BERRY, JOHN, Duke of (1340–1416), third son of John II., king of France and Bonne of Luxemburg, was born on the 30th of November 1340 at Vincennes. He was created count of Poitiers in 1356, and was made the king’s lieutenant in southern France, though the real power rested chiefly with John of Armagnac, whose daughter Jeanne he married in 1360. The loss of his southern possessions by the treaty of Bretigny was compensated by the fiefs of Auvergne and Berry, with the rank of peer of France. The duke went to England in 1360 as a hostage for the fulfilment of the treaty of Bretigny, returning to France in 1367 on the pretext of collecting his ransom. He took no leading part in the war against the English, his energies being largely occupied with the satisfaction of his artistic and luxurious tastes. For this reason perhaps his brother Charles V. assigned him no share in the government during the minority of Charles VI. He received, however, the province of Languedoc. The peasant revolt of the Tuchins and Coquins, as the insurgents were called, was suppressed with great harshness, and the duke exacted from the states of Languedoc assembled at Lyons a fine of £15,000. He fought at Rosebeke in 1382 against the Flemings and helped to suppress the Parisian revolts. By a series of delays he caused the failure of the naval expedition prepared at Sluys against England in 1386, and a second accusation of military negligence led to disgrace of the royal princes and the temporary triumph of the marmousets, as the advisers of the late king were nicknamed. Charles VI. visited Languedoc in 1389–1390, and enquired into his uncle’s government. The duke was deprived of the government of Languedoc, and his agent, Bétizac, was burnt. When in 1401 he was restored, he delegated his authority in the province, where he was still hated, to Bérnard d’Armagnac. In 1396 he negotiated a truce with Richard II. of England, and his marriage with the princess Isabella of France. He tried to mediate between his brother Philip the Bold of Burgundy and his nephew Louis, duke of Orleans, and later between John “sans Peur” of Burgundy and Orleans. He broke with John after the murder of Orleans, though he tried to prevent civil war, and only finally joined the Armagnac party in 1410. In 1413 he resumed his rôle of mediator, and was for a short time tutor to the dauphin. He died in Paris on the 15th of June 1416, leaving vast treasures of jewelry, objects of art, and especially of illuminated MSS., many of which have been preserved. He decorated the Sainte Chapelle at Bourges; he built the Hôtel de Nesle in Paris, and palaces at Poitiers, Bourges, Mehun-sur-Yèvre and elsewhere.
See also L. Raynal, Histoire du Berry (Bourges, 1845); “Jean, duc de Berry,” in S Luce, La France pendant la guerre de Cent Ans (1890), vol. i.; Toulgoët-Tréanna, in Mém. de la Soc. des antiquaires du centre, vol. xvii. (1890). His beautiful illuminated Livre d’heures was reproduced (Paris, fol. 1904) by P. Durrieu.