WI: All hail the King... John II of England!!! John of Gaunt as King of England

Because in John's II case there is no regency, and the country is ruled by experienced politician in his late 30's, that's also wealthiest man in England. Richard II struggled with powerful uncles all his reign - and their ambitions were so high especially after long regency. If John grabs the reign, there is no room for that.

I think I mostly agree with you here? x'D

John supported Leulinghem, sure, but that the late-80s and early-90s version of John. He'd gone off and had his Castilian adventure, and been paid genuinely unbelievable amount of money to give up his claim to Castile. Richard had made him duke of Aquitaine as a reward for negotiating Castile's exit from the war. John had finally done something big with his life here. He had a legacy.
Yeap, I see that I rushed things "a little" :D, my bad. But still - it proves that John was quite skilled diplomat, and he considered other ways to achieve glory than military conquest. Of course, the problem is that his english subjects wanted to try luck on the continent.
Well, in 1377, Charles V is king, and Charles VI won't go mad until 1392. So it's really a question of 1) can John II get himself a truce, and fast, and 2) can he sort out his various domestic problems before Charles V gets his own house in order and goes on the offense again?
OTL they didn't do it, and in 1377 OTL they had to deal with a child king. I see no reason why John as ruler should have been any less "intimidating".
I don't think John is seriously going to considering selling his claims to Castile and to France and suzerainty of Aquitaine. Though, some combination of two of these three could may be acceptable.

OTL Gascons were highly opposed to divorcing Aquitaine, so it has to be Bolingbroke.
In theory, John could try to negotiate "Aquitaine without homage". for his claim to the french crown. But f course I doubt any King of France could easily accept it.
 
Castile and Scotland were different coloured horses. Castile had had a reigning queen before (Urraca), and the "succession crisis" in Castile ran over "which queen" not the rules of golf (gentlemen only, ladies forbidden). Scotland, OTOH, it was a case of the succession had been limited to "male line" descendants of King Robert (ICR if it was 2 or 3). And only allowed female succession once those male-lines were exhausted. Mary, QoS was the last of the "legitimate male line" descendants. It was why there was such a scuffle about whether the Hamiltons were "legitimate" and "above" the Darnley-Stewarts or not.Had Albany had a son, said son would be the next king of Scots instead, no succession scuffle about the Hamiltons, the Darnleys would likely pale into obscurity (they certainly would not be marrying the king of England's niece)

@VVD0D95 @isabella can correct me, but that's my understanding of it
Yes, Scottish situation was that, but I would NOT exclude Margaret Douglas marrying as OTL as she was Scottish and the Lennox Stewart were powerful Scottish nobles and would still be quite close to the Crown
 
To be fair, Scotland "kinda" had a "de jure" reigining queen as well - but Margaret, Maid of Norway died before she had a chance to be properly inaugurated, let alone had a chance to rule personally. So the nobles already accepted the possibility of her reign. Robert II pushed for this solution to avoid another succesion crisis.

On the other hand, I really see no chance for Philippa in 1377 - on the brink of war with France, with so many ambitious and more powerful uncles ready to grab the reins. Especially withouut Richard II reign - king was kinda personally devoted to idea of breaking House of Lancaster.
Was it ever, really?
As long as France isn't really united, everything can happen.
 
I only just realized that it's all for nothing if John and Constance have more children in ATL. She's only 23 at the time of her husband's accession here, and a surviving son by her is a game-changer.
ISTR reading that after their son died, John wasn't particularly interested in Constance (or something like that). And according to @Kurt_Steiner the Petrist cause had been going downhill since the Battle of Montiel in 1369
 
Nothing against John of Gaunt, but this is low-key an England screw.

Let's start with the war effort that John II would inherit, which can best be summed up by saying that Edward III chose the worst possible moment to die.

The most recent truce with France was set to expire in a matter of days after Edward III's death and England was on the precipice of launching a major campaign into France. The army had already been mustered and a large navy assembled to shuttle men across the Channel -- and then it had to be called off. Why? Because legally it no longer had any authority to exist. The army had been gathered in the name of Edward III and it had no right to go to war in the name of a dead man. Even if the new King John II wanted the campaign to go ahead as planned, the lords and knights who were to lead this expedition had to be on-hand to facilitate and witness the transition of power. But the men and ships had already been gathered -- and so they had to be paid. This made for an enormous waste of money at a time when the kingdom was already cash-strapped.

But the problems don't stop there. Just as the army's authority to wage war had lapsed, so too had the diplomatic authority of Edward III's ambassadors. So, with the truce set to expire and the campaign having to be called off, the English had no ability to negotiate an extension of the truce. This gave France an open shot at invasion of English continental territories.

This above is the situation that OTL Richard II inherited, and that John will inherit in ATL. But John has one big problem abroad that Richard did not: his claim to Castile. John II would be styling himself king of England and of France and of Castile and lord of Ireland. This union of the Plantagenet claims to France and Castile in one man very probably draws the Franco-Castilian alliance even closer together -- and makes the war even more daunting for the English.

Then, on top of this, John II has a number of domestic problems that Richard did not. Off the top of my head:
  1. John is a deeply unpopular figure at this point. Indeed, 1377 is probably the lowest point in John's career. He overreacted badly to the Good Parliament's reforms of royal administration, raising a small army to round up and toss a number of the reformers into jail. This was an extremely controversial move that tarred John with a wide swathe of the gentry who made up the commons -- i.e., the body that controls taxation and is now claiming new authority to oversee royal administration. This quite possibly sets up a showdown between the crown and parliament.

  2. The reformers of the Good Parliament came largely from the retinue of the earl of March. The counter-reformers of the Bad Parliament came largely from the retinue of Lancaster. These parliaments in 1376 and 1377 are arguably the prelude to the Wars of the Roses, as the OTL reform platform was effectively a proxy war over who was in the line of succession after Richard. (The reformers wanted to limit John's powers as Edward's de facto regent and install March in government.) This is a clear indication that March was willing to fight for his right to the crown jure uxoris, which sets him on a collision course with John in a world where Richard dies and John is recognized as heir to the throne.

  3. John's opposition to the Good Parliament and his actions in the Bad Parliament had made him a powerful enemy in the church, as William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester (and therefore lord over the greatest ecclesiastical treasury in England), became caught up in the politics of these parliaments and ended up aligned against John. In OTL, Wykeham is pardoned early in Richard's reign, but who I am doubtful John would be so forgiving.

  4. John had made enemies in the church of England even before this feud with Wykeham, though. John's support for John Wycliffe in the 70s made him not quite a heretic, but you could say he was "heretic adjacent." One of the country's chief opponents to Lollardy was William Courtenay, bishop of London, who was a major political player both by virtue of the office he held and by his birth (his father was earl of Devon and his mother was daughter of the earl of Hereford, giving him relations throughout the peerage). Courtenay was fiercely devoted to protecting the church's interests and John's support of Wycliffe seems to have come from a belief that the church had acquired too much power in the secular world. OTL Courtenay was part of Richard's regency council and likely one of the figures instrumental in keeping John and Richard's other uncles out of power. His inability to sideline John in ATL would surely set the two up for conflict.

  5. Finally, John had gotten caught up in the messy politics of the London merchant scene, which -- in addition to his terrible relationship with the bishop of London -- had made him broadly unpopular with the local population. (I have to admit that I don't fully understand the messy and partisan nature of the various merchant guilds of 14th century London, but John's problems with the merchants stems from his securing a pardon for one of his tenants, John Pecche, who -- in addition to being one of John's feudal tenants -- was a corrupt fishmonger.) This is no small thing. London merchants had become powerful figures by this point in history and were an important source of crown revenue, as they routinely extended loans to Edward III to finance his campaigns. John II may not be able to tap these men for their money the way his father had or OTL Richard II's regency council did.
tl;dr: John of Gaunt has, by 1377, alienated much of the commons, has a major rival in the peerage (March), has two separate conflicts with major church leaders, and has run afoul of the wealthy merchant class in London.
Honest question: would he be as unpopular if it becomes likely that he inherits the throne? To me it seems he often took the role of the bad cop for his father/brother/nephew as it protected them from the fallout of unpopular decisions. Would he embrace that role as much once the sickly Black Prince has no surviving sons? Likewise some of his opponents might be more circumspect in their attacks if it is likely they will soon face him as king. Now some of his problems probably will remain, like his support for Wycliffe. His ideas for negotiated peace with France, including the adoption of the Salic Law to lay the question to rest once and for all, will not become suddenly more popular either. But his situation might well be less tense if he is likely to become king say from 1374 onward.
 
ISTR reading that after their son died, John wasn't particularly interested in Constance (or something like that). And according to @Kurt_Steiner the Petrist cause had been going downhill since the Battle of Montiel in 1369
John left Katherine in1381 and seems to have stopped taking mistresses altogether. This may have been out of affection for Constance (the two began to spend much more time together), politics (perhaps some figure at court had made mention of his impropriety? Or perhaps he wanted to spend more time with Constance because he'd begun thinking of a Castilian campaign and wanted to appear faithful to his queen?), or superstition (perhaps a demonstration to God as thanks for sparing his son during the Peasant's Revolt?) -- who knows, really. In ATL, though, John is king and he has but one legitimate son, who is just 10 years old in an age where child mortality is shockingly high. He rather needs to beget more heirs regardless of his feelings for Constance at this time.

I'm not saying the Petrist cause was at it's zenith in 1373 -- just that it was still a major problem for Enrique at this time. (At least, that is what Jonathan Sumption writes.) I'd love to read more about it if there are historians saying otherwise.


Honest question: would he be as unpopular if it becomes likely that he inherits the throne? To me it seems he often took the role of the bad cop for his father/brother/nephew as it protected them from the fallout of unpopular decisions. Would he embrace that role as much once the sickly Black Prince has no surviving sons? Likewise some of his opponents might be more circumspect in their attacks if it is likely they will soon face him as king. Now some of his problems probably will remain, like his support for Wycliffe. His ideas for negotiated peace with France, including the adoption of the Salic Law to lay the question to rest once and for all, will not become suddenly more popular either. But his situation might well be less tense if he is likely to become king say from 1374 onward.
That is a very good question and an interesting take on Gaunt. I've never really considered that he was intentionally taking on the unpopular work. I've always seen him as a figure who shared Richard's rather extraordinary view of the royal prerogative. His 1377 attack on the reformers of the Good Parliament and his unshakable defense of his nephew in the 90s -- even after his own brother's murder! -- could be seen as simply politics (i.e., allying himself with a king to protect his place in the succession), but he could not have been ignorant of how unpopular this was making him and how it would come back to haunt him if ever did become king. I have to believe, as a result, that his actions come from a place of deep conviction in the power of the crown. (After all, if the commons had the power to rein in the crown, it had the power to rein in dukes and other lords -- and Gaunt would have deeply resented this.)

So, I think he'd probably still behave in a similar fashion, but maybe not.

With regard to Salic Law, I'm not sure that is the basis of his claim, though I genuinely can't remember right now. I'll have to double check, but I think maybe he was looking to secure his place in the succession by proximity of blood? He would be a closer relation to Richard as an uncle than Philippa would be as a cousin. (This is also the basis of the Plantagenet claim to the French throne, so it does rather neatly fit together.)
 
That is a very good question and an interesting take on Gaunt. I've never really considered that he was intentionally taking on the unpopular work. I've always seen him as a figure who shared Richard's rather extraordinary view of the royal prerogative. His 1377 attack on the reformers of the Good Parliament and his unshakable defense of his nephew in the 90s -- even after his own brother's murder! -- could be seen as simply politics (i.e., allying himself with a king to protect his place in the succession), but he could not have been ignorant of how unpopular this was making him and how it would come back to haunt him if ever did become king. I have to believe, as a result, that his actions come from a place of deep conviction in the power of the crown. (After all, if the commons had the power to rein in the crown, it had the power to rein in dukes and other lords -- and Gaunt would have deeply resented this.)

So, I think he'd probably still behave in a similar fashion, but maybe not.

With regard to Salic Law, I'm not sure that is the basis of his claim, though I genuinely can't remember right now. I'll have to double check, but I think maybe he was looking to secure his place in the succession by proximity of blood? He would be a closer relation to Richard as an uncle than Philippa would be as a cousin. (This is also the basis of the Plantagenet claim to the French throne, so it does rather neatly fit together.)

Historical figures are always open to interpretation of course. My personal impression always was that Gaunt got a lot of bad press next to his mostly absent and way more glamorous brother and because with Richard he was in a no win situation - he was damned for supporting a monster, his son was called an ursurper for deposing (and probably murdering) Richard.
Regarding the introduction of Salic Law, IIRC (though I might misremember, my interest in the hundred years war peaked perhaps a decade ago) Gaunt tried to include the adoption into the negotiations with France, as it would make the English claim on the French throne invalid and thus remove the cause for the war (for appropriate remuneration obviously). His opponents in England naturally pointed out that this would strengthen his own position in the succession. Not to mention that many in England were not willing to give up the claim forever even if they were in favour of a temporary peace.
 
With regard to Salic Law, I'm not sure that is the basis of his claim, though I genuinely can't remember right now. I'll have to double check, but I think maybe he was looking to secure his place in the succession by proximity of blood? He would be a closer relation to Richard as an uncle than Philippa would be as a cousin. (This is also the basis of the Plantagenet claim to the French throne, so it does rather neatly fit together.)
To be fair, it was always about "might makes right" claim - and that that situation in England was any different. First you have to claim the throne, then you have to keep it long enough, and your claim is "legit" after a while.
Historical figures are always open to interpretation of course. My personal impression always was that Gaunt got a lot of bad press next to his mostly absent and way more glamorous brother and because with Richard he was in a no win situation - he was damned for supporting a monster, his son was called an ursurper for deposing (and probably murdering) Richard.
I quess that's because while Richard indeed was an tyrant - but he also was a legit ruler. Gaunt was perfect scapegoat as he served role of the "evil uncle" and "evil advisor/chancellor" both in one (not that it was uncommon back in the day). Of course, neither John nor his son were saints - but still he propably was more pragmatic than envious and petty (even by medieval royalty standards) Richard. Also, I think that indeed his situation will be different, since here both him and his son are not some kind of cadet branch, but a major, senior line of the House of Plantagenet.

John left Katherine in1381 and seems to have stopped taking mistresses altogether. This may have been out of affection for Constance (the two began to spend much more time together), politics (perhaps some figure at court had made mention of his impropriety? Or perhaps he wanted to spend more time with Constance because he'd begun thinking of a Castilian campaign and wanted to appear faithful to his queen?), or superstition (perhaps a demonstration to God as thanks for sparing his son during the Peasant's Revolt?) -- who knows, really. In ATL, though, John is king and he has but one legitimate son, who is just 10 years old in an age where child mortality is shockingly high. He rather needs to beget more heirs regardless of his feelings for Constance at this time.
As king with younger brothers, you still think that there will be this kind of "pressure" on him? Or at least more of it than in case of beign "just" Duke of Lancaster?
 
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I think he's still going to have trouble with France.

He can't just give up the right to call himself King of France without basically giving up Gascony. That's where it all started basically. The rightful king of France can demand homage, and confiscate the duchy.

That doesn't mean he wouldn't pursue peace, he probably would, and it would make things easier for Henry IV too as his french counterparts won't despise him as an usurper. But as long as the English hold that land in France, the situation will never be fully resolved.

"Peace" during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV OTL didn't really mean peace, it meant continuous low level raiding and piracy rather than the muster of large armies.

The war went on for so long because it's really difficult to resolve.
 
I think he's still going to have trouble with France.

He can't just give up the right to call himself King of France without basically giving up Gascony. That's where it all started basically. The rightful king of France can demand homage, and confiscate the duchy.
No doubt about it - but again - assuming that John will prove himself as effective monarch, England will enter XV century as politically stable country with ) with relatively good economy (at least, when compared to how Richard II left it OTL) - at least assuming he will not get mad with power and try just to crush all of his former enemies.

But on the other side of the channel, we have King called "Charles the Mad" for a reason - and I doubt that situation in England would change here anything. Once Plantagenents realize that there is something wrong with King of France, they will try to use it to their own adventage. So another english invasion is IMO unavoidable, ther question is: can Henry IV produce as skilled military leader as OTL Henry V was with diffent wife. And is there any chance that english diplomacy here would be stronger during this conflict?
 
The chances of Henry V being born, even if Bolingbroke married Bohun as historically, are near infinitesimal.
They would be the same as in our time line. (And also any other specific child you come up with for a timeline would be equally unlikely).
 
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That is true, but consider that the possibilities in regard to fertilisation are far too numerous taken as a whole, rendering his chances as one option tantamount to nihil.
Yes but that was the same the first time. What you seem to be suggesting is that the chance of Henry V being conceived twice is infinitesimal. But I'm not sure that's really relevant.

I think there's aesthetics here as much as anything really. If it's the same wife, then I don't see an issue with basically having Henry V arrive on the scene - maybe some small changes, different hair colour or height, perhaps a slightly different personality - but after all we already know what the result of that genetic material can be - which is more than we have for any alternative we might make up.

If there's a different wife for Henry IV then I would probably have greater differences.
 
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What you seem to be suggesting is that the chance of Henry V being conceived twice is infinitesimal. But I'm not sure that's really relevant.
Henry V, as we know him, is one indistinct option out of a whole cast of possibly millions of candidates to be son of Henry Bolingbroke. It may have happened one time, but with events having changed, there still remains nothing to steer the course to his birth specifically, meaning it is a fresh die roll that will more likely than not result in someone else entirely. This is also neglecting the natal and post-natal development that could change the child dramatically, even if the result of the initial event were Henry the Unborn.
That is not to say that I have issue with any work upholding a different butterfly theory to mine, but in the abstract, my view is that the event would barely avoid riding a boat with the bats.
 
Henry V, as we know him, is one indistinct option out of a whole cast of possibly millions of candidates to be son of Henry Bolingbroke. It may have happened one time, but with events having changed, there still remains nothing to steer the course to his birth specifically, meaning it is a fresh die roll that will more likely than not result in someone else entirely. This is also neglecting the natal and post-natal development that could change the child dramatically, even if the result of the initial event were Henry the Unborn.
That is not to say that I have issue with any work upholding a different butterfly theory to mine, but in the abstract, my view is that the event would barely avoid riding a boat with the bats.
If I roll a die with a thousand sides and get 987 what's the chance that when I roll it a second time I get 987? One in a thousand. What's the chance that I get a different number? 999 What's the chance that I get a different specific number, say 234? One in a thousand.

The odds are only relatively unlikely as long as we don't collapse the possibilities to something specific. If we instead have a Henry V that has a personality similar to Charles the Bold that's no more likely than that a virtual repeat of our timeline Henry V.
 
The odds are only relatively unlikely as long as we don't collapse the possibilities to something specific. If we instead have a Henry V that has a personality similar to Charles the Bold that's no more likely than that a virtual repeat of our timeline Henry V.
There is no need per se to collapse them into anything, given that the probability of it not being so is 99.9...%. If you should want to write a replacement under the postulated conditions, given that we have no access to such a dice to determine anything, and that something will have to be chosen in the end, you will have to say regardless that the chosen one just so happened to be as written. Even if the specific arrangement is no more likely than Henry's birth, Henry's birth itself is overwhelmingly unlikely compared to the pool with which we are working.
 
There is no need per se to collapse them into anything, given that the probability of it not being so is 99.9...%. If you should want to write a replacement under the postulated conditions, given that we have no access to such a dice to determine anything, and that something will have to be chosen in the end, you will have to say regardless that the chosen one just so happened to be as written. Even if the specific arrangement is no more likely than Henry's birth, Henry's birth itself is overwhelmingly unlikely compared to the pool with which we are working.
So, as I said it's aesthetics. There is no real probabilistic objection.

Edit: In this case a specific alternate Henry is standing in for all the alternate Henrys, merely by virture of his difference from the original Henry. (But when we think about this specific new Henry is no more likely than a repeat of the original Henry).
 
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Some Henry V will be propably born - after all Bolingbroke was quite fertile OTL. So unless his other wife will have problems he should have some sons.

But of course this Henry V will be different - even with the same "genetic material" any potential son of the king will be growing up in different situation. But since there was few talented military leaders in John of Gaunt's family tree (sure, Edward II and Richard II are clear examples of the exact opposite) I can say that a chance that Bolingbroke's ATL can be a skilled tactician and great leader as well. Of course, as well he can be so terrible that he will die before his landfall on french soil as well. He could even try to compensate with much more more effective diplomacy.
 
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