João VI, king

   The second son of Queen Maria I and King-Consort Dom Pedro III, João was proclaimed heir to the throne in 1788, following the untimely death of his older brother Dom José.
   Although unprepared for the role, he was destined to rule Portugal during one of the country's most turbulent and difficult eras. His mother went insane in 1792, so Prince João had to assume greater responsibilities of governance. In 1799, he was officially named regent, but he was proclaimed king only upon his mother's death in 1816. By nature amiable and tolerant, he presided over a regime that was supposedly absolutist in an age of revolution. His reign occurred during the French Revolution and its many international consequences: Napoleon's invasion and conquest of Portugal; the flight of the royal family and court of Portugal by sea to Brazil in 1808, where they remained until 1821; civil strife in Portugal between constitutional monarchists and absolutists; and the independence of Brazil in 1822, a great blow against Portugal's overseas empire. When, in 1821, King João was obliged to return to Portugal after residing in Brazil for 13 years, he was forced to accept a constitution, which limited royal powers. A seesaw conflict between constitutionalists and absolutists, the latter faction led by his son, Prince Miguel and his Spanish wife, Carlota Joaquina, and the intervention of the military on behalf of one faction or another marked this turbulent era. When King João died in 1826, Portugal faced an uncertain political future as the country struggled to adjust to the new era of constitutional monarchy and liberal politics, following the nearly catastrophic loss of the richest overseas colony, Brazil.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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