John II of Portugal
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2010)|
|Reign||28 August 1481 – 25 October 1495|
|Spouse||Eleanor of Viseu|
|Afonso, Prince of Portugal|
|House||House of Aviz|
|Father||Afonso V of Portugal|
|Mother||Isabella of Coimbra|
3 March 1455|
Alcáçovas Palace, Castle of São Jorge, Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
|Died||25 October 1495
Alvor, Portimão, Kingdom of Algarve
|Burial||Monastery of Batalha, Batalha, District of Leiria, Portugal|
John II (Portuguese: João II, Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈɐ̃w̃]; 3 March 1455 – 25 October 1495), the Perfect Prince (Portuguese: o Príncipe Perfeito), was the king of Portugal and the Algarves in 1477/1481–1495. He is known for re-establishing the power of the Portuguese throne, reinvigorating its economy, and renewing its exploration of Africa and the Orient.
Born in Lisbon, the son of King Afonso V of Portugal by his wife, Isabella of Coimbra, princess of Portugal, John II succeeded his father in 1477 when the king retired to a monastery, but only became king in 1481, after the death of his father and predecessor.
As a prince, John II accompanied his father in the campaigns in northern Africa and was made a knight after the victory in the Conquest of Arzila in 1471. In 1473, he married Leonor of Viseu, Infanta of Portugal and his first cousin.
Even at a young age, John was not popular among the peers of the kingdom since he was immune to external influence and appeared to despise intrigue. The nobles (including particularly Ferdinand II, the Duke of Braganza), were afraid of his future policies as king.
Consolidation of power
After his official accession to the throne in 1481, John II took a series of measures to curtail the overgrown power of his aristocracy and to concentrate power in himself. Immediately, the nobles started to conspire. Letters of complaint and pleas to intervene were exchanged between the Duke of Braganza and Queen Isabella I of Castile. In 1483, this correspondence was intercepted by royal spies. The House of Braganza was outlawed, their lands confiscated and the duke executed in Évora.
In the following year, the Duke of Viseu, John's cousin and brother-in-law, was summoned to the palace and stabbed to death by the king himself for suspicion of a new conspiracy. Many other people were executed, murdered, or exiled to Castile including the bishop of Évora who was poisoned in prison.
Concerning the rebellious nobles, the king is reported to have said, "I'm the lord of lords, not the server of servants". Following the crackdown, no one in the country dared to defy the king and João saw no further conspiracies during his reign. The nobles who sided with John II or surrendered were forced to make public pledges of loyalty; in return they were given certain privileges, yet they still had to pay taxes.
Facing a bankrupt kingdom, John II showed the initiative to solve the situation by creating an agile regime in which the Council of Scholars took a vital role. The king then conducted a search of the population and selected members of the Council according to their abilities, talents and credentials. Popular complaints on judicial acts normally had the sympathy of the king. João's exploration policies (see below) also paid great dividends. Even before the Tordesilhas Treaty, such was the profit coming from John II's investments in the overseas explorations and expansion that the Portuguese currency had become the soundest in Europe. The kingdom could finally collect taxes on its own as all of its debts had been paid off, mainly thanks to its main gold source at that time, the coast of Guinea.
John II famously restored the policies of Atlantic exploration, reviving the work of his great-uncle, Henry the Navigator. The Portuguese explorations were his main priority in government, pushing south the known coast of Africa with the purpose of discovering the maritime route to India and breaking into the spice trade. During his reign, the following achievements were realized:
- 1482 – Foundation of the coastal fortress and trade post of São Jorge da Mina ( Elmina ).
- 1484 – Discovery of the Congo River by Diogo Cão
- 1488 – Discovery and passage of the Cape of Good Hope by Bartolomeu Dias in Mossel Bay
- 1493 – Start of the settlement of the São Tomé and Príncipe islands by Álvaro Caminha
- Funding of land expeditions by Afonso de Paiva and Pêro da Covilhã to India and Ethiopia in search of Prester John land.
Some historians[who?] argue about the real extent of Portuguese voyages of exploration during this period, claiming the king had a secrecy policy. According to this theory some navigations were kept secret for fear of competition by neighbouring Castile. The archives of this period were destroyed in the fire after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and what was not destroyed during the earthquake was either stolen or destroyed during the Peninsular War or otherwise lost. Their true extent has long been the subject of academic debate.
Conflict with Castile
When Columbus returned from his voyage he thought of first stopping in Lisbon to claim his victory in front of King John II. King John II's only response to this was that under the Treaty of Alcáçovas previously signed with Spain, Columbus's discoveries lay within Portugal's sphere of influence. Before Columbus even reached Isabella I of Castile, John II had already sent a letter to them threatening to send a fleet to claim it for Portugal. Spain quickly hastened to the negotiating table which took place in a small town named Tordesillas. There was also a papal representative during that occasion in order to act as mediator. The result of this would be the famous Treaty of Tordesillas.
But the division of the world was not the main issue between the Iberian kingdoms. Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon had several daughters, but only one feeble male heir—Juan. The oldest daughter, Isabella of Aragon, had been married to Afonso, Prince of Portugal, since childhood. Afonso was John II's only son and beloved by the king. If Ferdinand died without male heir, as was probable, Afonso would be heir not only of Portugal, but also of Castile and Aragon. This threat to Castilian and Aragonese independence was very real, and the Catholic Monarchs tried every diplomatic trick to dissolve the wedding. Finally, in 1491, Afonso died in mysterious circumstances—a fall from a horse during a ride in the margin of the Tagus river. The influence of Isabella and Ferdinand this accident was never proved, but the prince was an excellent rider, his Castilian valet fled never to be seen again, and after this, Isabella, the heiress, was no longer married to the enemy. John tried without success until the end of his life to legitimise Jorge, Duke of Coimbra, his illegitimate son.
The nickname the Perfect Prince is a late description and refers to Niccolò Machiavelli's work The Prince. John II is considered to have lived his life exactly according to the writer's idea of a perfect prince. Nevertheless, he was admired as one of the greatest European monarchs of his time. Isabella I of Castile usually referred to him as El Hombre (The Man).
In popular culture
- In the TV series Christopher Columbus (1985) he is played by Max von Sydow.
- In the film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) he is played by Mathieu Carrière.
- He appears in Civilization IV (as João II), leading the Portuguese.
- Disney, A.R. (2009) A History of Portugal and the Portugal Empire, Volume 2: The Portuguese Empire: 38–39; Cambridge University Press: New York
- Charles E. Nowell (1936). "The Discovery of Brazil: Accidental or Intentional?". The Hispanic American Historical Review 16 (3): 311–338. JSTOR 2507557.
- J. Baltalha-Reis (1897). "The Supposed Discovery of South America before 1488, and Critical Methods of the Historians of Geographical Discovery". The Geographical Journal 9 (2): 185–210. JSTOR 1773506.
- Ilaria Luzzana Caraci (1988). Columbus and the Portuguese Voyages in the Columbian Sources. UC Biblioteca Geral 1. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
- McKendrick, Melveena (2000). Playing the king: Lope de Vega and the limits of conformity. Tamesis. p. 55. ISBN 978185560694 Check
|isbn=value (help). "His cousin, Isabella of Castille, herself no weakling, admiringly dubbed him 'el Hombre', for all the world like some early spaghetti-western hero."
- Page, Martin The First Global Village
- Boxer, Charles R. From Lisbon to Goa, 1500–1750 (1991)
- Boxer, Charles R. The Portuguese Seaborne Empire 1415–1825
- Mira, Manuel S. Forgotten Portuguese: The Melungeons and the Portuguese Making of America (1998)
- Duffy, James Portuguese Africa (1968)
- Bodian, Mirian Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation (1997)
|Ancestors of John II of Portugal|
Marriage and descendants
Of his wife, Leonor of Viseu, Infanta of Portugal John II had two sons, but only one of them survived childhood.
|By Leonor of Viseu ( 2 May 1458 – 17 November 1525; married in January 1471)|
|Infante Afonso||18 May 1475||13 July 1491||Prince of Portugal. Died in a horse riding accident. Because of the premature death of the prince the throne was inherited by Manuel of Viseu, Duke of Beja, son of Ferdinand, Duke of Viseu, who reigned as Manuel I, 14th King of Portugal.|
|Infante João (John)||2 March 1482|
|By Ana de Mendonça (c. 1460-?)|
|Jorge||21 August 1481||22 July 1550||Natural son known as Jorge de Lencastre, Duke of Coimbra.|
|By Brites Anes (c. 1460-?)|
|Brites Anes de Santarém||c. 1485||?||Natural daughter.|
John II of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of BurgundyBorn: 3 March 1455 Died: 25 October 1495
|King of Portugal and the Algarves
|King of Portugal and the Algarves
|Prince of Portugal
|Prince of Portugal