John VI of Portugal


John VI of Portugal : biography

13 May 1767 – 10 March 1826

Private life

João Maria José Francisco Xavier de Paula Luís António Domingos Rafael was born , during the reign of his grandfather, Joseph I of Portugal, the second son of the future Queen Maria I and her husband (who was also her uncle), the future King Peter III. At the time of John’s birth they were, respectively, Princess of Brazil and Infante of Portugal. He was ten years old when his grandfather died and his mother ascended to the throne as Queen Maria I of Portugal. His childhood and youth were lived quietly, as he was a mere infante, in the shadow of his elder brother José, Prince of Brazil and 14th Duke of Braganza, the primogenitor and heir-apparent to the throne. Folklore has John as a rather uncultured youth, but according to Jorge Pedreira e Costa, he received as rigorous an education as José. Still, a French ambassador of the time painted him in unfavorable colors, seeing him as hesitant and dim. The record of this period of his life is too vague for historians to form any definitive picture.Pedreira, Jorge e Costa, Fernando Dores. D. João VI: um príncipe entre dois continentes. Companhia das Letras, 2008, pp. 31–35. In Portuguese.

According to tradition, his tutors in arts and sciences included Fathers Manuel do Cenáculo, Antônio Domingues do Paço and Miguel Franzini; his music masters were the organist João Cordeiro da Silva and the composer João Sousa de Carvalho; and his riding instructor Staff Sergeant Carlos Antônio Ferreira Monte. Little is known of the substance of his education. He surely received instruction in religion, law, French, and etiquette, and would presumably have learned history through reading the works of Duarte Nunes de Leão and João de Barros.Pedreira e Costa, p. 42

Marriage and Succession

In 1785, Henrique de Meneses, 3rd Marquis of Louriçal, arranged a marriage between John and the Infanta Carlota Joaquina of Spain, daughter of King Charles IV of Spain and Queen Consort Maria Luisa of Parma, like him a junior member of a royal family. Fearing a new Iberian Union, some in the Portuguese court viewed the marriage to a Spanish infanta unfavorably. She endured four days of testing by the Portuguese ambassadors before the marriage pact was confirmed. Because John and Carlota were related, and because of the bride’s youth, the marriage required a papal dispensation. After being confirmed, the marriage capitulation was signed in the throne room of the Spanish court, with great pomp and with the participation of both kingdoms, followed immediately by a proxy marriage.Pedreira e Costa, pp. 38–43

The infanta was received at the Ducal Palace of Vila Viçosa at the beginning of May 1785, and on the couple received a nuptial benediction at the palace chapel. At the same time, John’s sister Infanta Mariana Victoria was married to Infante Gabriel, also of the Spanish royal family. An assiduous correspondence between John and Mariana at that time reveals that the absence of his sister weighed upon him and, comparing her to his young wife, he wrote: "She is very smart and has a lot of judgment, whereas you have rather little, and I like her a lot, but for all that I cannot love her equally." John’s young bride was little given to docility, requiring at times the intervention of Queen Maria herself. Furthermore the difference in their ages (John being 18 years old) made him uncomfortable and anxious. Because Carlota was so young, the marriage had not been consummated, and John wrote ""Here’s to the arrival of the time when I shall play a lot with the Infanta. The way these things go, I think six years from now. Better that she be a bit more grown up than when she came." In fact, the consummation waited until . In 1793 Carlota gave birth to the first of nine children, Teresa, Princess of Beira.

By that time his hitherto relatively quiet life had been turned upside down by the death on of his older brother Dom José. This left John as the heir apparent to the throne with the titles of Prince of Brazil and 15th Duke of Braganza.. Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, 2010. In Portugal. Great hopes had ridden on Dom José, who was associated with the progressive ideas of the Enlightenment. Criticized by the clergy, he appeared to have been inclined toward the anti-clerical policies of the Marquess of Pombal.