In 1792 he assumed the reins of government in name of his mother, Queen Maria I, who had declined into a mental illness brought on by a medical condition called porphyria. He had been brought up in an ecclesiastical atmosphere and, being naturally of a somewhat weak and helpless character, was but ill adapted for the responsibilities he was thus called on to undertake. In 1799 he assumed the title of regent, which he retained until his mother's death in 1816. In 1807, Portugal was invaded by the French, and the whole royal family fled to Brazil on British ships.
In 1816 he was recognized as king of Portugal but he continued to reside in Brazil, which he raised to the status of a kingdom on December 16, 1815. The consequent spread of dissatisfaction resulted in the peaceful revolution of August 24, 1820, and the proclamation of a constitutional government, to which he swore fidelity on his return to Portugal in 1822. In the same year, and again in 1823, he had to suppress a rebellion led by his son Dom Miguel, whom he ultimately was compelled to banish in 1824. Meanwhile his elder son, Dom Pedro, declared Brazilian independence from Rio de Janeiro on September 7, 1824. He subsequently declared himself Emperor as Pedro I. João VI refused to assent to this devolution until August 29, 1825, when he restored Pedro to the succession in the belief that Brazil and Portugal would be reunited in a dual monarchy federation after his own death. He died at Lisbon on March 26 1826, and was succeeded by Pedro IV.
|List of Portuguese monarchs|
List of Brazilian monarchs
D. Pedro IV/Pedro I