John IV of Portugal

John IV

Portrait of D. John II, Duke of Braganza;
Peter Paul Reubens, c. 1628.
King of Portugal and the Algarves
Reign 1 December 1640 – 6 November 1656
Acclamation 15 December 1640
Predecessor Philip III
Successor Afonso VI
Duke of Braganza
as John II
Tenure 29 November 1630 – 27 October 1645
Predecessor Teodósio II
Successor Teodósio, Prince of Brazil
Born 19 March 1604
Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa, Portugal
Died 6 November 1656 (aged 52)
Ribeira Palace, Portugal
Burial Pantheon of the Braganzas
Spouse Luisa de Guzmán
among others...
Teodósio, Prince of Brazil
Joana, Princess of Beira
Catherine, Queen of England
Afonso VI
Peter II
Dynasty Braganza
Father Teodósio II, Duke of Braganza
Mother Ana de Velasco y Girón
Religion Roman Catholicism

John IV (Portuguese: João IV de Portugal,[1] pronounced: [ʒuˈɐ̃w̃]; 19 March 1604 – 6 November 1656) was the King of Portugal and the Algarves from 1640 to his death. He was the grandson of Catherine, Duchess of Braganza,[2] who had in 1580 claimed the Portuguese crown and sparked the struggle for the throne of Portugal. John IV was nicknamed John the Restorer (João o Restaurador). On the eve of his death in 1656, the Portuguese Empire reached its territorial zenith, spanning the globe.[3] He was one of the main forces behind the independence of Portugal after the Spanish dominance.

Early life

Portrait of D. John IV as an Infant; Pedro Américo, 1879.

John was born at Vila Viçosa and succeeded his father Teodósio II as Duke of Braganza[4] when the latter died insane in 1630. He married Luisa de Guzmán (1613–66), eldest daughter of Juan Manuel Pérez de Guzmán, 8th Duke of Medina Sidonia, in 1633.

John had blond hair, blue eyes and an average height.[5]



The Acclamation of the King John IV, Veloso Salgado, 1908.

When Philip II of Portugal (III of Spain) died, he was succeeded by Philip III (IV of Spain), who had a different approach to Portuguese issues. Taxes on the Portuguese merchants were raised, the Portuguese nobility began to lose its influence and government posts in Portugal were increasingly occupied by Spaniards. Ultimately, Philip III tried to make Portugal a Spanish province meaning Portuguese nobles stood to lose all of their power.

This situation culminated in a revolution organized by the nobility and bourgeoisie, executed on 1 December 1640, fifty-nine years after the crowning of Philip I (Philip II of Spain), the first of the Spanish rulers of Portugal. A plot was planned by several associates, known as the Forty Conspirators, who killed the Secretary of State, Miguel de Vasconcelos, and imprisoned the king's cousin, Margaret of Savoy, who had governed Portugal in the King's name. Philip's troops were at the time fighting the Thirty Years' War and also dealing with a revolution in Catalonia which severely hampered Spain's ability to quash the rebellion.

Within a matter of hours and with popular support, John, then the 8th Duke of Braganza, was acclaimed as King John IV of Portugal (as legend goes, with the persuasion of his wife) claiming legitimate succession through his grandmother Catherine, Duchess of Braganza.[6] The ensuing conflict with Spain brought Portugal into the Thirty Years' War as, at least, a peripheral player. From 1641 to 1668, the period during which the two nations were at war, Spain sought to isolate Portugal militarily and diplomatically, and Portugal tried to find the resources to maintain its independence through political alliances and maintenance of its colonial income.

Restoration War

His accession led to a protracted war with neighbouring Spain, a conflict known as the Portuguese Restoration War, which ended with the recognition of Portuguese independence in a subsequent reign (1668). Portugal signed lengthy alliances with France (1 June 1641) and Sweden (August 1641) but by necessity its only contributions in the Thirty Years' War were in the field against Spain and against Dutch encroachments on the Portuguese colonies.

The period from 1640 to 1668 was marked by periodic skirmishes between Portugal and Spain, as well as short episodes of more serious warfare, much of it occasioned by Spanish and Portuguese entanglements with non-Iberian powers. Spain was involved in the Thirty Years' War until 1648 and the Franco–Spanish War until 1659, while Portugal was involved in the Dutch–Portuguese War until 1663. In Spain, a Portuguese invasion force defeated the Spanish at Montijo, near Badajoz, in 1644.

Imperial Recovery

Abroad, the Dutch took Portuguese Malacca (January 1641), and the Sultan of Oman captured Muscat (1650). Nevertheless, the Portuguese, despite having to divide their forces among Europe, Brazil and Africa, managed to retake Luanda, in Portuguese Angola, from the Dutch in 1648 and, by 1654, had recovered northern Brazil, which effectively ceased to be a Dutch colony. This was countered by the loss of Portuguese Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) to the Dutch, who took Colombo in 1656.

Death and legacy

King John IV died in 1656 and was succeeded by his son Afonso VI. His daughter, Catherine of Braganza, married King Charles II of England.[2]

John was a patron of music and the arts, and a considerably sophisticated writer on music; in addition to this, he was a composer. During his reign he collected one of the largest libraries in the world, but it was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Among his writings is a defense of Palestrina, and a Defense of Modern Music (Lisbon, 1649). One famous composition attributed to him is a setting of the Crux fidelis, a work that remains highly popular during Lent amongst church choirs.[7] However, no known manuscript of the work exists, and it was first published only in 1869, in France. On stylistic grounds, it is generally recognized that the work was written in the 19th century.[8]

Marriages and descendants

John married Luisa de Guzmán,[9] daughter of Juan Manuel Pérez de Guzmán, 8th Duke of Medina-Sidonia. From that marriage several children were born. Because some of John's children were born and died before their father became king they are not considered infantes or infantas (heirs to the throne) of Portugal.

By Luisa de Guzmán (13 October 1613 – 27 February 1666; married on 12 January 1633)
Infante Teodósio 8 February 1634 13 May 1653Prince of Brazil and 9th Duke of Braganza. Died young.
Ana de Bragança 21 January 1635 21 January 1635 
Infanta Joana (Joan) 18 September 1635 17 November 1653 
Infanta Catherine (Catarina) 25 November 1638 31 December 1705Commonly known as Catherine of Braganza. Queen consort through marriage to Charles II of England.
Manuel de Bragança 6 September 1640 6 September 1640 
Infante Afonso 21 August 1643 12 September 1683Prince of Brazil and 10th Duke of Braganza. Succeeded him as Afonso VI, King of Portugal.
Infante Peter (Pedro) 26 April 1648 9 December 1706Duke of Beja, Constable of the Kingdom, Lord of the Casa do Infantado and Regent of the Kingdom before succeeding his brother Afonso as Peter II, King of Portugal.
Illegitimate offspring
Maria de Bragança 30 April 1644 7 February 1693Natural daughter.



  1. Also rendered as Joam in Archaic Portuguese
  2. 1 2 Chisholm, Hugh. The encyclopædia britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences ..., Volume 22. The encyclopedia. p. 148.
  3. D.A. Brading (24 September 1993). The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots and the Liberal State 1492-1866. Cambridge University Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-521-44796-6.
  4. Dyer, Thomas Henry. 1593–1721. p. 340.
  5. Sousa 1741, Vol VII, p. 238.
  6. Davenport, Frances Gardiner (2004). European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and Its Dependencies to 1648. The Lawbook Exchange. p. 324. ISBN 978-1584774228.
  7. Frank Sinatra. King John IV. p. 460.
  8. Grove Dictionary of Music: Doubtful: Crux fidelis, 4vv, D-Dlb; ed. G. Schmitt, Anthologie universelle de musique sacrée (Paris, 1869); ed. J. Santos, A polifonia clássica portuguesa (Lisbon, 1937)
  9. Bourn, Thomas (1815). A Concise Gazetteer of the Most Remarkable Places in the World; with brief notices of the principal historical events ... connected with them, etc. p. 413.


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John IV of Portugal
Cadet branch of the House of Aviz
Born: 19 March 1604 Died: 6 November 1656
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Philip III
King of Portugal and the Algarves
Succeeded by
Afonso VI
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