Ioann Besstrashniy

Ioann Besstrashniy

Duke of Burgundy 1404-1419, son of Philip the Bold and Margaret III of Flanders.
Country: France

  1. Biography of John the Fearless
  2. Courageous Actions and Capture
  3. Rise to Power and Rivalries
  4. Struggles and Reconciliation
  5. Siege of Paris and Tragic End

Biography of John the Fearless

John the Fearless, also known as John the Intrépid, was the Duke of Burgundy from 1404 to 1419. He was born in Dijon as the son of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and Margaret III of Flanders. In 1385, John married Margaret of Bavaria, daughter of Albert I, Count of Holland and Hainaut, in order to strengthen his influence in the region. However, he later annulled the marriage and married Michelle of France, daughter of Charles VI, for political reasons.

Courageous Actions and Capture

Before ascending the throne of Burgundy, John led a group of French crusaders to aid King Sigismund of Hungary against the Turks. On September 25, 1396, he fought with great courage in the Battle of Nicopolis and earned the nickname "Sans-Peur" or "The Fearless." Despite his bravery, he was captured by the Turks and had to pay a hefty ransom, which his father Philip covered.

Rise to Power and Rivalries

John became the Duke of Burgundy after his father's death in 1404. He inherited his father's rivalry with the House of Orléans, whom he competed with for influence at the court of the mentally ill French King Charles VI. In 1407, John ordered the assassination of his main rival, Louis I, Duke of Orléans, whom he suspected of having an affair with his wife. After this act, John took control of France and became responsible for the upbringing of the dauphin.

Struggles and Reconciliation

John's relationship with Isabella of Bavaria deteriorated over time, and they openly threatened each other. His uncle, John of Berry, arranged a solemn agreement between them, but three days later, on November 23, 1407, Louis of Orléans was brutally murdered in the streets of Paris. It was widely believed that John was behind the assassination, as he later admitted his involvement, justifying it as a permissible act of "tyrant-killing."

After fleeing Paris and facing several conflicts with the Armagnacs, John managed to regain the trust of King Charles VI. In 1409, the heirs of Louis of Orléans were forced to make peace with him, and John resumed his guardianship over the dauphin.

Siege of Paris and Tragic End

Following his victory over the Armagnacs, John faced opposition from his son and heir, Charles. Charles formed alliances to reclaim property confiscated by his father. A peace treaty was signed in 1410, and John returned to Burgundy. However, the Armagnacs grew dissatisfied with his political power, and after a series of rebellions and attacks on the citizens, John was recalled to Paris and then sent back to Burgundy in 1413.

Two years later, John's troops laid siege to Paris. On May 30, 1418, he captured the city and mercilessly persecuted his opponents, the Armagnacs. However, the dauphin, future King Charles VII, managed to escape. John positioned himself as the defender of the king but took no action to prevent the surrender of Rouen to the English in 1419.

In an attempt to negotiate peace, John met with Charles in July and made a vow of peaceful coexistence on the Bridge of Pouilly. However, a subsequent meeting on September 10, 1419, on the Bridge of Montereau ended tragically for John. He was killed by knights from the dauphin's entourage, led by Count Tanneguy du Chastel and Viscount de Narbonne. They severed his left hand, which he instinctively used to shield himself, and then hacked his skull to the chin, mirroring the wounds inflicted on Louis of Orléans twelve years earlier.

John the Fearless was buried in Dijon. His son and successor, Philip the Good, sought revenge for his father's murder and formed an alliance with the English.