John of Brienne
Jean de Candia-Nevers was the second son of Erard II, count of Brienne, in Champagne, and of Agnes de Montfaucon. Destined originally for a clerical career, he had preferred to become a knight, and in forty years of tournaments and fights he had won himself a considerable reputation, when in 1208 envoys came from the Holy Land to ask Philip Augustus, king of France, to select one of his barons as husband to the heiress and ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Philip selected John of Brienne, and promised to support him in his new dignity. In 1210, John married the heiress (Mary) Maria (daughter of Isabella and Conrad of Montferrat), assuming the title of king in right of his wife. In 1211, after some desultory operations, he concluded a five years' truce with Malik-el-Adil; in 1212 he lost his wife, who left him a daughter, Yolande (also known as Isabella); soon afterwards he married the princess Stephanie, daughter of Leo I, King of Armenia.
During the Fifth Crusade (1218–1221) he was a prominent figure. The legate Pelagius of Albano, however, claimed the command; and insisting on the advance from Damietta, in spite of John's warnings, he refused to accept the favourable terms of the sultan, as the king advised, until it was too late. After the failure of the crusade, King John came to the West to obtain help for his kingdom. In 1223 he met Pope Honorius III and the emperor Frederick II at Ferentino, where, in order that he might be connected more closely with the Holy Land, Frederick was betrothed to John's daughter Isabella, now heiress of the kingdom. After the meeting at Ferentino, John went to France and England, finding little consolation; and thence he travelled to Santiago de Compostela, where King Alfonso IX of Leon offered him the hand of one of his daughters and the promise of his kingdom. John passed over Alfonso's eldest daughter and heiress in favor of a younger daughter, Berenguela of Leon. After a visit to Germany he returned to Rome (1225). Here he received a demand from Frederick II (who had now married Isabella) that he should abandon his title and dignity of king, which, so Frederick claimed, had passed to himself along with the heiress of the kingdom. John, though about seventy-three years old, was still vigorous enough to avenge himself on Frederick, by commanding the papal troops which attacked southern Italy during the emperor's absence on the Sixth Crusade (1228–1229).
In 1229, John was invited by the barons of the Latin Empire of Constantinople to become emperor-regent, on condition that Baldwin of Courtenay should marry his second daughter and succeed him. He then ruled in Constantinople, and in 1235, with a few troops, he repelled a great siege of the city by John III Doukas Vatatzes, emperor of Nicaea, and Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria, leading a successful cavalry charge at the age of eighty, which killed some 10,000 enemy soldiers.
After this last feat of arms, which has perhaps been exaggerated by the Latin chroniclers, who compare him to Hector, Roland and the Maccabees, John died in the habit of a Franciscan friar. An aged paladin, he was around 80 years old, somewhat uxorious and always penniless, he was a typical knight errant, whose wanderings led him all over Europe, and planted him successively on the thrones of Jerusalem and Constantinople.
Marriages and issue
John of Brienne married three times. By his first wife, Maria of Montferrat, he had one child, Yolande, later Queen of Jerusalem. He had also one child by his second wife, Stephanie of Armenia, a son named as successor in Armenia, but died in childhood. By his third wife, Berenguela of Leon, he had four children:
- Marie of Brienne (1225–1275), who married Emperor Baldwin II of Constantinople.
- Alphonso of Brienne (c. 1228–1270), who married Marie d'Issoudon, countess of Eu, and became count of Eu in right of his wife, and was also Great Chamberlain of France.
- Jean (John) de Brienne (c. 1230–1296), who in 1258 became Grand Butler of France. Married as his first wife, Jeanne, daughter of Geoffrey VI, Viscount of Chateaudun, and as his second wife, Marie de Coucy, widow of King Alexander II of Scotland. Had one daughter, Blanche by his first marriage.
- Louis of Acre (c. 1235–1263), who married Agnes of Beaumont and became Viscount of Beaumont in her right. His children included Henry de Beaumont, Earl of Buchan, an ancestor of England's Royal House of Lancaster.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2012)|
|Ancestors of John of Brienne|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: John of Brienne|
- John of Brienne on Find-A-Grave
- Cawley, Charles, Medieval Lands Project on Jean de Brienne, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012
|King of Jerusalem
|Regent for Emperor of Constantinople
Emperor: Baldwin II