D. JOÃO II
(the Perfect Prince)
D. João II was king of Portugal between 1481 and 1495. Born in Lisbon, he was the son of D. Afonso V and D. Isabel. He took an active part in the conquest of Arzila in 1471 and, in this same year, married D. Leonor. Three years later, he took over the political control of the strategy of the Discoveries and successfully used tactical arguments in defence of the rights of Portugal against the interests of Castile.
In 1476, he took part in the Portuguese victory at the Battle of Toro and, on the death of D. Afonso V in 1481, he definitively took over the government of the kingdom, just as he had done previously in the absence of his father. His main political concern was with the re-establishment of the central power and the improvement of the public finances, for which he depended on the support of the Cortes (legislative assembly or parliament). He ordered the execution of the third Duke of Bragança, D. Fernando (1483), who was accused of treason, and personally attacked D. Diogo, the queen's brother, as part of a policy to punish all the opponents of the central power, in a clear demonstration of his uncompromising authoritarianism.
He made efforts to restore the country's laws and institutions, being famous for his finely developed sense of justice. He encouraged Portugal's overseas explorations and helped to prepare the voyage to India. As a matter of foreign diplomacy, after the signing of the Treaty of Tordesilhas (1494), he turned his attention to other areas, such as literature, the arts and nautical studies, whilst also taking responsibility for the restructuring of hospital care. During his brief reign, he managed to lay the foundations that would later make it possible for Portugal to embark upon its golden age.