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John I of Hungary (The Kalmar Union)

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John I
John I Hungary (The Kalmar Union).png
John I
King of Hungary
Reign 2nd February, 1339 - 30th August, 1382
Predecessor Charles I
Successor Adelaide
King of Poland
Reign 5th November, 1370 - 30th August, 1382
Predecessor Casimir III
Successor Jadwiga
Spouse Anna Szécsényi

Catherine of Bosnia
Thamar
Margaret of Tyrol

Issue Adelaide

Charles of Buda
Jadwiga

House Bezier
Father Charles I
Mother Elizabeth of Poland
Born 14th December, 1315
Esztergom, Hungary
Died 30th August, 1382
Buda, Hungary

John I, Jan I, was the second King of Hungary from the Bezier line and would also eventually inherit Poland.

A well-read and dedicated student, John inherited a vastly rich and large kingdom from his father Charles I. Charles had improved its organisation and left its nobles united and John was eager to take this potential and direct it outwards, beginning with a crusade. Collecting an impressive range of crowned heads of state and high nobles from across Europe John would lead a crusade into pagan Lithuania in 1344. Though this initial campaign would prove ineffective, following thrusts into the Golden Horde to avenge their raids into Transylvania would prove much more long-lasting. Definitively defeating a large Tatar army in 1345 the Golden Horde's grip on the region would falter and never really recover.

By 1349 the Black Death had struck Hungary however it suffered less than other countries; its sparser population slowed the plague's progress and damage. Instead the focus remained on its neighbours. Success against the Horde was followed by several years of bouncing back and forth for wars against Venice and Wallachia. Wallachia would be restored to a Hungarian vassal (as would Croatia) but would remain restive and required occasional shows of strength to remain loyal. Alliances with Genoa meanwhile directly challenged Venice for control of the Adriatic and John would be successful in wresting several Dalmatian cities away from the Venetians though this would lead to a larger war to the south.

The ancient city of Constantinople itself had fallen to the Bulgarian Tsars in 1235 and this new Byzantine Empire had slowly begun to recollect the lost Greek territories both in Europe and Asia. Hungary had been wary of its new owners' activities in the 13th century but relations had vastly improved as it redirected its attentions to Asia Minor. Hungary had been relatively happy with its progress in this regard and John had even sent a considerable force to Constantinople in 1352 to help defend it against a huge Mongol army. However when the Emperor Ivan Stephen I began to interfere in Serbia John was forced to act. In many ways this was a long overdue reaction from Byzantium. Venice had long been urging it to pay closer attention to the fact the Beziers controlled both sides of the Adriatic and Venice's defeats had proved the deciding factor.

John would personally lead several campaigns into the Balkans meeting the Bulgarian army several times between 1355 and 1360. The meetings appeared more tests of strength than campaigns of conquest and only served to underline the status quo. Eventually as a peace offering John would take his daughter Thamar as his third wife, though they would have no children, and the Emperor promised to campaign only in Asia for the next twenty years. John promised much the same and took off to Poland for several more years of crusading.

The final decade of John's life was a whirl of foreign activity which would put him under considerable pressure. It would start with the death of Casimir III of Poland. Casimir had ceded the right of inheritance of Poland in the case of having no male children, to his sister Elizabeth in 1338, to cement an alliance with Charles I of Hungary and John I of Bohemia. He of course never expected it to come to pass, but in the end had wound up with no legitimate sons to take the throne. Therefore John, the only son of Elizabeth took the throne after a lightning ride to Krakow and the quick defeat of several minor pretenders. More campaigns into Lithuania would keep the Polish nobles on side but his attentions were soon turned south again.

After crushing Florentine power at the battle of Vernio in 1372 Emperor Olaf had almost immediately fallen into dispute with Naples urging his newly promoted Pope to reissue a papal grant for Aragon to conquer Naples. Aragon had already seized Corsica and Sardinia in the early 14th century, but a change in papal heart had stopped their advances. Now with their right of conquest duly reaffirmed Aragon restarted its campaigns, flooding Sicily with mercenaries. John saw this a fatal blow against Bezier power and he would plough considerable energy into supporting his cousins' realm transporting an entire Hungarian army to Naples in 1374 which did little but stir up anger (and spread the plague) amongst the native Neapolitans.

He would also have to face the Gothenlandic forces of John IV who claimed the Polish throne as a member of the Piast dynasty. Gothenland proved a constant irritant in the North, as did the Teutonic Knights of Prussia, who as an Imperial province were more than eager to rain blows on John's new kingdom. Olaf would outlive John in the end though the initiative in Germany would soon pass to the Luxembourgs who held a more 'pro-Bezier' attitude.

His only son and heir Charles of Buda, himself a decorated veteran of campaigns in Naples and Bulgaria, would die in 1375. This left two daughters Adelaide of Hungary and Jadwiga to potentially inherit his kingdoms. Once he had extracted a promise from Louis I of Naples not to challenge for the crowns he began work on his own nobles. The Hungarian nobles were satisfied with the reissue of the Golden Bull, resurrecting their right of election while a similar document, and a timely victory over Gothenland and the Teutonic Knights at Torun in 1377, won the Polish nobles over.

The succession seemed set and when he died in 1382 the Hungarian nobles duly elected Adelaide as their Queen. She was married to Wenceslaus of Bohemia, a union which would bring Hungary into the already wide Luxembourg sphere.

Poland meanwhile defied his wishes and, refusing to be ruled in union again, elected Jadwiga. Adelaide and her husband would protest and declare war. Jadwiga would soon marry Jogaila, Grand Duke of Lithuania, beginning the Polish-Lithuanian union.

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