John I, Duke of Brabant

John I of Brabant, also called John the Victorious (1252/1253 – 3 May 1294) was Duke of Brabant (1267–1294), Lothier and Limburg (1288–1294). During the 13th century, John I was venerated as a folk hero.[1] He has been painted as the perfect model of a brave, adventurous and chivalrous feudal prince.[2]

John I
Codex Manesse Johann von Brabant.jpg
John going to battle, from the Codex Manesse
Duke of Brabant and Lothier
SuccessorJohn II
Duke of Limburg
PredecessorReginald I of Guelders
SuccessorJohn II
Died3 May 1294 (aged 41 or 42)
SpouseMargaret of France
Margaret of Flanders
IssueJohn II, Duke of Brabant
Margaret, Holy Roman Empress
Marie, Countess of Savoy
HouseHouse of Reginar
FatherHenry III, Duke of Brabant
MotherAdelaide of Burgundy
ReligionRoman Catholic
Coat of armsJohn I's signature


John I's effigy on a silver coin. Struck in Brussels or Leuven during his reign.

Born in Leuven, he was the son of Henry III, Duke of Brabant and Aleidis of Burgundy, daughter of Hugh IV, Duke of Burgundy. He was also an older brother of Maria of Brabant, Queen consort of Philip III of France. In 1267 his older brother Henry IV, Duke of Brabant, being mentally deficient, was deposed in his favour.[2]

John's greatest military victory was the Battle of Worringen 1288, by which John I came to reign over the Duchy of Limburg. He was completely outnumbered in forces but led the successful invasion into the Rhineland to defeat the confederacy. In 1288 Limburg was formally attached to Brabant.[2]

John I was said to be a model of feudal prince: brave, adventurous; excelling in every form of active exercise, fond of display, and generous in temper. He was considered one of the most gifted princes of his time.[2] This made him very popular in Middle Ages poetry and literature. Even today there exists an ode to him, so well known that it was a potential candidate to be the North Brabant anthem. John I delighted in tournaments and was always eager to take part in jousts.[2] He was also famous for his many illegitimate children.

On 3 May 1294 at some marriage festivities at Bar-le-Duc, John I was mortally wounded in the arm in an encounter by Pierre de Bausner.[2] He was buried in the church of the Order of Friars Minor (Minderbroederskerk) in Brussels, but since the Protestant iconoclasm (Beeldenstorm) in 1566, nothing remains of his tomb.

Family and childrenEdit

Marriage of John and Margaret of Flanders from the Chronicle Brabantse Yeesten by Jan Van Boendaele.

He was married twice. On 5 September 1270, he married Margaret, daughter of Louis IX of France and Margaret of Provence.[3] They had a son, but both mother and child died shortly after his birth.

In 1273, he married Margaret (d. 3 July 1285), daughter of Guy, Count of Flanders[4] and had the following children:[2]

  1. Godfrey (1273/74 – aft. 13 September 1283).
  2. John II of Brabant (1275–1312).
  3. Margaret (4 October 1276 – 14 December 1311, Genoa), married 9 July 1292 to Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor.
  4. Marie (d. after 2 December 1338), married to Count Amadeus V of Savoy.

John I had several illegitimate children:

  1. Gillis van der Balcht
  2. Jean Meuwe, Seigneur of Wavre and Dongelberg.[5]
  3. Margareta of Tervuren, she was married on 2 March 1292 to Jean de Rode de Lantwyck
  4. Jan Pylyser (1272–1342)
  5. Jan van der Plasch


The duke is remembered in the folkish song Harbalorifa[6][1] that remains popular. The popular Dutch beer Hertog Jan was named after the duke. Also the beer Primus of the Haacht Brewery is named after John I (Jan Primus)


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Harrie Beex
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "John I. of Brabant and Lorraine" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 445.
  3. ^ Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd edition, ed. Kimball G. Everingham, (Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004), 121.
  4. ^ J.F. Verbruggen, The Battle of the Golden Spurs (Courtrai, 11 July 1302), ed. Kelly DeVries, transl. David Richard Ferguson, (Boydell Press, 2002), 8.
  5. ^ Messager des sciences historiques, ou, Archives des arts et de la bibliographie de Belgique. Impr. et Lithographie de L. Hebbelynck. 1889. p. 194.
  6. ^ Het lied van Hertog Jan
  7. ^ Douglas Richardson (2013) Royal Ancestry, Vol.1 pp.499-503 (Brabant), Vol.2 pp.28-31 (Burgundy), Vol.3 pp.469-472 (Dreux).


  • H. Barlandus, Rerum gestarum a Brabantiae ducibus historia usque in annum 1526 (Leuven, 1566)
  • G. C. van der Berghe, Jean le Victorieux, duc de Brabant (1259–1294), (Leuven, 1857)
  • K. F. Stallaert, Gesch. v. Jan I. van Braband en zijne tijdvak (Brussels, 1861)
  • A. Wauters, Le Duc Jean Ier et le Brabant sous le règne de ce prince (Brussels, 1859)

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Henry IV
Duke of Brabant and Lothier
Succeeded by
John II
Preceded by
Duke of Limburg