John Albert Of Poland

JOHN ALBERT OF POLAND (1459-1501), king of Poland, third son of Casimir IV. king of Poland and Elizabeth of Austria. 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 szlachla, 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 favour 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 favourably 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 sdachta 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.

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

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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