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John, Duke of Berry: Wikis


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Image of John, Duke of Berry from the Très Riches Heures

John of Valois, the Magnificent, "Jean, Duc de Berry", [1] (November 30 1340 – March 15 1416) was Duke of Berry and Auvergne and Count of Poitiers and Montpensier. He was the third son of King John II of France and Bonne of Luxemburg; his brothers were Charles V, King of France, Louis I of Anjou, King of Naples and Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. He is primarily remembered for the very important illuminated manuscripts commissioned by him.



Coat of arms of John, Duke of Berry, 1360.
Joan of Auvergne and Boulogne
John of Berry
Drawings of the effigies of John, Duke of Berry and his second wife, Joan of Auvergne and Boulogne, by Hans Holbein the younger

He was born at Vincennes on November 30 1340. Upon the death of his older brother Charles V in 1382, his son and heir, Charles VI was a minor, so Berry and his brothers, along with the king's maternal uncle the Duke of Bourbon acted as regents. Following the death of Louis of Anjou in 1384, Berry and his brother Burgundy were the dominant figures in the kingdom. The king ended the regency and took power into his own hands in 1388, giving the governance of the kingdom largely to his father's former ministers, who were political enemies of the king's powerful uncles. Berry and Burgundy bided their time, and were soon able to retake power, in 1392, when the King had his first attack of insanity, an affliction which would remain with him throughout his life. The two royal dukes continued to rule until 1402, when the king, in one of his moments of lucidity, took power from them and gave it to his brother Louis, Duke of Orleans.

French Monarchy
Capetian Dynasty
(House of Valois)
France Ancient.svg

Philip VI
   John II
John II
   Charles V
   Louis I of Anjou
   John, Duke of Berry
   Philip the Bold
Charles V
   Charles VI
   Louis, Duke of Orléans
Charles VI
   Isabella of Valois
   Michelle of Valois
   Catherine of Valois
   Charles VII
Charles VII
   Louis XI
   Charles, Duke of Berry
Louis XI
   Charles VIII
Charles VIII

Simon of Cramaud, a canonist and prelate, served the Duke in his efforts to find a way to end the Great Western schism that was not unfavorable to French interests.

In his later years, John became a more conciliatory figure in France. After the death of Philip the Bold in 1404, he was the last survivor of the sons of King John, and generally tried to play the role of a peacemaker between the factions of his nephews Orleans and John the Fearless. After the murder of Orleans at the orders of the Duke of Burgundy, Berry generally took the Orleanist or Armagnac side in the civil war that erupted, but was always a moderate figure, attempting to reconcile the two sides and promote internal peace. It was largely due to his urging that Charles VI and his sons were not present at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Remembering his father's fate as a captive after the Battle of Poitiers 59 years before, Berry feared the fate of France should the king and his heirs be taken captive and successfully prevented their participation. He died a few months after the battle, which proved as disastrous as he had feared.

Family and Children

John of Berry had the following issue by his first wife, Joanna of Armagnac (1346–1387):[2]

He married secondly Jeanne d'Auvergne.[3]

Art Patron

A portrait of John kneeling in prayer

John of Berry was also a notable patron who commissioned among other works the most famous Book of Hours, the Très Riches Heures. “Like other works produced on the duke’s auspices, this model of elegance reflected many of the artistic tendencies of the time in its fusion of Flemish realism, of the refined Parisian style, and of Italian panel-painting techniques." [4] His spending on his art collection severely taxed his estates, and he was deeply in debt when he died in 1416 at Paris.

The web site of the Louvre says of him:[5]

By his exacting taste, by his tireless search for artists, from Jacquemart de Hesdin to the Limbourg brothers, Jean de Berry made a decisive contribution to the renewal of art which took place in his time and to a number of religious houses, notably Notre Dame de Paris.

See also



  1. ^ Strayer, J. R. (1982). Dictionary of the middle ages. New York: Scribner.
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol.3, (1911), 809.
  3. ^ Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, Ed. William W. Kibler, (Routledge, 1995), 498.
  4. ^ Strayer, J. R. (1982). Dictionary of the middle ages. New York: Scribner.
  5. ^ Dossier thématique : La France en 1400 : Jean de Berry at (accessed 20 February 2008){{
Preceded by:
Count of Poitiers
Succeeded by:
to royal domain
Count of Mâcon
c. 1360–1372
Count of Angoulême and Saintonge
bef. 1372–1374
Duke of Berry
Count of Étampes
Duke of Auvergne
Succeeded by:
Preceded by
Aliénor de Comminges
Count of Auvergne and Boulogne by marriage
with Joanna II

Succeeded by
George de Tremoille


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