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John IV
Edmond Beaufort et envoyés de Rouen.jpg
John IV
King of Gothenland
Reign 14th September, 1366 - 19th December, 1403
Predecessor Eric III
Successor Eric IV
Born 20th September, 1359
Near Åryd, Gothenland
Died 19th December, 1403
Lãbórg, Pomerelia, Gothenland
Spouse Judith of Radowašojce
Issue Cecilia

Eric IV
Benedict
John
Valdemar
Catherine
Matilda

Full name
Jan Ericssen
House Piast
Father Eric III
Mother Matilda of Holland

John IV was king of Gothenland in the late 14th century. His reign would see a marked increase in the land nominally held by Gothenland in Pomerelia.

Only six years old when his father Eric III died the young king was placed under a regency of his mother, Matilda of Holland and Benedict Porse, the elderly and genial Duke of Eyland (Öland).

In November 1370 the long-reigning Casimir III of Poland died, his only heir was his nephew John I of Hungary leading to both kingdoms being ruled in union. In an extraordinary conference in Visby in early 1371 envoys from Gothenland, the Knights and the Holy Roman Empire agreed a league to oppose John of Hungary's ambitions in Poland. Within Poland itself several nobles, especially those from the Piast dynasty took up arms. And with their assistance Gothenland's armies raided western Poland liberally, seizing Slupsk, Betowo and Bydgoszcza.

At Torun in August 1377 the League was crushed. Whilst both the Knights and Gothenland were allowed to hold onto the lands within Poland that they had been granted by Casimir III, both were asked to pay huge reparations. The effort to pay this essentially bankrupted the Knights and led to considerable unrest within their territory. John meanwhile could rely on Gothenland's slightly more robust treasury to pay his share and although he did impose extra taxes in 1378/79 there was considerably less upheaval in Gothenland's pockets of territory in Pomerelia and Samland compared to the large Prussian territory held by the Knights. The victory silenced the remaining rebellious Polish nobles.

In August 1382 John I died, nominally leaving his kingdoms to his son-in-law Wenceslaus I of Luxembourg. The Polish sejm had effectively agreed to this following Torun, but in the event refused to be ruled from Prague or Buda. They would rally around John I's other daughter, Jadwiga of Poland, and soon had a league of anti-Luxembourg states, including Gothenland, backing their stance. Wenceslaus' Bohemian army would be heavily defeated at Jezierzyca River, with Wenceslaus barely escaping capture. As a reward for Gothenland's assistance, John was granted tax rights over Pomerelia, as well as full lordship over several towns along the coast, for which he paid homage.

Whatever the limited influence John actually had in Poland at home he still proclaimed his right to the kingdom and its territory, 'whole and indivisible'. Hence when Jadwiga ceded what was left of Poland's nominal rights in Pomerania to Valdemar II, essentially reflecting what was a fact on the ground, John protested then invaded Scania. Lund was besieged in April-May 1384 but the Danish army chased the Gothenlanders off then inflicted a minor victory over them at Lomma. After this an agreement was reached to divide any subsequent conquest in Pomerania which would go on to form the border between Danish Pomerania and Gothenlandic Pomerelia.

In practice Jadwiga left her Lithuanian husband Jogaila (Wladyslaw II) as effective ruler of Poland and he was much less-disposed to Gothenland and the Knights encroaching on Polish territory. John, however, was savvy enough to ally himself to whichever causes Wladyslaw pursued, whereas the Knights (their raison d'etre now virtually gone) supported a succession of Lithuanian nobles vying for control. In 1390 when Wladsylaw's cousin Vytautas began a civil war for the Grand Duchy with support from the Teutonic Knights, the Gothenlandic armies, with John at its head, besieged Elblings and Framborg, and won a small but notable victory over the Knights at Wormditt. Seeing the Knights as a necessary evil to balance Polish and Lithuanian politics Wladyslaw did not punish them (or reward Gothenland) to the degree which may have been expected. John was rebuffed when he asked for Elblings and Königsberg (which have considerably consolidated his Samland territory plus removed the friction between the German Bishop of Samland and the Gothenlandic/Prussian priests in Gothenland's Samland). John was, however, given express rights over the Pomerelian coastline from Slupsk to the Vistula, though this excluded Gdansk which still remained in the Knights hands.

John would die in 1403 and was succeeded by his eldest son Eric. Between 1403 and 1416 all three of John's surviving children would occupy the throne, a situation which would lead to a breakdown in law and order and civil war, the so-called 'Herring-Hook War', between factions loyal to John's grandson Christopher or his niece Magdalena.

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