John I, Duke of Cleves

John I, Duke of Cleves, Count of Mark (16 February 1419 – 5 September 1481) was Duke of Cleves and Count of Mark.

John I, Duke of Cleves
John I, Duke of Cleves by Rogier van der Weyden
Born16 February 1419
Died5 September 1481(1481-09-05) (aged 62)
Noble familyLa Marck
Spouse(s)Elizabeth of Nevers
FatherAdolph I, Duke of Cleves
MotherMary of Burgundy


He was the son of Adolph I, Duke of Cleves and Mary of Burgundy. He was raised in Brussels at the Burgundian court of his uncle Philip the Good. He ruled Cleves from 1448 from 1481, and Mark since 1461 after the death of his uncle Gerhard, who had waged war on his own brother.

He fought 3 wars with the Electorate of Cologne and finally defeated Ruprecht of the Palatinate, conquering the cities of Xanten and Soest. In these wars, he was supported by his uncle Philip the Good, bringing Cleves-Mark into the Burgundian sphere of influence.
His marriage with Elisabeth Countess of Nevers, from a sideline of the House of Burgundy, only strengthened this influence. He also took sides in the Münster Diocesan Feud supporting the aspirations of the House of Hoya to the episcopacy in Münster.

John was also made a Knight in the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece in 1451, with which he was depicted by Rogier van der Weyden.

In 1473 he helped the Burgundian Duke Charles the Bold conquer the Duchy of Guelders.

Marriage and Children

On 22 April 1455 he married Elizabeth Countess of Nevers, daughter of John II, Count of Nevers.[1] They had:



  1. Boltanski 2006, p. 501.


  • Boltanski, Ariane (2006). Les ducs de Nevers et l'État royal: genèse d'un compromis (ca 1550 - ca 1600) (in French). Librairie Droz S.A.

John I, Duke of Cleves
Born: 16 February 1419 Died: 5 September 1481
Preceded by
Adolph I
Duke of Cleves
Succeeded by
John II
Preceded by
Count of Mark
1448/de facto 1461–1481

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