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Sixteenth-century portrait of John II.
A Sicilian–Athenian–Neopatrian carlino of John II.

John II the Great (June 29, 1397 – January 20, 1479) was the King of Aragon (1458–1479) and jure uxoris King of Navarre (1425–1479). He was the son of Ferdinand I and his wife Eleanor of Alburquerque. John is regarded as one of the most memorable and most unscrupulous kings of the 15th century.

Contents

Biography

John was born at Medina del Campo.

In his youth he was one of the infantes (princes) of Aragon who took part in the dissensions of Castile during the minority and reign of John II. Till middle life he was also lieutenant-general in Aragon for his brother and predecessor Alfonso V, whose reign was mainly spent in Italy. In his old age he was engaged in incessant conflicts with his Aragonese and Catalan subjects, with Louis XI of France, and in preparing the way for the marriage of his son Ferdinand with Isabella I of Castile which brought about the union of the crowns of Aragon and Castile, that was to create the Kingdom of Spain. His trouble with his subjects were closely connected with the tragic dissension in his own family.

John was first married to the Blanche I of Navarre of the house of Évreux. By right of Blanche he became king of Navarre, and on her death in 1441 he was left in possession of the kingdom for his lifetime. But a son, Charles, given the title "Prince of Viana" as heir of Navarre, had been born of the marriage. John quickly came to regard his son with jealousy. After his second marriage, to Juana Enríquez, this grew into absolute hatred and was encouraged by Juana. John tried to deprive his son of his constitutional right to act as lieutenant-general of Aragon during his father's absence. Charles's cause was taken up by the Aragonese, and the king's attempt to make his second wife lieutenant-general was set aside.

There followed the long Navarrese Civil War, with alternations of success and defeat, ending only with the death of the prince of Viana, perhaps by poison given him by his stepmother, in 1461. The Catalans, who had adopted the cause of Charles and who had grievances of their own, called in a succession of foreign pretenders in a War against John II. John spent his last years contending with these. He was forced to pawn Roussillon, his possession on the north-east of the Pyrenees, to King Louis XI of France, who refused to part with it.

In his old age John was blinded by cataracts, but recovered his eyesight by the operation of couching conducted by his physician Abiathar Crescas, a Jew. The Catalan revolt was pacified in 1472, but John carried on a war, in which he was generally unfortunate, with his neighbour the French king till his death in 1479. He was succeeded by Ferdinand, his son by his second marriage, who was already married to Isabella I of Castile. With his death and son's accession to the throne of Aragon, the unification of Spain under one royal house began in earnest.

Children

From his first marriage to Blanche of Navarre:

  • Blanca of Navarre (1420-1464) married Henry IV of Castile. The marriage was never consummated. After 13 years of marriage, Henry sought and obtained a divorce. Blanca was sent home, where her family imprisoned her, and she was later killed by poison.
  • Carlos of Viana (1421-1461)
  • Juana (1423-1425)
  • Eleanor, Queen of Navarre

From his second marriage to Juana Enríquez:

With Margarita Escobar

  • Alfonso de Aragon y Escobar

Ancestry

Sources

  • Rivadeneyra. "Cronicas de los reyes de Castilla," Biblioteca de autores espanoles, vols. Ixvi, Ixviii. Madrid, 1845.
  • Zurita, G. Anales de Aragon. Saragossa, 1610.
  • Prescott W. H. History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. 1854.
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
John II of Aragon
Born: 29 June 1397 Died: 20 January 1479
Regnal titles
Preceded by
James II of Urgell
Lord of Balaguer
1418–1458
Succeeded by
Ferdinand of Trastámara
Preceded by
Eleanor of Castile
King of Navarre by Marriage
with Blanche I

1425–1441
Succeeded by
Agnes of Cleves
Preceded by
Blanche I
King of Navarre De Facto
Withholding the crown from Charles IV and Blanche II

1441–1479
Succeeded by
Eleanor
Preceded by
Alfonso V
King of Aragon, Sicily, Majorca
and Valencia

1458–1479
Succeeded by
Ferdinand II
Preceded by
Alfonso IV
Count of Barcelona
1458–1462
Succeeded by
Henry I
Preceded by
René I
Count of Barcelona
1472–1479
Succeeded by
Ferdinand II
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