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The ransom of King John II of France was an incident during the Hundred Years War between France and England. Following the English capture of the French king during the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, John was held for ransom by the English crown. The incident had serious consequences for later events in the Hundred Years War.
John II ennobling his knights.
By the time of his capture in 1356, King John II's reign had been marked by tensions both within his kingdom and without. John's Valois claim on French territories was disputed by both Charles II of Navarre and Edward III of England. Vital provinces such as Normandy maintained a high level of autonomy from the crown and frequently threatened to disintegrate into private wars. Worse, many nobles had closer links to the English crown than to Paris. The Hundred Years War that had begun nineteen years before was not a modern war of nations; as one scholar has put it, it was 'an intermittent struggle... a coalition war, with the English often supported by Burgundians and Gascons, and even a civil war, whose combatants looked back to a heritage that was partly shared.'
The French defeat at Crecy under John's father, Philip VI of France and the loss of Calais had increased the pressures on the Valois family to achieve military success. John himself was an unlikely candidate as a warrior prince. John suffered from fragile health and engaged little in physical activity, practiced jousting rarely, and only occasionally hunted. He enjoyed literature, and was patron to painters and musicians. Potentially in response to this, John had created the Order of the Star; like Edward III and the creation of the Order of the Garter, John hoped to play on the concepts of knightly chivalry to bolster his prestige and authority. John had grown up amongst intrigue and treason, and in consequence he governed in secrecy only with a close circle of trusted advisers, frequently alienating his nobles through what they perceived as arbitrary justice and the elevation of unworthy associates, such as Charles de la Cerda. The issues of friction within the French nobility, weaknesses in personal administration and chivalric ideals would play out in the ransom of King John.
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