John II

(redirected from Zapolya, John Sigismund)
Also found in: Dictionary.

John II

, Byzantine emperor
John II (John Comnenus) (kŏmnēˈnəs), 1088–1143, Byzantine emperor (1118–43), son and successor of Alexius I. He was crowned despite the intrigues of his sister, Anna Comnena, and of his mother, Irene. His attempts to cancel the commercial privileges granted the Venetians by Alexius were unsuccessful, but his campaigns against the Magyars, Serbs, and Pechenegs were victorious. He successfully defied Roger II of Sicily, made an alliance with Emperor Conrad III to check growing Norman power, and conquered Cilicia from the Armenians. He died while preparing to fight the Latin prince of Antioch. John II was respected for his lofty character and for leniency toward his adversaries. He was succeeded by his son Manuel I.

John II

, king of Aragón and Sicily
John II, 1397–1479, king of Aragón and Sicily (1458–79), king of Navarre (1425–79), count of Barcelona. He succeeded his brother, Alfonso V, in Aragón, Catalonia, and Sicily and became king of Navarre through his marriage with Blanche, heiress of that kingdom. After Blanche's death (1442) Navarre was ruled by their son, Charles of Viana, but conflict between father and son plunged Navarre into civil war, and Charles fled to Italy. In 1461 a Catalan uprising forced John to recognize Charles as heir, but Charles died in the same year. John was expelled from Catalonia, and René of Anjou was chosen count of Barcelona. Only in 1472 did John succeed in pacifying Catalonia. At John's death Navarre passed to the house of Foix through the marriage of John's daughter Leonor; Aragón, Catalonia, and Sicily passed to his son, Ferdinand II, who as Ferdinand V also became king of Castile.

John II

, king of France
John II (John the Good), 1319–64, king of France (1350–64), son and successor of King Philip VI. An inept ruler, he began his reign by executing the constable of France (whose office he gave to his favorite, Charles de La Cerda) and by appointing dishonest and unpopular advisers. Because of a general economic crisis, he subsequently debased the coinage for the expenses of the Hundred Years War between France and England. His quarrels with his ambitious son-in-law, Charles II of Navarre, lasted throughout his reign. John was captured (1356) by the English at the battle of Poitiers. During his captivity, the dauphin (later King Charles V) acted as regent and dealt with several rebellions, such as the Jacquerie. In 1360, by the Treaty of Brétigny, John was released in exchange for a ransom and hostages. In 1364 one of the hostages escaped, and John saved his honor by returning to England, where he died.

John II

, king of Hungary and prince of Transylvania
John II (John Sigismund Zapolya), 1540–71, king of Hungary and prince of Transylvania, son of John I. Through his mother, Isabel (daughter of Sigismund I of Poland), he was related to the Jagiello dynasty. As an infant, he was crowned king of Hungary on his father's death (1540). Sultan Sulayman I, on the pretext of protecting John's interests, invaded (1541) Hungary and took the capital, Buda, which remained in Ottoman hands for 150 years. John and Isabel received the principality of Transylvania under Ottoman suzerainty, but actual power was held by John's guardian, the monk George Martinuzzi, who sought to restore a unified Hungary. In 1551, Martinuzzi procured the deposition of John and Isabel and reunited Transylvania with Hungary, recognizing Ferdinand of Austria and Bohemia (later Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I) as king. Martinuzzi, made prince-primate and a cardinal, soon fell out with Ferdinand, who had him assassinated. On the pressure of Sulayman I the diet of Transylvania recalled (1556) John and Isabel, and when Ferdinand made peace (1562) with Sulayman, he also recognized John as ruler of Transylvania. Thus Hungary remained split into three states—an Austrian part, a Ottoman part, and Transylvania. It was under John II that the Transylvanian diet adopted (1564) Calvinism as the state religion. John was succeeded as prince of Transylvania by Stephen Báthory (see under Báthory, family).

John II

, king of Poland
John II (John Casimir), 1609–72, king of Poland (1648–68), son of Sigismund III. He was elected to succeed his brother, Ladislaus IV. The turbulent period of his reign is known in Polish history as the Deluge. The uprising of the Cossacks under Chmielnicki, supported by the khan of Crimea, had begun under his predecessor. John II defeated (1651) the allied Cossack, Tatar, and Ottoman forces, but in 1654 the Cossacks accepted Russian suzerainty over Ukraine, and Czar Alexis promptly invaded Poland. In 1655, Charles X of Sweden nearly overran Poland and was checked only by the successful Polish defense of Częstochowa, which inspired the Poles to renewed resistance. George II Rákóczy, prince of Transylvania, attacked Poland from the south but was defeated. Frederick William of Brandenburg (the Great Elector), originally a Swedish ally, joined (1657) the Polish side in the struggle; in return John recognized his full sovereignty over East Prussia. The fighting in the west was concluded in 1660 (see Oliva, Peace of). War with Russia ended only in 1667, with the cession of the eastern part of Ukraine to the czar. During John's reign the liberum veto (by which any deputy could dissolve the diet and annul its decisions) was greatly abused. The king and his French consort, Louise Marie de Gonzague (widow of Ladislaus IV), were childless; their efforts to nominate a successor evoked several rebellions of the nobles. John abdicated a year after the death (1667) of his queen, and retired to an abbey at Nevers, France. Michael Wisniowiecki was elected his successor; disorder continued during his reign (1668–73), which was followed by that of John III.

John II

, king of Portugal
John II (John the Perfect), 1455–95, king of Portugal (1481–95), son and successor of Alfonso V. He was an astute politician and statesman and a patron of Renaissance art and learning. He reduced the power of the feudal nobility and had his chief opponent, the duke of Braganza, executed for treason. John maintained peace with Spain and signed (1494) the Treaty of Tordesillas, setting bounds for Spanish and Portuguese colonial expansion. Supporting Portuguese exploration, he sent land expeditions to India and Ethiopia in search of Prester John and sent a vessel N past North Cape. John refused to help Columbus, whom he thought a dreamer, but he encouraged the search for an eastern sea route to India. Diogo Cão discovered (1484) the Congo, and Bartholomew Diaz rounded (1488) the Cape of Good Hope during his reign. John's son Alfonso predeceased him, so he was succeeded by his cousin and brother-in-law, Manuel I.

John II

, Spanish king of Castile and León
John II, 1405–54, Spanish king of Castile and León (1406–54), son and successor of Henry III. He was little interested in government, which he entrusted to his favorite Alvaro de Luna. Literature, particularly poetry, flourished at his court, which was also celebrated for tournaments and brilliant festivals. John was succeeded by his son Henry IV.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

John II

1. called the Good. 1319--64, king of France (1350--64): captured by the English at Poitiers (1356) and forced to sign treaties (1360) surrendering SW France to England
2. called the Perfect. 1455--95, king of Portugal (1481--95): sponsored Portuguese expansion in the New World and reduced the power of the aristocracy
3. surnamed Casimir Vasa. 1609--72, king of Poland (1648--68), who lost much territory to neighbouring countries: abdicated
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005