John I of Poland

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Jan I Olbracht
Jan I Olbracht
Reign From September 23 1492
until June 17, 1501
Coronation On September 23, 1492
in the Wawel Cathedral,
Kraków, Poland
Royal House Jagiellon
Parents Kazimierz IV Jagiellończyk
Elżbieta Rakuszanka
Consorts None
Children None
Date of Birth December 27, 1459
Place of Birth Kraków, Poland
Date of Death June 17, 1501
Place of Death Toruń, Poland
Place of Burial Kraków, Poland
buried on July 26, 1501

John I Albert (Polish: Jan I Olbracht) (1459-1501) was king of Poland from 1492 until 1501. He was defeated during a military operation in Bukovina in the battle against Moldavia.

He was the third son of Casimir IV, king of Poland, and Elizabeth, daughter of Emperor Albert II of Germany. As crown prince he distinguished himself by his brilliant victory over the Tatars at Kopersztyn in 1487. He succeeded his father in 1492.

The loss of revenue consequent upon the secession of Lithuania placed John Albert at the mercy of the Polish Sejmiki or local diets, where the szlachta, or country gentry, made their subsidies dependent upon the king's subservience.

Primarily a warrior with a strong taste for heroic adventure, John Albert desired to pose as the champion of Christendom against the Turks. Circumstances seemed, moreover, to favor him. In his brother Wladislaus, who as king of Hungary and Bohemia possessed a dominant influence in Central Europe, he found a counterpoise to the machinations of the emperor Maximilian, who in 1492 had concluded an alliance against him with Ivan III of Muscovy, while, as suzerain of Moldavia, John Albert was favorably situated for attacking the Turks. At the conference of Leutschau in 1494 the details of the expedition were arranged between the kings of Poland and Hungary and the elector Frederick of Brandenburg, with the co-operation of Stephen, hospodar of Moldavia, who had appealed to John Albert for assistance.

In the course of 1496 John Albert with great difficulty collected an army of 80,000 men in Poland, but the crusade was deflected from its proper course by the sudden invasion of Galicia by the hospodar, who apparently - for the whole subject is still very obscure - had been misled by reports from Hungary that John Albert was bent upon placing his younger brother Sigismund on the throne of Moldavia. Be that as it may, the Poles entered Moldavia not as friends, but as foes, and, after the abortive siege of Suczawa, were compelled to retreat through the Bukowina to Sniatyn, harassed all the way by the forces of the hospodar.

The insubordination of the szlachta seems to have been one cause of this disgraceful collapse, for John Albert confiscated hundreds of their estates after his return; in spite of which, to the end of his life he retained his extraordinary popularity. When the new grand master of the Teutonic order, Frederic of Saxony, refused to render homage to the Polish crown, John Albert compelled him to do so. His intention of still further humiliating the Teutonic order was frustrated by his sudden death in 1501. A valiant soldier and a man of much enlightenment, John Albert was a poor politician, recklessly sacrificing the future to the present.


  • V. Czerny, The Reigns of John Albert and Alexander Jagiello (Pol.) (Cracow, 1882).

Preceded by:
Casimir IV
King of Poland
Succeeded by:

Template:End boxpl:Jan I Olbracht de:Johann I. (Polen)


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