John II, Duke of Brittany

John II (Breton: Yann, French: Jean; 1239 – 18 November 1305) reigned as Duke of Brittany from 1286 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.

John II
Jean II de Bretagne (détail).png
Duke of Brittany
Reign8 October 1286 – 18 November 1305
PredecessorJohn I
SuccessorArthur II
Born3/4 January 1239
Died18 November 1305(1305-11-18) (aged 66)
Lyon, Kingdom of Arles
Notre-Dame des Carmes
(m. 1260; died 1275)
FatherJohn I, Duke of Brittany
MotherBlanche of Navarre

Family and crusadesEdit

John was the eldest son of Duke John I of Brittany and Blanche of Navarre. On 22 January 1260, he married Beatrice, a daughter of King Henry III of England.[1] John was very close to his brother-in-law, 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.[2]


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.[2]

Last years and accidental deathEdit

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.[2] 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.[3] He died four days later, on 18 November.[3][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.[2]


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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Waugh 1988, p. 179.
  2. ^ a b c d e La Borderie 1906, pp. 359–381.
  3. ^ a b Menache 2002, p. 17.
  4. ^ a b c d e Morvan 2009, p. table 2.
  5. ^ Golden 2002, p. 73.


  • Golden, Judith K. (2002). "Instructional Images and the Life of St. Eustace". In Hourihane, Colum (ed.). Insights and Interpretations. Princeton University Press.
  • La Borderie, Arthur Le Moyne de (1906). Histoire de Bretagne. J. Plihon et L. Hommay.
  • Menache, Sophia (2002). Clement V. Cambridge University Press.
  • Morvan, Frederic (2009). La Chevalerie bretonne et la formation de l'armee ducale, 1260-1341 (in French). Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
  • Waugh, Scott L. (1988). The Lordship of England: Royal Wardships and Marriages in English Society and Politics, 1217-1327. Princeton University Press.
John II, Duke of Brittany
Cadet branch of the Capetian Dynasty
Born: 1239 Died: 18 November 1305
Regnal titles
Preceded by Duke of Brittany
Succeeded by
Peerage of England
Preceded by Earl of Richmond
Title next held by