John The Fearless
Born in 1371 to Philip the Bold, first Duke of Burgundy and Margaret of Flanders, John the Fearless was well schooled in leadership, but for the first 33 years of his life given very little chance to use it. At the age of 24, John was nominally in charge of the Burgundian crusade in Hungary against the Ottoman Turks. However, the real decisions were made for him, resulting in a crushing defeat for the Crusaders at the Battle of Nicopolis- and John being held to ransom for a year by the Turks.
However, the young nobleman acquitted himself with great bravery throughout the campaign and his imprisonment, earning himself the epithet “fearless.” In 1403, John succeeded his father as Duke- and began to grab the real power he had so long been denied. Rather than remain in Burgundy, he moved to Paris, where he involved himself in the government of France. John’s first cousin was the French king, Charles VI. Charles however, was unfit to rule as he suffered from severe mental illness. So John maneuvered to become the power behind the throne.
However, he had a rival in the shape of the King’s brother, Louis, Duke of Orleans. John initially attempted to consolidate his power through political means. He married his daughter Margaret to the heir to the throne and after an attempt to kidnap the dauphin was made, had himself declared the guardian of all the royal children. This move only antagonized the Duke of Orleans, and civil war broke out. The pair’s mutual uncle, John, Duke of Berry, did organize a brief peace in November 1407. However, this collapsed after only 3 days.
So John decided to resolve things once and for all. That same year, he hired assassins to brazenly murder Louis on the streets of Paris. John did not attempt to deny the crime and openly justified it as an act of ‘tyrannicide.’ King Charles eventually absolved him in 1409 and made him regent of France, a position John held until 1418.
However, the Duke of Orleans supporters regrouped under the Duke of Armagnac, the father in law of Charles, the murdered Duke of Orleans’s son. In 1418, they drove John back to Burgundy- and the disgruntled Duke promptly tried to make a deal with the invading English. When this failed, John began negotiations for reconciliation with the Armagnac’s. Both sides agreed to cement their agreement on the bridge at Montereau- where the Armagnac’s had their final revenge on John by assassinating him as he had assassinated Louis.
Bad blood between cousins in Scotland also led to bloody, judicial vengeance at the hands of one king of Scotland.