John V
John V
King of Anglia
Reign 12th September, 1649 - 30th March, 1670
Predecessor John IV
Successor Louis
Born 15th November, 1608
Wisele, Brabant, Luxembourg
Died 30th March, 1670
Lincoln, Anglia
Spouse Catherine of Verlay

Mary of Trier
Elizabeth of Nikorowicz
Maria Sedley

Issue Charlotte
House Leuven
Father John IV
Mother Amalia of Kortenaken

John V was king of Anglia for two decades in the latter half of the 17th century. His reign is largely regarded as a failure. While Anglia muddled on regardless, his detachment from political life allowed arguments to fester and cause havoc in the Witenage.

If John IV was overbearing and confrontational when it came to dealing with the Witenage then John V leant completely the other way and largely left the Witenage to manage itself. Perhaps he had come to understand that his father's temperament and combative outlook had in fact achieved nothing and therefore he sought to disassociate himself from a political machinery which could generally look after itself in Anglia. When it came to dealing with important legislation which required royal assent John was again largely uninterested, he rarely attended the Witenage on the occasions he was invited and allowed his ministers to simply relay the chamber's news to him. Historians have compared him to a 'watchman, rather than the watchmaker'. This attitude suited many but also proved a problem when an urgent law required signing and the king was nowhere to be found, as occurred on at least three occasions.

It also allowed some of the more forceful Earls and Lords to pressure the Witenage for their own benefits. The main political conflicts of his rule occurred between the commons and lords therefore, not between crown and commons. This was increasingly tinged with a religious aspect however as 'Puritanism' came to dominate theology. This concept held that the Lutheran church in Anglia had not done enough to expunge the 'evil' rituals and traditions of Catholicism. There were indeed some parts of Anglia, like western Yorvikshire, where a Catholic minority still clung on and the monasteries still largely functioned as they had done before the Reformation. For the most part the lords (the king included) followed a Lutheran creed certainly austere compared to Catholicism but in the Commons this Puritanical thought was gathering pace. This advocated (amongst other things) the abolition of the episcopal system, stripping the religious calendar back to a bare minimum and banning all other forms of Christianity in Anglia. During John IV's reign some Puritan communities had followed the examples of the Anabaptists and travelled wholesale to Vinland where their views chimed with Freydis III's regime, however by the 1650s this route was no longer popular.

What little foreign policy Anglia had revolved around staying studiously neutral in the remaining years of the Fifty Years War (a stance which, by necessity, meant foregoing any possibility of retaking Fryslân) and continuing the naval conflict with Leon, Castile and Naples. Luxemborgois forces invaded Fryslân in 1650 briefly raising the prospect that the county would be annexed to the kingdom. The Witenage dithered in its response, unsure if challenging Luxembourg's actions would draw it into the war. This in itself resulted in a shut-out of the pro-Luxembourg lords from the Witenagehuis. The Commons sat for three months in an unbroken session known as Endeløs Witenage during which the heavily-Puritan assembly tried to wrest control of the army and navy from certain lords. John V was eventually dragged into the dispute though he left much of the heavy diplomatic lifting to his chancellor, Roger Marsdon. The Earl of Northumberland, smarting from his removal as head of the army and importantly still a Catholic, rebelled, however his forces were defeated in May 1651 at Sedgefield. In the end Kalmar forces would successfully hold the county. The Witenage considered an independent Fryslân much more preferable than Luxembourg holding the entire near-European coastline from the Normandy border to Hamburg.

Anglia's studious neutrality had benefits though. For one it drew in many immigrants, especially after the bloody repression of the 'Revolt of Holland' by Prince Charles of Utrecht in 1650. The incomers, bringing over wealth, know-how and trading connections, would help stir a renaissance in Anglian finance and manufacturing. While it was true that Puritan households grew more and more austere, in those less beholden to religious dogma a revolution was occurring. Goods from around the world were appearing in Anglian ports and households began to demand luxuries than before. Spices, foreign cloth and tobacco reached further into society than had done so before. Anglia's relative wealth compared to war-torn Europe helped redirect trade routes too. Flemish and Dutch artists continued to supply great works of art to the rich and powerful and, belatedly, setup schools to help train Anglian artists.

Anglia's booming trade did not go unnoticed however and rivalries with the Iberian trading powers, which had quietened down in the 1650s, re-emerged in the 1660s. The navy fought a joint Leonese and Castilian fleet off the coast of Norfolk in 1663, a retaliation after Anglian troops briefly seized a Leonese fort on the Pepper Coast. Despite Vinland's tacit approval attempts to capture islands in the Taino Sea from Iberia foundered however. Much of the crown's money, when not held up by the ever-quarreling Witenage, as ploughed into restoring and strengthening the navy. A dedicated title of 'Lord High Admiral' was created in 1657 (incidentally causing another venomous dispute in the Witenage).

By 1660 the business of the Witenage had crawled to a near-standstill as the Puritans effectively held the assembly to ransom, pursuing their own agendas rather. However importantly splits had opened up in their ranks. In 1661 the self-appointed leader of the Congregationalists (seeking the complete disestablishment of the episcopal church structure) Martin Ward made the error of aligning himself with the preacher Samuel Ripley who, emboldened by the endorsement, promptly denounced Queen Maria as a witch. Maria's position had often been questioned anyway, as a commoner many eyebrows had been raised when John wed her. However this treasonous slight was all the lords needed to hear. The Congregationalist members of the Witenage and around the country were quickly arrested for treason and while most were released it put a firm lid on much of the Puritanical movement. Divided and suppressed, it would fall out fashion, and political power by the end of John's reign.

In 1665 the prosperous trading towns of the east coast were much hit by a wave of bubonic plague, which would make its way across much of Anglia and Wessex. Though an estimated 120,000 would die in Anglia it would be the last major outbreak of the disease.

John's personal life was tinged with tragedy. Three of his wives would die in childbirth and the only child that survived into her teens would die of Scarlet Fever in 1650. Some historians have suggested John carried Great Pox which could have contributed to this death rate and perhaps to the depression he succumbed to in later life.

As John had no direct heirs the Witenage was forced to looked further afield for a suitable successor. They had already dredged deep through the cousins of the Norfolk family to find John IV in the first place. Once again the nearest relations were Catholics or already firmly struck out of the succession. With a little legal finesse a neat solution would be found however. Anna II's grandson Louis, though in theory ineligible thanks to Anna's morganatic marriage, was young, politically astute and blessed with a small but growing family. Marsdon massaged the legalese while pamphlets loudly proclaimed the return of the Norfolk dynasty.


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