Parents: Stephen and Hedwig of Cieszyn
Date of Birth: 2 February 1487
Royal House: Zápolya
Spouse: Isabella, daughter of Sigismund I, king of Poland, and Bona Sforza
Predecessor: Louis II
Reign: 1511 – 1540
Summary: John first entered history in 1505 at the Diet of Rákos where it was decided that Hungary would only be ruled by its own native kinds. He was appointed the voivode of Transylvania, a Hungarian possession, in 1511, and he spent 15 years building up power and wealth from his people. When peasants rebelled against him in 1514, he used overwhelming force to subdue them. By 1526, Transylvania was under attack from the Ottoman Empire and John and his large army missed the battle at Mohács, which was a decisive victory for the Ottomans. King Louis II of Hungary died at that battle, and the Ottomans sacked the capital at Buda soon after. Political authority had disintegrated and the Ottomans left instead of installing their own overlord. John stepped forward as a candidate for the kinship, but Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, the brother-in-law of Louis II, also sought the throne. Most of Hungary backed John, who had been a leading figure in Hungary since 1511. Only a small group of aristocrats chose Ferdinand, but their grounding was solid: Austria could defend against Turkey much better than Hungary alone. But the Habsburgs were at war with France and distracted, and most of the nobility feared that France would attack Hungary rather than Austria help it. In November 1526, John was proclaimed king at Székesfehérvár.
Using his own wealth and his massive support, he tried to stabilize and mobilize Hungary. When he attempted to gain the support of the Habsburgs, they instead convinced a group of nobles to elect Ferdinand anti-king to John in December 1526. John was forced to send out envoys to the rest of Europe in the hope that they could garner support against the Ottoman Empire. Only France responded, but their wish wasn't to help Hungary but to have Hungary declare war on Austria. In 1527, all went wrong for John. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V occupied Rome and forced the pope to capitulate, thereby ended the war with France. Ferdinand, Charles' brother, was freed from his wartime obligations to consider the Hungarian problem. He was aided in his quest by his election to the Bohemian throne in late 1526. Fearing an Ottoman-Hungarian alliance, Austria invaded Hungary in the summer of 1527. Most of the Hungarian army was in the south suppressing a peasant rebellion stirred up by the Habsburgs. Ferdinand quickly captured Buda and then defeated John at the Battle of Tarcal. In 1528, John was forced to flee Hungary outright, settling in Poland. In 1538, after ten years in exile, Ferdinand was recognized as the legitimate successor of John I according to the Treaty of Varad. His death two years later left the throne to his son and an the Ottoman-sympathizer, John II Sigismund. John II continued to claim the throne until his abdication in 1570, at which time it reverted to the Habsburgs without issue.
Date of Death: 22 July 1540
Successor: Ferdinand I or John II Sigismund (disputed)
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