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John II

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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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