Maria I, queen

   Daughter of King José I (r. 175077), she married her uncle Pedro III, her father's brother. Upon becoming queen in 1777, with the death of her father, Maria I dismissed the Marquis of Pombal, the king's prime minister. Known in Portuguese history by the nickname of "The Pious," Maria was extremely religious and, during her brief reign, attempted to reverse the dictator Pombal's statist, anticlerical policies, but to little avail. Her life and reign were transformed by family tragedies and by personal reactions to the news of the cataclysmic events in France. Maria's mental weakness was exacerbated progressively by the death of her consort Pedro (1786) and her eldest son João (1788) and gravely affected by news of the French Revolution and its excesses (1789-92). In 1792, she went insane and ceased to reign; her son João took her place and, in 1799, became prince regent. When, in 1807, the royal family fled with a British fleet to Brazil as France occupied Portugal, mad Maria, restrained, it was said, in an iron cage, was taken along. In 1816, while the royal court remained in Brazil, she died in Rio de Janeiro.
   See also João VI, king

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

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