|King of France|
|Reign||5th September, 1201 - 19th June, 1210|
|Died||19th June, 1210 |
|Spouse||Eleanor of Marseilles|
|Mother||Constance of Mirebeau|
John I, John the Lazy, was king of France for the first decade of the 13th century.
The youngest of Charles IV's four children, only John would outlive his father and he would succeed in September 1201. His reign, or at least the early portion of it is often derided as wasteful, hence his epithet the Lazy. However France had only recently been through a extremely debilitating war which saw the siege and capture of Paris by the Normans and much of John's reign was a simple shoring up of the French state and its finances.
Chroniclers do mention however that John 'liked an easy life' and if possible put off decisions. Yet during the second half of his reign this became gradually more and more impossible to do. In September 1206 the last Rolloian Duke of Normandy, Robert III, died. His nearest relative was Matilda currently co-ruling Wessex with her husband Theobald of Blois. With the Norman nobles' support they installed their eldest child Henry as Duke, virtually ensuring the Duchy's eventual absorption into the Wessexian realm.
John, in an uncharacteristic move, complained to Wessex that he had neither been consulted nor had any homage paid for this potentially massive change in Francian territory. He then declared both Normandy and Blois to be forfeit. Both territories were invaded, beginning what would become the Twenty Years War. France was initially quite successful and had a good ally in Brittany who kept the Normans tied up on their western frontier. Maine too saw the chance to get out of Normandy's grip and soon the Norman lords were pinned into their castles.
A victory seemed assured even though Wessex was now amassing an army. However John was overconfident and when in 1209 the Pope finally tried to call in the king for a crusade, unlike his predecessors he accepted. His young sons would now be honour-bound to fight on two fronts.