John Parricida, or John the Parricide or Johann Parricida (see: Parricide), also called John of Swabia (ca. 1290 – December 13, 1312 or 1313, probably at Pisa) from the House of Habsburg was a son of Rudolf II, former Duke of Austria and Agnes, daughter of King Ottokar II Přemysl of Bohemia. Consequently, he was a grandson of both King Ottokar II and King Rudolph I of Habsburg. By killing his uncle King Albert I of Germany he foiled the first attempt of the Habsburg dynasty to install a hereditary monarchy in the Holy Roman Empire.
John was born shortly before or after the death of his father and passed his early days at the Bohemian court and the town of Brugg in the Swabian home territory of the Habsburgs, where he is mentioned as titular duke in a 1294 deed. As his father had been forced to waive his right to the Duchies of Austria and Styria in favour of his elder brother Albert I according to the 1283 Treaty of Rheinfelden, he felt deprived of his inheritance. When he came of age he demanded a portion of the family estates from his uncle, who had finally prevailed as King of the Romans against Adolph of Nassau in 1298. His wishes however were not gratified nor did he receive any of the compensations in Further Austria awarded to his father by the Rheinfelden Treaty. In 1306 Albert even placed his son Rudolph III on the Bohemian throne, denying his nephew's right of inheritance. Thereupon John, mocked as "Duke Lackland" (Hertzog Anlant), with several companions of Swabian nobility formed a plan to murder the king.
On 1 May 1308 King Albert became separated from his attendants when crossing the Reuss River at Windisch on his way home, and was at once attacked by John and his conspirators Walther von Eschenbach, Rudolf von Wert, Wernher von Wetter(au), Rudolf von Balm and Konrad von Tegerfelden. John rode toward his uncle and split his skull without a word. He escaped the vengeance of Albert's sons, and from that point his fate remained unknown. In the same year the prince-electors chose Henry VII of Luxembourg as Albert's successor, who placed John under the imperial ban (Reichsacht). John allegedly fled across the Alps and was found in a monastery at Pisa, where in 1313 he is said to have been visited by Henry VII. After the defeat of Albert's son Frederick the Fair at the Battle of Mühldorf in 1322, the Habsburg family was not able to regain the Imperial crown until the election of Albert II of Germany in 1438.
The character of John is rendered by Friedrich Schiller in his 1804 drama William Tell: John on the run arrives at Tell's house begging for help and arguing that he had to take revenge on his enemy — like Tell on bailiff Albrecht Gessler. Tell rejects the comparison but directs him to Italy, advising him to seek papal absolution.
- Act V, scene 2
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article John of Swabia.|