Battle of Poitiers, Bonne of Luxemburg, Count of Auvergne, Countess Joanna of Auvergne and Boulogne, Guillaume XII, Hundred Years War, John II of France, Jutta of Luxemburg, King Philip VI of France, Pope Innocent VI, Queen of France, The Black Death, The Black Prince
Jean II (April 26, 1319 – April 8, 1364), called Jean II the Good was King of France from 1350 until his death in 1364.
Prince Jean was nine years old when his father, King Philippe VI, was crowned king. Philippe VI’s ascent to the throne was unexpected: all three sons of Philippe IV had died without sons and their daughters were passed over.
Also passed over was King Edward III of England, Philippe IV’s grandson through his daughter, Isabella. Thus, as the new king of France, Jean’s father Philippe VI had to consolidate his power in order to protect his throne from rival claimants; therefore, he decided to marry off his son Jean quickly at the age of thirteen to form a strong matrimonial alliance.
Search for a wife and first marriage
Initially a marriage with Eleanor of Woodstock, sister of King Edward III of England, was considered, but instead King Philippe VI invited King John the Blind of Bohemia to Fontainebleau. Bohemia had aspirations to control Lombardy and needed French diplomatic support. A treaty was drawn up.
The military clauses stipulated that, in the event of war, Bohemia would support the French army with four hundred infantrymen. The political clauses ensured that the Lombard crown would not be disputed if the king of Bohemia managed to obtain it. King Philippe VI selected Bonne of Bohemia as a wife for his son, as she was closer to child-bearing age (16 years), and the dowry was fixed at 120,000 florins.
Bonne of Luxemburg, also known as Jutta of Luxemburg (May 20, 1315 — September 11, 1349), was born Jutta (Judith), the second daughter of King John of Bohemia, and his first wife, Elisabeth of Bohemia.
Bonne died of the Black Death a year prior to her husband’s accession to French throne, she was never a French queen. Bonne was referred to in French historiography as Bonne de Luxembourg, since she was a member of the House of Luxembourg. Among her children were Charles V of France, Philippe II, Duke of Burgundy, and Joan, Queen of Navarre.
Joanna I (May 8, 1326 – September 29, 1360) was ruling Countess of Auvergne and Boulogne from 1332 to 1360.
She was the daughter of Guillaume XII, Count of Auvergne and Boulogne, by his wife, Margaret, a sister of King Philippe III of Navarre. She inherited the counties of Auvergne and Boulogne after the death of her father.
Her first husband was Philippe of Burgundy, who held the title Count of Auvergne by virtue of their marriage. Philippe, born November 10, 1323, was the only son and heir of Odo IV, Duke of Burgundy, and Joan III, Countess of Burgundy, daughter of King Philippe V of France and Joan II, Countess of Burgundy. They had one surviving child, Philippe, who would be for much of his brief life Duke Philippe I of Burgundy.
Following the death of her husband, Joanna married Jean, Duke of Normandy on February 9, 1350. This was a second marriage for them both. As previously mentioned, Jean II’s first wife, Bonne of Bohemia, had died of Black Death and had left him with eight children, so there was little pressure for Joanna to give birth to a son and heir. Upon her husband’s ascension to the French throne as King Jean II, she became Queen of France on August 22, 1350.
King of France & Coronation
King Philippe VI, died on August 22, 1350, and John’s coronation as John II, king of France, took place in Reims the following September 22. Joanna, his second wife, was crowned queen of France at the same time.
When he came to power, France faced several disasters: the Black Death, which killed nearly 40% of its population; popular revolts known as Jacqueries; free companies (Grandes Compagnies) of routiers who plundered the country; and English aggression that resulted in catastrophic military losses, including the Battle of Poitiers of 1356, in which King Jean II was captured.
Battle of Poitiers
In 1355, the Hundred Years’ War had flared up again, and on July 1356, Edward, the Black Prince, the Prince of Wales, son of Edward III of England, took an army on a great chevauchée through France. John pursued him with an army of his own. In September the two forces met a few miles southeast of Poitiers.
King Jean II was confident of victory—his army was probably twice the size of his opponent’s—but he did not immediately attack. While he waited, the papal legate went back and forth, trying to negotiate a truce between the leaders. There is some debate over whether the Black Prince wanted to fight at all.
On the day of the battle, King Jean II and 17 knights from his personal guard dressed identically. This was done to confuse the enemy, who would do everything possible to capture the sovereign on the field. In spite of this precaution, following the destruction and routing of the massive force of French knights at the hands of the ceaseless English longbow volleys, Jean II was captured as the English force charged to finish their victory.
Surrender and capture
King John surrendered by handing his glove to Prince Edward the Black Prince. That night King Jean II dined in the red silk tent of his enemy. The Black Prince attended to him personally. He was then taken to Bordeaux, and from there to England. The Battle of Poitiers would be one of the major military disasters not just for France, but at any time during the Middle Ages.
While King Jean II was a prisoner in London, his son Charles became regent and faced several rebellions, which he overcame. To liberate his father, he concluded the Treaty of Brétigny (1360), by which France lost many territories and paid an enormous ransom. In an exchange of hostages, which included his second son Louis, Duke of Anjou, King Jean II was released from captivity to raise funds for his ransom.
Upon his return to France, he created the franc to stabilize the currency and tried to get rid of the free companies by sending them to a crusade, but Pope Innocent VI died shortly before their meeting in Avignon. When King Jean II was informed that Louis had escaped from captivity, he voluntarily returned to England, where he died in 1364. He was succeeded by his son Charles V.