Joseph I of Portugal

Joseph I (Portuguese José, ), the Reformer (Port. o Reformador), 25th (or 26th according to some historians) King of the Kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves, was born in Lisbon, on June 6, 1714. He was the third child of King John V of Portugal and his wife Mary Anne Josepha of Austria. Joseph had an older brother, Peter, but he died at the age of two.

At the death of his elder brother, José became Prince of Brazil as the heir-apparent of the king, and 15th Duke of Braganza.

In 1729, Joseph married a Spanish princess, Marianne Victoria of Borbón, daughter of Philip V of Spain and Elizabeth Farnese, and his elder sister Barbara married the future Ferdinand VI of Spain. Marianne loved music and hunting, but she was also a serious woman, who disliked the King's affairs and had no problems about talking about them to everybody. Joseph and Marianne had four daughters:

Joseph was devoted to the Church and the opera. He succeeded to the Portuguese throne in 1750, when he was 35 years old, and almost immediately placed effective power in the hands of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, better known today as the Marquis of Pombal. Indeed the history of Joseph's reign is really that of Pombal himself. King José also declared his eldest daughter Maria Francisca as the official heiress of the throne, and proclaimed her Princess of Brazil. The king did not believe that any longer a son would be born to him.

The powerful marquis 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 secure her own power status as a result. A conspiracy of nobles aimed at murdering King Joseph and the Marquis gave Pombal the opportunity (some say, the pretext) to get rid of the Távora family, and to expel the Jesuits in September 1759, thus gaining control of public education and a wealth of church lands and ushering Portugal, which had been a backwater dominated by the High Aristocracy and a very conservative brand of Catholicism, into the Enlightenment age.

The reign of Joseph was also famous for the great Lisbon earthquake of November 1, 1755, in which around 100,000 people lost their lives. 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 Lisbon's main plaza.

With Joseph's death on 24 February 1777 the throne passed to his daughter Mary I and Pombal's iron rule was sharply brought to an end.


Marriages and descendants

Joseph married Marianne Victoria of Borbón, daughter of Philip V of Spain and Elisabeth Farnese of Parma. He had four daughters, all named Maria.

Name Birth Death Notes
By Marianne Victoria of Borbón (March 31 1718-January 15 1781; married on January 19 1729)
Princess Maria Francisca Isabel December 17 1734 March 20 1816 Princess of Brazil (1750-1777). Succeeded Joseph as 26th (or 27th according to some historians) monarch and first Queen regnant of Portugal.
Infanta Maria Ana October 7 1736 May 16 1813  
Infanta Maria Francisca Doroteia September 21 1739 January 14 1771  
Infanta Maria Francisca Benedita July 25 1746 August 18 1829 Married her nephew Joseph, Prince of Beira.

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