John I of France

John the Posthumous

Tomb Effigy of John the Posthumous
King of France and Navarre
Reign 15–20 November 1316
Predecessor Louis X and I
Successor Philip V and II
Born (1316-11-15)15 November 1316
Paris, France
Died 20 November 1316 (aged 5 days)
Paris, France
Burial Saint Denis Basilica
House Capet
Father Louis X of France
Mother Clemence of Hungary

John I (15–20 November 1316), called the Posthumous, was King of France and Navarre, as the posthumous son and successor of Louis the Quarreler, for the five days he lived in 1316. He thus had the shortest undisputed recognized reign of any French king.[1] The son of Louis the Quarreler and Clementia of Hungary, sister of Charles I of Hungary, he is the only person to be King of France since birth, and thus, the youngest King of France and the only person to have been King of France during his entire lifetime.

John reigned for five days under the regency of his uncle Philip the Tall, until his death on 20 November 1316. The infant King was buried in Saint Denis Basilica. He was succeeded by Philip, whose contested legitimacy led to the re-affirmation of the Salic law, which excluded women from the line of succession to the French throne.


Funerary convoy of John I.

The child mortality rate was very high in medieval Europe and John may have died from any number of causes, but rumours of poisoning spread immediately after his death, as many people benefited from it and as John's father died himself in strange circumstances. The cause of his death is still not known today.[2]

The premature death of John brought the first issue of succession of the Capetian dynasty. When Louis the Headstrong, his father, died without a son to succeed him, it was the first time since Hugh Capet that the succession from father to son of the kings of France was interrupted. It was then decided to wait until his pregnant widow, Clementia of Hungary, delivered the child. The king's brother, Philip the Tall, was in charge of the regency of the kingdom against his uncle Charles of Valois. The birth of a male child was expected to give France its king. The problem of succession returned when John died five days after birth. Philip ascended the throne at the expense of John's four-year-old half-sister, Joan, daughter of Louis X and Margaret of Burgundy.

Supposed survival

Various legends circulated about this royal child. First, it was claimed that his uncle Philip the Tall had him poisoned. Then a strange story a few decades later came to start the rumor that the little King John was not dead. During the captivity of John the Good (1356-1360), a man named Giannino Baglioni claimed to be John I and thus the heir to the throne. He tried to assert his rights, but was captured in Provence and died in captivity in 1363.[3]

In The Man Who Believed He Was King of France, Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri suggests that Cola di Rienzo manufactured false evidence that Baglioni was John the Posthumous in order to strengthen his own power in Rome by placing Baglioni on the French throne. Shortly after they met in 1354, di Rienzo was assassinated, and Baglioni waited two years to report his claims. He went to the Hungarian court where Louis I of Hungary, nephew of Clemence of Hungary, recognized him as the son of Louis and Clemence. In 1360, Baglioni went to Avignon, but Pope Innocent VI refused to receive him. After several attempts to gain recognition, he was arrested and imprisoned in Naples, where he died in 1363.[3]

Maurice Druon's historical novel series Les Rois maudits dramatises this theory. In La Loi des mâles (1957), the infant John is temporarily switched with the child of Guccio Baglioni and Marie de Cressay as a decoy. He is subsequently poisoned by Mahaut, Countess of Artois, in order to place John's uncle (and Mahaut's son-in-law), Philippe, Count of Poitiers, on the throne. Marie is coerced into secretly raising John as her own son, named Giannino Baglioni. An adult Giannino was portrayed by Jean-Gérard Sandoz in the 1972 French miniseries adaptation of the series, and by Lorans Stoica in the 2005 adaptation.


See also


  1. The shortest recorded reign was that of Louis XIX, who reigned for 20 minutes, but his legitimacy was disputed.
  2. Histoire et secrets. "Histoire et Secrets - découvrir l'histoire de France et du monde - Jean Ier : un règne de quatre jours". (in French).
  3. 1 2 Carpegna Falconieri, Tommaso di (September 19, 2008). The Man Who Believed He Was King of France. Translated by William McCuaig. University of Chicago Press. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-226-14525-9.

Further reading

John I of France
Born: 15 November 1316 Died: 20 November 1316
Regnal titles
Title last held by
Louis the Quarreler
King of France and Navarre
15 November  20 November 1316
Succeeded by
Philip the Tall
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