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John IV of Anglia (The Kalmar Union)

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John IV
John IV Anglia (The Kalmar Union).png
John IV
King of Anglia
Reign 24th September, 1610 - 12th September, 1649
Predecessor Anna II
Successor John V
Spouse Amalia of Kortenaken
Issue Catherine

John
Margaret

House Leuven
Father Philip II of Leuven
Mother Joan of Eemnes
Born 1st April, 1575
Wisele, Brabant, Luxembourg
Died 12th September, 1649
Norwich, Anglia

The reign of John IV is often regarded a failure however this picture is largely coloured by the events of his final years on the throne. For much of his reign Anglia grew in strength and wealth as his government built on the advances made by Anna II.

Born in 1575, the great-grandson of William III of Anglia, via William's daughter Estrid, John inherited the county of Leuven in 1591. His small patrimony was simply one of a myriad of small lordships which Brabant had been divided by successive Anglian and Luxembourg monarchs and did not even contain the city which had given the family name (it was a direct possession of the Luxembourg crown). His father Philip II had made some political capital out of the troubled conversion of Henry VIII to Lutheranism however John had not lived up to the promise, perhaps due to the young age at which he had succeeded, and despite his best efforts, played a disappointingly small part in the busy Luxembourg court.

Succession

By 1610 it was painfully clear to Anna II and her ministers that she could no longer withstand the rigors of governing the kingdom. With no children of her own at this point and no surviving younger siblings the privy council was forced to look further afield. Much of her wider family had already been ruled out thanks to all Catholics being disbarred from the throne. Gaze finally fell on John of Leuven, directly descended from William III and a Lutheran to boot, his right of succession was quickly passed by the Anglian Witenage while Charles III of Luxembourg was petitioned to consent.

The legal hurdles duly surmounted, John was brought to Anglia with the intention of crowning him co-king to avoid any messy handover of power. In the end however Anna II abdicated on the same day as his coronation meaning he assumed the full responsibilities of the crown.

However Anna's presence loomed large, and both John and his wife, the shy Amalia, were booed publicly. At the opening of the Witenage in May 1611 John's maiden speech in stilted Anglian was simply drowned out by calls for Anna's restoration. For much of that summer the high-ranking ministers of the realm shuttled back and forth between the Witenagehuis, John, and Anna to find a solution. Eventually Anna solved the issue for them, leaving Anglia completely in October 1611 to live with her mother in Hesse-Kassel.

With little other choice the Witenage soon rallied around their new king. The populace were a little slower at embracing him and suspicions about his intentions remained. For one he adamantly refused to give up his small lordship in Brabant opening himself up to accusations he was in Luxembourg's pocket. While this was mostly untrue it did put him at odds with the pro-Kalmar factions at court. In 1614 he personally drafted a full alliance with Luxembourg which was summarily discarded by the Witenage which had been preparing the way for alliance with alliances with both Scotland and Svealand. John in turn refused to sign these two alliances and attempted to dissolve the chamber. However they had won several rights out of Anna's administration including the right to recall itself and so, a day after being locked out of the Witenagehuis they simply gathered at a merchant hall to finish their debate. King and Witenage seemed destined to be locked into a intractable conflict. However calm heads prevailed. Neither side would seek in impose an alliance on the other, Anglia would instead sit in isolation and attempt friendly relations without committing to firm alliances.

John's own reputation would steadily improve thanks to a slightly improving economic position. Anna would assist him too, with her book In Defensionem est Virtuosum Principem published in late 1614 defending John's right of succession as well as laying out some of the ideal attributes a monarch should possess. Staunchly Lutheran, John was on sure footing with religious matters and seemed to breeze through potentially difficult discussions about prayer books, Catholic loyalties and witch hunts.

Conflict

The outbreak of war on the continent put Anglia's foreign policy in an awkward dilemma. When Luxembourg declared war upon the Schmalkaldic Empire in 1620 John would be personally petitioned by Charles III to join him. The Witenage of course had no intention of granting him the funds so the matter was quietly dropped. Anglia would stay officially neutral throughout the war though a great many Anglians joined the war as mercenaries (usually labeled Scots or Manx). John saw it as a personal loss of pride not to be able to support his overlord but acted magnanimously publicly praising his ministers for 'ensuring Anglia enjoys blessed peace while Europe ruins itself via senseless war'.

Anglia's neutrality certainly had benefits however; ships flying the Anglian Royal Standard were welcome in both the Channel and in the Baltic helping to improve the country's trade balance and indeed steal business from its sometimes blockaded competitors. Though it could not compete with Luxembourg cross-Atlantic trade John was keen to continue the feuds which Anna II had started against Castile, Leon and Naples at sea. In fact the one sure thing the Witenage would happily grant funds for was the navy and three naval wars were carried out during the 1630s, culminating in a poorly thought-out landing at Santander which was utterly routed by the Castilian army.

So while Anglia would stay aloof from the Fifty Years War it was not at all peaceful. And all the while the navy soaked up huge amounts of tax for very little gain. While the Witenage had enjoyed increases in tax receipts by the mid-1640s the taxes had fallen away once more and pressures to levy more were shelved after riots in Jorvik, Grantbridge and St. Botolphs. By 1646 John's ability to make war was completely out of the question yet he continued to push for action, an attitude which of course only produced hostility in the Witenage. Therefore when the next crisis reared its head his ministers found little leeway to assist.

The first petitions demanding Anglian's intervention on the Lutheran side in the Fifty Years' War emanated from Fryslân in 1632 and while their demands chimed with many they were simply incompatible with official policy, especially after Wessex joined the Catholic alliance. Lincoln's rebuffing of their concerns slowly turned mild annoyance into outright rebellion. Discussions in the Witenage on how to deal with the issue were repeatedly stymied by those ministers refusing to give John any more funds, lest they be funnelled into the Luxembourg war effort. Beyond a slight increase in the army's presence officially nothing changed in the county at all. Therefore when revolt in Luxembourgois Holland bled northwards in 1649 the governors were either utterly unprepared or extremely willing to defy Lincoln, and by Easter Anglian authority in Fryslân had all but collapsed. The new government of the county promptly invited Danish troops to protect them, both from Luxembourg and Anglia and effectively became a Danish client state for the remainder of the war.

The loss of Anglian sovereign territory with no effective response sealed John's reputation and proved the last act of a often tempestuous reign. He would die in September of that year and was succeeded by his only son, John.

Family

John married Amalia of Kortenaken on 4th June, 1596. They would have three children:

  • Christina (1599-1604)
  • John (1608-1670)
  • Margaret (1610-1623)

Ancestry

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