Open main menu


John was the son of King Henry III and his wife, Catherine of Lancaster.[1] 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 I died in 1416, his mother governed alone until her death in 1418.

Personal ruleEdit

John II's reign, lasting 48 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.[2] 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."[3]

John II was the single largest contributor to the continuing construction of the Alcázar of Segovia and built the "New Tower" known today as the "Tower of John II".

John II died on July 20, 1454 at Valladolid.

Family and childrenEdit

In 1418, John married Maria of Aragon, the oldest daughter of his paternal uncle, Ferdinand I of Aragon.[1] The marriage produced:

Of all their children, only the future Henry IV of Castile survived infancy. John was widowed in 1445 and remarried to Isabella of Portugal,[1] daughter of Infante John of Portugal, with whom he had two children:



  1. ^ a b c d e f Previte-Orton 1912, p. 902.
  2. ^ Harvey 1990, p. 251.
  3. ^ From 'Crónica de Juan II' by Lorenza Galindez de Carvajal (1517)


  • Harvey, L. P. (1990). Islamic Spain, 1250 to 1500. University of Chicago Press.
  • Previte-Orton, C.W. (1912). The Shorter Cambridge Medieval History. Volume 2. Cambridge at the University Press.
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