John I of Portugal

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John I
Anoniem - Koning Johan I van Portugal (1450-1500) - Lissabon Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga 19-10-2010 16-12-61.jpg
Portrait painted c. 1435
King of Portugal and the Algarve
Reign 6 April 1385 – 14 August 1433
Coronation 6 April 1385
Predecessor Ferdinand I
Successor Edward
Born 11 April 1357
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
Died 14 August 1433(1433-08-14) (aged 75)
Lisbon, Kingdom of Portugal
Burial Monastery of Batalha
Spouse Philippa of Lancaster
Issue See Issue
House House of Aviz
Father Peter I of Portugal
Mother Teresa Lourenço
Religion Roman Catholicism

John I (Portuguese: João,[1] [ʒuˈɐ̃w̃]; 11 April 1357 – 14 August 1433) was King of Portugal and the Algarve in 1385–1433. He was called the Good (sometimes the Great) or of Happy Memory, more rarely and outside Portugal, in Spain, the Bastard, and was the first to use the title Lord of Ceuta. He preserved the kingdom's independence from Castile.

Early life

John was born in Lisbon as the natural son of Peter I by a woman named Teresa, who, according to Fernão Lopes, was a noble Galician. In the 18th century, António Caetano de Sousa found a 16th-century document in the archives of the Torre do Tombo, wherein she was named as Teresa Lourenço. In 1364, by request of D. Nuno Freire de Andrade, a Galician Grand Master of the Order of Christ, he was created Grand Master of the Order of Aviz, by which title he was known.

On the death of his half-brother Ferdinand I without a male heir in October 1383, strenuous efforts were made to secure the succession for Princess Beatrice, Ferdinand's only daughter. As heiress presumptive, Beatrice had married king John I of Castile, but popular sentiment was against an arrangement in which Portugal would have been virtually annexed by Castile. The 1383–1385 Crisis followed, a period of political anarchy, when no monarch ruled the country.


The wedding of João I of Portugal, 11 February 1387 with Philippa of Lancaster, by fifteenth century painter and manuscript illuminator Master of Wavrin, from around Lille, now in France.

On 6 April 1385, the Council of the Kingdom (the Portuguese Cortes) met in Coimbra and declared John, then Master of Aviz, King of Portugal.[2] This was followed by the liberation of almost all of the Minho in the course of two months, in the war against Castile and its claims to the Portuguese throne. Soon after, the King of Castile again invaded Portugal with the purpose of conquering Lisbon and removing John I from the throne. John I of Castile was accompanied by French allied cavalry while English troops and generals took the side of John of Aviz (see Hundred Years' War). John and Nuno Álvares Pereira, his Constable and talented supporter, repelled the attack on the decisive Battle of Aljubarrota (14 August 1385).[3] John I of Castile then retreated. The Castilian forces abandoned Santarém, Torres Vedras, Torres Novas, many other towns were delivered to John I by Portuguese nobles from the Castilian side and the stability of the Portuguese throne was permanently secured.

On 11 February 1387, John I married Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt,[2] who had proved to be a worthy ally, consolidating the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance that endures to the present day.


After the death of John I of Castile in 1390, without issue by Beatrice, John I of Portugal ruled in peace and pursued the economic development of the country. The most significant military actions were the siege and conquest of the city of Ceuta by Portugal in 1415, and the successful defence of Ceuta from a Moroccan counter attack in 1419. By this step he aimed to seize control of navigation off the African coast, and trade routes from the interior of Africa.

The raids and attacks of the Reconquista created captives on both sides, who were either ransomed or sold as slaves. The Portuguese crown extended this to North Africa. After the attack on Cueta, the king sought papal recognition of it as a crusade. Such a ruling would enable those captured to be legitimately sold as slaves.[4]

John I requested and obtained from Pope Martin V a Papal bull, Sane charissimus,[5] of 4 April 1418, confirming to the king all the lands he should take from the Moors. Political weakness compelled the Renaissance Papacy to adopt an acquiescent and unchallenging position when approached for requests for privileges in favour of these ventures.[6] Under the auspices of Prince Henry the Navigator, voyages were organized to explore the African coast which led to the discovery of the uninhabited islands of Madeira in 1417, and the Azores in 1427, which were claimed by the Portuguese crown.

Contemporaneous writers describe John as a man of wit, very keen on concentrating power on himself, but at the same time with a benevolent and kind personality. His youthful education as master of a religious order made him an unusually learned king for the Middle Ages. His love for knowledge and culture was passed to his sons, often collectively referred to by Portuguese historians as the "illustrious generation" (Ínclita Geração): Edward, the future king, was a poet and a writer; Peter, the Duke of Coimbra, was one of the most learned princes of his time; and Prince Henry the Navigator, the duke of Viseu, invested heavily in science and the development of nautical pursuits. In 1430, John's only surviving daughter, Isabella, married Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and enjoyed an extremely refined court culture in his lands; she was the mother of Charles the Bold.

Marriages and descendants

John I married in Porto on 2 February 1387 Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and Blanche of Lancaster. From that marriage were born several famous princes and princesses of Portugal (infantes) that became known as the Illustrious Generation (Portuguese: Ínclita Geração).

Name Birth Death Notes
By Philippa of Lancaster (1359– 19 July 1415; married on 2 February 1387)
Infanta Blanche 13 July 1388 6 March 1389  
Infante Afonso 30 July 1390 22 December 1400  
King Edward 31 October 1391 13 September 1438 Who succeeded him as King of Portugal.
Infante Peter 9 December 1392 20 May 1449 Duke of Coimbra. Died in the Battle of Alfarrobeira.
Infante Henry 4 March 1394 13 November 1460 Known as Henry the Navigator. Duke of Viseu and Grand-Master of the Order of Christ.
Infanta Isabella 21 February 1397 11 December 1471 Duchess Consort of Burgundy by marriage to Philip III, Duke of Burgundy.
Infanta Blanche 11 April 1398 27 July 1398  
Infante John 13 January 1400 18 October 1442 Constable of the Kingdom and grandfather of Isabella I of Castile.
Infante Ferdinand 29 September 1402 5 June 1443 Grand Master of the Order of Aviz. Died in captivity in Fes, Morocco.
By Inês Peres (c. 1350–1400?)
Afonso 10 August 1377 15 December 1461 Natural son and 1st Duke of Braganza.
Branca 1378 1379 Natural daughter.
Beatrice c. 1382 25 October 1439 Natural daughter. Countess of Arundel by marriage to Thomas Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel. Countess of Huntingdon by marriage to John Holland, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon, later Duke of Exeter.




  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Williamson, D. 1988. Debrett's Kings and Queens of Europe
  • Ana Echevarría Arsuaga: Catalina de Lancaster, edit. Nerea, 2002. ISBN 84-89569-79-7).
John I of Portugal
Cadet branch of the Portuguese House of Burgundy
Born: 11 April 1358 Died: 14 August 1433
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ferdinand I
King of Portugal and the Algarve
Succeeded by