On This Day: Birth of José I of Portugal

  June 6, 2014 at 6:30 am by

Today is the 300th anniversary of the birth of King José I of Portugal. He was born in 1714, as the third child of King João V of Portugal and Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria.

José I of Portugal

The future King was titled Infante José for the first four and a half months of his life, as his older brother, Pedro, was the heir to the throne. Upon Pedro’s death on October 29, Infante José was given the titles Prince of Brazil and Duke of Braganza, the traditional titles of the immediate Portuguese heir.

A double wedding took place on January 19 and 20, 1729 in Elvas and Badajoz, where two sets of siblings were married: José, Prince of Brazil and Duke of Braganza to Infanta Mariana Victoria of Spain, and Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias to Infanta Barbara of Portugal. The marriage between José and Mariana Victoria was considered successful, as the pair shared several common interests, but differed on their views of fidelity. They had four daughters who lived to adulthood, as well as three stillborn children.

The Prince became King of Portugal and the Algarves on July 31, 1750 upon the death of his father. His reign was marked by the dominating power of the Marquis of Pombal, who overhauled the economic, social and colonial policies of Portugal with the aim of making it a contender against the great European powers. These reforms implemented by the Marquis earned the King the nickname ‘The Reformer’. King José was heavily influenced by the Marquis, as well as the 1775 Lisbon earthquake, which left him a severe claustrophobic. This saw the King move the entire royal court to a tent city in Ajuda.

For the last months of his life, after suffering several strokes, King José created his wife Regent of Portugal so she could be the head of government (this would mark the beginning of the end of the Marquis of Pombal).

On his death in February 1777, King José was succeeded by his eldest daughter, Maria. She ruled as Maria I of Portugal, while her husband was co-regent through jure uxoris alongside her as Pedro III. Pedro was the younger brother of her father. The King was buried at the Royal Pantheon of the House of Braganza at the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora in Lisbon.

Through his parents, José was descended from three Holy Roman Emperors, Kings of Portugal and Spain, Landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt and Dukes of Bavaria. The current head of the House of Braganza and pretender to the Portuguese throne, Duarte Pio, is King José’s great-great-great-great-grandson.

Filed under Historical Royals, Portugal
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