John I of France

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John I
Tomb effigy of John the Posthumous
King of France and Navarre
Reign15–20 November 1316
Predecessor Louis X and I
Successor Philip V and II
Regent Philip the Tall
Born15 November 1316
Paris, France
Died20 November 1316 (aged 5 days)
Paris, France
House Capet
Father Louis X of France
Mother Clementia of Hungary

John I (15–20 November 1316), called the Posthumous (French : Jean Ier le Posthume, Occitan : Joan Ièr lo Postume), was king of France and Navarre, as the posthumous son and successor of Louis X, for the five days he lived in 1316. He is the youngest person to be king of France, the only one to have borne that title from birth, and the only one to hold the title for his entire life. His reign is the shortest of any French king. [note 1] Although considered a king today, his status was not recognized until chroniclers and historians in later centuries began numbering John II, thereby acknowledging John I's brief reign. [1]


John reigned for five days under the regency of his uncle, Philip the Tall of France, until his death on 20 November 1316. His death ended the three centuries of father-to-son succession to the French throne. The infant king was buried in the Basilica of Saint-Denis. He was succeeded by his uncle, Philip, whose contested legitimacy led to the re-affirmation of the Salic law, which excluded women from the line of succession to the French throne.


Funerary convoy of John I. Jean Ier Bier.jpg
Funerary convoy of John I.

The child mortality rate was very high in medieval Europe and John may have died from any number of causes, but rumours of poisoning spread immediately after his death (including one which said that he had been murdered with a pin by his aunt), [2] as many people benefited from it, and as John's father also died in strange circumstances. The cause of his death is still not known today. [3]

The premature death of John brought the first issue of succession of the Capetian dynasty. When Louis X, his father, died without a son to succeed him, it was the first time since Hugh Capet that the succession from father to son of the kings of France was interrupted. It was then decided to wait until his pregnant widow, Clementia of Hungary, delivered the child. The king's brother, Philip the Tall, was in charge of the regency of the kingdom against his uncle Charles of Valois. The birth of a male child was expected to give France its king. The problem of succession returned when John died five days after birth. Philip ascended the throne at the expense of John's four-year-old half-sister, Joan, daughter of Louis X and Margaret of Burgundy.

Supposed survival

Various legends circulated about this royal child. First, it was claimed that his uncle, Philip the Tall, had him poisoned. Then, a strange story a few decades later started the rumor that the little King John was not dead. During the captivity of John the Good (13561360), a man named Giannino Baglioni claimed to be John I and thus the heir to the throne. He tried to assert his rights, but was captured in Provence and died in captivity in 1363. [4]

In The Man Who Believed He Was King of France, Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri suggests that Cola di Rienzo manufactured false evidence that Baglioni was John the Posthumous in order to strengthen his own power in Rome by placing Baglioni on the French throne. Shortly after they met in 1354, di Rienzo was assassinated, and Baglioni waited two years to report his claims. He went to the Hungarian court where Louis I of Hungary, nephew of Clementia of Hungary, recognized him as the son of Louis and Clementia. In 1360, Baglioni went to Avignon, but Pope Innocent VI refused to receive him. After several attempts to gain recognition, he was arrested and imprisoned in Naples, where he died in 1363. [4]

Maurice Druon's historical novel series Les Rois maudits dramatises this theory and develops it as a major plotline throughout the series. In La Loi des mâles (1957), the infant John is temporarily switched with the child of Guccio Baglioni and Marie de Cressay as a decoy by Hugues de Bouville, former chamberlain to Philip IV and protector of the child, and his wife. He is subsequently poisoned by Mahaut, Countess of Artois, in order to place John's uncle (and Mahaut's son-in-law), Philippe, Count of Poitiers, on the throne. Marie is coerced into secretly raising John as her own son, named Giannino Baglioni. An adult Giannino was portrayed by Jean-Gérard Sandoz in the 1972 French miniseries adaptation of the series, and by Lorans Stoica in the 2005 adaptation.[ citation needed ]

See also

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  1. Giesey, Ralph E. (2007). Le rôle méconnu de la Loi Salique: La succession royale, XIVe-XVIe siècles. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.
  2. Magnificent Monarchs (Fact Attack series) p. 23 by Ian Locke; published by Macmillan in 1999; ISBN   978-0330-374965
  3. "Histoire et Secrets – découvrir l'histoire de France et du monde – Jean Ier : un règne de quatre jours". (in French). Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  4. 1 2 Carpegna Falconieri, Tommaso di (19 September 2008). The Man Who Believed He Was King of France . Translated by William McCuaig. University of Chicago Press. pp.  224. ISBN   978-0-226-14525-9. The Man Who Believed He Was King of France.
  1. Louis XIX, who reigned for 20 minutes in 1830, had a shorter reign, but the legitimacy of his succession is disputed.

Further reading

John I of France
Born: 15 November 1316 Died: 20 November 1316
Regnal titles
Title last held by
Louis the Quarreler
King of France and Navarre
15 November 20 November 1316
Succeeded by
Philip the Tall