John II of Castile

John II of Castile bigraphy, stories - King of Castille and Leon

John II of Castile : biography

6 March 1405 – 20 July 1454

John II (Sp.: Juan II de Castilla) (6 March 1405 – 20 July 1454) was King of Castile and León 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.

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:

  • Catherine, Princess of Asturias (1422–1424), his heiress presumptive until her death
  • Eleanor, Princess of Asturias (1423–1425), his heiress presumptive 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)



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 Peter the Cruel and of Henry II. His mother Catherine 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.

Personal rule

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 its kings. John 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 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.

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." From ‘Crónica de Juan II’ by Lorenza Galindez de Carvajal (1517).