Skip to main content
Important Figures

King John I

Portrait of King John I ©DGPC, Luísa Oliveira

John I, Master of Avis, ruler and defender of the kingdom, was proclaimed king in 1385.

Born and raised in Lisbon, his emotional bond with this city began early. During the dynastic crisis, it was amongst the people of Lisbon that the strongest supporters of Portuguese independence were to be found.

In 1383, Lisbon’s castle was still in the hands of a Castilian alcaide (governor), who barricaded himself in the fortress during the first popular uprising. To capture him, an assault was made on the walls and moat. Following threats and negotiations, the alcaide surrendered. Subsequently the castle was renovated and the gates to the city were also removed. It is highly likely that more modifications took place, such as the construction of the barbican, which was lower and in a more advanced position than the main wall.

During his rule, King John I strengthened the alliance between Portugal and England by marrying Philippa of Lancaster and signing the Treaty of Windsor. The English presence in the kingdom grew, leading to the Portuguese adoption of Saint George (the patron saint of England) as protector of the kingdom and army and, presumably, as patron saint of Lisbon’s Castle. John’s court frequently sat in Lisbon, so the Royal Palace at the castle was developed and improved. In 1424, the lavish wedding of John I’s daughter Isabella to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, took place at the palace. It was also at the palace that John I would die in 1433 and that his successor, Duarte, would be proclaimed.