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John II of Luxembourg (The Kalmar Union)

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John II
John II Luxem (The Kalmar Union).png
John II
King of Bohemia & Duke of Luxembourg
Reign 7th August, 1444 - 18th December, 1478
Predecessor Matthew
Successor Sigismund II
King of Hungary
Reign 7th August, 1444 - 18th December, 1478
Predecessor Matthew
Successor Sigismund II
Margrave of Brandenburg
Reign 7th August, 1444 - 18th December, 1478
Predecessor Matthew
Successor Sigismund II
Spouse Catherine of Ferrara

Sophia of Varna

Issue Charles

Elizabeth
Sigismund II
Joanna Katherine

House Luxembourg-Limburg
Father Matthew
Mother Katherine of Brussels
Born 3rd April, 1419
Darovar, Hungary
Died 18th December, 1478
Prague, Bohemia

John II was King of Bohemia, King of Hungary, Margrave of Brandenburg, Duke of Luxembourg for thirty-four years in the 15th century, however unlike his father and grandfather failed to keep the Imperial throne in Luxembourg hands.

The eldest son of Matthew and Katherine of Brussels (herself the eldest daughter of Charles IV of Anglia) John may have assumed a lesser role within the Luxembourg territories. In 1437 Sigismund I died making Matthew king and Emperor and the now 18 year-old John the heir. While Matthew was more interested in strengthening his own affairs in Hungary John looked to assist with Bohemia, in the grip of the tail end of the Hussite War, perhaps hoping to be made king in his own right there. He missed the decisive Battle of Jesenek in May 1438 however, not believing the engagement would hold the significance it did. He would therefore gain no leverage with either the Bohemian lords nor the German princes who made up the victorious army. Matthew would be crowned king of Bohemia and John would be forced to remain in the background. But not for long.

Matthew died in 1444 and John received the crowns of Hungary and, after an embarrassing pause, Bohemia. However John failed in his bid to secure the Imperial throne. Originally this perhaps was a result of his father's failings rather than his own; Matthew had spent most of his reign deeply involved in Hungary and as a result neglected German affairs. John however failed three times, in 1444, 1450 and 1471 to gain the trust of the electors. This was generally down to his preoccupation with other areas but it broke the run of four emperors which the Luxembourg family had secured.

With Bohemia and Hungary pacified and Brandenburg's Danish border conflict stalled John could make his long-term plans take centre stage. In 1453 he took an army across the Adriatic and attempted a march on Naples. This was a popular move amongst the Hungarian nobility, many could trace their fortunes back to the Bezier kings and their military ventures in Italia and his father had planned for such a campaign without seeing it through.

John was not the only ruler after all the Neapolitan crown however. The incumbent, James II also faced invasion from his cousin John III of Aragon. James II was a formidable tactician however with absolute loyalty from his nobles and crack, battle-hardened forces. Faced with two largely implacable foes, James declined a straight-forward battle with the Hungarians, allowing John tire himself and the locals out on the mainland while he dealt with the smaller Aragonese force on Sicily. By the time James had secured Sicily and recovered his army's strength John was in control, barely, of a small strip of coastal land which he would be plainly unable to defend. Defeats followed at Apricena and Petacciato, yet Jammes was magnanimous enough to allow the entire Hungarian nobility safe passage out of their besieged castles instead of a likely imprisonment, in return for a peace. John immediately faced revolt when he returned; a huge amount of money had been spent on the venture for no gain at all.

Having spent his entire life working up the goal of seizing Naples John was hardly likely to only take one shot at conquering it. In 1468 new invasion was prepared for, this time better prepared for a long-haul campaign. But Naples had been preparing too; an alliance with Venice and Byzantium, neither of whom wished to see a single country dominate the Adriatic was in motion, as was a marriage-pact with the Hapsburg Emperor Frederick IV. While Venetian galleys raided the Dalmatian coast the Byzantine army struck out at the vaguely vassallised Bosnia and Transylvania. John was forced to shelve his plans for invasion and deal with his enemies in turn.

John narrowly avoided capture and potential death at the Battle of Ciacova in April 1470 where the Byzantine infantry refused to break as John's cavalry charged, however they were beaten and driven back three weeks later when Bohemian support finally arrived having narrowly beaten an Austrian army. Chastened, John made peace with Venice and the Emperor, renewing the peace with Naples the following year. Almost too late he realized he needed to carry Germany if he could be free to explore another campaign into Italia.

John died in 1478 and would be succeeded by his eldest surviving son Sigismund.

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