his father-in-law. The rulers of Touraine and Poitou were handed hefty bribes to allow his passage. Aquitaine extracted help with a siege against Navarre as payment. In the end a single battle at Miranda de Ebro was enough to rally Sancho V's support. John would spend another 4 months in Castile burnishing his military credentials (and he was widely praised for his martial skill on his return to Paris).
Accused of a lack of respect, Touraine was attacked in 1373, the massive siege of Chinon would take a year but with Touraine's vassalage John could finally claim to be expanding France once more. Champagne was next but this drew in Auvergne and was messier to conclude.
Urged by the Francophone Imperial states Olaf III would restart his French campaigns in 1380. With Germany and Italia behind him Olaf could command a considerable army and John was hard-pressed to maintain his forces' coherence. Olaf would die in February 1383 halting the Imperial War there and then. His German lords took their armies and went back to feuding among themselves once more; leading slowly to another civil war to decide the imperial succession, his Scandinavian lords swiftly packed up and went north lest their political clout run out. This would give John considerable space to take a breath and then pursue his own agenda; mostly interfering in the affairs of the French-speaking states in the Imperial frontier.
Despite a unceasing litany of conflict he left France in a good state on his death in 1388. He was succeeded by his son Philip IV who would continue John's legacy with brutal efficiency.