Miguel I, king

(1802-1866)
   The third son of King João VI and of Dona Carlota Joaquina, Miguel was barely five years of age when he went to Brazil with the fleeing royal family. In 1821, with his mother and father, he returned to Portugal. Whatever the explanation for his actions, Miguel always took Carlota Joaquina's part in the subsequent political struggles and soon became the supreme hope of the reactionary, clerical, absolutist party against the constitutionalists and opposed any compromise with liberal constitutionalism or its adherents. He became not only the symbol but the essence of a kind of reactionary messianism in Portugal during more than two decades, as his personal fortunes of power and privilege rose and fell. With his personality imbued with traits of wildness, adventurism, and violence, Miguel enjoyed a life largely consumed in horseback riding, love affairs, and bull- fighting.
   After the independence of Brazil (1822), Miguel became the principal candidate for power of the Traditionalist Party, which was determined to restore absolutist royal power, destroy the constitution, and rule without limitation. Miguel was involved in many political conspiracies and armed movements, beginning in 1822 and including the coups known to history as the "Vila Francada" (1823) and the "Abrilada" (1824), which were directed against his father King João VI, in order to restore absolutist royal power. These coup conspiracies failed due to foreign intervention, and the king ordered Miguel dismissed from his posts and sent into exile. He remained in exile for four years. The death of King João VI in 1826 presented new opportunities in the absolutist party, however, and the dashing Dom Miguel remained their great hope for power.
   His older brother King Pedro IV, then emperor of Brazil, inherited the throne and wrote his own constitution, the Charter of 1826, which was to become the law of the land in Portugal. However, his daughter Maria, only seven, was too young to rule, so Pedro, who abdicated, put together an unusual deal. Until Maria reached her majority age, a regency headed by Princess Isabel Maria would rule Portugal. Dom Miguel would return from his Austrian exile and, when Maria reached her majority, Maria would marry her uncle Miguel and they would reign under the 1826 Charter. Miguel returned to Portugal in 1828, but immediately broke the bargain. He proclaimed himself an absolutist King, acclaimed by the usual (and last) Cortes of 1828; dispensed with Pedro's Charter; and ruled as an absolutist. Pedro's response was to abdicate the emperorship of Brazil, return to Portugal, defeat Miguel, and place his young daughter on the throne. In the civil war called the War of the Brothers (1831-34), after a seesaw campaign on land and at sea, Miguel's forces were defeated and he went into exile, never to return to Portugal.

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

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