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John V of Portugal

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1 January 1707; Lisbon

Jose I


Pedro II

John of

John V of Portugal uploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonscc3DJo
9 December 1706 – 31 July 1750

Royal Pantheon of the House of Braganza

Issueamong others...
Barbara, Queen of SpainPedro, Prince of BrazilJoseph I of PortugalPeter III of Portugal

July 31, 1750, Lisbon, Portugal

Joseph I of Portugal, Peter III of Portugal, Barbara of Portugal, Infante Alexandre of Portugal, Pedro, Prince of Brazil

Peter II of Portugal, Maria Sophia of Neuburg

John VI of Portugal, Maria I of Portugal

Similar People
Joseph I of Portugal, John IV of Portugal, John VI of Portugal, Maria I of Portugal, John I of Portugal

Dom John V (Portuguese: Joao V; 22 October 1689 – 31 July 1750), known as the Magnificent (Portuguese: o Magnanimo) and the Portuguese Sun King (Portuguese: o Rei-Sol Portugues), was a Braganza monarch who ruled as King of Portugal and the Algarves during the first half of the 18th century. John V's raised the prestige of Portugal and its monarchy, which had been in decline amongst European courts, to a new level of prosperity and wealth.


John V's reign saw an enormous influx of gold to the coffers of the king's Treasury, supplied largely by the royal fifth received from the Portuguese colonies of Brazil and Maranhao. John nearly depleted the royal treasury on ambitious architectural works, most notably Mafra Palace, and on commissions and additions for his sizable art and literary collections. Owing to his tastes for pomp and status, John also spent large sums on the embassies he sent to the courts of Europe, the most famous being those he sent to Paris (1715) and Rome (1716).

Disregarding or disbanding traditional Portuguese institutions of governance, John V ruled as an absolute monarch. Continuing Braganza policy of stressing the importance of relations with Europe, John's reign was marked by numerous interventions with the states of Europe, most notably the War of the Spanish Succession and the Battle of Matapan, alongside key treaties, notably the Treaty of Utrecht. On an imperial front, John V pursued an expansionist policy, with significant conquests in Portuguese India and territorial gains in Portuguese America.

John V was also a very pious man who devoted large parts of his day to prayer and religious study. He rewarded his long awaited recognition as a lawful monarch by Pope Benedict XIV with a fervent devotion to the Catholic Church and some very large donations to the Vatican. The Pope granted John V the styling of 'Most Faithful Majesty', which appealed to John's ostentatious tastes. However, John's relationship with the papacy varied at different periods in his reign and with the five different popes that presided during his reign, leading to both close relations and conflicts at different times.

Early life

John was born on 22 October 1689 at Ribeira Palace, in Lisbon, to King Pedro II and Queen Maria Sofia of Neuburg. He was baptized on November 19, at the Royal Palace Chapel, and given the name Joao Francisco Antonio Jose Bento Bernardo. John was not his father's first son; he had an older brother, Joao, Prince of Brazil (after whom he was named for), who died a year before John's birth. Thus, with his own birth, the court was overjoyed to have a new male heir to the kingdom.

Upon his baptism, John was not given the traditional titles of the heir apparent to the Portuguese throne, Prince of Brazil and Duke of Braganza, but merely the default title of Infante of Portugal. This was intended as a sign of respect for his elder brother's death, which had happened only months before.


John had a stimulating upbringing, being surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds of Europe at the time. It was agreed by the court that John's care as a child was to be strictly run by women only, a custom of the Portuguese court, and the Portuguese nobility as a whole. John's, and later all of Pedro II's sons, governess was Maria de Lencastre, the Marquise of Unhao, who was given that position more for her beauty and status than for her suitability as a child care giver.

John's father's policies had made the Portuguese court wealthy, the national economy stable, and the imperial military strong. This allowed for a richly varied and interesting childhood. Growing up, John was under the tutelage, and heavy influence, of the Jesuit Fathers Francisco da Cruz, John Seco, and Luis Gonzaga. Father Luis Gonzaga was in charge of the education of all of King Pedro II's children, teaching them military education, politics, astronomy, nautical studies, mathematics, and history. As the prince grew up, he was mentored in political affairs by Luis da Cunha, a prime Portuguese diplomat.


When John reached age seven, his father determined that his eldest sons were sufficiently educated in basic subjects and decided to take over supervision of their instruction himself, though his interest in mentoring them quickly faded. This was formalised when he and his brother, Francisco, Duke of Beja, were admitted into the Order of Christ on 7 April 1696. Later that year, the king finally decided to confer on John the titles of the heir apparent, namely Prince of Brazil and Duke of Braganza. On 1 December 1696, on the anniversary of the Portuguese Restoration War, a grand ceremony was held and John was invested with his titles. The ceremony involved the placing of a large ermine and red velvet mantle on his shoulders, as well as the adornment of his person with various jewels and royal regalia.

Just over a month before John's 10th birthday in 1699, his mother, Queen Maria Sofia of Neuburg, died at the age of 33. This caused John to retreat from court and become depressed for many months. Catherine of Braganza, his aunt and the former Queen consort of England, Scotland, and Ireland, returned to Portugal to help John revitalise himself and to take control of his education. She resided in the palace she had built, Bemposta Palace, and remained John's main tutor and female role model until her death in 1705.

In April 1700, John fell terribly ill and was on his assumed death bed. Fearing death was imminent, he asked for his last rites and confessed his sins. To everyone's surprise, he rallied and soon returned to his normal activities, his complete recovery being considered a miracle by the court.

The death of John's sister, Teresa Maria, in February 1704, greatly saddened him and caused him to avoid appearing at court for some months and to estrange himself from his father, who favoured John's younger brother, Manuel, Count of Ourem. During this time, much gossip was spread and worries arose about whether John would ever recover from his depression. In May of that year, he eventually returned to the court and reconciled with the king, saying that his saudades for his sister would not get in the way of his performing his duty to the king.


In early December 1706, Pedro II had moved himself to the Royal Quinta at Alcantara, as he was growing ill and needed space from the court. On the fifth of that month, the king caught a high fever and the court doctors met to fully examine him. They determined his health was greatly deteriorating. The next day Pedro II called all his children to his bedside and told them of his coming demise. He appointed John as Prince Regent of the Kingdom and asked that all his children follow John's wishes. Though he appointed John the Prince Regent, Pedro II still favoured his youngest son, Infante Manuel, Count of Ourem, and the king gave Manuel a special gift which no other child received.


On 9 December 1706, at 13:30, King Pedro II of Portugal died in his sleep. Following Pedro II's death, Ribeira Palace was redecorated to express the mourning of the king. On the palace's facade towards the Terreiro do Paco, large black banners were hung from the windows for this purpose. A month after Pedro II's death, it was declared appropriate for the John to finally be acclaimed King. Preparations for John's acclamation had already been started and once allowed, the royal palace was, once again, redecorated to celebrate it, replacing the black banners with red ones and fruit wreaths being hung throughout all of the palace.

On the day of John's acclamation, 1 January 1707, his new throne was placed on the balcony of the Ribeira Palace's Torre do Rei (Tower of the King). High above Terreiro do Paco hung specially made tapestries illustrating the allegories of Justice and Prudence, to remind the public that these were the traits their king would have. Once John sat down on his throne, wreaths made of gold were laid around the throne and balcony. Wearing his Cross of the Order of Christ, and with the Portuguese Crown Jewels beside him, and not on him, as is Portuguese royal custom, John was acclamed His Majesty, by the Grace of God, King of Portugal and the Algarves, before and beyond the sea in Africa, Lord of Guinea and of Conquest, Navigation, and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and India, our Lord, John, the fifth of that name in the table of the Kings of Portugal.

John was now king of an empire that stretched four continents. He was also the head of state of a kingdom that was at war with Spain and France. His first regnal act was to renew Portugal's membership in the League of Augsburg and continue in the war alongside the United Kingdom and the Habsburgs. Portugal quickly supplied more troops to aid her allies in the war. This new level of Portuguese involvement allowed John's general, Antonio Luis de Sousa, Marquis of Minas, to capture Madrid on 28 June 1706. While Portugal put vast resources into the war, contrary to John's predecessors, who avoided conflicts in Europe, activity in the war soon lost the interest of the king, having more pressing, and regal, affairs to attend to.


During his life, Pedro II had worked a long time on securing John a marriage to an Austrian archduchess, which guaranteed Portugal's alliance with the Habsburgs. John continued these negotiations and finally succeeded in negotiating a deal. On 27 June 1707, Fernao Teles da Silva, Count of Vilar Maior, signed a marriage contract with Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, which officialised the marriage between John and Emperor Joseph's sister, Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria. The contract also set the Archduchess's dowry at 100,000 crowns, a vast sum for the day.

The armada that Portugal sent to escort Maria Anna, from the Lower Countries to Lisbon, arrived in the Tagus river estuary on 26 October 1708. The flagship, in which Maria Anna travelled, berthed at the docks of Ribeira Palace's private garden, where John, and a party of the kingdom's richest and most powerful nobles, met the new queen for the first time. The marriage celebrations, lasting until 27 December, were so sumptuous and costly, that the Count of Povolide said that the King, "celebrated with all the grandeur that he could imagine".

By late 1710, John and Maria Anna had not produced an heir to the throne. It had been two years since the couple had been married and the court was starting to question the future of the House of Braganza. In early 1711, the king met with Franciscan Cardenal Nuno da Cunha e Ataide, High Inquisitor of the Portuguese Inquisition, who told him that if he promised God to build a Franciscan convent in Mafra, God would deliver his long desired heir. Accordingly, John promised that if Maria Anna became pregnant before the end of 1711, he would build a Franciscan convent in Mafra. John's wish would come true later that year, when Maria Anna fulfilled her duty as Queen and wife (as would be expected of her in those times) and gave birth to Infanta Maria Barbara of Braganza on 4 December 1711.

John and Maria Anna had a successful marriage, but lived largely separate lives. Maria Anna devoted herself to preserving the decorum of the royal court and her own religious interests, while John concerned himself with whatever pleased him at the moment. John kept many mistresses throughout his royal career, including Filipa de Noronha, Paula de Odivelas, Luisa Ines Antonia Machado Monteiro, Madalena Maxima de Miranda, Inacia Rosa de Tavora, and Luisa Clara de Portugal.


Maria Barbara's birth was followed by the birth of Pedro, Prince of Brazil, on 19 October 1712, which temporarily gave John a male heir. Prince Pedro's death, on 29 October 1714, greatly saddened him, but he took solace in the fact that his son, Infante Jose (now Prince Jose), had been born on June 6 earlier that same year. Following Prince Jose's birth, John and Maria Anna would have three more children, Infante Carlos, on 2 May 1716, Infante Pedro, on 5 July 1717, and Infante Alexandre, on 24 September 1723. Of the last three infantes, only two would survive to adulthood, Infante Carlos and Infante Pedro, and of whom only one would continue the Braganza line, Infante Pedro.

John's children were trained rigorously growing up. His plan was to have an intelligent son who could take his place as king, a strategically married daughter, and well-prepared statesmen sons; but he would achieve only part of his goal. From her birth, Infanta Maria Barbara's marriage had been closely arranged and monitored by John. When Mariana Victoria of Spain's engagement to Louis XV of France was nullified, John proposed Infanta Maria Barbara as a possible bride for Louis XV, but in the end she was refused. John still managed to gain something from the dissolution of Louis XV and Mariana Victoria's engagement, i.e., a wife for his son, Prince Jose, and a husband for Infanta Maria Barbara, Mariana Victoria's older brother, Prince Fernando, Prince of Asturias. Negotiations between Portugal and Spain began in 1725, and four years later John's eldest children would be matched with their spouses-to-be. The princesses Maria Barbara and Mariana Victoria were exchanged at a ceremony, called the Exchange of the Princesses (Troca das Princesas), held on the Caia River, on 19 January 1729. Prince Jose married Mariana Victoria on 19 January 1729, in Elvas, and Infanta Maria Barbara married Prince Fernando on 20 January 1729, in Badajoz.

None of John's three other sons would marry in his lifetime. Infante Alexandre died at the age of five, and Infante Carlos died at the age of twenty without any marriage proposals or children. Only Infante Pedro would live long enough to marry, but John would not live long enough to see it. Infante Pedro married the daughter of his older brother King Jose I, Princess Maria Francisca, Princess of Brazil, on 6 June 1760. When Princess Maria became Queen Maria I of Portugal upon the death of her father, King Jose I (John's son), Prince Pedro became King Pedro III, following Portuguese royal law that if the consort of a queen regnant produced children with the queen regnant, he would become King of Portugal jure uxoris.

John fathered four children from various extramarital affairs: Antonio of Braganza, by Luisa Ines Antonia Machado Monteiro, Gaspar of Braganza, Archbishop of Braga, by Madalena Maxima de Miranda, Jose of Braganza, High Inquisitor of Portugal, by Paula de Odivelas, and Maria Rita of Braganza, by Luisa Clara de Portugal. Out of his four illegitimate children, the three males were all recognized as John's sons and were collectively known as the Children of Palhava, after the Palace of Palhava, belonging to the Marquis of Lourical, where they lived at John's expense. The Palhava Children received educations worthy of nobility and went on to become noteworthy members of the clergy. Maria Rita was never officially recognized as his daughter, but he informally arranged for her life at the Convent of Santos and managed her expenses. The husband of Maria Rita's mother, Jorge de Meneses, attempted to stop John's actions for Maria Rita, but the King had him exiled to Spain and then to England.

Regnal politics

When John became king, he chose to reign as an absolute monarch, notably never convening the Portuguese Cortes, the ancient parliament of the three estates in Portugal, and actively ignoring meetings of the Council of State. However, John did not act by himself when making decisions, frequently consulting a close circle of well-informed advisers and holding weekly intimate audiences with all three estates, which he preferred to larger institutions, such as parliament and the Council of State, which he viewed as incompetent and bloated. The Count of Povolide remarked on John's governance style, stating that "he established a predominance of personal consultation over institutional consultation."

His Majesty's Government

The highest position in the King's government was that of Secretary of State of Portugal, the equivalent of a modern-day prime minister. This position was always filled by a favourite of John, the most notable having been Diogo de Mendonca Corte-Real, whom the king consulted with on every matter, to such a degree that it often appeared that he was the king's only minister. When John became King, he inherited a powerful and large Council of State, made up of numerous bishops, nobles, and bureaucrats, which was charged with being the utmost consultory body to the king, as it was during John's father's reign. However, John's dislike of institutions and consultative bodies led him to formally cease convening the council, leading prominent politician and diplomat, Luis da Cunha, to refer to the king as a despot and his government as absolutist.

Though the Council of State was never convened, several of its members, important secretaries of the kingdom, were nonetheless close advisers to the king. Alongside Diogo de Mendonca Corte-Real, Cardinal Joao da Mota e Silva and High-Inquisitor Nuno da Cunha e Ataide were close advisers to the king, the former eventually substituting Mendonca Corte-Real as Secretary of State, when he died in 1736.[1] Though he disbanded most institutions, John notably maintained the Junta of the Three Estates, a governing junta created by John's grandfather, King John IV, which managed the finances and maintenance of military installations, troop raising, and taxation related to defense. Having engaged in multiple conflicts throughout his reign, both in Europe and his empire, John understood the necessity of the junta and carefully picked its members, only selecting those deemed the most knowledgeable and competent. Similarly, John maintained the Council of the Treasury, which managed the finances of Portugal and its empire, including tax collection and budget accounting for the majority of Portugal's organizations (notably excusing the military), and exerted authority over the Casa da India, the Royal Mint, and the custom houses across Portuguese territory.

European relations

When John ascended to the throne, he found himself already entangled with the War of the Spanish Succession, as King Pedro II had signed the Methuen Treaty in 1703, aligned Portugal to the Grand Alliance against the House of Bourbon and allowed Grand Alliance forces to launch their invasion of Spain from Portugal. Only months after ascending to the throne, John had his forces overwhelmingly defeated in at the Battle of Almansa, jeopardizing Portuguese forces in Spain and security in the war. Portuguese forces continued to fight alongside the Grand Alliance of Ausburg until agreeing to an armistice with Spain and France on 8 November 1712. The war finally came to an end in 1713, with the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, whereby Portugal regained position of territories conquered by the Bourbon coalition, as well as territorial gains in South America.

With the War of the Spanish Succession ended, John could reestablish relations with the courts of Europe. His first grand act of diplomacy was the dispatch of Luis Manuel da Camara, 3rd Count of Ribeira Grande, as his embassy to the court of Louis XIV of France, in early August 1715. The grandson of Francois, Prince of Soubise and cousin of Hercule Meriadec, Prince of Guemene, Camara was personally chosen by John as his minister to France, wishing to reopen amicable relations with the French court. No expense was spared on the count's triumphal entry into Paris, costing 100 Louis d'or, and receiving such great applause from the people of Paris, that Alexandre de Gusmao, the count's secretary, stated that "the Count of Ribeira Grande has eternalized the grandness of our generous king". Though King Louis would die only weeks after the Portuguese embassy's arrival to France, the richness and extravagance of its entry to Paris would be noted in the French court and across Europe, gaining John and his kingdom a new level of prestige.

As John concerned himself with the presentation of Portugal at the court of Europe from home, through the planning and organization of important embassies, the king's brother, Infante Manuel, Count of Ourem, was similarly raising the name of Portugal throughout Europe. Having left the country in 1715, without the king's permission (as was required for royalty and high nobility), the Count of Ourem traveled throughout Europe, staying with Portuguese ambassadors and nobles across the continent, causing quite a fanfare. Although the king was displeased that Manuel left without permission, the king forgave the infante, writing to Manuel "your age absolves your mistake.". Now having the king's permission, Infante Manuel entered the service of Prince Eugene of Savoy, serving alongside him at the successful Battle of Petrovaradin. Over the next 17 years, the Count of Ourem moved from court to court, as a celebrity and military hero, and was even considered as a candidate as King of Poland, by provision of the 1732 Treaty of the Three Black Eagles. Manuel's adventures throughout the continent inspired several literary works and gained him celebrity, raising Portugal's prestige in the eyes of Europe.

Catholic Church

Responding to a request by Pope Clement XI to John to aid in the fight against the Turks, in 1716, the King sent an armada of Portuguese ships to aid Venice and Austria in their fights against the Turks, led by his brother, Infante Francisco, Duke of Beja, and Lopo Furtado de Mendonca, Count of Rio Grande. In the same year, John ordered a formal, triumphal entry for his ambassador in Rome, Rodrigo Anes de Sa Almeida e Meneses, Marquis of Fontes. Seeking to mimic the response received at the French court, 5,000 cruzados were spent on a luxurious entry for the Portuguese envoy. The ceremonial procession included a convoy of 300 carriages surrounding the piece de resistance of the procession, the Oceans Coach, an sumptuously ornate carriage made in Lisbon to demonstrate the wealth of the Portuguese empire to Rome. Impressing the Papal court, Pope Clement XI raised the dignity of the Archdiocese of Lisbon to the Patriarchate of Lisbon, making the Portuguese capital the only diocese with this title in Europe, besides Venice. John's good fortune with the Papacy and Italy would continue to raise the next year, in 1717, when the aid of a Portuguese squadron of ships helped win the Battle of Matapan, in the ongoing Ottoman-Venetian War.


John is often remembered as one of the greatest patrons of the arts in Portuguese history, having commissioned numerous construction projects and artistic studies. The king's most famous and important work was the Palace-Convent of Mafra. In early 1711, already three years married to Maria Anna of Austria and without an heir, John grew worried for the future of the House of Braganza. He met with D. Nuno da Cunha e Ataide, High-Inquisitor of Portugal, who assured the king that if he promised to build a convent for Franciscans in Mafra, in the Lisbon countryside, Maria Anna would bear him a child by the end of 1711, to which John agreed. Construction started in 1717, with plans for a modest church convent for one hundred friars. However, in the following years, with a gratuitous flow of gold from the American colonies of Brazil and Maranhao, the plans were altered to become a magnum opus of John's reign, accommodating three hundred friars and adjusted to become a hybrid convent-palace, including a royal library, a basilica, and a vast set of apartments for the royal family. Noting the vast size and scope of the project, Charles de Merveilleux, a Swiss nobleman living in Portugal in 1726, remarked that "King John has decided to build a second Escorial".

With the new plans for a palatial complex, the project at Mafra, entrusted to royal architect, Joao Frederico Ludovice, became much more than a fulfillment of a religious promise, but rather a demonstration of monarchical power and wealth. By 1729, 15,470 workers, from throughout Portugal and its colonies, were contributing to the construction of the palace, alongside a total of 6,124 infantrymen and cavalrymen, making a total of 21,594 persons involved in the building process and site that year. While the majority of the palace was completed by 1730, John was so consumed in completing the project that he decreed it mandatory for all inhabitants of the villages of Mafra and Ericeira to work at the palace, requiring an excused permission to not participate, and only under extraordinary circumstances. In regard to the exuberant cost of the palatial complex, Merveilleux remarked that "three quarters of the royal treasury and nearly all of the gold brought on the fleets from Brazil were here, at Mafra, turned into stone."

Mafra stood as a monument to regal power, even though it would become only a pleasure palace and never a seat of authority. John commissioned numerous operas, comedies, and serenades to be celebrated at the palace with great pomp, and its enormous property became the favoured hunting grounds of the royal family for centuries to come. The king also began to celebrate his birthday annually at Mafra, starting in 1732. John housed one of the largest and most sumptuous libraries in Europe within the palace, with over 36,000 volumes dating from the 14th to the 18th centuries. Works at Mafra would continue until 1755, when the devastation wreaked by the Great Lisbon earthquake required as many workers as possible to rebuild the city.

Titles and styles

  • 22 October 1689 – 1 December 1696 His Highness the Most Serene Infante Joao of Portugal
  • 1 December 1696 – 9 December 1706 His Royal Highness the Prince of Brazil, Duke of Braganza, etc.
  • 9 December 1706 – 23 December 1748 His Majesty the King of Portugal and the Algarves
  • 23 December 1748 - 31 July 1750 His Most Faithful Majesty the King of Portugal and the Algarves
  • The official styling of John as King of Portugal:
    By the Grace of God, Joao V, King of Portugal and the Algarves before and beyond the sea in Africa, Lord of Guinea and of Conquest, Navigation, and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and India, etc.


    As monarch of Portugal, John V was Grand Master of the following Portuguese Orders:

  • Order of Christ
  • Order of Saint Benedict of Aviz
  • Order of Saint James of the Sword
  • Order of the Tower and Sword
  • Ancestry

    The ancestry of King John V:


    John V of Portugal Wikipedia

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