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Joseph I of Portugal

Joseph I of Portugal

Prince of Brazil
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Prince of Brazil
A.K.A. King of Portugal José, Joseph I roi de Portugal, Rey de Portugal José I, re di Portogallo José I, King of Portugal Joseph I, King of Portugal, José I, King of Portugal Joseph
Countries Portugal
Occupations King
Gender male
Birth 6 June 1714 (Lisbon, Lisbon District, Portugal)
Death 24 February 1777 (Lisbon, Lisbon District, Portugal)
Mother: Maria Anna of Austria
Father: John V of Portugal
Siblings: Infante Alexandre of PortugalPedroPrince of BrazilPeter III of PortugalGaspar de BragançaAntónio of BraganzaChild of PalhavãJosé of BraganzaHigh Inquisitor of PortugalInfante Carlos of Portugal
Spouse: Mariana Victoria of Spain
Children: Maria I of PortugalInfanta Mariana Francisca of PortugalInfanta Maria Doroteia of PortugalInfanta Benedita of Portugal
Joseph I of Portugal
The details

Joseph I (Portuguese: José I, Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈzɛ], 6 June 1714 – 24 February 1777), "The Reformer" (Portuguese: "o Reformador"), was the King of Portugal and the Algarves from 31 July 1750 until his death. Among other activities, Joseph was devoted to hunting and the opera. Indeed, he assembled one of the greatest collections of operatic scores in Europe.

Early life

Portrait of Joseph, Prince of Brazil; Domenico Duprà, 1725.

Joseph was the third child of King John V of Portugal and his wife Maria Anna of Austria. Joseph had an older brother Pedro, an older sister Barbara and three younger brothers. At the death of his elder brother, who died at the age of two in 1714, Joseph became Prince of Brazil as the heir apparent of the king, and Duke of Braganza.


On 19 January 1729, Joseph married the Spanish Infanta Mariana Victoria of Spain, daughter of Philip V of Spain and Elisabeth Farnese, and his elder sister Barbara of Portugal married the future Ferdinand VI of Spain. Mariana Victoria loved music and hunting, just like her husband, but she was also a serious woman who disapproved of the king's love affairs and did not hesitate to expose them to acquaintances.


Joseph succeeded to the Portuguese throne in 1750, when he was 36 years old, and almost immediately placed effective power in the hands of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, better known today as the Marquess of Pombal. Indeed, the history of Joseph's reign is really that of Pombal himself. King Joseph also declared his eldest daughter Maria Francisca as the official heiress of the throne and proclaimed her Princess of Brazil. By this time, the king did not believe he would ever father a son by his queen.

Victory over Spain and France (1762)

One of the most difficult situations faced by the king was the Franco-Spanish invasion of Portugal, in the end of the Seven Years' War (5 May-24 November 1762). France and Spain sent an ultimatum in order to force Portugal to abandon its alliance with Great Britain and close her ports to British ships. D. José I refused to submit and asked for British help since both the country and the army were in a very poor condition, mainly because of the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake. England sent a force of 7,104 men led by Loudon and Burgoyne, and also an exceptional military leader, the count of Lippe, which reformed the Portuguese army and led the allied army of 14-15, 000 men in a victorious war. The Bourbon invaders first led by Sarria and then by Aranda were thrice defeated by a combination of popular uprising, scorched earth strategy/famine and encircling movements by the regular Anglo-Portuguese troops, which like the militia, skilfully used the mountainous terrain at their advantage. The Spanish and French troops suffered staggering losses when they were driven out from Portugal and chased into Spain. As synthesized by historian Walter Dorn:

… Effort of the Bourbon powers to set up the beginnings of a 'continental system' by sending a summons to Portugal to close her ports to British ships and exclude Englishmen from Brazil trade. But the Portuguese minister, the Marquis of Pombal, refused, and with the assistance of Count Lippe and the English General Burgoyne broke the offensive of the Spanish invading army. D'Aranda, the Spanish General, was forced to retreat in disgrace. With the utter failure of the Spanish war machine everywhere, all the hopes which Choiseul [French Foreign Minister] had placed on the Spanish alliance vanished. 'Had I known', he wrote, 'what I now know, I should have been very careful to cause to enter the war a power which by its feebleness can only ruin and destroy France'.

— In Competition for Empire, 1740-1763

In South America, the war ended in a draw; the Portuguese took territory from Spain (most of the Rio Negro Valley) and defeated a Spanish invasion of Mato Grosso, while Spain conquered Colónia do Sacramento and the vast territory of Rio Grande do Sul (1763). The Treaty of Paris (1763) restored the status quo ante bellum. The rich and huge territory of Rio Grande do Sul would be retaken from the Spanish army during the undeclared war of 1763-1777.

Marquess of Pombal

The Marriage between Joseph I and Mariana Victoria of Spain; Pieter Schank, 1727.

The powerful Marquess of Pombal sought to overhaul all aspects of economic, social and colonial policy to make Portugal a more efficient contender with the other great powers of Europe, and thus enhance his own political stature. A conspiracy of nobles aimed at murdering King Joseph and Pombal gave him the opportunity (some say, the pretext) to neutralize the Távora family in the Távora affair, and to expel the Jesuits in September 1759, thus gaining control of public education and a wealth of church lands and ushering Portugal into the Age of the Enlightenment.

Legacy and death

The reign of Joseph is also noteworthy for the great Lisbon earthquake of 1 November 1755, in which about 100,000 people died.

The earthquake caused Joseph to develop a severe case of claustrophobia, and he was never again comfortable living within a walled building. Consequently, he moved the royal court to an extensive complex of tents in the hills of Ajuda.

The capital was eventually rebuilt at great cost, and an equestrian statue of King Joseph still dominates the Praça do Comércio, Lisbon's main plaza.

Joseph I monument in Lisbon

With Joseph's death on 24 February 1777, the throne passed to his daughter Maria I and brother/son-in-law Peter III. Pombal's iron rule was sharply brought to an end, because Maria hated him very much for his arrogance and violent behaviour.


Joseph I fathered eight children by the Queen, but only four daughters survived:

  1. Maria Francisca Isabel Rita Gertrudes Joanna (17 December 1734 – 20 March 1816), married her uncle Infante Peter of Portugal, with issue. Later Queen regnant of Portugal.
  2. Maria Ana Francisca Dorotea Josefa Antonia Gertrudes Rita Joanna Efigenia (7 October 1736 – 6 May 1813), potential bride for Louis, Dauphin of France, but her mother refused to consent to the marriage, died unmarried.
  3. Stillborn daughter (February 1739).
  4. Maria Francisca Doroteia Josefa Antónia Gertrudes Rita Joanna Efigénia de Braganca (21 September 1739 – 14 January 1771), potential bride for Philippe Égalité but she refused to marry him, died unmarried.
  5. Stillborn son (7 March 1742).
  6. Stillborn son (15 October 1742).
  7. Stillborn son (May 1744).
  8. Maria Francisca Benedita Ana Isabel Joanna Antonia Laurencia Inacia Teresa Gertrudes Rita Rosa (25 July 1746 – 18 August 1829) married her nephew Infante Joseph, Prince of Beira, no issue.

Titles, honours, and styles

Titles and styles

  • 6 June 1714 – 29 October 1714 His Royal Highness the Most Serene Infante Joseph of Portugal
  • 29 October 1714 – 31 July 1750 His Royal Highness the Prince of Brazil, Duke of Braganza, etc...
  • 31 July 1750 – 24 February 1777 His Most Faithful Majesty the King of Portugal and the Algarves, ..


  • Knight and Grandmaster of the Order of Christ
  • Grandmaster of the Order of Saint James of the Sword
  • Grandmaster of the Order of Aviz


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