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John II of Castile

John II of Castile

King of Castille and Leon
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro King of Castille and Leon
Gender male
Birth 6 March 1405 (Toro)
Death 20 July 1454 (Valladolid)
Mother: Catherine of Lancaster
Father: Henry III of Castile
Spouse: Maria of AragonQueen of CastileIsabella of PortugalQueen of Castile
Children: Henry IV of CastileCatherinePrincess of AsturiasEleanorPrincess of AsturiasIsabella I of CastileAlfonsoPrince of Asturias
John II of Castile
The details

John II of Castile (Spanish: Juan; 6 March 1405 – 20 July 1454) was King of Castile and León from 1406 to 1454.


John was the son of King Henry III and his wife, Catherine of Lancaster. His mother was the granddaughter of King Peter, who was ousted by Henry III's grandfather, King Henry II. John succeeded his father on 25 December 1406, and united in his person the claims of both Peter and Henry II. His mother and his uncle, King Ferdinand I of Aragon, were co-regents during his minority. When Ferdinand died in 1416, his mother governed alone until her death in 1418.

Personal rule

John II's reign, lasting 49 years, was one of the longest in Castilian history, but John himself was not a particularly capable monarch. He spent his time verse-making, hunting, and holding tournaments. His favourite, Álvaro de Luna, heavily influenced him until his second wife, Isabella of Portugal, obtained control of his feeble will. At her instigation, he dismissed his faithful and able servant, an act which is said to have caused him much remorse.

John II's Regents declared the Valladolid laws in 1411, which restricted the social activity of Jews. Among the most notable of the provisions were outlining that Jews must wear distinctive clothes and banned them from holding administrative positions. However, once John took control of the throne for himself in 1418, he (though likely influenced politically by de Luna) reversed such ordinances, favoring instead a more tolerant attitude toward the already battered Jewish population of Castile following the mass wave of conversions between 1391-1415.

In 1431 John placed Yusuf IV on the throne as the Sultan of Granada in the Moorish Emirate of Granada, in exchange for tribute and vassal status to Castile. This exchange is depicted in the short ballad the Romance of Abenamar.

He was "[T]all and handsome, fair-skinned and slightly ruddy... his hair was the color of a very mature hazelnut, the nose a little snub, the eyes between green and blue... he had very graceful legs and feet and hands."

John II died on 20 July 1454, at Valladolid.

Family and children

In 1418, John married Maria of Aragon, the oldest daughter of his paternal uncle, Ferdinand I of Aragon. The marriage produced four children:

  • Catherine, Princess of Asturias (1422–1424), his heiress presumptive from her birth until her death
  • Eleanor, Princess of Asturias (1423–1425), his heiress presumptive from the death of Catherine until the birth of Henry
  • King Henry IV of Castile (1425–1474)
  • Infanta Maria (1428–1429)

Of all their children, only the future Henry IV of Castile survived infancy. John was widowed in 1445 and remarried to Isabella of Portugal, daughter of Infante John of Portugal, with whom he had two children:

  • Queen Isabella I of Castile (1451–1504)
  • Alfonso, Prince of Asturias (1453–1468)


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