Johann II "the Babymaker", Duke of Cleves

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Johann II 'der Kindermacher' von Kleve, Herzog von Kleve

Also Known As: "der Kindermacher (the Babymaker)", "der Pious (the Pious)", "John of Cleves", "van Kleff", "The Babymaker", "de Kindermaker"
Birthplace: Kleve, Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Death: January 15, 1521 (62)
Cleve, Gutersloh, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Place of Burial: Kleve, Germany
Immediate Family:

Son of Johann I, Duke of Cleves and Elisabeth de Nevers
Husband of Mechthild von Hessen-Marburg, Prinzessin von Hessen
Partner of Moeder van Judocus von Kleve and C.15 extra concubines
Father of Joos van Cleef; Willem van Cleef; Maarten van Cleef; Hendrik van Cleef; Hedwig van Kleef and 4 others
Brother of Adolf von Kleve, (2); Engelbert von Kleve, comte de Nevers; Dietrich von Kleve; Philipp von Kleve and Maria von Kleve
Half brother of Adolf von Büderich genannt Gronstein and Maria von Kleve

Occupation: Duke of Cleve
Managed by: Flemming Allan Funch
Last Updated:

About Johann II "the Babymaker", Duke of Cleves

John II, Duke of Cleves

  • Johann II. (Born 13 April 1458– 15 March 1521) was the Duke of Cleves and count of Mark from 1481 to 1521.
  • John II, "The Babymaker", Duke of Cleves, Count of Mark, (German: Johann II. "der Kindermacher", Herzog von Kleve, Graf von Mark) (13 April 1458 – 15 March 1521) was a son of John I, Duke of Cleves and Elizabeth of Nevers.[1] He ruled Cleves from 1481 to his death in 1521. He was called "The Babymaker" since he fathered sixty-three illegitimate children [2] before his marriage with Mathilde of Hesse in 1489. She was the daughter of Henry III, Landgrave of Upper Hesse and his wife Anna of Katzenelnbogen.

Project MedLands, FRANCONIA

JOHANN von Kleve, son of ADOLF Duke of Kleve & his second wife Marie de Bourgogne [Valois-Capet] (Kleve 16 Feb 1419-5 Sep 1481). Wernher Teschenmacher’s Annales Cliviæ (1630s) records the birth “die S. Julianæ” 1419 of “Joannes, patris successor”, but the editor of the edition consulted quotes no earlier primary source which confirms this information[1511]. Duke of Kleve. married (contract Bruges 25 Mar 1455, Bruges 22 Apr 1455) ELISABETH de Nevers, daughter of JEAN de Nevers [later Comte de Nevers] [Bourgogne-Valois] & his first wife Jacqueline d’Ailly ([1439]-21 Jun 1483). The marriage contract between “Jean duc de Clèves et comte de la Mark” and “Elisabeth de Bourgogne, fille de Jean de Bourgogne comte d’Estampes et sgr de Dourdan, et de Jacqueline d’Ailly sa femme” is dated 25 Mar 1455[1512]. Heiress of Nevers and Eu.

Johann & his wife ELISABETH de Nevers had six children:

  • 1. JOHANN von Kleve "der Kindermacher" (Kleve 14 Apr 1458-15 Jan 1521, bur Kleve Stiftskirche). Duke of Kleve. married (Soest 3 Nov 1489) MATHILDE von Hessen, daughter of HEINRICH III Landgraf zu Hessen, Graf zu Ziegenhain und Nidda, Herr von Oberhessen & his wife Anna von Katzenelnbogen (Blankenstein Jul 1473-Köln 19 Feb 1505, bur Kleve Stiftskirche).

Johann & his wife MATHILDE von Hessen had three children:

  • a) JOHANN von Kleve (Kleve 10 Nov 1490-6 Feb 1539, bur Kleve). Duke of Jülich and Berg 1511. Duke of Kleve 1521. Duke of Jülich-Kleve-Berg 1524.
  • b) ANNA (Kleve 21 May 1495-24 May 1567). married (1518) PHILIPP Graf von Waldeck-Eisenberg, son of --- (1486-1539).
  • c) ADOLF (Kleve 23 Jan 1498-Spain 1525).
  • 2. ADOLF (Kleve 28 Apr 1461-5 Apr 1498). Priest at Liège.
  • 3. ENGELBERT (Kleve 26 Sep 1462-21 Nov 1506, bur Nevers Franciscan Church). Comte de Nevers.
  • 4. DIETRICH (Kleve 29 Jun 1464-).
  • 5. MARIE (Kleve 16 Aug 1465-7 Oct 1513, bur Kleve).
  • 6. PHILIPP (Kleve 1 Jan 1467-Nevers 5 Mar 1505). Bishop of Nevers 1500, Bishop of Amiens 1501. Bishop of Autun 1503.

John II, Duke of Cleves, by Wikipedia


John was the eldest son of Duke John I of Cleves (1419-1481). Like this, he was brought up at the Burgundian court. On the 3 November 1489, he married Mathilde of Hesse (born 1 July 1473 – 19 February 1505), daughter of Henry III, Landgrave of Hesse. Because of his supposedly 63 illegitimate children Johann II. bears the nickname "The Babymaker".

John grew up as his father in the Court of Burgundy . He had accompanied Charles the bold at this time in its raids. Even though his father had warned him shortly before his death to turn against Burgundy Johann has turned with the cities of Utrecht and Amersfoort against the Bishop of Utrecht, David of Burgundy . Thus, he supported his brother Engelbert, who regarded himself as administrator of the prince-bishopric of Utrecht . At the same time, he stood in the Hook and cod wars against Maximilian of Habsburg, who claimed the heritage of Burgundy, on the Group's Hoek the. It managed to capture the Allied Bishop David and to occupy large parts of the bishopric of Utrecht. But Maximilian led a successful counterattack and captured Engelbert. John had to negotiate. 1483 Initially resulted in a ceasefire and a short time later to a peace agreement. Then, John had to cede the cities Arnhem and Wageningen to Maximilian among others. In addition he had to provide himself Maximilian with 600 men for a month. Thus ended the attempt to solve, with a stronger dependency of Burgundy.

The situation of John was still hampered by the catastrophic financial situation of his country and the resistance of the estates who opposed him. The cities of the Duchy of Cleves joined 1489 to an Alliance for the protection of their rights and privileges. However this, failed to prevent John to begin new military actions. This supported Maximilian as agreed in its fight against Charles of Egmond. In addition he tried after the death of Bishop David 1496 for one of his brothers to win the Bishop. Both confrontations ended for Johann without victory.

This increased the resistance of the estates of the Duchy of Cleves and the County of mark. This increased to open rebellion and refusal of tax. Last but not least was that Johann supplied some of his minions and his many illegitimate children with money and possessions.

Combining marriage, his son Johann is considered only political success John II. with the daughter of the last Duke of Jülich-Berg, Wilhelm, which led to the unification of the duchies of Jülich Cleves-Berg .

However, joined Duke William von Jülich Berg in the fight of John with his stands on the side of the stands, and openly criticized the poor rule of John. On the 8th March 1501 Johann has forced to enter into a contract with the estates. He had to accept a permanent control of his Government through the stands. Without their consent, Johann could make henceforth no significant decisions. Also finances were subject to the control of the estates.

As a result, the Duke tried in vain to escape the co-rule of the booths. This merged instead more closely. There were 1510 permanent settlement of estates of Cleves and mark. At the same time, they made dependent of their consent the levying of taxes.



  • Woldemar Harleß: Johann II., Herzog von Cleve und Graf von der Mark. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 14, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1881, S. 210–213.
  • Wilhelm Janssen: Johann II., Herzog von Kleve-Mark. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). Band 10. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-428-00191-5, S. 493 (Digitalisat).
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Johann II "the Babymaker", Duke of Cleves's Timeline

April 13, 1458
Kleve, Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
December 13, 1485
Kleve, Düsseldorf, NRW, Germany
November 10, 1490
Nassau, Deggendorf, Bayern, Germany
May 21, 1495
Nassau, Deggendorf, Bayern, Germany
Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Vlaanderen, Belgium
January 23, 1498
January 15, 1521
Age 62
Cleve, Gutersloh, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany