John II of Castile

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John II (6 March 1405, Toro, Zamora – 20 July 1454) was King of Castile from 1406 to 1454. He was the son of Henry III of Castile and his wife Catherine of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster by Constance of Castile, daughter of King Peter of Castile (known as 'Pedro the Cruel'). He was thus great-grandson of King Edward III of England through the maternal line.

He succeeded his father on 25 December 1406, at the age of a year and ten months, and united in his person the claims of Pedro the Cruel and of Henry of Trastamara. His mother Katherine and his uncle, Ferdinand, were co-regents during his minority. When Ferdinand died in 1416, his mother was sole regent until she died as well, in 1418.

It was one of the many misfortunes of Castile that the long reign of John II—forty-nine years—should have been granted to one of the least capable of her kings. Juan was amiable, weak, and dependent on those about him. He had no taste except for ornament and no serious interest except in amusements such as verse-making, hunting, and tournaments.

He was entirely under the influence of his favourite, Álvaro de Luna, until his second wife, Isabella of Portugal, obtained control of his feeble will. At her instigation, he dismissed his faithful and able favorite, an act which is said to have caused him much remorse. He died on 20 July 1454, at Valladolid.

John II of Castile declared the Valladolid laws, which restricted the social rights of Jews. Among many other restrictions the laws forced Jews to wear distinctive clothes and denied from them any administrative positions.

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.



John was of a very fair complexion, had blue eyes, and had a hair color that was between reddish-blonde and auburn; these were typical in members of the Trastámara family who were descendants of Peter I of Castile.


Family and children

In 1418, John married his cousin Maria of Aragon, the oldest daughter of the king Ferdinand I of Aragon and his wife Eleanor of Alburquerque. The marriage produced four children but only one son, the future Henry IV of Castile, survived infancy. John was widowed in 1445 and remarried to Isabel de Portugal, daughter of Infante João of Portugal, with whom he had two children: the future Queen Isabella I of Castile and the Infante Alfonso (1453-1468).

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