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John, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach

John, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach

Margrave of brandenburg
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Margrave of brandenburg
A.K.A. the Alchemist, Johann von Brandenburg
Gender male
Birth January 1, 1406
Death November 16, 1464 (Baiersdorf, Erlangen-Höchstadt, Middle Franconia, Bavaria)
Mother: Elisabeth of Bavaria, Electress of Brandenburg
Father: Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg
Siblings: Frederick IIElector of BrandenburgAlbrecht III AchillesElector of BrandenburgFrederick of AltmarkElisabeth of BrandenburgDuchess of Brzeg-Legnica and CieszynCecilia of BrandenburgMargaret of BrandenburgMagdalene of BrandenburgDorothea of BrandenburgDuchess of Mecklenburg
Spouse: Barbara di Sassonia-Wittenberg
Children: Barbara of Brandenburg, Marquise of MantuaElisabeth of Brandenburg, Duchess of PomeraniaDorothea of Brandenburg
The details

John, nicknamed the Alchemist (German: Johann der Alchimist; 1406 – 16 November 1464) was a Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach and served as the peace-loving Margrave of Brandenburg after the abdication of his father, Frederick I, the first member of the House of Hohenzollern to rule Brandenburg.


John was the eldest son of Frederick I, Margrave of Brandenburg (1371–1440) and Elisabeth of Bavaria-Landshut (1383–1442), daughter of Frederick, Duke of Bavaria, and his second wife Maddalena Visconti.

After marrying Barbara of Saxe-Wittenberg (1405–1465), daughter of Rudolf III, Duke of Saxe-Wittenberg, John hoped to eventually succeed to Saxe-Wittenberg once its line of Ascanian dukes died out. When this happened in November 1422, however, Emperor Sigismund was on poorer terms with the Hohenzollerns and was only willing to compensate John with a money payment.

John began participating in governmental affairs in Brandenburg in 1424. Frustrated by disputes with the feudal nobility, Frederick I retired to his castle at Cadolzburg in Franconia in 1425, granting the regency of Brandenburg to John at a Landtag in Rathenow on January 13, 1426, while retaining the electoral dignity for himself.

John was poorly received by the populace of Brandenburg, as his administration was incompetent, leading to unrest in the countryside. Rather than governing, John was more interested in artificially creating gold through alchemy, thereby receiving the cognomen "the Alchemist". In 1433, a revised version of the alchemical treatise Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit was prepared for John. Realizing the danger Brandenburg was in, Frederick I granted John Franconian lands in Brandenburg-Kulmbach on June 7, 1437, territory rich with mines that furnished materials for the Alchemist's hobby. The governance of Brandenburg passed to Frederick I's second-oldest son, Frederick II.

After the death of Frederick I in 1440, John inherited all of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, including the castle of Plassenburg in Kulmbach. In his later years, he allowed Christopher of Bavaria to administer his possessions in the Upper Palatinate until Christopher's death in 1448. John ruled as Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach until abdicating in 1457, which allowed him to dedicate himself toward studying alchemy and the environs of Franconia. He died in Castle Scharfeneck near Baiersdorf in 1464.

Family and children

John of Brandenburg-Kulmbach and Barbara of Saxe-Wittenberg had four children:


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