John VI of Portugal


John VI of Portugal : biography

13 May 1767 – 10 March 1826

The alliance with the infante Miguel did not bear fruit. Influenced as always by his mother, Miguel led the April Revolt or Abrilada by the Lisbon military garrison on . The revolt had the pretext of crushing the Freemasons and defending the king from threats of death that the Masons has supposedly made against him, but John was taken into custody at the Bemposta Palace, several political enemies of Miguel’s also being imprisoned elsewhere. The infante’s intent was to force his father to abdicate. Alerted to the situation, the diplomatic corps managed to enter Bemposta Palace. Those who held the king could not resist such authorities, and restored a measure of freedom to the king. On 9 May, on the advice of friendly ambassadors, John pretended to travel to Caxias but, in fact, sought refuge with a British fleet anchored in the port. From aboard the ship Windsor Castle he sent reprimanded his son, deposed him from command of the army, and ordered him to release his political prisoners. Miguel was exiled. With the defeat of the rebellion, both liberals and absolutists came out into the streets to celebrate the survival of the legitimate government.Cardoso, pp. 269–271 On 14 May, the king returned to Bemposta, reconstituting the council of ministers and showing generosity to the others who had rebelled. Still, this did not dissuade the queen from further conspiracies. The police discovered another rebellion planned for 26 October, on the basis of which John placed his wife under house arrest in the Queluz Palace.

Final years

At the end of his reign King John ordered the creation of a free port in Lisbon, but the measure was not implemented. He ordered further inquiry in the investigation of the death of his former friend the Marquis of Loulé, but final judgment was never rendered. On he granted amnesty to those involved in the Porto uprising, except for nine officers who were exiled. On the same day the old constitution of the kingdom came back into force, and the Cortes reconvened to prepare a new text. The change of constitution faced several obstacles, mainly from Spain and from supporters of the queen.

However, Portugal’s biggest problems at this time related to the independence of Brazil, until then the country’s largest source of wealth. The loss of Brazil had a great negative impact on the Portuguese economy. An expedition to reconquer the former colony was even considered, but the idea was soon abandoned. Difficult negotiations and consultations undertaken in Europe in Rio de Janeiro, with British mediation and pressure, resulted in the final recognition of the independence on . At the same time, the king freed all the Brazilians who were prisoners and authorized trade between both nations. It was agreed that Pedro govern Brazil as a sovereign with the title of Emperor, John keeping for himself the honor of Titular Emperor of Brazil; from this time, he signed official documents as "His Majesty the Emperor and King John VI" (Sua Majestade o Imperador e Rei Dom João VI). Brazil was required to pay certain funds that it had borrowed from Portugal. Nothing in the treaty spoke of the succession of the two crowns, but Pedro, still acting as the Prince Royal of Portugal and Algarve, implicitly remained heir to the Portuguese throne.Soriano, Simão da Luz & Baril, V. L. (Comte de la Hure). Historia de el-Rei D. João VI primeiro rei constitucional de Portugal e do Brazil: em que se referem os principaes actos e occorrencias do seu governo, bem como algumas particularidades da sua vida privada. Typ. Universal, 1866, pp. 117–123. In Portuguese.

On John, returned from the Hieronymites Monastery where he had lunched, and retired to Bemposta Palace feeling poorly. He was racked for several days by symptoms including vomiting and convulsions. He appeared to be getting better, but by way of prudence designated his daughter, the infanta Isabel Maria, as regent. On the night of 9 March he took a turn for the worse, and died at approximately 5 a.m. on the 10th. The infanta immediately assumed the internal government of Portugal, and Pedro was recognized as the legitimate heir as Dom Pedro IV of Portugal. Doctors could not definitively determine a cause of death, but it was suspected that he had been poisoned. His body was embalmed and buried in the mausoleum of the kings of Portugal, the Royal Pantheon of the House of Braganza, in the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora.Soriano & Baril, pp. 123–124 In the 1990s a team of investigators exhumed the Chinese ceramic pot that contained his bowels. Fragments of his heart were rehydrated and submitted to an analysis that detected enough arsenic to kill two people, confirming the longstanding suspicions of assassination by poison.. In: Revista Veja, . In Portuguese.. In: Revista Época, . In Portuguese.