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Joanna of Luxembourg (The Kalmar Union)

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Joanna
Joanna Luxem (The Kalmar Union).png
Joanna
Queen Regent of Hungary
Reign 3rd February, 1540 - 28th December, 1562
Predecessor Wenceslaus II
Successor Henry VIII
Queen Regent of Hungary
Reign 3rd February, 1540 - 28th December, 1562
Predecessor Wenceslaus II
Successor Henry VIII
Margravine of Brandenburg
Reign 3rd February, 1540 - 28th December, 1562
Predecessor Wenceslaus II
Successor Joanna
Issue
Henry of Ghent

Joan

House Luxembourg-Limburg
Father Wenceslaus II
Mother Katherine of Wessex
Born 2nd April, 1520
Pozsony, Hungary
Died 28th December, 1562
Antwerp, Flanders


Joanna was Queen Regent of the Luxembourg realm following her father's death in 1540. Her authority was controversial, never fully recognised in Bohemia and much of her reign would be spent lumbering from one crisis to another.

Born in Hungary in 1520, Joanna was educated by the polymath John Szilágyi, Judge Royal of Hungary, however when she was thirteen she was moved westwards to Holland where she would be married to her illegitimate cousin, John of Limburg. Her grandfather John III had maneouvred many of his illegitimate relatives into positions of power in the Low Countries after seizing Flanders, Zeeland and Brabant from Anglia, Holland from the Wittelsbach dynasty and Champagne from its extinguished ruling family, and Joanna's marriage helped underpin Luxembourg's authority in its new lands. The marriage was relatively short, but produced two children and on the eve of her father's death Joanna had been quietly running Limburg for a year.

When Wencelsaus II died the various Luxembourg lands quickly accepted his only son, Henry of Prague as heir, however as he was only two years-old it was recognised a regency was required. His elder half-sister Joana was quickly gained the support of the assorted nobles and in Brandenburg (The Kalmar Union), Hungary and at least was accepted as Regent for Henry, Joanna then delegating much of the actual running of the lands to trusted governors, mostly relatives. In Bohemia however the nobles preferred to crown the infant Henry there and then, appointing their own governor.

Running a small county was of course a completely different prospect to running a huge and unwieldy patchwork of lands spread across Europe. As well as geographic and cultural differences the realm was in severe financial trouble following John III's endless wars. Wenceslaus II had failed to gain the Imperial throne, a setback which damaged the dynasty's credit-worthiness and had singularly failed to keep a lid on Germany's growing religious crisis. As it was Joanna inherited a fractiuous religious picture in Brandenburg and the Low Countries. Meanwhile a quietly simmering war in Dalmatia took up much of Hungary's attention. The kingdom, as ever, sought to extend its rule to Italia and reconquer Naples but its generals were not of the same calibre as in previous generations. The main focus was on trying to push Venice off the Dalmatian coast, a task which proved frustratingly difficult to do. Taxation of the kingdom increased, in part to pay off other lingering debts of the crown but often disappearing into the pockets of mercenaries active on the Italian peninsula, for little noticeable effect. This made the Hungarian nobles a rather unbidable bloc and the kingdom's governor, another illegitimate cousin, found it tough work to reconcile competing interests.

Joanna's first real test came in 1544 with the death of Count Philip IV of Nassau. She expected the Nassau lords to recognise Henry of Prague as the rightful heir, he was after all Philip IV's only grandson. However Philip's elder brother Sigismund had a grandson too, the future Sigismund II of Poland. Poland under Anna I of Poland geared up for war believing they had the stronger claim. Neither in theory could inherit the county thanks to Salian Law but that little technicality would not prevent the two realms from testing their strength against each other. Joanna found support from Emperor Albert who had no wish to see the religiously-tolerant Poland rule over the already 'problematic' Nassau, whilst Anna was helped by a lull in war on Poland's eastern fringes.

Nassau itself fell quickly to Luxembourg's Western army, the Catholic-leaning nobles quickly pledging their fealty to Joanna and Henry of Prague. By the Spring of 1545 the attempted reconversion of Nassau's populace to Catholicism was underway. In the East however the Polish-Lithuanian armies ran rampant over Brandenburg and Bohemia whilst capturing several important fortresses in Hungary. The Brandenburg forces would eventually provide a coherent defence but in Bohemia and Hungary the generals could not organise themselves or their troops effectively. It would only be a resumption of war with Tver that made Poland withdraw.

This victory added Nassau to Luxembourg's western holdings but proved disastrous for the eastern kingdoms. Hungary seethed with disaffection, not due to only the apparent lack of support its armies received in the war but also Joanna's concentration on Germany and Bohemia; where was the assistance for its Italian ambitions? Bohemia meanwhile looked at the instant crackdown on Lutherans and other protestant groups in Nassau which followed its absorption and feared for what might happen to its own religious tolerance. It would not take much to push them into open revolt.

Disaster would strike in 1550. Henry of Prague died suddenly, only twelve years old. Joanna's own son, also called Henry (of Ghent), was accepted as rightful heir by both Hungary and Brandenburg, and eventually in the Low Countries too after much wrangling. In Bohemia the nobles took the opportunity to firmly break with Luxembourg rule. Tendering the crown out to various parties it would eventually accept the Austrian Maximilian II as it's new king. Maximilian, although a Catholic champion, agreed to uphold Bohemia's religiously tolerant laws, arguably a small price to pay for the massive prestige and power the kingdom would bring. Joanna had no answer to this. Hungary was utterly uninterested in going to war for Bohemia, Brandenburg was beginning to show the religious splits which would define it during the 17th century and the Low Countries were rushing into headlong revolt. Furthermore Joanna's utter disinterest in assisting the Catholic side in First Schmalkaldic War led the Bavarian (and anti-Luxembourg) Emperor Charles V to ratify the Hapsburg take-over.

While Hungary and Brandenburg formed relatively whole blocs in the West the Luxembourg lands were formed of smaller duchies and counties pockmarked with bishoprics owing different levels of fealty to the crown. To avoid the vexacious issue of inheritance over all these entities Joanna's court had issued the Pragmatic Sanction only a week before Henry of Prague's death. The law reorganised the Luxembourg lands in the Low Countries into three 'circles'; Flanders, Luxembourg and Holland, abolishing the small counties as effectively independent lordships and Salian Law at the same time. While this paved the way for her son's supposedly smooth inheritance it inflamed passions.

Already pressured by high taxation, violence against religious minorities and the perceived corruption of various governors, the abolition of local courts proved a final straw for many Nederlanders. Flanders, Brabant, Zeeland and Holland rose in revolt in late 1550 with Champagne belatedly joining in the following year. Marshaling German troops and mercenaries Joanna's cousins made hard-work of pacifying and recapturing the cities. The revolt was ultimately undone by religious divisions in the rebellious provinces, and indeed a lack of co-operation but uxembourg was chastened by the revolt. Indeed, struck by the ferocity of the revolts in the Low Countries Joanna's government eased back on the taxes extracted in the 'Three Circles' appeasing the middle-classes who more or less fell back into line. The reduced incomes made the proposed reconquest of Bohemia untenable in the short-term. Peace however promoted a boom in the economy, partly helped by the chaos enveloping trading-rival Anglia at the time. Religious tension was also eased and although Joanna's government issued various proclamations concerning Calvinism and Anabaptism it reserved much of its anti-Protestant zeal for Brandenburg where her rule was more or less unopposed. These circles would in time form the basis of the modern-day Kingdoms which the UKN is now formed.

Despite the frequently dire situation which the Luxembourg realm found itself, Joanna's rule oversaw a cultural boom, especially in the Low Countries. Artists, displaced from Germany and Anglia thanks to religious wars, congregated in Antwerp finding a burgeoning merchant class willing to pay good money for artwork. Meanwhile the semi-unification of the Nederlands encouraged merchants to venture further-afield, with royal expeditions not only on the tried and tested Leifian trade routes but to Northern Tawantinland and into Indian markets.

Joanna would die in 1562 and would be succeeded by her son Henry. Despite a lifetime attempting to maintain the unity of her the realms entrusted to her within the decade Hungary would defiantly and permanently split away from Luxembourg rule.

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