John VI, 1769–1826, king of Portugal (1816–26), son of Maria I and Peter III. When his mother became insane, John assumed the reins of government (1792), although he did not formally become regent until 1799. He joined the coalition against revolutionary France, adopted a repressive policy in Portugal, and sought the alliance of England, thus bringing on the invasion of French and Spanish forces in 1801, which quickly defeated Portugal and forced on John the humiliating Treaty of Badajoz (1801). John became completely submissive to Napoleon, but nonetheless in 1807 the French again marched against Portugal. John and the royal family fled (1807) Lisbon and arrived (1808) in Brazil, where John set up his court. After the British defeated the French in Portugal, they set up a regency to rule the country. John, however, remained in Brazil even after succeeding as king on his mother's death (1816). It was only after the overthrow of the regency in Portugal by revolution (1820) and the proclamation of a liberal constitution that John was persuaded by the British to return (1821) to Portugal. He left his son Pedro (Pedro I) as regent of Brazil. After accepting the constitution, he took advantage of every opportunity to modify it. He put down temporarily an absolutist revolt headed by his wife, Queen Carlota Joaquina, and his son Dom Miguel and in 1825 recognized Brazilian independence (proclaimed in 1822). On his death John left the regency of Portugal to his daughter Isabel, who recognized Pedro as Peter IV of Portugal.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Spanish and Portuguese History: Biographies