John II, Duke of Brittany

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John II
File:Jean II de Bretagne (détail).png
Duke of Brittany
Reign 8 October 1286 – 18 November 1305
Predecessor John I
Successor Arthur II
Born 3/4 January 1239
Died 18 November 1305(1305-11-18) (aged 66)
Burial Notre-Dame des Carmes
Spouse Beatrice of England
Issue Arthur II, Duke of Brittany
John, 1st Earl of Richmond
Marie, Countess of Saint Pol
Peter, Viscount of Leon
Blanche, Countess of Artois
Eleanor of Brittany, Abbess of Fontevrault
House House of Dreux
Father John I, Duke of Brittany
Mother Blanche of Navarre
Religion Roman Catholicism

John II (Breton: Yann, French: Jean; 1239 – 18 November 1305) reigned as Duke of Brittany from 1268 until his death, and was also Earl of Richmond in the Peerage of England. He took part in two crusades prior to his accession to the ducal throne. As a duke, John was involved in the conflicts between the kings of France and England. He was crushed to death in an accident during the celebrations of a papal coronation.

Family and crusades

John was the eldest son of John I of Brittany and Blanche of Navarre. On 22 January 1260, he married Beatrice, a daughter of King Henry III of England. John was very close to his brother-in-law, the future King Edward I. In 1271, he accompanied Edward to the Ninth Crusade, meeting there with his father and King Louis IX of France. Louis succumbed to an illness in Tunis, and John's father returned to Brittany. John, however, followed Edward to Palestine. The crusade ended the following year, having achieved little. In 1285, John took part in the Aragonese Crusade at the side of King Philip III of France.[1]


Upon the death of his father on 8 October 1286, John ascended the throne of Brittany, inheriting also the Earldom of Richmond in the Peerage of England. His namesake son governed Guyenne in the name of his uncle, King Edward, when King Philip IV of France decided to confiscate it in May 1294. John assisted his brother-in-law in the ensuing conflict, but suffered only defeats. When the English army sought to recover by plundering the Breton Abbaye Saint-Mathieu de Fine-Terre in 1296, however, John abandoned Edward's cause. In response, Edward deprived him of the earldom. John proceeded to ally himself with the French, arranging a marriage between his grandson John and King Philip's cousin Isabella of Valois. Philip then raised him into the Peerage of France in September 1297.[1]

Last years and accidental death

From 1294 until 1304, John assisted the King of France in his campaign against Count Guy of Flanders, taking part in the decisive Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle.[1] Following King Philip's victory, in 1305, John travelled to Lyon to attend the coronation of Pope Clement V. John was leading the Pope's horse through the crowd during the celebrations. So many spectators had piled atop the walls that one of them crumbled and collapsed on top of the Duke. He died four days later, on 18 November.[1][2] His body was placed in a lead coffin and sent down the Loire. He was buried on 16 December in the Carmelite convent he had founded in Ploërmel.[1]


Duke John and Duchess Beatrice had six children, several of whom were raised at the court of their uncle King Edward.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Le Moyne de La Borderie, Arthur (1906), Histoire de Bretagne, J. Plihon et L. Hommay, pp. 359–381<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Nicolas Cheetham, Keepers of the Keys, (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1982), 152.

See also

John II, Duke of Brittany
Cadet branch of the Capetian Dynasty
Born: 1239 Died: 18 November 1305
Regnal titles
Preceded by
John I
Duke of Brittany
Succeeded by
Arthur II
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Earl of Richmond
Title next held by
John of Brittany