John VI of Portugal

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John VI (full name: João Maria José Francisco Xavier de Paula Luís António Domingos Rafael de Bragança; 13 May 1767 – 10 March 1826) was King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves (later changed to just King of Portugal and the Algarves, after Brazil was recognized independent in 1825). Before his accession, he bore the titles of Duke of Braganza, Duke of Beja. As the Portuguese sovereign, he was also sovereign of the colonial ultramarine Portuguese Empire.

He was born in Lisbon in 1767 as an infante (Prince not heir to the throne) of Portugal. John was the 27th (or 28th according to some historians) monarch of Portugal.

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Early life and regency

John was the second son of Queen Maria I of Portugal (known as Princess of Brazil at the time of his birth) and her husband (and uncle), King Peter III of Portugal (known as Infante of Portugal at the time of his birth). His parents ascended the throne of Portugal in 1777. John's elder brother Joseph died in 1788, so John became the heir apparent and received the title of prince of Brazil.

In 1799 John assumed the reins of government as prince regent in the name of his widowed mother, who had declined into mental illness (perhaps due to porphyria). He retained this position until his mother's death in 1816. John had been brought up in an ecclesiastical atmosphere and, being naturally of a somewhat weak and helpless character, was ill adapted for the responsibilities he was called on to undertake. His wife, Charlotte of Spain, dominated him. In 1807, Portugal was invaded by France. At the urging of Britain, the whole Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil, accompanied by an escort of British ships. His court in exile was established in Rio de Janeiro.

King of Portugal

In 1816 John was recognized as king of Portugal after his mother's death but he continued to reside in Brazil, which he had raised to the status of a kingdom on 16 December 1815. The consequent spread of dissatisfaction in Portugal resulted in the peaceful Revolution of 24 August 1820, and the proclamation of a constitutional government, to which John swore fidelity on his return to Portugal in 1821. In the same year, and again in 1823, he had to suppress a rebellion led by his younger son Miguel, whom he was ultimately compelled to banish in 1824.

Meanwhile his elder son and heir-apparent, Peter, declared Brazilian independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822, and subsequently declared himself Emperor Peter I. John refused to recognize Brazilian independence until 29 August 1825, when he restored Peter to the succession in the belief that Brazil and Portugal would be reunited in a dual monarchy federation after his own death. John died at Lisbon on 26 March 1826, and was briefly succeeded by Peter (as King Peter IV). Recent tests made to John's intestines, which had been kept buried in a vase, demonstrated that he may have died due to arsenic poisoning. His nemesis, Napoleon I of France, may have also suffered a similar fate.[citation needed]

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