John VI of Portugal


John VI of Portugal : biography

13 May 1767 – 10 March 1826

When Napoleon was defeated in 1815, the European powers held the Congress of Vienna to reorganize the political map of the continent. Portugal participated in these negotiations, but given British machinations contrary to the interests of the House of Braganza, Portugal’s ambassador to the Congress, the Count of Palmela, counseled the regent to remain in Brazil, as did the powerful Prince Talleyrand, in order to strengthen the ties between metropolis and colony, including the suggestion to elevate Brazil to the condition of a kingdom united to Portugal. The representative of the United Kingdom also ended up supporting the idea, which resulted in the effective foundation of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves on , a juridical institution rapidly recognized by other nations.Bandeira, Moniz. Casa da Torre de Garcia d’Avila. Editora Record, 2000, pp. 423–425

Ascent to Throne

John’s mother Queen Maria died , opening the road for the regent to assume the throne. Though he began to govern as king on that date, he was not immediately consecrated as king, and was acclaimed only on , with grand festivities. Meanwhile, several political matters came to the fore. The ambitious Queen Consort Carlota Joaquina had begun to conspire against Portuguese interests while still in Europe, and shortly after her arrival in Brazil established understandings with both Spaniards and with nationalists of the Río de la Plata region (now Argentina and Uruguay), seeking to gain a monarchy of her own, perhaps as regent of Spain, perhaps as queen of a new monarchy created from Spanish colonies in South America, perhaps by deposing her husband. This made any meaningful marriage to John impossible, despite his show of patience, and only the force of convention had them appear together in public. While Dona Carlota gained many sympathizers, her plots uniformly failed. Despite that, she managed to influence her husband to involve himself more directly in Spanish colonial politics, leading to the taking of Montevideo in 1817 and the annexation of Cisplatina Province in 1821.Vicente, António Pedro. "Política exterior de D. João VI no Brasil". In: Estudos Avançados, vol.7 no.19 São Paulo Sept./Dec. 1993. In Portuguese.Iglésias, Francisco. Trajetória política do Brasil, 1500–1964. Companhia das Letras, 1993, pp. 103–105. "Política e

During the same period, the problem arose of finding a wife for John’s heir apparent, the future Pedro I of Brazil. Europe at the time considered Brazil distant, backward and unsafe, so it was not a simple task to find suitable candidates. After a year of seeking, the ambassador Pedro José Joaquim Vito de Meneses Coutinho, Marquis of Marialva, finally secured an alliance with one of Europe’s most powerful royal houses, the Habsburgs, emperors of Austria, after seducing the Austrian court with numerous lies, a display of pomp, and the distribution of gold bars and diamonds among the nobility. Dom Pedro married archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria, daughter of emperor Francis I, in 1817.Wilcken, Patrick. Império à deriva: a corte portuguesa no Rio de Janeiro, 1808–1821. Editora Objetiva, 2005, pp. 225–226. In Portuguese. The emperor and his minister Metternich considered the alliance "an advantageous pact between Europe and the New World," strengthening the monarchical regime in both hemispheres and granting Austria a new sphere of influence.Lustosa, Isabel. D. Pedro I. Companhia das Letras, 2006, pp. 77–78. In Portuguese.

Meanwhile, the situation in Portugal was by no means tranquil; absent its monarch, and devastated by the Peninsular War and the consequent mass hunger and enormous exodus of emigrants,Gomes, p. 81 upon the final expulsion of the French menace the metropolis had become in practice a British protectorate, commanded by Marshall William Carr Beresford, who governed with an iron fist. From the time John ascended to the throne, the Portuguese pressed for his return, initiated liberal rebellions, and formed secret societies, with the objective of bringing into session the Portuguese Cortes, which had not met since 1698. Similar liberal agitation occurred in Brazil. In 1817 the Pernambucan Revolt broke out in Recife, a republican movement that established a provisional government in Pernambuco and spread into other Brazilian states, but which was severely put down. Back in Portugal, on the Liberal Revolution of 1820 broke out in Porto, and set up a governing junta, with repercussions in Lisbon. It met as the General Extraordinary and Constituent Cortes (Cortes Gerais Extraordinárias e Constituintes), formed a government and convened elections for deputies without bothering to consult King John. The movement gained support from the Island of Madeira, the Azores and reached the captaincy of Grão-Pará and Bahia, in Brazil, leading even to an uprising by the military garrison of Rio de Janeiro itself.