John was raised in the Bohemian court. His father had been forced to surrender his share of the rule of Austria and Styria to King Albert I by the Treaty of Rheinfelden in 1283, and thus he was denied his rightful inheritance as his father had died in 1290. When John came of age he demanded a portion of the family estates which Albert repeatedly denied. He then conspired with five friends(Rudolf von Balm, Conrad VII von Tegenfelden, Rudolf III von Wart, Werner von Wetter, and Walther IV von Eschenbach) to kill Albert, which they did on 1 May 1308 as Albert was crossing the River Reuss on his way to quell a rebellion in Swabia.
John escaped from Albert's vengeful sons, and eventually came to a monastery in Pisa. By legend, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg was said to have visited John in 1313 and placed him under the Imperial Ban. John died on 13 December in 1312 or 1313.