John II of Castile

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John II
Burgos - Cartuja de Miraflores - Tumba de Juan II de Castilla.jpg
Tomb of John II in the Miraflores Charterhouse
King of Castile and León
Reign 25 December 1406 – 20 July 1454
Predecessor Henry III
Successor Henry IV
Born (1405-03-06)6 March 1405
Toro, Zamora
Died 20 July 1454(1454-07-20) (aged 49)
Burial Miraflores Charterhouse
Consort Maria of Aragon
Isabella of Portugal
among others...
Catherine, Princess of Asturias
Eleanor, Princess of Asturias
Henry IV of Castile
Isabella I of Castile
Alfonso, Prince of Asturias
House Trastámara
Father Henry III of Castile
Mother Catherine of Lancaster
Religion Roman Catholic

John II (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[edit]

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 Reagents 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 of the Moorish kingdom 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."[1]

John died on 20 July 1454, at Valladolid.

Family and children[edit]

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

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:



  1. ^ From 'Crónica de Juan II' by Lorenza Galindez de Carvajal (1517)


John II of Castile
Born: 6 March 1405 Died: 20 July 1454
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Henry III
King of Castile and León
Succeeded by
Henry IV
Spanish royalty
Preceded by
Infanta Maria
Prince of Asturias
Succeeded by
Infanta Catherine