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King João III


15th Monarch of Portugal. Born in Lisbon on 6 June 1502 at the Alcáçova Palace, and died in the same city on 11 June 1557 at the Ribeira Palace.

He was son of King Manuel and Queen Maria of Aragon.

King Manuel I involved him from a young age in the affairs of the kingdom.

He ascended to the throne on December 13, 1521, being crowned on the 19th of the same month at the Church of São Domingos (St. Dominic) in Lisbon.

His reign lasted 36 years and was characterised by intense activity in terms of domestic and overseas policies, as well as diplomatic relations with the European states of the time.

As monarch, he had to manage various crises: the financial crisis, the Protestant threat, the Turkish threat, French and English competition in the Empire, crises in India, and the pressure from his powerful neighbour Charles V (Holy Roman Emperor). The way in which he dealt with these challenges was always marked by wisdom and realism which, among other things, rewarded his investment in Brazil, which rapidly became the keystone of the Portuguese Empire, a role played for another two and a half centuries.

João III is also known for being extremely pious, leading him to introduce the Inquisition Court in Portugal in 1536.

As far as his overseas policies are concerned, he inherited a vast empire which extended to 3 continents, consisting of territorial assets that were very difficult to administrate from a distance due to the fact that they were spread so far and wide.

In terms of foreign policy, the diplomatic activity carried out during João III’s reign was extremely intense. Indeed it is considered to be the most intense of all reigns from the second dynasty.

The protection of culture was another great characteristic of this king who came to be regarded a national patron.

He earned the cognomen of The Pious, due to his religious devotion.

João III took the hand of Catherine of Austria, the Infanta of Spain, in marriage on February 10, 1525 in Vila do Crato, with whom he had many children:

Afonso, in 1526 (who died the same year)
Maria Manuela, in 1527 (first wife of Philip II of Spain, who died before her father, in childbirth)
Isabel, in 1529 (who died the same year)
Beatriz, in 1530 (who died the same year)
Manuel, in 1531 (who died aged 6)
Filipe, in 1533 (who died aged 6)
Dinis, in 1535 (who died aged 3)
João Manuel, in 1537 (who died before his father)
António, in 1539 (who died aged 1)

He had one more son, born of a relationship before he got married, with the Lady Isabel Moniz:

Manuel, in 1523, (who would change his name to Duarte to avoid confusion with that of the legitimate heir, became archbishop of Braga, and would die before his father).

Unfortunately, João III saw his children die one after the other, and finding a successor to the throne became a serious problem.

The line of succession was maintained, from 1539 onwards, by Prince João who, on marrying Joana, daughter of Charles V, became progenitor of Sebastião. The crown of King João III would therefore be inherited by his grandson.

During João III’s reign various dependencies were added to the Monastery of Batalha, including two cloisters, both of which have completely disappeared.

He is buried in the Monastery of Jerónimos in Lisbon.