John III of Pernstein

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John III of Pernstein
Appearance of John of Pernstein (+1548) known only from the relief of his commemorative medal.png
Appearance of John of Pernstein known only from the relief of his commemorative medal.
Born(1487-11-14)14 November 1487
Moravský Krumlov
Died8 September 1548(1548-09-08) (aged 60)
Noble familyPernstein
Spouse(s)Anna of Postupic
Hedvika of Šelmberk
Magdalena of Ormozd
FatherWilliam II of Pernstein
MotherJohanna of Liblitz

John of Pernstein (also known as John of Helfenstein and Pernstein or John the Rich; Czech: Jan z Pernštejna or Jan z Pernštejna a na Helfštejně or Jan Bohatý; German: Johann von Pernstein or Hans von Pernstein auf Helfenstein; born: 14 November 1487 in Moravský Krumlov; died: 8 September 1548 in Židlochovice) was High Treasurer of Moravia from 1506 and 1516 and Landeshauptmann of Moravia from 1515 to 1519 and from 1526 to 1528 and Governor of Moravia from 1530 to 1532. From 1537 to 1548, he was Count of Kladsko and pledge lord of the County of Kladsko.


John of Pernstein was a member of the Moravian noble Pernstein family. His parents were William II of Pernstein and Johanna of Liblitz (Czech: Johanka z Liblic). Little is known about John's childhood. He probably spent most of it at the family castle at Pardubice; he also stayed some time in Breslau. In 1497, John and his younger brother Vojtěch I of Pernstein were knighted at Pardubice Castle by King Vladislav II of Hungary, who was travelling from Prague to Hungary. In 1506, John was appointed High Treasurer of Moravia. After 1515, he was Landeshauptmann of Moravia several times. Before 1521, he called himself John of Tobitschau (Jan z Tovačova), after the castle where he and his family lived.

When his father died in 1521, Vojtěch I inherited his father's Bohemian possessions, and John inherited the Moravian possessions. From 1521 until his death, he called himself John of Helfenstein, after his Moravian castle, even though he spent much of his time at a castle he had built in Prostějov. Shortly after their father's death, both brothers converted to the Utraquist faith.

John fought in the Ottoman wars and participated in 1526 with Moravian troops on the Battle of Mohács, where King Louis II of Hungary was killed. When his brother Vojtěch I died in 1534, John inherited his extensive Bohemian estates and became one of the richest land owners in Czech countries, leading to his nickname "John the Rich".

Prostějov Castle

John had a strong sense of art and in 1516 he founded the first literary circle in Moravia, in Třebíč. On his estates, he promoted Renaissance architecture. Between 1522 and 1530, he had a castle built in Prostějov, where he lived with his family. Between 1536 and 1543, he built the St. Ursula Church in Chlumec nad Cidlinou. In 1538, he started the construction of a castle in Valašské Meziříčí as well as the reconstruction of the Pardubice castle in Renaissance style. Pernštejn Castle, which his father had neglected, was rebuilt and expanded during John's reign and remodeled as a representative palace. From 1540 to 1546, he minted coins in Kłodzko in a Renaissance style. The obverse shows a picture of a bust of John, to emphasize the territorial sovereignty of the County of Kladsko.

His views on religion and Bohemian state policy were opposed to those of King Ferdinand I. Where John represented the interests of the Estates, Ferdinand tried to limit their power.

Towards the end of his lifetime, John the Rich found himself in financial difficulties. In 1543, he had to sell off the Lordship of Riesenburg and a year later, he had to sell the Lordships of Náchod and Lanšperk, as well as parts of the dominion of Potštejn with Litice Castle and Brandys nad Orlici.

John died on 8 September 1548 at his castle in Židlochovice in southern Moravia. He was buried in the Holy Cross Church in Doubravník. This church had been destroyed during the Hussite Wars and John had rebuilt it. His territories were divided among his sons. His third wife Magdalena of Ormosd survived him by eight years. The disintegration of his fortune continued after his death, when his son Jaroslav had to sell off the Moravian estates.

John's influence in Silesia[edit]

After the death of Duke Casimir II of Cieszyn (Teschen, Těšín) in 1528, John took up the guardianship of Casimir's grandson Wenceslaus III Adam, whose father, Wenceslaus II had died in 1524, before Wenceslaus III Adam was born. A treaty to that effect had been concluded before Casimir II's death and they had also decided that John's daughter Marie would later marry Wenceslaus III Adam, which she did in 1540. In a secret addendum to this treaty, they had arranged that if ever Casimir's family would die out in the male line, then the Duchy of Teschen would fall to John or his descendants.[1]

John as a Count of Kladsko[edit]

In 1537, King Ferdinand I of Bohemia mortgaged the County of Kladsko, which belonged immediately to Bohemia, to John of Pernstein for 83464guilders. John also received the title of Count of Kladsko and the right to mint coins in Kladsko. Since John, unlike Ferdinand, sympathized with the Reformation, he supported spread of Lutheranism and Utraquism in territory of Kladsko Land.[2]

John settled several disputes between the estates and regulated brewing rights. Although he supported the 1547 Bohemian uprising, the Estates of Kladsko did not participate in the rebellion and consequently, his county was spared when the King punished the rebellious areas.

As early as 1546, two years before John's death, his sons were started negotiations with Ernest of Bavaria, the administrator of Salzburg, about the possibility of selling the County of Kladsko to him. After the Estates of Bohemia accepted Ernest as a landed subject, the County of Kladsko was transferred to him on 14 November 1549. A dispute arose when John's son Vratislav refused to sell him the Lordship of Hummel, western part of the Kladsko area. This Lordship had been administratively part of Kladsko since 1477, but Vratislav argued it was still a separate Lordship and had been acquired separately by John in 1541. When Ernest threatened to call off the whole transaction, Vratislav gave in and handed him Hummel, including the towns of Duszniki Zdrój and Lewin Kłodzki.[3]

Marriage and issue[edit]

John of Pernstein was married three times.

In 1507 he married Anna of Kostka of Postupic, who died in 1526. They had the following children:

  • Margaret (Markéta) (1514–1529), married in 1529 Henry II of Münsterberg
  • Joan (born: 1516), married John the Younger of Žerotín
  • Catherine (Kateřina) (1518-1552?), married in 1533 Henry of Švamberk (Jindřich ze Švamberka)
  • Marie (1524–1566), married in 1540 Wenceslaus III Adam of Cieszyn

His second wife was in 1528 Hedvika of Šelmberk, who died in 1535. They had the following children:

John married in 1544 with Magdalena of Ormozd (d. 1556), a widow of the Hungarian magnate Alexei Thurzo of Bethlenfalva.[4] This marriage remained childless.


  • Petr Vorel: Páni z Pernštejna. Vzestup a pád rodu zubří hlavy v dějinách Čech a Moravy, ISBN 80-86182-24-X. p. 156–183 and 284 ff
  • Arno Herzig, Małgorzata Ruchniewicz: Geschichte des Glatzer Landes, Hamburg / Wrocław, 2006, ISBN 3-934632-12-2, pp. 62, 65 ff and 96
  • Joachim Bahlcke et al.: Handbuch der historischen Stätten: Böhmen und Mähren, Kröner-Verlag, Stuttgart, 1998, ISBN 3-520-32901-8, pp. 97, 438, 441, 500, 621 and 645.


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