John III of Navarre

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John III
Royal Coat of Arms of Navarre (1483-1512).svg
King of Navarre
with Catherine
Reign 1484 – 14 June 1516
Predecessor Catherine
Successor Catherine
Spouse Catherine, Queen of Navarre
Issue Henry II of Navarre
Isabella, Viscountess of Rohan
House House of Albret
Father Alain I of Albret
Mother Frances of Châtillon-Limoges
Born 1469
Died 14 June 1516

John III (1469 – 14 June 1516), also known as Jean d'Albret, was jure uxoris, King consort of the Queen regnant Catherine of Navarre.

He was a son of Alain I of Albret, Lord of Albret, and his wife, Frances of Châtillon-Limoges.[1]

King of Navarre[edit]

Marriage to Queen Catherine and accession to the throne[edit]

He became King of Navarre and Count of Foix by virtue of his 1484 marriage to Queen Catherine (1470–1517), successor of her brother Francis Phoebus in 1483. He shared with Catherine tasks related to the government of the kingdom, but his rule was marked by the guardianship of Catherine's mother Magdalena de Valois up to 1494—she died in 1495—and persistent diplomatic and military pressure of Ferdinand II of Aragon over the Crown of Navarre, supported on the ground by the Beaumont party of Navarre.

He and Catherine were crowned as monarchs in Pamplona on 10 January 1494. In the run-up to the ceremony, Louis of Beaumont—count of Lerín—had taken over and ransacked the stronghold. On Christmas 1493, the count blocked the access of the king and queen to the capital city, but after a fleeting peace agreement was reached, the ceremony was held. In the week long festival following the crowning ceremony, John III and his father are referred to in Basque language verses as Labrit, their usual naming in Navarre—also at Olite in 1493, document written in Romanic language.

The kingdom invaded[edit]

In 1512, Navarre was invaded by a Castilian army sent by Ferdinand II of Aragon, whose second wife was Germaine de Foix (1490–1538), a cousin of Queen Catherine. The Castilian troops commanded by the duke of Alba crossed the Pyrénées onto Lower Navarre capturing St-Jean-Pied-de-Port on 10 September 1512 and wreaking havoc across much of the merindad. There the Castilians were doggedly opposed by lords loyal to John III and Catherine of Navarre, but the Castilians retained St-Jean-Pied-de-Port and its hinterland. Following the invasion, Navarre south of the Pyrenees was annexed to Castile nominally as an autonomous kingdom (aeque principalis) by the victorious Ferdinand after taking an oath to respect the Navarrese laws (1515).

The royal family took shelter in Béarn, a royal Pyrenean domain and region contiguous to Lower Navarre. The Parliaments of Navarre and the States-General of Béarn had passed in 1510 a bill to create a confederation with a view to ensuring a better defence against external aggression. The capital city of Béarn was Pau, which John III and Catherine took as their main base along with Orthez and Tarbes in their last period.

Reconquest attempt and death[edit]

After the Aragonese king Ferdinand's death in January 1516, the king John III mustered an army in Sauveterre-de-Béarn made up of Navarrese exiles and men from all over his domains, especially from Béarn, but the total figure of combatants amounted to no more than several hundreds.[2]:59 The advance of the two columns led by Peter, Marshall of Navarre was stopped by the Castilians right on the Pyrénées due to spies informing Cardinal Cisneros. The reconquest attempt was flawed.

Depressed by the defeats and adverse diplomatic results, John III died at the castle of Esgouarrabaque in Monein, Béarn, on 17 June 1516 after lying gripped by fatal fevers.[2]:60 Up to the last moment he struggled to get Navarre back from the Spanish, urging her espouse Queen Catherine to send a representative to the Cortes of Castile to demand the restoration of the kingdom of Navarre.[2]:60 Despite his wish to be buried at the Santa Maria Cathedral of Pamplona, the permanent Spanish occupation prevented that. His corpse rests instead at the Cathedral of Lescar along with Queen Catherine, who outlived him only a few months.

Fate of Navarre and its dynasty[edit]

Lower Navarre remained with John III's successors after Spanish troops permanently retreated from the region by 1528 (except for the outpost of Valcarlos), increasingly coming under French influence. After King Henry III of Navarre had mounted the French throne in 1589, he and his successors styled themselves Kings of France and Navarre until 1790. However, the independent kingdom became de facto a French dependency in 1620 when Louis XIII devalued all relevance of the Navarrese legislative and justice bodies (1620-1624) and merged the Pyrenean kingdom with France.

Children[edit]

He and Queen Catherine of Navarre were parents to thirteen children—other sources point to fourteen:[2]:76

  • Anne of Navarre (19 May 1492 – 15 August 1532).
  • Magdalena of Navarre (29 March 1494 – May 1504).
  • Catherine of Navarre (1495 – November 1532). Abbess of the Trinity at Caen.
  • Joan of Navarre (15 June 1496 – last mentioned in November 1496).
  • Quiteria of Navarre (1499 – September/October 1536). Abbess at Montivilliers.
  • A stillborn son in 1500.
  • Andrew Phoebus of Navarre (14 October 1501 – 17 April 1503).
  • Henry II of Navarre (18 April 1503 – 25 May 1555).[3]
  • Buenaventura of Navarre (14 July 1505 – 1510/1511).
  • Martin of Navarre (c. 1506 – last mentioned in 1512).
  • Francis of Navarre (1508 – last mentioned in 1512).
  • Charles of Navarre (12 December 1510 – September 1528). Took part in the Siege of Naples during the War of the League of Cognac but was captured. Died while still held as a prisoner of war.
  • Isabella of Navarre (1513/1514 – last mentioned in 1555). Married Rene I, Viscount of Rohan.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Prinet 1911, p. 513.
  2. ^ a b c d Bustillo Kastrexana, Joxerra (2012). Guía de la conquista de Navarra en 12 escenarios. Donostia: Txertoa Argitaletxea. ISBN 978-84-71484819. 
  3. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 293.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

John III of Navarre
Born: 1469 Died: June 14 1516
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Catherine
as solo monarch
King of Navarre
Count of Foix

1484 – 14 June 1516
with Catherine
Succeeded by
Catherine
as solo monarch