John I Albert

Eyridiki Sellou | Feb 9, 2023

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Jan I Olbracht (Albrecht), (born December 27, 1459 in Cracow, died June 17, 1501 in Torun) - King of Poland in 1492-1501, Duke of Glogow 1491-1498.

He was the third son and fourth child of Casimir IV Jagiellon and his wife Elisabeth Rakuszanka of the Habsburgs, to whom he probably owed his middle name, Olbracht, she wanted to honor her father, King of Germany, Bohemia and Hungary, Albrecht II of Habsburg.

Childhood and early political career

From 1467 he gained knowledge under the tutelage of Jan Długosz. Young Jan Olbracht's conduct was also influenced by the Italian humanist Philip Callimach, who was in the capital and befriended him. He repeatedly proved his talent during his studies and mastered Latin. He learned the achievements of the passing Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. He finished his education around 1474 and became active in politics at his father's side, with whom he took part in touring the country and in assemblies. In 1486-1490 he served as royal governor in Rus, where he distinguished himself by defeating the Tatars at Kopystrzyn in 1487. He began the establishment of the so-called common defense of the southeastern borderlands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania against the Tatars and Turks.

Struggles for the Hungarian throne

After the death of Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, John Olbracht and his brother Ladislaus, King of Bohemia, competed for the Hungarian throne. Both Casimir Jagiellon and the Hungarian nobility preferred the capable Olbracht to the throne, rather than the submissive and unstable Ladislaus, who was supported by the magnates. On June 7, 1490, he was proclaimed king of Hungary by the nobility at the electoral assembly in Rokos. Nevertheless, the magnates contested the election and elected Ladislaus king, which led to a civil war between the brothers. Hostilities were conducted in what is now Slovakia (see the Battle of Kosice). Under the Peace of Košice in February 1491, John Olbracht was to give up his claim to the Hungarian throne, in exchange for which he was to receive from his brother the Duchy of Glogow, Olesnica and Opava in Silesia. Nonetheless, the prince remained in Hungary, and upon hearing of Ladislaus' illness in mid-1491, he broke the peace and resumed fighting. He even ignored the objections of his father, who ordered him to return to Poland. He was eventually crushed in the battle of Prešov (January 1492). After capturing the city, Jan Olbracht was taken captive by Ladislaus. However, his brother received him hospitably and eventually sent him back to Poland. Nonetheless, Ladislaus left Olbracht the Glogow promised in Kosice, which the latter kept until 1498, when he handed over the duchy to his brother, Sigismund.

Election as king of Poland

After losing the war with Ladislaus over Hungary, Jan Olbracht did not have to wait long for a new chance to assume royal power, as Casimir IV Jagiellon died on June 7, 1492. He appointed his brother, Alexander, as his successor in Lithuania, and "recommended" Jan Olbracht to the Poles. Since Poland, unlike Lithuania, was not a Jagiellonian hereditary monarchy, so Casimir could not appoint his successor in Poland. Jan's brothers Władysław and Sigismund, as well as Duke Janusz II of Masovia, also vied for the crown after their father. Part of the nobility was ready to side with Grand Duke Alexander of Lithuania, but the latter, along with his youngest brother Frederick and his queen mother, supported Jan Olbracht. Ladislaus of Bohemia-Hungary, Olbracht's main challenger, did not begin more active efforts for the Polish crown. In the end, Jan Olbracht was elected king of Poland on August 27 (at the end of the Sejm in Piotrkow). The vote was by roll call, and the result was almost unanimous in his favor. After the vote, Sejm Speaker Rafal Yaroslavsky came out of the assembly hall and, standing in front of a total of noble members of the Sejm, announced the result, after which he asked them three times whether this was their will. When the assembled people answered "It is, it is, it is!" three times, the election of Olbracht as king was sanctioned. On September 23, the coronation of the new monarch took place in Cracow, led by Zbigniew Oleśnicki, archbishop of Gniezno and primate of Poland. Since Alexander became the ruler of Lithuania until Olbracht's death, the Polish-Lithuanian union was formally broken, but the two states remained in alliance.

Domestic policy

Under the first Jagiellons, the royal council, appointed by the king, played an increasingly important role in governing the state. And from the mid-15th century, nationwide conventions of nobles and district assemblies took over much of the power. Eventually, the Royal Council during the reign of Olbracht was transformed into the Senate, and the nationwide convention of the nobility, composed of representatives of the sejmiks, into the parliamentary chamber of the Sejm. Beginning in the 15th century, the Republic became a noble parliamentary monarchy. The Sejm of 1468 in Piotrków is considered the first session of the bicameral Polish parliament. The nobility, especially the wealthier and magnates, became the ruling state from then on, concentrating land, privileges and offices in their hands. According to the Sejm of Radom of 1504, the state administration consisted of the crown and court marshal, the treasurer, chancellor and sub-chancellor, as well as starosts, representing the king in a given territorial unit of the state.

Immediately after assuming the throne, Jan confirmed all previous privileges of the nobility, in return obtaining high taxes for the defense of the state. Expanding on the privileges his father had granted to the nobility in the Nieszawa Statutes, John I Olbracht promulgated the so-called Statute of Piotrków in 1496, which exempted the nobility from customs duties, limited the exodus of peasants to one per year per village, and prohibited townsmen from acquiring landed estates and holding state offices. Clergy without nobility were forbidden to sit in chapters and hold high church positions. Non-nobles were also restricted from holding academic chairs. Acting in favor of Royal Prussia won them favor.

John Olbracht also limited the role of the Church in the state, hitherto very privileged. Among other things, he banned the sale and donation of landed property to religious orders and the secular clergy.

In 1494 Jan Olbracht succeeded in buying the Zator duchy, located between the lands of Kraków and Oświęcim, for 80,000 Hungarian zlotys. After the death of Duke Jan V of Zator, it was to be incorporated into the Crown.

In addition, after the death of the last Duke Janusz II in 1495, the Duchy of Plock was incorporated into Poland.

Foreign policy

The Turkish issue was a major foreign policy issue during the reign of Jan Olbracht. The king was planning a major military expedition to Moldavia to recapture the important Black Sea ports from the Turks: Kilia and Belgorod, to restore Polish sovereignty over Moldavia, to avenge the Varna defeat, and perhaps to install the king's younger brother, Sigismund, on the hospodar throne. In 1497, a 40,000-strong common march headed southeast. Although Moldavia had been a fief of Poland since 1387, its hospodar, Stefan III the Great, sided with Turkey. The siege of Suceava failed and the expedition ended with heavy losses of Polish troops in the Battle of Kozmin, in which Turks, Tatars and Vlachs slaughtered about 5,000 Polish knights, surprised during the retreat in a ravine. The defeat was perpetuated for centuries by a greatly exaggerated saying: Under King Olbracht the nobility died out.

Even worse than the military defeat were the political consequences of the failed Moldavian expedition. In its wake, a whole series of alliances and coalitions of neighboring countries were formed against the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the battles against the crown troops, the Wallachians were supported by Turkey and even Hungary, ruled by the king's brother, Ladislaus II. In the spring of 1498, the Tartars invaded the southeastern territories of Lithuania, and Moscow's Grand Duke Ivan III the Harsh attempted to capture Kiev and Smolensk, in 1500 crushing the Polish-Lithuanian army at the Battle of Vedrosa. Meanwhile, the Roman Emperor, Maximilian I Habsburg, seized part of Silesia with Glogow and demanded that the Teutonic Order return Royal Prussia to the Teutonic Order, whereupon the Teutonic Grand Master refused to pay due tribute to the Polish king. Then, in the spring of 1501, Olbracht ordered the concentration of the crown army in Torun, where he himself went, but, compounded by a severe infectious disease (most likely syphilis), he died soon after and the war expedition to Order Prussia did not take place. The matter of the refusal of the fief tribute was resolved by Olbracht's successor, Alexander Jagiellon.

Olbracht received a very good upbringing. At first, the Szydłowiecki family was responsible for his education, followed by Jan Długosz and the eminent humanist, the Italian Philip Kallimach. He was a crafter, had an excellent command of Latin, and already as a teenage adolescent gave wonderful Latin speeches. He was also a sybarite enamored of luxury. He led an exuberant erotic life, but never married. It is suspected that he died of the French disease morbus gallicus, or syphilis. Due to his unstable character and personality flaws, which put people off him, he was not respected by either the magnates or the nobility, who considered him an unpredictable man and feared his rule.

John I Olbracht died on June 17, 1501 in Torun, his corpse was ceremonially laid to rest in Wawel Cathedral, and his heart was embedded in one of the columns of St. John's Basilica in Torun. He left no descendants behind. After Jan Olbracht's death, his younger brother Alexander (reigned 1501-1506) took over the throne after him.

He was of tall stature, beer eyes, on his face with a certain reproach and effusion. (...) He was quick in his movements, he often appeared at his side with a sword strapped to him, he indulged his passions and lusts as a military man.


  1. John I Albert
  2. Jan I Olbracht
  3. WacławW. Uruszczak WacławW., Sejm koronacyjny w 1507 roku w Krakowie, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, 2002, s. 111–121, DOI: 10.18778/7171-529-3.08 [dostęp 2022-08-15] .
  4. Córka Zygmunta Luksemburskiego.
  5. Kraszewski 1929 ↓.
  6. Ewa Janeczek. Postać króla Jana Olbrachta w historiografii i literaturze pięknej. „Wieki Stare i Nowe”. 1(6), s. 101–121, 2009.
  7. ^ [a b] profil-ID: dw.2163.[källa från Wikidata]
  8. Karl Borchardt: Konrad X. von Oels († 21. September 1492). In: Ders. (Hrsg.): Schlesische Lebensbilder, Band 10. Degener Verlag, Insingen 2010, S. 67, ISBN 978-3-7686-3508-0.
  9. 1 2 Историк, академик В. Грабеньский.  История польского народа. Ред. А.П. Костелецкая. - Мн. 2014г. Изд. 2-е . Полиграфкомбинат им. Я. Коласа.  Серия: Народы Земли. Ян I Альбрехт. стр. 146-149. ISBN 978-985-7056-93-4.

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